Right now, the Mets need great performances from their players game-in and game-out to pull off the near impossible. Tonight, they got it from Marcus Stroman.
Stroman didn’t just look like the pitcher who the Mets sought at the trade deadline, or the pitcher who was having a great year in Toronto. This was the pitcher who was the MVP of the World Baseball Classic.
Even with him pitching in Coors Field, to say this start for Stroman was unexpected is unfair. Aside from his showing he can pitch like this in Toronto, he’s been gradually improving with each start. So far in his Mets career, this was his best start.
Thorough the first five innings, he allowed just two hits and one walk. At that point in time, the question is whether the Mets bats which had been asleep since the fourth inning last night would awaken in time to give Stroman and the Mets a win. They would in the sixth.
After a Todd Frazier leadoff single against Rockies starter Tim Melville, Amed Rosario would hit his 13th homer of the year, which not only have the Mets a 2-0 lead, but it would also start the home run brigade.
— New York Mets (@Mets) September 18, 2019
A mile high and two miles gone. ❄️🐻 pic.twitter.com/i6JJG42SIF
— New York Mets (@Mets) September 18, 2019
That was plenty for Stroman. He’d shut down the Rockies in the bottom of the sixth. In the seventh, he and Wilson Ramos combined for a strike ’em out (Raimel Tapia) – throw ’em out (Charlie Blackmon) double play.
With that Stroman threw seven scoreless allowing no runs on four hits with a walk and seven strikeouts. This is the deepest he’s gone in a game with the Mets. In fact, it’s the best he’s looked in Mets uniform.
With the way the Mets bullpen has been all year, you can argue the 4-0 lead wasn’t sufficient. If you’d argue that, the top of the fifth provided some peace of mind.
Joe Panik led off the inning with a pinch hit single off Rockies reliever Wes Parsons, and he’d be on second after a Nimmo walk. Alonso, who is clearly busting out of his slump, blooped an RBI double to right.
As noted, Panik scored. However, that’s all they’d get as Daniel Murphy hustled back, and he’d nail Alonso trying to stretch the single to a double.
The Mets added another insurance run in the ninth on a Frazier RBI single scoring Ramos giving the Mets a 6-0 lead. That lead would be enough for Callaway to go with Luis Avilan and not Seth Lugo in preserving this lead.
The Rockies scored one in a on Blackmon solo homer in the ninth, but the Mets would still win 6-1 keeping them afloat.
The Cubs lost to the Reds, and the Brewers beat the Padres. This means the Mets move to 4.0 back. It’s something, and that something is hope.
Game Notes:Frazier played for the first time since getting hit on the hand.
If you want to pinpoint the point where the Mets Wild Card hopes might’ve finally ended it was Rockies starter Antonio Senzatela breaking an 0-for-44 streak to hit a two out two RBI single to tie the game at 4-4. Right then and there, you had your sign this was not to be for the Mets for the night or for the 2019 season.
— Colorado Rockies (@Rockies) September 17, 2019
If you had any remaining doubt, Trevor Story would follow with a three run homer to put the Rockies up 7-4. It would be the fourth win in a row for the Rockies, and it would be the second straight loss for the Mets and their third loss in four games.
This was the exact sort of meltdown Steven Matz has avoided throughout the second half. While this hasn’t been the Matz of the second half, this is the Matz of Coors Field. In his career at Coors, he has allowed batters to hit .328/.397/.607, and he is now 0-2 with a 9.20 ERA and 1.773 WHIP there.
Matz struggling in Coors makes his a starting pitcher. Even with the humidor, mixing the new ball with the thin air is a recipe for disaster for any starting pitcher.
What is troubling is the Mets couldn’t overcome what was just a three run deficit. Before the bottom of the fourth, they were winning 4-1 having scored in three of the four innings. They had homers from Brandon Nimmo and Jeff McNeil, and Pete Alonso seemed to snap out of his cold streak.
The pivotal moment came in the sixth. An Amed Rosario infield single set up runners at the corners with one out. With Wilson Ramos out due to fatigue, Tomas Nido was due up. Mickey Callaway would send up Luis Guillorme instead of Ramos or as a pinch hitter. After he struck out, Callaway sent Joe Panik to the plate instead of Ramos, and he would ground out to end the inning.
Even if Ramos was fatigued to the point he couldn’t catch in the game, especially with the thin air, you can’t understand his not pinch hitting when the Mets needed a big hit there with his being the one guy on the bench with real power. Of course, that assumes Todd Frazier can’t go after getting hit on the hand.
In the end with the Mets 9-4 loss, they have now fallen to five games back of the Cubs, and they are four games behind the Brewers. Their postseason odds are 2.4 percent. Even if they go 10-2 from here on out, they need the Cubs and Brewers to essentially play .500 ball. As you can see with the odds being the way they are, the Mets chances aren’t impossible, just really improbable . . . just like the odds of Senzatela getting an RBI single
There isn’t too much to over analyze with this loss. Unfortunately, the Mets lost because the Dodgers are just that much better.
No, it didn’t seem that way when Zack Wheeler was on the mound. He was legitimately great tonight. It was his fourth straight start allowing just one earned with him lasting 7.0 innings in three of those starts.
Wheeler struck out nine batters while walking just one. He got out of jams in the sixth and seventh unscathed, and he showed emotion like he never has. After those seven innings, the Mets were up 2-1 with Justin Wilson and Seth Lugo lined up to close it out.
If you’re the Mets, that’s exactly where you want to be. You want the lead to entrust to your two best relievers, the only two guys who have been legitimately very good all year.
Still, it was just a one run lead which is zero margin of error.
The Mets only had a one run lead because they only had one hit after Brandon Nimmo‘s second inning two run triple. In fact, after Nimmo’s triple, Walker Buehler and Pedro Baez would combine to retire 14 straight Mets.
The Mets threatened against Dustin May in the seventh, but ultimately, that rally went nowhere. As a result, Wilson and Lugo needed to be perfect. Sadly, they weren’t.
Given the state of the Mets bullpen, there was no one available to bail Lugo out in the ninth.
Enrique Hernandez led off the inning with a double. On the play, Juan Lagares gave everything he had to get it going so far as to kick in part of the wall on the leap. He just missed it. You really can’t help but shake the feeling that last year Lagares catches it.
Lugo rebounded retiring two straight, and for a split second it looked like he may get the Mets into the bottom of the ninth tied. On his fourth fastball in the at-bat, Gyorko hit the 1-2 pitch for a go ahead base hit.
The Mets didn’t go down feebly. Robinson Cano drew a two out walk against Kenta Maeda, and Callaway would send Rajai Davis to pinch run. He’d also send up Joe Panik, who has excellent numbers against Maeda, to pinch hit.
Davis wouldn’t take off, and Panik would strike out to end the game. What we don’t know is if the Mets falling to four games behind the Cubs effectively eliminates them from the postseason.
What we do know is the Mets have 10 straight against bad Rockies, Reds, and Marlins teams. They also have the starting staff which came very close to taking down the Dodgers.
Overall, the Mets need some help and some luck. Probably a lot of luck. But that’s what happens when you build the very flawed roster the Mets have.
Both Jacob deGrom and Hyun-Jin Ryu were great pitching seven scoreless. On the night, deGrom struck out eight compared to Ryu’s six. On the flip side, Ryu’s two hits allowed were one fewer than deGrom’s.
In all, this game did little to separate these two pitchers in the Cy Young voting, especially with both getting no decisions. With respect to deGrom, that should shock no one.
While the Cy Young is of importance, that’s not where the Mets concern now lies. No, it’s the Wild Card. The Mets entered tonight’s game three back, and the Pirates essentially no showed against the Cubs again making this a must win if there ever was one.
Knowing that, Mickey Callaway double switched J.D. Davis out of the game and brought in Brandon Nimmo and Seth Lugo in the hopes Lugo would go two innings. Even with Lugo striking out the side in the eighth, he wouldn’t.
The reason is the Mets put together a rally by taking advantage of the Dodgers plunking both Todd Frazier and Nimmo. The other thing the Mets took advantage of was the Dodgers bullpen as it was Joe Kelly who hit Frazier and Julio Urias who hit Nimmo.
With there being two outs and an opportunity to not just get out of the inning but also get Lugo out of the game, Urias pitched around Amed Rosario to force the Mets to go to a pinch hitter to get Lugo out of the game.
It should be noted here Michael Conforto did not start the game against the tough lefty. During this inning, Callaway had let Juan Lagares bat for himself against Kelly. While that decision might’ve seemed odd, it seemed like it was about to pay off for Callaway.
Except, he didn’t go to Conforto with the left-handed Urias on the mound. No, he went to Rajai Davis. While many first guessed this move, Davis, who was actually batting for the spot in the lineup held by the other right-handed hitting outfielder named Davis, made Callaway look smart:
🗣️🗣️🗣️ FOR THE LEAD! pic.twitter.com/FEU6Vugirp
— New York Mets (@Mets) September 15, 2019
The Mets are not interested in doing all they can do to grab the second Wild Card. No, they’d rather prove a point and send a message to Noah Syndergaard than do everything they can do to win a pivotal game.
Despite Syndergaard pitching like a Cy Young caliber pitcher with Tomas Nido and Rene Rivera behind the plate, the Mets started Wilson Ramos. After all, as an organization, you’d rather be invested in the 31 year old catcher than the 26 year old pitcher who is the last Mets pitcher to both win a World Series game and have a scoreless postseason start.
Well, as is usually the case, Ramos couldn’t get the low strikes, and as is typically the case, he wasn’t calling for Syndergaard to throw those pitches. The ball was elevated, his pitch count was going up, and eventually he hung one to Gavin Lux who hit a three run homer capping off a four run inning.
With Clayton Kershaw, it was game over. In his 12 year career, he’s lost just one game where he’s had four runs of support. He’s now 104-1. As was expected, he shut down the Mets offense because he’s Kershaw.
Throw in Jeurys Familia, Luis Avilan (why is he allowed to face RHB), and Walker Lockett getting roughed up to that tune of five runs combined along with the Mets only getting one home with the bases loaded in the seventh, you get a 9-2 loss.
That’s on a day the Cubs won pushing the Mets to 3.0 games back of the second Wild Card.
There were a couple of middle fingers to Syndergaard and the fans in this game from the Mets. Despite the purported need for Ramos to catch Syndergaard due to his offense, Juan Lagares would start, and Pete Alonso would sit. Finally, Nido would catch the ninth.
Hopefully, sending this message to Syndergaard was worth it. Judging by the score and losing a game in the standings, it wasn’t making this just a petty decision to cut their noses to spite their ace.
Game Notes: The Dodgers have won nine straight at Citi Field. That’s 10 straight if you include Game 4 of the 2015 NLDS.
This game wasn’t even close. The Mets absolutely destroyed the Diamondbacks hitting six homers and Marcus Stroman having his best start as a Met in their 11-1 win. There were all sorts of records.
There's no sweeter sound than a well-hit homer
Here's all six(!!) of today's Mets home runs pic.twitter.com/JWQ9etZvTd
— SNY (@SNYtv) September 12, 2019
It was the first time in team history they hit five homers in consecutive games. With the six homers, they’ve eclipsed their single season team record of homers at home.
Those homers came courtesy of Todd Frazier, Juan Lagares, Robinson Cano, Tomas Nido, and Michael Conforto (number 30 for number 30). If you noticed that’s just five names meaning someone must’ve hit two.
That would be Lagares. If you think you are incredulous, you should’ve heard Gary Cohen’s call for Lagares’ first career grand slam:
Go to bed with some positive vibes heading into Friday, courtesy of Juan Lagares and Gary Cohen pic.twitter.com/sWUFpm44GO
— SNY (@SNYtv) September 13, 2019
It was Lagares’ first homer at home since September 7, 2017. He wouldn’t have to wait much longer for his next one. The liost of Mets center fielders fo homer and collect such RBI are Lagares and Yoenis Cespedes.
His game had everyone happy for him. Fans cheered him. His teammates were elated. There was universal love and admiration for the player who is currently the longest tenured Met. He’s also a player who is a pending free agent, which means these could be the final days of Lagares’ Mets career.
Lagares has been the single most talented defensive outfielder. He won the Gold Glove in 2014, and he probably should’ve won the year prior. He was a player who always played the game the right way. He always hustled, and as you would hear from the Mets, he would leave no stone upturned in trying to improve as a player.
There are some who may want to dwell on his never being the player they hoped he would be. Part of the reason that was the case was the injuries, which were largely the result of his hustling like none other. It did lead to the Mets moving him away from being an everyday player to his being a role player. He never did receive enough credit for willingly accepting the role for the betterment of the team and not disrupting the clubhouse.
In the end, Lagares was a player who just wanted to win. On that front, he did all he could do with an excellent 2015 postseason. He also had an excellent stretch this year helping the Mets get back into contention. If the Mets are going to continue to contend this year, they’re going to need his glove, and on days like yesterday, his bat. When he hits like that he’s going to receive the love and admiration of Mets fans and players.
Yesterday was probably his last great game as a Mets player. It was probably the last time he’s going to receive the cheers he received. It might’ve been the last time the Mets fans got to say thank you for his performance on the field without having to say good-bye.
It was a great moment yesterday for someone who has been a good Met in his career. He’s been someone who has always played the game the right way, and he is someone who has been worthy of our admiration and respect. This was probably his last hurrah on this front for personal accomplishments. The good news is there is still more time for him to help experience glory in a Mets uniform. If that’s going to happen, the Mets are going to need him.
Tonight’s game was about the Mets and the Diamondbacks facing off against one another in a fight to claim the second Wild Card. However, the day was much more than that.
We were reminded about that throughout our days. For many, it remains a point of pain and reflection. In terms of baseball, it’s a difficult escape when you’re a Mets fan because the Mets story will be forever tied to 9/11.
We were reminded of that during Edgardo Alfonzo‘s in-game interview. In addition to discussing the Brooklyn Cyclones NYPL Championship, he talked about the events of 9/11 and all the Mets did including their wearing the caps.
Those caps have been a sore point amongst Mets fans as MLB has refused to since allow them on the field. They rejected efforts by the Wilpons, David Wright, and many other players. They rejected the efforts from this year’s Mets team. That was until Pete Alonso found a work around – cleats.
Pete Alonso orchestrated the Mets’ wearing of commemorative 9/11-themed cleats tonight.
He planned it for weeks, ordered & paid for everybody’s shoes and enlisted other clubhouse leaders (including Jacob deGrom) to get everyone on board. pic.twitter.com/fiJbYCU8mq
— Tim Healey (@timbhealey) September 12, 2019
As Alonso would tell it, after MLB refused to let them wear the caps, he took it upon himself to organize getting everyone cleats. As he noted, he didn’t nor did his teammates seek permission because they knew it would only lead to MLB refusing to allow them to wear the cleats.
Pete Alonso found out the shoe size and brand for all his teammates and ordered custom cleats for September 11. His reasoning: pic.twitter.com/5f9VAIEhJu
— Tim Britton (@TimBritton) September 12, 2019
This was a play right out of Todd Zeile‘s book. Much like in 2001, every single Mets player would wear the cleats.
They were the cleats Frazier wore during his two homer game tonight, and they were the cleats Matz wore as he pitched seven scoreless.
You pick a spot, he'll hit it out. pic.twitter.com/pkpCyDOhgN
— New York Mets (@Mets) September 12, 2019
They were the cleats the players wore as they batted around in a five run first. In addition to Frazier, Jeff McNeil would also have a two home run night. Brandon Nimmo also homered, and he’d have the quickest home run trot in the majors this year.
When all was said and done, on today of all days, the Mets had nine runs on 11 hits. As incredible as that coincidence was, Alonso’s leadership and comments were all the more so.
After the game, Alonso would say, “I don’t just want to be known as a good baseball player. Hopefully, I want to be known as a good person too.”
In behalf of all Mets fans I can say we know you as a very good baseball player and an even better person.
After not having his typical second half run, Zack Wheeler had turned it on of late allowing just one earned in each of his past two starts. He’d do the same tonight.
It initially didn’t seem like that was going to be the case tonight. In the first inning, he immediately got into trouble. Ketel Marte hit a leadoff single, stole second, and he cane home on an Eduardo Escobar RBI single putting the Mets down 1-0.
After that first inning, Marte continued to give him fits doubling and walking, but Wheeler would find his way around his getting on base without yielding another run.
What helped Wheeler was his ability to get the big strikeout. In fact, he’d strike out seven Diamondbacks in the game. It’s the highest amount of strikeouts he’d have in a game in over a month.
The other thing working for Wheeler was his getting two double plays. After all was said and done, he’d have a final line of 7.0 IP, 7 H, R, ER, 2 BB, and 7 K.
For him, it was a matter of who was going to provide the offense as Zac Gallen completely shut down Jeff McNeil and Pete Alonso who combined to strike out six times in six at-bats. This made Gallen the first ever pitcher to strike out McNeil three times in a game. He’d fly out in the seventh to avoid his first golden sombrero.
With the Mets two big bats atop the lineup being completely shut down, the Mets needed someone to step up. That someone would be Todd Frazier.
In the bottom of the second, Frazier hit a go-ahead RBI double. On the play, the Diamondbacks had a perfectly executed relay, and upon replay it appeared they got Amed Rosario at the plate, but the initial safe call was upheld.
— MLB Replays (@MLBReplays) September 11, 2019
— MLB Replays (@MLBReplays) September 11, 2019
At least tonight, those two calls evened out for the Mets.
Nimmo being on third on that play was a point of contention for Keith Hernandez. On Frazier’s fourth inning RBI double, his second of the game, it appeared as if Josh Rojas might’ve been able to make a play.
Instead of going to second, he stopped just a little more than halfway. As a result, he couldn’t score on a ball which hit the top of the wall meaning Robinson Cano would score the only run on the play.
This meant a 3-1 instead of a 4-1 lead on a night when Seth Lugo was unavailable.
In the eighth, Brad Brach allowed a long opposite field homer to Escobar to make it just a 3-2 lead.
After a walk to Rojas, Adam Jones flew out to end the inning. While it was just two batters, Wilson had to work needing 10 pitches to get out Jones and 15 pitches total.
To put it in perspective, since coming off the IL, he only threw more than 20 pitches three times over 26 appearances. Perhaps that is why Edwin Diaz was warming as the inning began.
Wilson was asked to do something he hadn’t done since April 2. It wouldn’t be pretty. Really, it wasn’t pretty at all.
Marte hit a ball to Alonso freezing Ahmed at third. With it sinking, Tim Locastro froze at first and Ahmed at third. While Alonso dove, he couldn’t complete the catch.
He immediately picked up the ball and stepped on first. Then, instead of getting Locastro, who was dead to rights, he tried to pick Ahmed off third. With Ahmed getting back safely, the Mets all-time leader in walk-off hits, Wilmer Flores, stepped up to the plate.
Despite Wilson clearly tiring and everyone running around with their heads cut off,Callaway stuck with Wilson. His faith was rewarded as he struck out Flores to end the game.
After the 3-2 win, the Mets are tied in the loss column with the Diamondbacks and a four behind in the loss column to the Cubs.
Game Notes: Callaway said Frazier started over J.D. Davis because Davis needs days off. It should be noted Davis hurt his leg about a month ago. In Brooklyn, Edgardo Alfonzo led the Brooklyn Cyclones to the NYPL Championship. It’s their first championship since they were awarded one in the wake of 9/11.
If you want to win a game, the best possible formula is Jacob deGrom and Seth Lugo. Tonight, that’s what the Mets had, and it led to a separately needed win against a Diamondbacks team ahead of the Mets in the Wild Card standings.
For his part, deGrom was great furthering cementing his Cy Young case. His final line was 7.0 innings, three hits, one run, one earned, one walk, and 11 strikeouts. That one? Well, that was courtesy of our old “Friend” Wilmer Flores.
But that wasn’t as damaging as a homer as a run against deGrom would normally be as deGrom actually received run support tonight. In fact, two of the three runs scored for him came off the bat of Pete Alonso who hit his 46th and 47th homers of the year.
Your major league HR leader.
4⃣6⃣ and counting… pic.twitter.com/qJWAPd1eSG
— New York Mets (@Mets) September 9, 2019
Is this guy good? Asking for a friend. pic.twitter.com/5r71hysahc
— New York Mets (@Mets) September 10, 2019
The other run came courtesy of an Amed Rosario RBI single in the fourth scoring Wilson Ramos. What made that interesting is Ramos had reached on a double against the shift. That shift was an unorthodox two outfielder shift. Presumably, this was implemented in response to Ramos’ ground ball rates, and yet, his hitting the ball up the middle was an automatic double.
Going back to deGrom, what makes him so impressive is how he is dominant no matter what part of the game. He rips through the order the first, second, and third time through. The lineup turns over a fourth time just briefly. He gets the bad and good hitters. For example, he struck out Ketel Marte three times.
Another note here is deGrom controls all parts of the plate. He gets batters out north, east, south, and west. While we’ve seen his recent rise to dominance correlate to pitching up in the zone, he did it working the lower half tonight.
If a team thought they’d get a respite when he leaves a game, they’d be wrong as Lugo followed him to pitch the final two innings. The fresh Lugo was economical striking out four of the six batters he faced needing just 21 pitches to earn his fifth save of the year.
With the win, the Mets gained a game on both the Diamondbacks and Phillies. It’s still an uphill climb, but the Mets are still alive.
There are a number of reasons why the Mets lost this game to the Phillies. Going 0-for-11 with RISP and leaving nine runners on base certainly attributed to that. Behind that was defense.
The key play was in the first. The Mets loaded the bases with two outs, and Todd Frazier hit what should’ve been a bases clearing double off Drew Smyly. It appeared that was going to be the case until Adam Haseley made a leaping catch in right to end the inning.
🎶 Isn’t he (g)lovelyyy! 🎶 pic.twitter.com/ibKvxQKKzh
— Philadelphia Phillies (@Phillies) September 7, 2019
Conversely, the Phillies four run fourth began when J.D. Davis had a brutal error allowing Scott Kingery to reach. From there, the Phillies continued to hit Marcus Stroman, who allowed a season high 10 hits. One of the reasons why was the BABIP gods were unfair tonight. There were others including defense. All told, it was a four run inning putting the Phillies up 5-0.
Those two errors were the difference as was the ability to capitalize on them. For example, the Mets had first and second no outs in the bottom of that inning with Todd Frazier and Juan Lagares reaching on successive Brad Miller errors.
That’s where Mickey Callaway made some very curious decisions. At that point, Stroman had been laboring all night, and the Mets were down five. This was their chance to capitalize, and Callaway stood in the way.
Knowing he was removing Stroman, he still let Tomas Nido hit over Wilson Ramos. After not using Ramos, he then didn’t have Ramos, who has been great in the second half, hit. Instead, he used Jed Lowrie who just rejoined the team after a very lengthy IL stint.
From there, the Mets never really threatened, and that Phillies continued to play very good defense. In the end, it was a 5-0 loss. That’s a loss the Mets cannot afford to have. They need to be better than this because they’re running out of time. That being better especially includes defense.