Daniel Murphy

Can’t Say I Miss This

Oddly enough, I missed the game because I forgot it was a 4:11 start time. I missed the game in part because I thought there was no way the Mets would play in the rain that was pouring down where I was. I missed it even though I really wanted to see Seth Lugo pitch. 

Mostly, I missed the game because no one seems to be as interested in the Mets right now. They were outclassed by the Nationals in consecutive games. Sandy Alderson says the Mets have a talented roster, will not call-up Amed Rosario, or take any other action to improve the team or hold others accountable. 
Well judging from the post-game as I caught on the radio, and the comments on Twitter:

Nationals playing home run derby again. More Daniel Murphy heroics. Mets not taking advantage of the Nationals awful bullpen. The Mets falling to 11.5 games back. 

I’m shocked I didn’t watch, but based on everything, I wouldn’t say I missed it. 

Mets Squandering Chances In Game . . . East

There’s one fatal flaw if the strategy against the Nationals is to get into their bullpen – you have to actually get into their bullpen. With how dominant Max Scherzer has been against the Mets, and how dominant he’s been this year, that wasn’t happening tonight. 

That’s not to say the Mets didn’t have their chances. The Mets grounding into three double plays only confirms the Mets had their chances. Like all double plays, these were back breakers. 

In the second, Mets had first and second with no outs and a chance to take the lead. Travis d’Arnaud grounded into the double play. The Mets wouldn’t score when Jose Reyes flew out to end the threat. 

The following inning, Steven Matz tried to help his own cause with a lead-off single, but he was erased when Michael Conforto grounded into the double play. The shock here was that entering tonight’s game, Conforto actually hit Scherzer well going 6-15 with three homers off him. Tonight, Conforto was 0-3 with a walk and two strikeouts. 

Finally in the sixth, the Mets had runners on first and second with one out. That rally ended with Wilmer Flores grounding into the inning ending double play. It was the latest sign Flores is cold. After scorching through May and earning a starting job, Flores is 2-19. 

The squandered opportunities cost the Mets. It put Matz, who was making his second start off the Disabled List, in the unenviable position of having to be perfect. Unfortunately, Matz was just good. 

While he generally kept the Nationals off the basepaths, he was victimized by the long ball. Matt Wieters and Michael Taylor went back-to-back to start the third. In the sixth, Anthony Rendon hit an opposite field two run homer that just cleared the wall. 

With that, the Nationals were up 4-0 and in position to win despite the Matz pitching fairly well. His final line was seven innings, eight hits, four runs, four earned, no walks, and four strikeouts. 

With Dusty Baker understandably not wanting to go to his bullpen, a tiring Scherzer pitched the eighth. Things got a little interesting with Reyes leading off the inning with a homer, and Curtis Granderson sending one to the wall in his pinch hitting appearance. 

This is where Scherzer showed how great he is. He was clearly on fumes, but he bore down. He made quick work of Conforto before entering a battle with Yoenis Cespedes. Despite Scherzer quickly getting up 1-2 in the count, Cespedes fouled off a number of pitches, and the count would go full. On the 11th pitch, Scherzer finally got his strikeout. 

Still, it was within striking distance at 4-1. That’s when the Mets defense blew their chances. 

Taylor led off the inning with a well placed bunt single. Flores made a nice play, but with his arm, he had no shot at Taylor. Same went for d’Arnaud when Taylor stole second.  Taylor was certainly helped by Fernando Salas not even bothering to hold him on. 

Despite all of that, the Mets had a chance to get out of the ninth inning unscathed. There were runners at the corners with one out, and Brian Goodwin hit a tailor made double play ball.  For some reason, T.J. Rivera lollipopped it over to Reyes, who had no shot to get the speedy Goodwin. 

After a Bryce Harper single, Ryan Zimmerman hit a single to left. Goodwin seemed like he would score with ease, and for some reason, Harper headed to third. Cespedes made a one hop throw to third Flores could not field. It at least appeared if Flores fielded it cleanly, Harper would’ve been out before Goodwin scored thereby negating the run. 

It didn’t happen that way and because official scorers do that the do, Cespedes was charged with the error despite his heads-up play and good throw. 

Then Terry Collins does what he does best. He made a questionable move. 

After walking Daniel Murphy intentionally to load the bases, Collins brought in Neil Ramirez and his 7.3 BB/9 into the game. To a surprise to no one, Ramirez walked in a run to make it 7-1. 

Despite the Nationals bullpen being bad, they’re not six runs in the ninth inning bad. The real shame is the Nationals bullpen pitched as expected with Jay Bruce greeting Shawn Kelley with a lead-off home run in the ninth to make it 7-2. The Mets would get no closer. 

The Mets have had two cracks at the Nationals to help them make some headway in the National League East. They responded by playing some of their worst baseball this month. They were not fundamentally sound, nor were they smart. They didn’t effectively work counts to get into that bullpen, and they played poor defense. 

The most the Mets can hope for now is a split. If they continue playing like this, it won’t happen. 

Game Notes: Mets pitchers have allowed 13 home runs over the last four games. Brandon Nimmo and Matt Reynolds were called up, but they did not play. 

Five Mets Not Alive

Through the first four innings, this was a game. The Nationals got to Robert Gsellman, but the damage wasn’t as bad as it could have been. 

He made two mistakes. The first Bryce Harper hit for a long first inning home run. The second was a Matt Wieters fourth inning double. He came home to score on a Gio Gonzalez single. That’s problematic because Gonzalez is terrific at Citi Field. 

He was again tonight. The Mets had just one hit through the first three innings, and he looked like he was going to make that 2-0 lead stick. 

Still it was only 2-0 because in the third inning, Juan Lagares nailed Harper at the plate:

In the fourth, Yoenis Cespedes and Jay Bruce hit back-to-back one out doubles to bring the Mets within 2-1. Considering how terrible the Nationals bullpen has been, that isn’t a bad position for the Mets.  If they kept it close, you had to like their chances. 

The Mets didn’t keep it close as the Nationals went to work in the fifth inning. 

Daniel Murphy continued to torture the Mets hitting a two run triple with a ball Lucas Duda couldn’t knock down and Jay Bruce couldn’t pick up. Murphy then scored on an Anthony Rendon single that tipped Lagares glove as he dove for it. The Nationals capped off the inning with a Michael Taylor homer. 

At that point, it was 7-1 Nationals. The only thing left was to add some injury to insult. 

Because this is the Mets that happened. On Lagares’ dive, he broke his left thumb, the same one he injured last year. 

It really just kept getting better and better. With Gary, Keith, and Ron discussing Amed RosarioWilmer Flores made an error. With all the injuries the Mets have had, there was a Hospital for Special Surgery advertisement behind home plate. I

After that, there was insult to injury. Rafael Montero came on in the sixth, and he dominated the Nationals. He had three straight 1-2-3 innings, and he struck out three batters. 

All the Mets had to do was keep it close, and they couldn’t do that. The Wilmer Flores homer off Joe Blanton was a stark reminder of that. 

But no, the Mets lost to the Nationals, and they lost badly. With Lagares getting hurt and Neil Walker and Matt Harvey landing on the DL, it’s once again hard to see how things are going to get better.

Game Notes: Rene Rivera hit an opposite field homer in the fifth. Gavin Cecchini struck out in his pinch hitting attempt. Matt Reynolds was scratched from the Vegas lineup meaning he’s likely ticketed for the Mets. 

Thank You Sean Gilmartin

When you have a magical season like the Mets had in 2015, there are a number of players that step forward to have remarkable seasons.  For the Mets, one of those seasons came from the unlikeliest of sources in Sean Gilmartin.

With the return of Matt Harvey and the signing of Michael Cuddyer, the Mets were letting the baseball world know 2015 was going to be their season.  There was just one small problem.  They never could quite get the LOOGY they needed.  Jerry Blevins was supposed to have that role, but he broke his pitching arm.  Josh Edgin and Jack Leathersich would join him on the disabled list.  The team traded for Alex Torres, but he was a disaster.  That meant the only real lefty they had in the bullpen was Rule 5 pick Gilmartin.

Except, Gilmartin wasn’t a LOOGY.  In essence, Gilmartin was a pitcher.  In fact, prior to joining the Mets, Gilmarting had spent the entirety of his minor league career with the Braves as a starting pitcher.  As a starter, Gilmartin had neutral to almost reverse splits.  To that end, he wasn’t the guy you wanted as the LOOGY.  Still, Gilmartin knew how to pitch, and when he was given the opportunity, he showed that to the Mets.

It took about a month and a half, but Terry Collins finally figured out Gilmartin’s role.  Gilamartin becaume the long man out of the pen.  It may not be the most glamorous of bullpen jobs, but it is of vital importance.  You need a pitcher who can go out there and keep his team in the game.  If there is an injury or a starter that just doesn’t have it, you need the long man to give the team an opportunity to make the comeback.  In extra innings, you need the guy who can go out there and reliably soak up two or even three innings and put up zeros.  Mostly, you need someone reliable who can save the bullpen.

Gilmartin was exception in that role.  During the 2015 season, Gilmartin made 18 multiple inning relief appearances accounting for 37% of his relief appearances.  Beginning on May 20th, which was really when he was made the long man, Gilmartin made 16 multiple inning relief appearances over his final 33 relief appearances of the season.  Essentially, half the time Gilmartin was used for multiple innings about half the time thereby saving the bullpen.  Namely, Gilmartin was saving Jeurys Familia, who Collins used over and over again because he was just about the only guy Collins trusted out there.

In Gilmartin’s multiple inning appearances, he was dominant.  When he pitched multiple innings, he pitched 32.2 innings going 3-1 with a 1.38 ERA, and a 0.704 WHIP.  Perhaps the key to this was the fact Gilmartin grew stronger as he pitched.  He did his best work between pitches 26 – 50 limiting batters to a .161/.235/.194 batting line.

As for a highlight, pick one. There was his first career win.  The Mets found themselves in a rare slugfest after Dillon Gee was bounced after 3.2 innings having allowed eight earned.  Torres wasn’t much better.  Gilmartin was the first pitcher to enter that game to put up multiple scoreless innings.  He stabilized the game, and he put the Mets in position to win.

There was the July 19th 18 inning game against the St. Louis Cardinals.  At that time, the Mets were so inept offensively, you could load the bases with no outs and start the batter with a 3-0 count, and the Mets still couldn’t score a run.  Gilmartin came on in the 14th inning, and he pitched three scoreless to give the Mets a chance to win that game, which they eventually did with two runs in the 18th.

On August 24th, Gilmartin was overshadowed every which was possible.  The Mets were off and running afte rthe team obtained Yoenis Cespedes.  It was David Wright‘s first game since he came off the Disabled List, and he homered in his first at-bat back with the team.  Lost in the shuffle was this was the rare poor start for Jacob deGrom with him being unable to get out of the fourth.  Gilmartin came on and pitched 3.1 scoreless to give the Mets a chance to come back from an early 7-2 deficit.

More than that, Gilmartin got his first career hit and run scored.  His sixth inning single got yet another rally started.  He scored on a Daniel Murphy three run homer, the Mets lead had actually expanded to 12-7.

Ultimately, it was Gilmartin’s August 24th relief appearance that was the essence of what it means to be a long man in the pen.  He not only went out there and saved the bullpen by tossing 3.1 innings, but he also gave his team a chance to win.  It was a tremendous effort that was overlooked because Wright played in his first game in four months, and the Mets overcame a five run deficit to blow out the Phillies.

Initially, Gilmartin was left off the postseason roster, but after Erik Goeddel‘s struggles in the NLDS, the Mets did the right thing and put Gilmartin back on the roster.  He’d make just one appearance pitching 0.2 scoreless in Game Two of the World Series.  Part of the shame of that World Series was there were multiple occasions to bring on Gilmartin.  Instead his role had gone to Bartolo Colon, who just wasn’t as effective in the role as Gilmartin.

After the 2015 season, the Mets wanted to use Gilmartin as a starter.  With a loaded major league rotation, that meant Gilmartin started the year in Vegas.  He was doing well there until the Mets started messing with him.  With the bullpen not having the effective long man that Gilmartin was in 2015, this meant the team had to call him up to the majors on multiple occasions.  This meant Gilmartin would have to fly cross-country, and the Mets would insert him into games despite his not having had full rest.  He’d develop a shoulder injury.  It may not have been enough to need surgery, but Gilmartin was never the same.

Instead of putting Gilmartin in a position to succeed, the Mets messed around with him until the point they felt his was expendable.  For some reason, with this Mets team again needing a Gilmartin in the bullpen, they refused to give him a chance instead going with Josh Smoker and Neil Ramirez and their pair of ERAs over 7.00.

Gilmartin deserved better than this.  He was a good pitcher who had a significant impact on a pennant winning team.  It disappointing the Mets never again put him in a position to succeed.  With that said, getting designated for assignment by the Mets was probably the best thing for his career.  He will once again have an opportunity to be a good major league pitcher.

While the Mets have overlooked his importance, and fans have become frustrated with him, there are those that never forgot what he once meant to this team.  Personally, I will always be grateful for his 2015 season, and I hope him nothing but success.  He’s still a good pitcher, and he should soon remind everyone of that.

Thank  you and good luck Sean Gilmartin.

 

Reflecting on The Mets Longest Tenured Manager

Once Saturday’s game is over, Terry Collins will become the Mets all-time leader in games managed.  With this, he will be above Gil Hodges, who may have owned the record himself if not for his sudden and tragic passing.  He will surpass Bobby Valentine, who was the first Mets manager to lead the team to consecutive postseasons.  Finally, he passes Davey Johnson, who led the Mets to the greatest stretch in team history.

All of the aforementioned managers have had better records then Collins, who owns the Mets mark for most losses as a manger.  It leads to the question, why is it Collins lasted longer in New York than either Valentine or Johnson?  The answer is a complicated one for a man who has led the Mets over a complicated time period.

Collins took the helm for the Mets after the disastrous Jerry Manuel Era.  After bad mouthing his boss, Willie Randolph, he talked his way into the managerial job, and he oversaw his own collapse.  Despite that, the Mets decided to retain him as the new team manager as the Mets opened up a new ballpark.  In his two full seasons as Mets manager, his teams were 149-173.  This was despite having talented rosters with players like David Wright, Jose Reyes, and Carlos Beltran.

The Manuel Era was done in by a number of issues.  First, the team was not built well for the then cavernous Citi Field.  Second, high priced veterans like Luis Castillo and Jason Bay were playing up the standards of being an average major league player, let alone their contracts.  Third, the team deal with a number of injuries – some of which were exacerbated by Manuel’s decision making.  Mostly, the mix of manager, ballpark, and roster were doomed from the beginning.  It was time for new blood across the organization.

This was the stage upon which Collins entered as the Mets manager in 2011.  The team was mostly a mix of veterans nearing either the end of their contracts or their careers and some interesting players who could be talented major league players.  In the early part of Collin’s tenure, the Mets were teams that overachieved in the first half of the season, and then with trades, injuries, or players coming back to earth, the Mets would fall apart as the season progressed.

During the early part of Collins tenure as Mets manager, no one realistically believed the Mets were going to be contenders.  As a result, judging him by wins and losses seemed counter-intuitive.  Rather, you want to look at managers like this through the prism of their ability to get the most out of the talent on their roster.  Specifically, you want to see them develop some young players.

Things almost came to a head in 2014.  The Mets first real prized free agent acquisition of the Sandy Alderson Era, Curtis Granderson, was struggling.  The other, Bartolo Colon, was the staff ace, which meant Zack Wheeler was not progressing like the organization would have liked.  There were also struggles from Dilson Herrera, Travis d’Arnaud, and others.  It was not how the Mets envisioned this season would go, and if not for the Wilpons intervening, it would have been a different manager that led the Mets to the 2015 pennant.

It’s unsure to pinpoint the exact reason Collins survived.  The biggest skeptics will pinpoint Collins was due money, and the Wilpons, who were dealing with the Madoff scandal, were loathe to pay two different managers.  It’s possible Collins was saved because the Mets were not exactly under-performing.  There were also some positive signs for the team.

Lucas Duda not only won the first base job, but he hit 30 home runs.  Daniel Murphy was a first time All-Star.  Jenrry Mejia showed he was closer material.  Wheeler had a strong finish to the season.  Jeurys Familia looked like a closer in waiting.  Juan Lagares won a Gold Glove.  Jacob deGrom was a surprise Rookie of the Year.  Matt Harvey had just been the All Star Game starter the previous season, and he was set to return in 2015.  R.A. Dickey won a Cy Young Award that allowed the facilitation of the trade to bring over d’Arnaud and Noah Syndergaard.  Overall, you could see young pieces who could be part of the Mets’ future.  These were players who were cultivated under Collins.  It should also be kept in mind Collins created a certain atmosphere in the clubhouse that partially led to Wright signing a contract extension in 2012.  Overall, the pieces for a future contender were there, and they were all cultivated under Collins.

There’s another factor that is not often discussed with Collins is the fact he’s a good human being.  Time and again with Collins we hear little things he does that mean so much to people.  He has reached out to grieving Mets fans to offer his condolences.  He’s stopped the team during Spring Training to assemble them to spend some time with sick children.  He struck the right chord between honoring Jose Fernandez and trying to keep the Mets team competitive in that three game set.  That’s a harder job to do than we all give him credit.  Having a man like this around your team and leading young men is always a good thing.

And yet, there are plenty of instances where you look at Collins’ tenure and wonder how he’s lasted this long.  His usage of Tim Byrdak, Scott Rice, Johan Santana, Jim Henderson, and others have had a negative impact upon their ability to stay healthy.  Certainly, it can be argued these pitchers’ arms were ruined by Collins.

There has also been his over-reliance on his veteran players.  Despite Collins mantra that you hit you play, it really has only every been applied to young players.  It has twice taken a litany of injuries to get T.J. Rivera in the lineup.  Collins never would put Michael Conforto back in the lineup last year no matter his raking in Triple-A and his wrist being healthy.  Instead, he watched Jay Bruce continue to flail at the plate.  This year, we see him keeping Reyes and Granderson in the lineup despite their both hitting under the Mendoza Line.

More to the point, Collins allows the question to be asked over who exactly is in charge.  There are always reports Alderson dictates to him what should be done instead of Collins being allowed to manage the team as he wishes.  Collins allowed Reyes to pull himself from the last game of the 2011 season to preserve his batting title.  One of the lasting images of the 2015 World Series was Harvey telling him not to pull him from the game.

That World Series is certainly one that will haunt the Mets.  Collins made a number of questionable moves throughout that series which did not put his team in the best possible position to win.  Given how the Mets are struggling now, it does beg the question whether that was this core’s best opportunity to win a World Series.  But it’s more than that.  We have consistently seen Collins ignore reliever’s workloads and splits when making pitching changes.  He will send Wilmer Flores up there to pinch hit against right-handed pitchers even with other players still on the bench.  Overall, it is his in-game managing that leaves a lot to be desired.

Despite all of that, Collins is still here.  He has survived a lot to get to this point.  There was the Madoff scandal.  There was a rebuild that took a year or two longer than initially advertised.  He has consistently tried to hold a team together that has seen a number of injuries, brutal losses, and disheartening losing streaks.  He oversaw the transition from the Mets being a last place team to a team that almost won a World Series.

The Terry Collins’ Era will forever be a complicated one in Mets history.  To a certain extent, it does not matter that he is the manager who has managed the most games in Mets history.  That is mostly the result of circumstance.  Arguably, the circumstances have dictated Collins remain on for as long as he has.  Say what you will about the man, but he has always been accountable, never left you questioning his loyalty to the players or fans, and he has had the pulse of his clubhouse.  If nothing else, Collins is a leader of men, and as a man, you are hard pressed to find a better human being in baseball.

It does not matter if you believe someone else should have this record.  It’s Collins’ now.  He deserves everyone’s congratulations for it, and he deserves the respect of Mets fans for his tenure.

Checking In On Conforto And The Mets

When your child is invited to a birthday party, you need to derive a plan. When do to get there?  When should you leave?  Which parents are you going to talk to?  How are you going to be able to watch/follow the Mets game?  

Well, the latter is more my concern than my wife’s. 

Fortunately, I got to watch today’s game until Michael Conforto did this:

Well, I got to watch the first one.  After that, it was time to start getting out the house and into the car. Once in the car, I got to hear how Zack Wheeler‘s Houdini act was running out of time. 

The Nationals might’ve gotten to him in the first with a Ryan Zimmerman RBI single, but they weren’t getting to him again. At least, Terry Collins wasn’t going to let that happen. 

The first four innings were tough for Wheeler. After the first, he issued lead-off walks. Somehow, he managed to escape unscathed. With the Conforto three run bomb, he has a 3-1 lead and just needed to get out of the fifth to get his win. He came so close. 

He helped erase a Jose Reyes error to start the inning by getting Bryce Harper to ground into the 1-6-3 double play. On the play, Trea Turner, who reached on the Reyes’ error, went to third. Turner then scored on the Zimmerman infield single. 

By the way, Zimmerman is getting annoying. The guy is 32 and coming off two bad years. Now, all of a sudden, he’s playing at an All Star level again even if he still can’t throw the ball.  Not only is he beating up on the Mets pitching right now, but he’s also rubbing it in because he’s having the resurgence Mets fans wanted for Zimmerman’s childhood friend and teammate David Wright

In any event, Zimmerman singles, and Wheeler is at 96 stressful pitches. Collins was all but forced to go to Josh Edgin at that point to put an end to the tomfoolery. For the second game in a row, Edgin did just that by getting a huge out. This time he got Daniel Murphy to line out. 

Just as Howie Rose is talking about how Hansel Robles usually blows up just as you begin to feel comfortable with him, it’s time up enter the party. Of course, Robles has been great of late not allowing a run in his last six appearances or eight innings, whichever you prefer. Nine innings including the sixth inning. 

That’s where I left off. Not the best feeling with the Mets up 3-2, and Stephen Strasburg is dealing. At that point, I’m walking into a party. 

For those that have not attended children’s birthday parties, it’s a mixture of bedlam amongst the children while you make small talk. The two goals are make sure your child doesn’t get hurt on whatever contraption is the feature of this party, and don’t get stuck in one of those conversations.  With this being a “gymnastics” party, there were plenty of pitfalls:


Fortunately, one of the better parents was there. Before I could say hello, he said to me, “Mets are still up 3-2.”  Everything about that sentence is beautiful. First, he found it more important to give a score update exchanged pleasantries.  Second, he used the word still knowing I was going to be listening to it on the way over. Finally, the Mets were leading. 

From there, it was all hands on deck.  One eye on the phone.  The other on the kids. 

The second Conforto homer sparked a conversation how bizarre it was the Mets treatment of him was. The Zimmerman homer led to conversions about him and Wright. No, the Reyes homer did not extend into a DV discussion. Rather, it was about how hot he is now at the plate, and how we hope Curtis Granderson snaps out of it once the calendar turns to May. 

With Jeurys Familia getting his first save of the season while retiring the side in order, the game was over, but the party was in full swing. 

Certainly, with the Mets having pulled out their second straight win, I was in a party mood myself. 

A Win So Improbable Edgin Got The Save

So without Yoenis Cespedes and with Max Scherzer in the mound, the Mets really had no chance to beat the Nationals, right?  Well, at least for one night, it was no Yo no problem. 

With Cespedes out, someone had to replace him as the spark plug in the Mets offense. Tonight, Travis d’Arnaud was d’Man. In the second inning, his no doubt blast gave the Mets their first lead in over nine games:

Intersting enough, do you remember the last time the Mets had a lead in a game?  

https://twitter.com/studi_metsimus/status/858101051030990852

Unfortunately, that lead was short lived. In the bottom of the second, Jacob deGrom first allowed a solo home run to Ryan Zimmerman and then a two run homer to Matt Wieters. The Mets short lived 2-0 lead became a 3-2 deficit. From, there it was all Mets. 

deGrom settled in and started mowing down the Nationals. He didn’t allow another run in the final five innings he pitched. He was terrific striking out 12 while allowing those three runs. For the first time in nine games, he was a Mets pitcher that recorded a win. He was the first Mets starter to record a win since Zack Wheeler got the win on April 12th. 

He got the win because his battery mate made sure he had enough run support:

It was d’Arnaud’s first five RBI game of his career. He once again showed his offensive potential on a night reminiscent of Mike Piazza. He even had a 445 foot blast like Piazza used to do. 

The Mets then got to the Nationals bullpen in the eighth. It was a refreshing change after a terrible Nationals bullpen dominated the Mets batters at Citi Field. 

Jose Reyes led off the inning with a double off Jacob Turner. He moved to third on a fielder’s choice by T.J. Rivera. With Zimmerman coming off the bag, the Mets had runners at the corners with no outs. The Mets would then load the bases when d’Arnaud worked out a walk. 
Kevin Plawecki then pinch hit for deGrom and hit an RBI single through the drawn in infield. Yes, it did really happen. Michael Conforto made it 7-3 when he worked out a bases loaded walk. 
The damage would be limited there as Asdrubal Cabrera hit into the 3-2-4 double play, and Jay Bruce grounded out. Still, the Mets got two insurance runs. It turns out they needed them. 

Jerry Blevins came on to start the eighth, and he allowed a one out single to Trea Turner. After he struck out Bryce Harper, Collins turned to Addison Reed to get out of the inning. 
Reed was greeted by Zimmerman’s second homer of the game. Things got tense when Daniel Murphy ripped a single, and Reyes made an error allowing Anthony Rendon to reach. Reed was struggling, but bore down and got a huge strikeout of Jayson Werth to get out of the jam. 

This set the stage for Jeurys Familia to record his first save of the season. 

It wasn’t easy as the Nationals immediately loaded the bases off Familia with three straight singles to lead off the inning. The last one was an Adam Eaton infield single Reyes should’ve played but let go to Cabrera. While Reyes had a good night at the plate going 2-4 with two runs, a walk, double, and a stolen base, he was poor in the field again. 

With Eaton coming up lame on the play, Dusty Baker had to use three pinch runners in the inning. Believe it or not, that wasn’t the panic move of the game. 

After Familia struck out Turner, Terry Collins went to Josh Edgin to pitch to Harper. Somehow it worked with Edgin getting Harper to hit into the 1-2-3 double play. On a night where the Mets got an improbable win, why not Edgin recording the save there?  

Game Notes: With the Cespedes injury, Bruce returned to his familiar RF. The plan is to go with Rivera at first until Lucas Duda, who just began his rehab assignment, is ready to come off the DL. Reyes is heating up going six for his last 14 with a HR. Granderson is in a 1-22 funk and now has a lower batting average than Reyes. 

Trivia Friday – Games Out of the Division

With the injuries to Yoenis Cespedes, Asdrubal CabreraTravis d’Arnaud, Wilmer FloresSeth Lugoand Steven Matz, the Mets have not jumped out of the gate quite like we all expected.  Entering this three game set with the Nationals, the Mets are 5.5 games out in the division.  If they suffer another sweep at the hands of Daniel Murphy and the Nationals, they will fall to 8.5 games out.

And yet, this is not the worst the Mets have ever had it.  In each of the six times they have won the division, they have trailed at some point in the season.  There are multiple occasions where the Mets trailed in the division by double digit games.  Can you name each deficit overcome by the Mets when they have won the division?  Good luck!


At Least The Mets Were Competitive 

When Daniel Murphy hit a grand slam in the first inning with no outs against Zack Wheeler, it seemed like the game was over. The Mets have shown nothing of late to suggest they could score four runs, let alone the five it would take to take the lead. With Max Scherzer pitching for the Nationals, the loss appeared to be a near certainty. 

At least the Mets made this one interesting. 

Michael Conforto, who is cementing his spot as this team’s lead-off hitter, hit Scherzer’s second pitch of the game for an opposite field home run:

He also made a nice play in the field:

The Mets would narrow the gap to 4-3 on a Neil Walker third inning two run home run. 

The game remains close because Wheeler was great after the first inning. After the first inning, Wheeler allowed just one hit and issued just two walks. He had a manageable pitch count, and he was able to pitch seven innings throwing just 101 pitches. 

Wheeler’s final line was seven innings, four hits, four runs, four earned, two walks, and six strikeouts. 

It’s hard to say a guy who gave up a first inning grand slam deserved a better fate, but Wheeler probably did. At a minimum, you could argue that one day the hitters need to bail out a starter. With this offense, that’s wishful thinking. 

Any hopes were dashed when Ryan Zimmerman absolutely crushed a two run homer off Josh Smoker in the eighth inning making it 6-3. That would be the final score. 

The first showdown with the Nationals led to a sweep. Regardless of the Mets health, that’s a bad sign for the 2017 season. 

Game Notes: Asdrubal Cabrera is injured, and he stumbles after each play he makes. He looks more injured than he did last year. Travis d’Arnaud couldn’t catch again, but he pinch hit yet again. Kevin Plawecki got his first start of the year. 

Mets Lose In 3-1 Blowout

If we’re being honest, this isn’t the greatest Mets lineup even when the team is healthy. It’s full of guys who certainly can all hit the ball out of the ballpark, but it’s also full of players with poor on base percentages. When you lose Lucas Duda and Yoenis Cespedes to injury the problems become even more exacerbated. 
Now, the Mets have the pitching to win games no matter who is in the lineup. We saw that in 2015 as the pitching and Curtis Granderson kept the team afloat playing near .500 ball until reinforcements arrived. 

In those games the Mets did win, they needed their pitcher’s to be great. At the state the Mets offense is now, the 2017 Mets are back to that point. Yesterday, Jacob deGrom was good. 

He was mowing the Nationals down for the first three innings until his wildness caught up to him in the fourth. A Daniel Murphy single was bracketed by walks to Bryce Harper and Anthony Rendon loading the bases. 

The Mets got a bit lucky as the Nationals third base coach sent Murphy on the ensuing RBI single by Matt Wieters

In the fifth, the Nationals got to deGrom again. Adam Eaton and Trea Turner hit back-to-back one out doubles to make it 2-0. After Harper was just told to go to first base (essentially what the new intentional walk rule is), Ryan Zimmerman hit an RBI single to make it 3-0. 

The Nationals wouldn’t score again in the sixth thanks in large part to Granderson:

After getting the first two out, deGrom got in trouble again issuing yet another walk, this time to Eaton, and then allowing a single to Turner. At this point, Terry Collins turned to Josh Edgin to get the Mets out of the jam. Somewhat surprisingly, he did by striking out Harper. 

Overall, it was a tough day for deGrom who issued a career high six walks. He was obviously ramped up early getting it up to 98 MPH and recording a lot of strikeouts. The early adrenaline wore off, and deGrom was left throwing 94 MPH and missing his spots. This was an uncharacteristic start for deGrom. His final line was 5.2 innings, eight hits, three runs, three earned, six walks, and 10 strikeouts. 

Given the current state of the Mets offense, 3-0 might as well have been 30-0. This game was no different. 

For the second time this season, the Mets offense was no-hit through five innings. This time, it was done by Gio Gonzalez. Though the Mets offense looked overmatched and lifeless, they would break through in the sixth. 

Jose Reyes pinch hit for Edgin and worked a one out walk. Then, Juan Lagares broke up the no-hitter with a single. More than that, the Mets had a rally going. 

Michael Conforto didn’t help the narrative he can’t hit left-handed pitching by striking out and going hitless on the day. Where Conforto didn’t come through, a hobbled Asdrubal Cabrera did hitting an RBI single to make it 3-1. That was as close as the Mets would get. 
Jay Bruce and Neil Walker had back-to-back strikeouts ending the Mets only rally of the game. The offense then made a struggling Nationals bullpen look like the 1990 Nasty Boys. 
Blake TreinenEnny Romero, and Koda Glover did their best Norm CharltonRob DibbleRandy Myers impersonation to slam the door shut on the 3-1 victory. 
With that, the Mets are 8-10 and are in fourth place 4.5 back. They’re having trouble beating the Phillies and can’t even hit a poor Nationals bullpen. It’s still April, so it’s still early, but things do not look good right now. 

Game Notes: Cabrera tried to leg out an infield single in the fourth.  He was noticeably hobbled, and he came out to take his position right before the first pitch of the fifth inning. For the second day in a row, an injured Yoenis Cespedes informed the team he was too injured to pinch hit. Once again, Travis d’Arnaud was limited to pinch hitting duty. T.J. Rivera got the start at third base over a healthy Reyes. He was 0-3.