The Mets had one of those odd not quite a doubleheader type of days with the Mets and Cubs needing to complete yesterday’s suspended game. The Mets would pick up where they left off by shouting themselves in the foot.
In the 11th, Wilmer Flores lined into a double play.
After two close and heart wrenching losses in a row, the Mets set out to ensure there would be no room for late game heroics. They immediately put up a four spot courtesy of a Todd Frazier grand slam:
🎶 Chicago, Chicago, that TODDlin' town.
Chicago, Chicago, Frazier will show you around. 🎶 pic.twitter.com/Qhy19b8E56
— New York Mets (@Mets) August 29, 2018
What was interesting was Vargas actually let those four runs hold up even if he was a little shaky.
From there, Vargas really settled in, and he was surprisingly keeping the Cubs at bay. Vargas’ final line would be 5.1 innings, four hits, run, one earned, two walks, and six strikeouts.
With his four straight good start in a row, he’s lowered his ERA from 8.75 to 6.56. Perhaps more impressive than that was his retiring a batter the third time through the lineup for the first time all season.
Vargas got the win because not only did the bullpen make those runs hold up, but the Mets offense exploded in the seventh. Amazingly, it was all with two outs.
The Mets plated two more runs in the ninth on a rally started when Tomas Nido reached on a fielding error by Cubs reliever James Norwood. The rally culminated with Frazier and Brandon Nimmo hitting RBI singles to make it 10-1 Mets.
In the bottom of the ninth, 26th man Jacob Rhame who was called up for the ninth time this season allowed two runs before finally closing the door on the Mets 10-3 victory.
Overall, the Mets played 11 innings, scored 10 runs, and went 1-1. It’s been one of those seasons.
Game Notes: With the loss, Sewald is now 0-11 in his career with one save.
— Bleacher Report MLB (@BR_MLB) August 29, 2018
Thus began another magical night of watching deGrom pitch.
The Cubs were doing all they could do to get to deGrom. In fact, they found a way to get their leadoff hitter on in the fifth, sixth, seventh, and eighth innings. deGrom responded nearly each time with a combination of guile and defense.
What’s interesting about that was deGrom slipped attempting to fielding a Baez infield single. He was initially limping, but he shook it off much like he shook off base runners all night long.
The real threat against deGrom came in the seventh, and the Cubs finally broke through with deGrom and the Mets getting some tough luck.
After a Kyle Schwarber leadoff single, Albert Almora, Jr. laid down a bunt. deGrom pounced on it and got Schwarber at second. Ben Zobrist, who entered the game 1-for-10 against deGrom, hit a ball that went under Jay Bruce‘s glove to set up runners at the corners.
David Bote hit a sacrifice fly to center to bring home the Cubs first run of the game.
Still, when you play players out of position and when you give deGrom little to no margin of error, these types of plays get magnified.
After the Bote sacrifice fly, the inning was not over. After Bote was Mets killer Daniel Murphy came to the plate. In a tough seven pitch at-bat, deGrom finally won the battle and struck out Murphy to escape the jam.
After the string of leadoff hitters reaching and with that high stress inning, you’d understand Mickey Callaway pinch hitting for deGrom with two outs in the top of the eighth. He didn’t.
For what it’s worth, deGrom was the only Met to get an RBI as the team continued to shoot itself in the foot trying to score runs for deGrom.
In the third, the Mets tried to make something happen with Rosario and Jeff McNeil trying to execute a double steal. While it was initially ruled Rosario evaded Bote’s tag, he was ruled out on review. The inning sputtered from there.
Both rallies were killed with a Michael Conforto strikeout. For his part, Conforto had a very tough night at the plate going 0-for-4 with three strikeouts. In total, he’d leave eight runners on base.
In the fifth, deGrom singles to short and Rosario bunted his way on. McNeil then couldn’t deliver the two out hit.
Finally, the Mets broke through in the sixth. As alluded to earlier, deGrom delivered the big hit with a two out RBI infield hit.
In the seventh, the Mets had a golden opportunity to push across an insurance run.
McNeil hit a ball which looked out. Unfortunately, it got caught in the wind and stayed in the park. Counting on nothing, McNeil busted it out of the box with a leadoff triple.
Jackson then lined out to Baez, and Conforto lined out to Rizzo. Todd Frazier was intentionally walked and stole second, but it was for naught as Bruce struck out to end the rally.
In the eighth, the Cubs once again tried to crack deGrom.
Rizzo singled, and Heyward walked to start the inning. Then like he had all night, deGrom struck out Baez. He then grabbed a comebacker from Victor Carantini to start the inning ending 1-6-3 double play.
All told, deGrom’s final line was 8.0 innings, eight hits, one run, one earned, one walk, and 10 strikeouts. All that was good for was a no decision.
Despite him reaching Seaver and Gooden heights, deGrom walked away with a no decision.
With the rain delay which came in the top of the tenth, the game was a microcosm of deGrom’s season.
Game Notes: Before the game, Jose Bautista was traded to the Phillies for a player to be named later or cash.
Despite the Phillies claiming Jose Bautista off waivers, the Mets risked getting a deal getting nixed due to injury by putting him in the lineup. The reason for the decision was Bautista’s numbers against Jon Lester.
Essentially, the Mets risked a possible piece for the future to win a meaningless August game.
To his credit, Syndergaard got out of that jam partially because he picked Javier Baez off first, and the rundown was executed well enough to prevent Murphy from scoring from third. That was a moot point after the Rizzo double.
The Mets reclaimed the lead in the second with Conforto hitting an absolute monster home run:
Just your typical *squints, double-checks notes* 472-FOOT CRUSH JOB from @mconforto8.
That's not a typo. 😳💪 pic.twitter.com/w94CsZ1zpj
— New York Mets (@Mets) August 28, 2018
The second inning rally began anew with Kevin Plawecki drawing a two out four pitch walk. Surprisingly, Lester then walked Syndergaard leading to Rosario hitting an RBI single to give the Mets a 3-1 lead.
It was a very uneven game for Plawecki. Behind the plate, he struggled, but at the plate, he excelled.
In the third, Syndergaard seemed close to working his way around a Javier Baez leadoff double. With runners at the corners and two outs, Syndergaard threw a pitch in the dirt.
Rather than getting down to block the call, Plawecki tried to backhand it leading to a wild pitch and a run scoring. Subsequently that at-bat, Syndergaard threw one in the dirt, and Plawecki didn’t get down quick enough. Fortunately, Jason Heyward didn’t move up because he lost track of the ball.
Unfortunately, it wouldn’t matter.
After a Willson Contreras infield single, Mickey Callaway ordered an intentional walk to load the bases. With two outs and Lester up, a career .092 hitter at the plate, it should have been inning over.
Instead, Syndergaard threw a fat pitch, and Lester hit a two RBI single giving the Cubs a 4-3 lead.
In total, Syndergaard pitched six uninspiring innings allowing four earned on nine hits with three walks and six strikeouts. Maybe it’s all the missed time, but Thor is not Thor right now.
When he departed, he was in line for the loss. That was until Plawecki got the run back he allowed with a game tying homer in the seventh:
Outta here. Tied up. 💪 pic.twitter.com/ltVD463vJt
— New York Mets (@Mets) August 28, 2018
With the much improved Mets bullpen, it seemed like the Mets were going to actually have a chance to pull this one out. Unfortunately, Jerry Blevins would have his first poor outing on over a month.
Rizzo led off the top of the seventh with a ground rule double which bounced off the tape:
.@Cubs challenge call that Anthony Rizzo hit a foul ball in the 7th; call overturned, fair ball.
— MLB Replay (@MLBReplays) August 28, 2018
Smith was able to navigate his way out of that jam by yielding just an RBI groundout to Contreras.
Daniel Zamora pitched the eighth, and he blew through the first two hitters he faced. Then his seemingly unhittable slider was hit by Rizzo for a home run giving the Cubs a 7-4 lead heading into the ninth.
Despite going 0-for-3 after being put in the lineup for his great numbers against Lester, Bautista would draw a leadoff walk off Pedro Strop.
Predictably, Jose Reyes didn’t come through instead hitting into a fielder’s choice.
That didn’t stop the Mets from loading the bases with one out. With the bases loaded, the Cubs went to Jesse Chavez for the save.
He dominated Rosario getting him to strike out. Chavez would then strike out Jackson on a couple of dubious strike calls, especially strike three, to end the game.
At the end of the day, Syndergaard looked less god than human, and Bautista went hitless in a game he played due to his bat.
Game Notes: Rosario was picked off by Lester for venturing way off first. Jeff McNeil‘s 11 game hitting streak ended with him popping out in a pinch hitting appearance.
The Mets are so far under .500 that they can’t even get in the mix for what is a wide open National League Wild Card. They’re not even following the Nationals lead who traded off Daniel Murphy and Matt Adams at the same time the Mets are playing Jose Bautista and Austin Jackson everyday. Given the record and the poor direction of this organization, it becomes increasingly difficult to find reasons to watch.
With that in mind, here are reasons to watch the Mets other than you love the Mets or you hate yourself:
- Will Jacob deGrom finish the season strong enough to the point where he overcomes everything to become the Cy Young winner with the fewest wins from a starting pitcher?
- How will the Mets handle first base with Jay Bruce, Wilmer Flores, and Dominic Smith? Will the team actually call up Peter Alonso?
- Is Zack Wheeler for real, or is the guy we have known him to be during his Mets career ever going to show up again?
- Can Kevin Plawecki be an everyday catcher? With the Devin Mesoraco neck injury we should finally find out.
- Which one of the young relievers are for real? So far, the answer appears to be Drew Smith and Daniel Zamora, but maybe just maybe Tyler Bashlor can enter the mix as well.
- How much progress can Amed Rosario make on both sides of the ball?
- Will Michael Conforto continue this second half surge, or will he regress as his shoulder presumably tires?
- Is Jeff McNeil really the next Daniel Murphy?
More than any of this, we wait for baited breath to see if David Wright will actually take the field for the Mets again. If he does, that will be the greatest reason of all to watch the Mets again this year.
Well, today was a day the Mets pretended they were 15 games over instead of 15 games under .500.
With Jay Bruce having a bobble head day on Saturday and his finally eligible to come off the disabled list, this meant the Mets needed to either demote or DFA two players.
The other player was Dominic Smith, who had gone 2-for-6 with a double, homer, and two RBI in the bizarrely limited playing time he had been given during this all too brief call-up.
Remember Jackson and Bautista are Mets because no one else wanted them. The Mets called these 30+ year old impending free agents from their homes because other teams were paying them not to play for them.
Naturally, the Mets decided to play all three of them over Michael Conforto.
This is the squad the Mets opted to go with to face off against the Washington Nationals.
Basically, this set the stage for a game between two teams playing out the string, and it showed.
In the first, Amed Rosario hit a leadoff single off Gio Gonzalez, and he would steal second. Jeff McNeil pushed him over to third on a groundout to the right side, and Rosario would score on a Wilmer Flores RBI single.
Sadly, that was all the run support Vargas would need as the Nationals really didn’t show up.
Vargas pitched six shutout innings while allowing three hits, walking none, and striking out eight.
In the entire game, the Nationals would have just four hits with no one reaching third.
Those other two runs came courtesy of a Bruce two run homer. It was his first homer of the year at Citi Field.
Given how the Mets are dedicated to this 30+ year old veteran movement, we should see Bruce gets more chances to add to that home run total.
Overall, it was just astonishing to see how a Mets-Nationals game has zero juice. Both teams are very disappointing, and when they play games like this, it’s completely pointless.
Game Recap: Before the game, Mickey Callaway said Bruce could be the first baseman for the Mets next year. That would require Bruce getting time there next year, which all but eliminates the chances we see Peter Alonso this year or Smith again (at least in terms of his getting extended playing time).
Perhaps, the Mets did not give McNeil his chance because they were not sure his incredible season in the minors would translate to MLB success. So far, it has.
In tonight’s game, McNeil was at the center of both Mets rallies with him going a perfect 4-for-4 with two runs, a double, and an RBI.
Jackson would move to second on Hunter Pence‘s their home, but the Mets could not bring him home.
Still, with the two runs scored, the Mets tied the score and got Steven Matz off the hook.
Initially, things did not look good for Matz. Three batters into the game, he and the Mets were down 2-0 with Evan Longoria hitting a bomb off of him:
103 mph 🚀
— San Francisco Giants (@SFGiants) August 21, 2018
Fortunately, Matz would settle in, and he would not allow another hit in his five innings pitched. With this being his second start since coming off the disabled list, Matz was done after five innings and 87 pitches.
Corey Oswalt, who was recently demoted to the bullpen, relieved Matz, and he would pitch three terrific scoreless innings allowing just one hit. Not only would he pitch well, but he would also pick up his third win of the season.
Oswalt got the win because the Mets offense jumped all over Tony Watson starting with a Reyes triple off a ball Pence just could not field.
McNeil jumped on the first pitch, and much like Flores did in the previous inning, he hit an opposite field double. The double easily scored Reyes giving the Mets a 3-2 lead.
With the open base, and his historical numbers against left-handed batters, Watson intentionally walked Flores to face Conforto. That was a mistake:
Oppo. 💪💪💪 pic.twitter.com/UIUR89EpfX
— New York Mets (@Mets) August 22, 2018
The opposite field three run homer gave the Mets a 6-2 lead.
In the end, this was a game won because McNeil is a professional hitter who delivered in two big spots. It makes you wonder how different things would have been had the Mets given him a chance when they first needed him.
Game Recap: 2015 NLCS MVP Daniel Murphy was traded by the Nationals to the Cubs as the Nationals have begun selling what they can.
Dom Smith. Amed Rosario. The Mets. Truly unbelievable stuff.
**CUE THE MUSIC** pic.twitter.com/yclRui1w4k
— Kris Venezia (@KVenezia1) August 21, 2018
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:
“It’s part of the game. I heard he called it real quick even before I was under the ball.”
When'd you heard him: “When I was ready to call it. It was too late.”
Who's ball: “He has the ball in front of him so I’m running backward. He has more choice/better view."
— Matt Ehalt (@MattEhalt) August 21, 2018
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.
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.
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.
Today, like most of this season, the roles were reversed.
In seven innings, he limited the Mets to just one run in three hits while walking one and striking out 11.
By that point, it was 3-1 Phillies because the Phillies jumped all over Syndergaard with a three run first inning. The first run cane courtesy of an Asdrubal Cabrera RBI double.
Really, Syndergaard labored through the entire game with him not recording a single 1-2-3 inning.
Another indication was how he finally got a run of support from his offense, and he gave that run right back in the bottom of the inning.
All told, Syndergaard needed a season high 115 pitches just to get through 5.2 innings. In his 5.2 innings of work, he would allow four earned on eight hits with two walks and five strikeouts.
Another troubling sign for Syndergaard is the stolen bases are back. On the night, the Phillies were a perfect 5-for-5 in stolen base attempts. It wasn’t speedsters like Cesar Hernandez either. Carlos Santana and Jorge Alfaro would as well. For Alfaro, it was the first of his career.
In that sixth inning, Syndergaard left with a runner on second and two out. Daniel Zamora would make his MLB debut, and he would strike out Hernandez to end the inning.
Zamora’s MLB debut was great with him not allowing any hits and his walking one and striking out two in 1.1 scoreless innings.
Importantly, Zamora kept the Mets in the game with a chance to tie it after Nola departed.
Conforto would battle back from 0-2 to a full count, but he would strike out looking leaving the Mets down 4-2.
The Mets once again showed fight, but in the end, they lost because somehow, some way, Nola has become a much better pitcher than Syndergaard.
Game Notes: Bobby Wahl was placed on the 10 day disabled list, which made room for Zamora to get called up to the majors.
Amed Rosario hit the very pitch of the game from Ranger Suarez for a home run, and the Mets were off and running to set a new franchise record with 24 runs on 25 hits in their 25-4 victory. These records were previously set 30 years to the date in a Mets game at the Cubs.
What is interesting is this game was back-and-forth for the first four innings with the Phillies getting to Corey Oswalt with solo homers from Rhys Hoskins, Maikel Franco, Nick Williams, and Jorge Alfaro.
Entering the fateful fifth inning, it was just 5-4 Mets. Then in that fifth inning, Alfaro threw away the ball on an Oswalt bunt, and then Hoskins would later just completely miss a fly ball in left. The big hit in what would be a 10 run fifth inning was a Jose Bautista grand slam. From there, the game was over, and eventually Phillies manager Gabe Kapler actually turned to position players to get the final nine outs of the game so to save his bullpen for the second half of the doubleheader.
To put in perspective how well that went, the Mets scored seven runs off the position players, and that was highlighted by Jerry Blevins hitting an RBI single off of Scott Kingery. Yes, that’s how absurd things got. A reliever got a hit off of a position player. All told, the Mets had an absolute field day at plate:
- Amed Rosario 4-7, 4 R, HR, 3 RBI, SB
- Austin Jackson 3-7, 3 R, 2B
- Wilmer Flores 3-7, 2 R, 2 RBI
- Michael Conforto 3-7, HR, 3 R, RBI
- Todd Frazier 1-4, 2 R, 2B, RBI, 2 BB
- Brandon Nimmo 1-2
- Jose Bautista 3-4, 3 R, 2B, HR, 7 RBI, BB
- DFA Candidate 2-5, 2 R, 2B, RBI, 2 BB
- Kevin Plawecki 4-4, 3 R, 2B, 3B, 3 RBI, 2 BB
As you can see from the 1-2 for Nimmo, the one downside was he had to come out of the game due to him hitting his hand when he swung at a pitch he put in play. Nimmo would come out the game, and his x-rays would be negative, but with the Mets being the Mets, you never know what will happen next.
In the second game of the doubleheader, it seemed like the Mets were going to once again be off and running. Against Phillies starter, Zach Eflin, Rosario, Jeff McNeil, and Conforto would hit three consecutive doubles to give the Mets a 2-0 lead.
The disappointment of Conforto not scoring from second would soon be magnified by Steven Matz giving up the lead by surrendering a three run homer to Hoskins in the bottom of the first. Matz would not settle in during the second inning either with him giving up a homer to Kingery in what would be a consecutive three run inning for the Phillies.
All told in his first start since returning form the disabled list, Matz pitched just those two innings allowing six runs (four earned) on five hits with a walk and two strikeouts.
As bad as Matz looked, Devin Mesoraco looked worse. After Roman Quinn reached on a throwing error by Matz, Mesoraco would push him to second with a passed ball. Later that inning, Mesoraco threw through on what would be a double steal, and on the return throw, the out of position Mesoraco whiffed on the tag.
César out here giving Benny "The Jet" Rodriguez a run for his money. pic.twitter.com/0K0WV7qERa
— Philadelphia Phillies (@Phillies) August 17, 2018
Things would lie dormant until the bottom of the sixth when Bobby Wahl entered the game. Wahl would appear to have tweaked something in his leg or bat on the Quinn bunt single. Wahl would stay in the game, and he would surrender an RBI double to Cesar Hernandez. On the double, Conforto got to the ball, and made a strong throw to second. Hernandez was dead to rights, but McNeil just dropped the ball.
Later that inning, Williams hit a sinking liner Williams just missed getting to in time. At that point, it was 8-2 Phillies.
The Mets, who have been playing much better of late would show some fight.
Tyler Bashlor would give one of those runs back by allowing back-to-back doubles to Santana and Franco in the seventh before settling in and retiring the Phillies.
Even with the five run deficit, the Mets would go on the attack in the ninth starting with Plawecki reaching with Phillies reliever Yacksel Rios throughing a screwball between Santana’s legs. As the inning continued Conforto and Flores would hit RBI singles to pull the Mets to within 9-6, which then led to Kapler brining in his closer Seranthony Dominguez.
The Mets would bring the tying runs to the plate with Jackson and Bautista, but both would strike out to end the rally and the game.
Overall, it was quite a day for a Mets offense who is suddenly alive and robust. It will be interesting to see how this continues as this series progresses with the Mets always hitting well at Citizens Bank Park.
Game Notes: With the Mets scoring 25 runs, they became the first team in a decade to score 15 runs in consecutive games. Jacob Rhame was available as the 26th man, and he would pitch two scoreless to close out the first end of the doubleheader.
This was a matchup not even Gary Cohen to bring himself to watch.
Really, to put how dreadful both this game and the Orioles are, Vargas’ final line was 6.0 innings, five hits, two runs, two earned, three walks, and a strikeout.
Astonishingly, he had a 2-1 lead in the sixth before allowing a homer to Adam Jones.
That eliminated the lead from the Mets fifth inning rally. Up until that inning, the Mets were mostly stymied by Cashner, who retired the first 10 straight and 12 of the 13 batters he faced through four.
After that rally, it was all Orioles beginning with the aforementioned Jones homer.
Bobby Wahl came on in the seventh, and he struggled mightily starting with a Chris Davis homer. Remember, Davis entered the night hitting .148/.242/.299. That’s not a typo. That’s just how bad a hitter he’s been this year.
On the play, Frazier dove to stop the ball, but he deflected it towards center and past Rosario.
Sewald would get out of the inning without allowing another run, but he would allow a two run homer to Tim Beckham in the eighth giving the hapless Orioles a 6-2 lead.
After a Nimmo triple and Frazier RBI single in the ninth, it was 6-3 Orioles, which was the final score of this nearly unwatchable game.
Game Notes: The Orioles have the worst record in baseball and are 3-0 against the Mets