Today was a special day regardless of the outcome because the Mets finally activated David Wright from the 60 day disabled list. That said, whatever chance we thought we would get to see him play were quickly dashed as the Mets said they were not going to pinch hit him. The reason given was the Braves are fighting for homefield advantage in the NLDS, and the Mets did not want to interfere with the integrity of that race.
While justified, you almost have to question how the Mets could take that stance and also use their bullpen in this game.
Through the first six innings, the Braves had just three hits to the Mets four. The difference between the two teams was the Mets made their hits count.
Crew Chief reviews call that Michael Conforto did not hit a home run in the 3rd; call confirmed, no home run.
— MLB Replay (@MLBReplays) September 26, 2018
In the sixth, the Mets tacked on a run in a rally against Braves reliever Dan Winkler.
At 3-0, it appeared Noah Syndergaard was going to earn his first career win against the Braves. In his six scoreless innings, he would allow the aforementioned three hits with two walks and five strikeouts.
After 89 pitches and his being pinch hit for, Syndergaard was done after six. Robert Gsellman would relieve him and the bullpen meltdown would begin.
Johan Camargo led off the inning with a double, and he scored on a Kurt Suzuki RBI single. Suzuki moved to second on a Charlie Culberson walk, and he’d score because Austin Jackson flat out dropped a Rio Ruiz flyball.
Drew Smith, who has really struggled of late, came into the game and threw gasoline on the fire. Actually, with him being a pitcher, he just came in and threw bad pitches.
One of those pitches was thrown to the backstop allowing not just Suzuki to score, but also for Culbertson and Ruiz to move up. The next was hit by Ronald Acuna, Jr. for an RBI single which put the Braves up 4-3.
That 4-3 deficit grew as Jerry Blevins would have a rough eighth.
After getting the first out, Todd Frazier, who didn’t have a great game, booted a Camargo grounder. Camargo would then score on a Suzuki double. The capper would be a two run Ozzie Albies two run homer.
At that point, it was 7-3 Braves, and the game was over. While Wright was not used as to not upset the competitive balance of the postseason, the Mets bullpen was used and they did just that.
Game Notes: Wright homered in his last three games played in 2016, so whenever he plays, he will have a chance to match his career high in homering in four straight games.
The Mets had won 19 consecutive games in which a Mets pitcher had hit a homer. That included Steven Matz‘s last start when he had homered. Well, Matz woud hit a homer again in this game giving you hope it was going to be 20 straight:
— New York Mets (@Mets) September 19, 2018
That homer came off of Aaron Nola, and it not only gave the Mets the lead, but it put a little dent in Nola’s Cy Young case. Certainly, Matz was cognizant of that as after Matz trotted around the bases, he walked up to Jacob deGrom and said, “That was for my friend.”
Really, Matz did all he could do to help deGrom win the Cy Young. In addition to the homer, Matz was good on the mound. In his five innings, he would allow just two hits while walking five and striking out four. In addition to the hitting and pitching, Matz would make an incredible behind the back catch to start a double play:
— New York Mets (@Mets) September 19, 2018
With the four walks, Matz’s pitch count was up. At 91 pitches, it made the decision to pinch hit for him in the top of the sixth an easier one than it normally would be.
At the time the Mets had a 2-0 lead because Dominic Smith would double home Brandon Nimmo in the fourth inning. Smith and Nimmo would take part in another two out rally in the fifth. After Nimmo walked because, well that’s what he does, and Dom singled, Gabe Kapler would pull Nola and put it Pat Neshek. Neshek walked Kevin Plawecki to load the bases, and Mickey Callaway sent up Wilmer Flores to pinch hit.
Flores would strike out on three pitches.
That Flores strikeout was a missed opportunity. With the inherited runners on base, it was a chance to put a further dent in Nola’s Cy Young wishes. It was also a chance to tack on some needed runs.
The Mets would add .02 to Nola’s ERA which probably won’t have much impact on his Cy Young chances. Because the Mets failed to take advantage of the opportunity, they would also miss a chance to saddle Nola with the loss. Well, it was the missed chance and the bullpen implosion.
Jerry Blevins started the fire by walking Carlos Santana and hitting Aaron Altherr with a pitch. Callaway then brought on Drew Smith, who just could not get anyone out. First, it was a Wilson Ramos single. Then a Justin Bour double. Finally, Jorge Alfaro homered. Anthony Swarzak would come on and get the Mets out of the inning without allowing another run.
But by then, it was too late. The Mets fell behind 5-2, and they did not have another run in them. It didn’t matter much as the chance to really dent Nola’s Cy Young case went by the wayside.
Game Notes: In a recent BBWAA poll, deGrom was overwhelming voted as the Cy Young winner.
In an emotional press conference, David Wright announced he was playing on Saturday, September 29th and never again. While we’ve already entered into a post-Wright Mets era, this was a crushing confirmation of the news.
With news like this, the last thing on most people’s minds was playing a game. Let alone two. And yet, there was a scheduled doubleheader.
In the first game, we were treated to a terrific performance from Steven Matz.
— New York Mets (@Mets) September 13, 2018
Overall, Matz pitched 6.1 innings allowing three earned on three hits with two walks and four strikeouts.
It seemed the Marlins were going to win this game 3-2, but that was until Don Mattingly made a mistake. Instead of sticking with Adam Conley, who absolutely owns the Mets, Mattingly went to Kyle Barraclough because Amed Rosario was due up.
While Smith wouldn’t deliver, Michael Conforto would hitting a game tying homer off Barraclough. It was his fourth homer in five games.
Three pitches later, Todd Frazier would hit a walk-off homer.
With that, the game ended with a homer by Wright’s heir apparent for best homegrown position player followed by a homer by the guy signed to replace Wright. Really, it was quite the fitting ending.
But still, there was more baseball to be played.
Vargas would get the win for a few reasons. Chief among them was his catcher Tomas Nido, who made a great play in the field
— Elite Sports NY (@EliteSportsNY) September 14, 2018
before hitting his first career homer
Tomas Nido, the @Mets' No. 12 prospect, went deep to left for his first MLB homer. The 🚀 went 400 feet and had an exit velocity of 101.9 mph. Watch live: https://t.co/nY6ru3JzAQ pic.twitter.com/n8SdejjbMq
— MLB Pipeline (@MLBPipeline) September 13, 2018
The Nido solo shot opened the scoring for the Mets in a three run inning capped off by a two out Conforto RBI double.
That 3-2 lead would hold up as Seth Lugo was as dominant as you can be in his two innings. In fact, Lugo would strike out five of the seven batters he faced.
The Mets built a seventh inning rally starting starting with a Jeff McNeil two out single. As the inning progressed, the Mets scored insurance runs on singles by Conforto and Smith.
That 5-2 lead proved to be save for Robert Gsellman to shut the door on a seemingly rare doubleheader sweep.
With the sweep, the Mets are now just 10 games under .500 for the first time since June 21st.
When Justin Turner hit a first inning home run off of Jacob deGrom, it was evident deGrom did not have his best stuff. After all, deGrom had not allowed a home run in his last 42 innings pitched. As it turned out, it really was a struggle for deGrom with him needing 109 pitches to get through six innings. That’s notably because he threw 108 pitches in each of his last three starts, and he went 9.0, 6.0, and 8.0 innings respectively.
Through all of his troubles tonight and him fighting it, deGrom’s final line was 6.0 innings, two hits, one run, one earned, one walk, and six strikeouts.
It’s at the point where deGrom is so good his inability to find himself and be on his A game leads him to having an absolutely terrific and dominant start. He’s been having a lot of those lately. In fact, with this quality start, deGrom set a new Mets record with 20 straight quality starts. It gets better. With deGrom allowing three earned runs or less in his past 25 starts, he has set a new MLB record.
And to think there are some people who don’t want to give him the Cy Young. Of course, those people’s justification is wins. Well, tonight was another exercise of how absurd that is.
While deGrom has been great all season, Alex Wood has been great of late, and the Mets do not hit left-handed batters well. More to the point, for some reason when the Mets have been playing good teams of late, they find ways to shoot themselves in the foot. Tonight was no exception.
In the first Wilmer Flores hit into an inning ending double play. In the second, Todd Frazier, who had made a fine catch in the game diving into the stands, was thrown out stealing to end the inning. In the third, Austin Jackson struck out to end the inning with runners at second and third. After all of that, deGrom needed to take control of things himself in the fifth inning.
After a Jay Bruce leadoff walk and a Devin Mesoraco single (he was lifted from the game and Jose Reyes pinch ran for him due to injury), Jeff McNeil hit into a double play leaving it up to deGrom to get Bruce home from third. With him using McNeil’s bat, deGrom delivered the RBI single tying the game at 1-1. Really, deGrom was doing all he could do out there with him combining his excellent pitching with him going 2-for-2 at the plate.
There was a chance deGrom was going to get into the seventh inning in this game to just allow him to hang around long enough to hope beyond hope the Mets put him in a position to win. However with an Amed Rosario error in the sixth inning, that pretty much ended that hope meaning the 8-8 deGrom was saddled with another no decision, and this was going to become a battle of the bullpens.
The Mets would win that battle as the offense would eventually break through and because the Mets bullpen did not break.
In the seventh, the Mets were close. They had the bases loaded with two outs, but Jackson couldn’t deliver the key hit. Well, if the Mets thought they were close, the Dodgers were even closer.
In the eighth, Drew Smith issued a two out walk to Turner which almost blew up in his face. If not for the low right field wall in Dodgers Stadium, it is likely Manny Machado‘s double gives the Dodgers a 2-1 lead instead of being a ground rule double putting runners at second and third with two outs. After getting Enrique Hernandez to fly out to center, Smith officially dodged a bullet.
Kenta Maeda was not dodging the same bullet in the ninth. After a Bruce leadoff double, Kevin Plawecki sacrificed him over to third base. After McNeil was hit by a pitch, the Mets had runners at the corners with one out setting the stage for Brandon Nimmo, who came on to pinch hit for Smith:
GOODBYE! 4-1 in the 9th! pic.twitter.com/CIzSoQvTGi
— New York Mets (@Mets) September 4, 2018
With Nimmo’s pinch hit three run homer, the Mets had an unlikely 4-1 lead, which Robert Gsellman had the task to save. It was not going to be easy for him and the Mets. After a replay review, the Dodgers had runners at the corners with no outs. The game was 4-2 after Grandal brought a run home with a sacrifice fly. That would be the final score as Gsellman induced Matt Kemp to hit into the game ending 6-4-3 double play.
So overall, the Mets won a game partially because of the six dominant innings he gave them, but for some reason, there is going to be a voter out there who is not going to put him atop the Cy Young ballot because of his 8-8 record.
Zack Wheeler was back in San Francisco to pitch against the team who made him the sixth overall pick of the 2009 draft. Like he has to most teams in baseball this year, especially in the second half of the season, Wheeler showed the Giants why he was drafted that high.
Even with him yielding two doubles over the first six innings, the Giants never truly threatened Wheeler. Really, it wasn’t until the third triple of the game that Wheeler faced any real danger.
Brandon Belt would lead off the seventh with a double, and he would move to third on a ground out to shortstop. It was a slow hit ball off the bat of Austin Slater, one which shortstop Jose Reyes made zero attempt to charge. Therefore, even with the ball being hit to Reyes’ right, Belt would be able to advance. This was important as Chris Shaw would hit a fly ball to center that easily scored Belt.
That run caused partially by a lackadaisical play by Reyes would be the dagger in this game despite Wheeler pitching seven innings allowing just the one run on four hits with no walks and nine strikeouts.
The reason why this was a dagger was that no Met other than Jeff McNeil could do anything against Giants starter Andrew Suarez. For his part, Suarez allowed no runs with just two hits, no walks, and five strikeouts.
Of course, it didn’t help that Reyes was starting for the red hot Amed Rosario because Rosario needed an emergency root canal. It also didn’t help Michael Conforto was sitting and Devin Mesoraco was in the lineup as Kevin Plawecki went on paternity leave.
In the top of the eighth, the Mets would get their chance with Brandon Nimmo, who was once again curiously hitting in the bottom of the lineup again, hit a one out double. Slater would have a difficult time fielding the ball in right, but Nimmo was unable to take advantage and get to third as he was already decelerating as he approached second. It wouldn’t matter much as Reyes popped out, and Conforto would ground out to end the inning.
If there was any hopes the Mets would get back into the game, it was all dashed in a horrific bottom of the eighth with the Mets needing four relievers to record three outs. Robert Gsellman did not record an out while allowing a homer and another hit. Daniel Zamora relieved him striking out Joe Panik and Alen Hanson.
Rather than go to the bullpen to face Evan Longoria, Mickey Callaway ordered him intentionally walked to allow Zamora to face Belt. Belt would crush a pitch off the right center field wall which would have been a homer in any other park. At AT&T, it was a triple.
All told, the Mets went from a 1-0 deficit to a 7-0 loss. It was an ugly loss in every way, shape, and form.
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.
Seeing how the Nationals have performed recently, including how they performed yesterday against Jason Vargas, it’s difficult to get excited about any pitcher dominating them.
That said, Zack Wheeler has been great recently and today was another one of his terrific outings.
Wheeler pitched seven scoreless allowing six hits and three walks while striking out four.
This was the eighth time over his last 12 starts where he has gone at least seven innings. It is also the sixth straight start he’s allowed two runs or fewer.
For a while, it looked like Wheeler would walk away with the no decision as Tanner Roark was matching zeros with him over the first five innings.
Up until that point, the Mets just had three hits and no one reached third.
Finally, with one out in the sixth, Amed Rosario would hit a solo homer to give the Mets a 1-0 lead.
El Niño looking more like El Hombre right now. 💪 pic.twitter.com/BXeRgB2wlt
— New York Mets (@Mets) August 25, 2018
The Mets would tack on runs in the ensuing two innings.
In the seventh, Todd Frazier would continue his hot hitting with a homer of his own.
In the eighth, Rosario beat out a potential double play ball extending the inning. He would then score as both Jeff McNeil and Michael Conforto would hit singles off Nationals left-handed reliever Matt Grace.
That 3-0 lead was more than enough for Wheeler and what has been a terrific Mets bullpen this month.
Just like that, it appears the Mets are trending in an upward trajectory while the Nationals are struggling to find themselves. Hopefully, that will last longer than just the final two months of this season.
Game Notes: This is the first time the Mets recorded consecutive shutouts since 2015. Conforto started the game in center for the first time since June 26th.
Since the All Star Break, the Mets are playing much better baseball. In fact, the team is actually two games over .500, and they have won 12 of their last 19 games.
One of the major reasons for the improved play is the Mets are finally playing their talented younger players, and they’re taking advantage of their opportunity.
Dom 💣 incoming! pic.twitter.com/M9ZlQQ0vmG
— New York Mets (@Mets) August 22, 2018
That second inning homer did not end the rally.
Jeff McNeil then drove home Reinheimer with an RBI single. With that single and his first inning triple, McNeil reached base safely in seven consecutive at-bats.
What’s amazing about that first inning triple is McNeil didn’t score even with Todd Frazier reaching on a Crawford throwing error.
Speaking of Frazier, he would drive home the third run of the inning on a ground rule double.
In this 2016 Wild Card Game rematch, Noah Syndergaard would give back two of the runs right away.
Syndergaard would shut the Giants down from there. In six innings, he would throw 101 pitches limiting the Giants to two runs on five hits while walking one and striking out five.
With Bautista hitting a solo homer in the fourth, he’d depart with a 4-2 lead.
First batter he faced, Austin Slater, hit a homer.
With one out in the inning, he’d hit Chase d’Arnaud with a pitch before Duggar popped out on a bunt attempt.
Callaway then went to Jerry Blevins, who retired Panik to get out of the jam.
Frazier got that run back with a homer in the bottom of the seventh,
Robert Gsellman was dominant in the bottom of the eight striking out two of the three batters he faced.
With that, the Mets won 5-3. Who knew that this team could win young players getting playing time and a chance to succeed?
Game Recap: With the win, the Mets have ensured at least a series split. The Mets have now either won or split their past five series.
Believe it or not, two years ago, Todd Frazier was part of a Toms River team who won the Little League World Series. Of course, you believe it because we are reminded of it all the time. But it wasn’t just Frazier with Little League World Series exploits. Michael Conforto is the only player to homer in both the World Series and the Little League World Series.
Considering the Mets connection with to the Little League World Series, it made them the natural choice to participate in the Little League Classic.
What made the choice even better was how much the team embraced it. Frazier was out there signing autographs. Jacob deGrom was interviewing Little Leaguers. Noah Syndergaard was sharing pitching grips with members of the Spanish team. Really, to a man, the Mets were taking pictures with the young players. Syndergaard and deGrom would join Steven Matz and Zack Wheeler in watching the game from the stands with the Staten Island Little League team.
The Mets also embraced the challenge on the field, which included Jason Vargas having his best start in a Mets uniform.
Surprisingly, the Phillies could not get to Vargas until the sixth when Carlos Santana hit a two run home run off of him. After a Wilson Ramos double, Mickey Callaway brought in Seth Lugo, the Quarterrican, to get out of the jam. At that point, it was too little too late for the Phillies.
The Mets first rally was started by Frazier (who else?). His leadoff single against Nick Pivetta was the first of four straight singles. The Jose Bautista and Kevin Plawecki singles would plate two runs. After a Vargas sacrifice bunt, Amed Rosario would hit a two RBI single to give the Mets an early 4-0 lead.
The Mets lead would grow to 7-0 before the Phillies would even score a run off of Vargas. Jeff McNeil plated two runs with an RBI single in the fourth, and Rosario plated a run with another RBI single in the sixth.
Things were going so well for the Mets that Dominic Smith, who was called-up as the 26th man for the game, would hit an RBI pinch hit double in the eight. With Brandon Nimmo hurting, the Mets are now considering keeping Smith up to play left field, which would obviously be the right thing to do.
Game Notes: Asdrubal Cabrera went 1-for-17 against his former team in this series.