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Smith Blamed, Veterans Get Major Pass

There are many reasons why the Mets lost yesterday’s game, but ultimately, the blame has been and will continue to be placed on Dominic Smith for his colliding into Amed Rosario:

The two players colliding allowed Andrew McCutchen to score the unearned run and tag Tyler Bashlor with the loss instead of the Mets heading into the bottom of the 13th with the score tied 1-1.

Now, looking at that play ad nauseum, that’s Smith’s ball.

Yes, a more experienced left fielder is more aware on the play, and he would make a stronger call for the call.

For his part, Rosario should know who is in left, and he should have made a stronger call for the ball instead of acting like a timid second grader unsure of whether he really knew the answer to the teacher’s question.

That’s important when you consider Smith actually called for the ball first:

While it’s easy to pin the blame on this, it’s important to note this wouldn’t have been an issue if the veterans who the Mets insist on playing actually delivered.

In the 12th, Austin Jackson came up with runners on first and second with two outs, and he popped out to Brandon Crawford.

On the night, Jackson was 1-6, and he left five men on base.

Jose Reyes had the same situation in the 11th, and he softly lined out to Crawford.

On the night, Reyes was 0-5, and he loved left four runners on base.

Good thing he started over Jeff McNeil who singled in his only at-bat.

Really, the Mets offense did absolutely nothing after the Wilmer Flores RBI double. In fact, Flores was the only Met who was hitting with him going 3-6.

Jose Bautista, the other outfielder who has been playing over Smith, was 0-5 with three left on base.

Devin Mesoraco started over Kevin Plawecki, and he was 0-5.

Ultimately, the Mets played four 30+ year old impending free agents over younger players, and the four went 1-for-21 while stranding 13 runners on base.

In addition to Bautista and Jackson starting in the outfield, the Mets started Jack Reinheimer in left field, a player with only eight innings of outfield experience in the majors and 49.0 innings in the minors.

This became an issue in the seventh inning.

Heading into the seventh, Zack Wheeler had been absolutely brilliant pitching six scoreless innings.  Those six scoreless innings included his Houdini act in the fifth inning.

After an Evan Longoria double, the Giants had runners on second and third with no outs.  Wheeler responded by striking out Steven Duggar, Alen Hanson, and Derek Holland to get out of the jam.  Wheeler was so close to repeating the trick in the seventh.

Wheeler issued a leadoff walk to Crawford, which would be the only walk Wheeler would allow on the day.  Trouble was brewing immediately as Brandon Belt singled to set up runners at first and second with no outs.  It would be runners at the corners with one out after Crawford moved to third when Longoria lined out to Bautista.

After Duggar struck out again, Wheeler got Hanson to pop up to left.  With Rosario shifted over, and the inexperienced Reineheimer playing deeper than an experienced left fielder, the ball fell past the outstretched hands of Rosario.  Reinheimer was nowhere to be seen.

After the game, Wheeler channeled his inner Jon Niese and griped about players playing out of position, which led to the ball falling.  Wheeler was speaking about the shift, but considering how the Mets both the game and this season, he might as well have been talking about how the Mets play all of their players out of position.

In the bottom of the seventh, the Mets had a chance to get back the lead.  McNeil and Michael Conforto, two left-handed batters sat against the immortal Derek Holland, came up in successive pinch hitting attempts against the Giants bullpen, specifically Tony Watson.  They hit consecutive one out singles to set up runners at the corners with one out.

Rosario hit a 3-2 pitch for an inning ending double play.

To their credit, the booth did discuss how Crawford charged in a couple of steps to get the Rosario grounder, which led him to beat Rosario by less than a full step in turning the double play.

Overall, the Mets lost this game because of their refusal to play young players over the veterans.  Maybe if Smith was playing in the majors instead of Jackson, when this play happens, he and Rosario have the communication issues hammered.  Perhaps, if the Mets didn’t decided a done Adrian Gonzalez was a better option than him, Smith would have been a first base, and this never would have been an issue.

In the end, we will never know because the Mets would rather play 30+ year old players who no other team wanted at the trade deadline to try to win some meaningless games which could only hurt their draft position.

Game Notes: Wheeler’s seventh inning walk to Crawford was the first walk yielded by Mets pitching in 25 innings.

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