Drew Smith

Mets Go From No-Hitter To Not Winning

Since some struggles coming out of the All-Star Break, Taijuan Walker has been slowly returning to his first half All-Star form. He was that and more tonight.

Walker was hitting the mid 90s again, and he was giving the vaunted Los Angeles Dodgers lineup fits. In fact, he’d no-hit them for 6.1 innings. His thanks was a no decision.

Part of the reason was Walker Buehler was also great. The Dodgers ace was going zero for zero with Walker. Buehler’s only blemish was a Michael Conforto homer in the fourth.

This was the latest sign Conforto is getting past COVID and needing the ability to carry this team offensively. He basically was the entire Mets offense driving in the only run.

Just like how Conforto broke a no-hit bid for Buehler in the fourth, Will Smith did the same in the seventh. It was his second devastating homer in as many nights tying the score 1-1.

Like with many pitchers who lose their no-hitter, Walker started to struggle putting runners on the corners with two outs. Luis Rojas responded by bringing in Aaron Loup to face Cody Bellinger.

During the at-bat, Rojas had enough with what was an erratic at best strike zone. Despite the zone, Loup got his man like he always does. It kept that game tied.

To the extent the Mets gained momentum off of that, they squandered it. They had two on and no out. For some idiotic reason, Tomas Nido was sent up to bunt. He couldn’t get it down, and the inning unraveled from there.

Fact is, that was the Mets chance. While this was a battle of exhausted bullpens with the top guys effectively unavailable, the Dodgers bullpen did their job.

The Mets got to the 10th, and they were in a bad spot. Seth Lugo made quick work of the Dodgers in the ninth, but he’s struggled going a second inning this year. With the top guys overworked or already used, Dave Jauss tabbed Yennsy Diaz.

Diaz came close to getting through the 10th, but Bellinger would double driving home the go-ahead run. In the bottom of the inning, the Mets put up little resistance to Phil Beckford and Corey Knebel.

As a result, the Mets lost a winnable game 2-1. They wasted a Walker gem, and they lost two straight extra inning games to a team who came to Citi Field 0-12 in those games. Also, they fell 1.5 games back.

This isn’t a time for moral victories. It’s a time for victories. They Mets need them, and if they don’t get them, they we’ll continue to squander away what should’ve been a special season.

Game Notes: Albert Almora was optioned to Syracuse. Drew Smith was placed on the IL. Jake Reed and Geoff Hartlieb were recalled from Syracuse.

Suspended Mets Offense Awakens

The New York Mets began the suspended game down 3-1. Rich Hill volunteered to pitch earlier than his spot because the Mets needed a starter. He’d be far from the only person who stepped up on the day.

Now, while Hill stepped up, he wasn’t great. The deficit grew to 4-1 in the second when Victor Robles hit an RBI double.

Then, something happened to the Mets offense. That something was Joe Ross. As fans, we tend to focus on the Mets killers of the world, but we overlook the Rosses of the world who just wilt when they see the orange and blue.

Brandon Nimmo awoke the offense with a leadoff double in the third. That led to the dreaded bases loaded no outs situation. Michael Conforto got the Mets past the mental hurdle of never scoring with an RBI groundout. This sparked a three run inning tying the score at 4-4.

It was the first time in a week the Mets scored more than three and just the second time all month. Whether it was Ross or not, the Mets offense seemed to be clicking.

They needed it to because Hill ran out of gas in the fifth. After allowing the first two to reach, he allowed a Luis Garcia two RBI double putting the Nationals up 6-4. That’s when the Mets went to the bullpen to ask Jeurys Familia to stop the bleeding.

Familia didn’t exactly do that. The first batter he faced, Riley Adams, drove home Garcia with an RBI single. After a sacrifice bunt, he was in scoring position. That set the stage for Jeff McNeil to save the game.

In what was a flashback, Alcidies Escobar, a 2015 Kansas City Royal, was up against Familia with the opportunity to end the game. He’d rip a liner, but McNeil got higher than we’ve ever seen him robbing an RBI base hit and ending the inning.

The Mets then started chipping away at that lead. In the bottom of the inning, McNeil drew a leadoff walk, and he was still there with two outs. On a 3-2 pitch, a clearly hobbled McNeil was running when Conforto ripped an RBI single through the shift.

Thanks to a double clutch from Carter Kieboom on the relay McNeil scored easily. Conforto tried to advance on the throw, but he was caught in a run down easily making the last out.

Gabe Klobosits relieved Ross to start the seventh. Nimmo would led off the inning with a single. Two batter last later, Pete Alonso came sooo close to giving the Mets the lead. Instead, it was an RBI double pulling the Mets within a run.

While the Mets wouldn’t get the lead there, they finally would in the eighth. With a runner on second, Jonathan Villar was up there hybrid bunting, that is, he was up to sacrifice, but he always bunts to get a base hit.

That always puts extra pressure on the defense, especially with his speed. Nationals pitcher Mason Thompson fielded it rather cleanly and easily, but he appeared to rush the throw leading him to throw it away. The tying run scored, and Villar was in scoring position.

Later in the inning, we’d see pinch hitting extraordinaire Brandon Drury. For some reason, just like Matt Franco in 1999, some pinch hitters just get locked in at the plate. That’s been Drury this year, and he delivered again with a go-ahead RBI single through a drawn-in infield.

Astonishingly, that was the first Mets lead in 43 innings. Somehow that seems impossible. Then again, the Mets have been terrible of late losing four straight and nine of 10.

The Mets got to this point not just due to the offense but the bullpen as well. Familia, Miguel Castro, Drew Smith, and Trevor May combined to pitch four scoreless allowing just the two hits. They walked none and struck out two.

While the Mets were armed with the lead heading into the ninth, they weren’t out of the woods. The very mercurial and rusty Edwin Diaz was coming in for the save, and the first batter he’d face was Juan Soto.

Diaz made quick work of Soto striking him out on four pitches. With Soto down, it was effectively game over at that point. Diaz hit the easy save, and the Mets finally won a game.

This is what we envisioned the Mets offense can and should be. There are reasons why he saw it happened with Ross being one of them.

There was also Nimmo being a table setter. McNeil was spraying the ball, and Alonso’s talk about the process produced tangible results.

Mix in Conforto getting further away from COVID and returning to form with some luck, which is always needed, and you get a huge Mets win. The key now is to build off of this.

Game Notes: The second game of the doubleheader was rained out. The Mets signed Josh Reddick to a minor league deal.

Mets Blame Players For Injuries And Have Them Play In Rain

For New York Mets fans salivating for one of those good old fashioned Terry Collins throw the players under the bus press conferences, interim GM Zack Scott gave it to them. While it lacked the flair, the substance was on point.

Scott said the Mets have been mediocre, and their play of late has been unacceptable. In all honesty, both were true, and there’s no issues with him saying that.

Then, Scott went on to say the soft tissue injuries were really the result of players not following designed protocols from the team. Essentially, the Mets washed their hands from the vast majority of injuries their players faced.

What’s hilarious about that is the Mets started a game with a threat of rain. Remember, before first pitch, the home team decides whether or not to proceed. After that, it’s the umpires.

With the Mets proceeding, they got one inning from Carlos Carrasco. After he sat around a bit, he had to simulate a game to continue with the process of stretching out.

Because the game was suspended, the Mets bullpen, starting with Drew Smith, has to pitch eight innings. And, that’s before the second game of a doubleheader.

Keep in mind, the day after that, Rich Hill takes the mound. The Mets learned the hard way Hill is just a five inning pitcher. That means even more stress for the bullpen. That means they’ll be overtaxed as they hop on a plane to head out west.

So yes, Scott and the Mets can put these injuries on the players. They are in charge and can say whatever they want. However, behind that is a series of pitching decisions and decisions like tonight which have led to pitcher injury after pitcher injury after pitcher injury.

For all we know, it’s these types of decisions and missed opportunities which have trickled down to the position players. Overall, the Mets are right in saying the players have their share in the injures. However, as the Carrasco one inning suspended game shows, this front office isn’t as innocent as they told us they are.

Mets Teetering With Reds Loss

This should’ve been a great day for the New York Mets. The black uniforms were back for limited engagement, Carlos Carrasco was making his season debut, and they added Javier Baez at the trade deadline.

Instead of this being the Yoenis Cespedes celebration with Lucas Duda carrying the Mets to first place, you have to wonder if the Mets are in real trouble.

For his part, aside from surrendering a homer to Jonathan India on his first pitch, Carrasco was terrific. Over four innings, he allowed just that one run on three hits and one walk while striking out four.

It should be noted, part of the reason he gave up one run was a phenomenal play by Luis Guillorme to rob Eugenio Suarez of a would be RBI single.

At that time, the Mets should’ve had a lead. Before Sonny Gray could blink Jeff McNeil doubled home Brandon Nimmo to tie the score. Then, the Mets loaded the bases with no outs.

The promising rally completely fell apart. Michael Conforto struck out in what would be an 0-for-4 night with a golden sombrero and a dip below the Mendoza Line.

Jonathan Villar then hit into an inning ending double play. That was about it for the Mets offense for the night. They wouldn’t get a runner into scoring position until the eighth, and they squandered that opportunity as well.

That wasn’t the case with the Reds. Miguel Castro‘s struggles continued. He allowed a double to India, and Jesse Winker was a Mets killer again driving him home.

Drew Smith‘s long ball troubles continued as he allowed a homer to Joey Votto the following inning. This was the seventh consecutive game Votto homered.

It was still theoretically a game in the ninth as it was only 3-1. That was until the Reds roughed up Anthony Banda in his second inning of work for three runs making it a 6-1 Reds lead.

In the ninth, in what may prove to be his last Mets at-bat, Brandon Drury hit a pinch hit RBI double. It proved to be nothing more than window dressing in the Mets 6-2 loss.

As if that loss wasn’t bad enough, Nimmo was going to be taken out of the game with a hamstring issue resulting from a dividing catch. Jacob deGrom was shut down again with more forearm inflammation. It should also be noted with the Mets falling to add a reliever the bullpen struggled.

All told, even with the Baez addition, this was just about as bad a day as you can get. The Mets looked bad and might be in real trouble soon.

Game Notes: In addition to getting Baez for Pete Crow-Armstrong, the Mets also obtained Trevor Williams. Williams was assigned to Triple-A Syracuse.

Mets Return The Favor

If you thought blowing a 6-0 lead entering the bottom of the eighth was bad, Taijuan Walker only lasted one-third of an inning. In that one-third, he allowed SIX runs.

The key moment of the inning was a Kevin Newman hit ball Walker tried to touch foul. Instead, the umps called it fair. While Walker argued, and J.D. Davis aimlessly walked towards the third base coaches box not even pretending to care to make a play, the Pirates scored three runs to take a commanding 6-0 first inning lead.

Luis Rojas argued the play as vociferously as we’ve ever seen him argue with an umpire. Between that and a bump, he’d get tossed.

Walker departed as well. He’d be replaced by Drew Smith. Over 2.2 scoreless innings, Smith gave the bullpen some much needed length, and he kept the Mets in position to get back into the game.

The Mets would do that. First, it was a Dominic Smith two out RBI single making it 6-1. In the ensuing inning, Travis Blankenhorn came up to pinch hit for Smith, and he hit his first Major League homer.

Suddenly, it was 6-4 in the fourth. That meant the Mets were back in the game. They’d stay in the game because the bullpen was phenomenal.

After Smith, Miguel Castro threw a scoreless inning, and Aaron Loup followed with two more scoreless. With Smith hitting an RBI double scoring Jeff McNeil from first in the sixth.

Just like that, it was a one run game. After Jeurys Familia pitched an adventurous yet scoreless eighth, the Mets had a chance. Those chances improved when Smith hit a lead-off single. Then, Michael Conforto had his biggest hit of the year.

Conforto has been heating up of late, and we’ve seen him hit for power again. When he hits like this, no deficit is insurmountable, even a 6-0 first inning one.

After Edwin Diaz threw so many pitches in his blown save the previous night, Trevor May got the chance. Despite issuing a lead-off walk, he earned his second save of the year.

This was a game where we saw how special and resilient this Mets team is. They responded to a 6-0 first inning deficit with 8.1 scoreless. Wins like these makes you believe they can win the World Series.

Game Notes: Jacob deGrom has been put on the IL and shut down. Dave Jauss replaced Rojas as manager after the ejection.

Mets Lose Lindor And Inexplainable Game To Pirates

The New York Mets first game out of the break was a completely unmitigated disaster. To a certain extent, it was an embarrassment.

Against Chad Kuhl and the Pittsburgh Pirates bullpen, the Mets kept threatening and faltering. In fact, this team was 0-for-12 with RISP. That’s only part of the story.

In three straight innings, they drew lead-off walks. They had runners on first and second three straight innings. They had eight different men in scoring position.

Just one of them scored. It was Pete Alonso on a Jonathan Villar RBI fielder’s choice in the fourth. That wasn’t enough run support for Marcus Stroman.

Stroman didn’t have his best stuff, and he was fighting it in more ways than one.

His toughest inning was the second. The Pirates loaded the bases against him with one out, and then the rains came. There was roughly a half hour rain delay.

He’d strike out Kuhl, but he’d allow a two RBI single to Adam Frazier giving the Pirates a 2-0 lead. After that Ke’Bryan Hayes hit one up the middle making Stroman look like Charlie Brown. Stroman escaped the inning without any further damage.

That damage would come later. The fifth inning would be as bizarre and damaging an inning as we’ve seen. It started with Francisco Lindor leaving with an apparent oblique injury.

In the bottom of the inning, we’d see Stromsn retire John Nogowski to get out of a tough jam to leave the game at 2-1. Stroman celebrated, and Nogowski thought he was tougher than Stroman.

Stroman couldn’t get to Nogowski because James McCann wouldn’t let him. We’d see Stroman bent over and run off the field. Apparently, he was alright as he back to the dugout to chirp Nogowski.

This was all well and good, but Stroman and the Mets took the loss. The 2-1 deficit grew to 4-1 when Drew Smith and Jeurys Familia each surrendered long homers.

It was another ugly, inexplicable, and unacceptable loss to a very bad Pirates team. They now loss three out of five to the Pirates, and worse yet, they’ve lost their best position player.

Game Notes: Gary Thorne came back to do play-by-play with Gary Cohen on vacation. Billy McKinney was designated for assignment to make room for J.D. Davis on the roster. Luis Guillorme replaced Lindor at short.

20/20 Hindsight: Mets Walk The Plank

The New York Mets had a golden opportunity with seven straight games against the Pittsburgh Pirates. Somehow, they started the stretch with a split:

1. Blowing a five run first inning lead to the Pirates is completely unacceptable.

2. Part of blowing that game was bullpenning. As correctly noted by Zack Braziller, if you’re the Mets, you do that you should choose a seven inning game and not the nine inning game.

3. That game was exactly why they waited so long on calling the Jacob deGrom start.

4. Luis Rojas has been really good, but in these bullpen games he just gets too greedy pushing relievers an extra inning. Pushing Miguel Castro, who was been bad lately, is a classic example of that.

5. It’s odd that Rojas and the Mets don’t trust Drew Smith. For the most part, when he’s been called upon, he performs.

6. Simply put, while they shouldn’t have been All-Stars, Francisco Lindor and Brandon Nimmo are currently playing and at MVP level.

7. . Taijuan Walker was a very deserving All-Star, and it will be great to see him pitch on Tuesday. It’s still shocking to believe the Mets were his only offer.

8. You’re going to get game like that from Tylor Megill. It’s why he’s a fifth starter. It’s also why the Mets really need Carlos Carrasco back to ensure Megill is the fifth starter.

9. That homer from Michael Conforto was much needed. The Mets really need him to have a big turnaround on his season much like Dominic Smith has.

10. With the draft last night, and Kumar Rocker fortunately falling to the Mets, its interesting to note with Smith, Nimmo, and Conforto, the Mets starting outfield is all first round picks.

11. This is just another reminder of how just impossibly good the Mets are at drafting. They really don’t pay those guys enough money.

12. With Jonathan Villar homering from both sides of the plate, you see a player not willing to give up his third base job to J.D. Davis.

13. On that note, it’s interesting to hear Rojas say he’s not giving Davis the job back. It’ll also be interesting to see what exactly the Mets do with the position at the trade deadline.

14. Seeing the series against the Pirates, the Mets main need at the deadline seems to be the bullpen. Too many of their guys are tired and have been pushed too much.

15. If Adam Frazier wants to come to the Mets, he sure made a good impression. Still, there are some real question marks about the wisdom of adding him.

16. The Mets offense has shown they can be clutch, and they’ve shown the propensity for the big inning, but we’re not seeing them be able to sustain an onslaught throughout a game.

17. Luis Guillorme continues to be clutch and a good pinch hitter.

18. Heading into the break. deGrom is the Mets best pitcher, and Lindor is the best position player. For all the hysteria, that’s what you ultimately expected.

19. For all the disappointment and consternation over this split, the Mets are still in first place heading into the break.

20. Again, if you haven’t already, take the time to help Howard Johnson‘s grandson who suffered an injury in a regrettable accident.

Nimmo And Mets Offense Returns

The New York Mets inability to score runs was starting to become problematic. That was until Brandon Nimmo was activated off the IL, and the Mets got to play in Yankee Stadium.

Nimmo would get a hit in his first AB, but he didn’t ignite the Mets offense until his one out single in the fifth. He’d score the first run of the game after ensuing singles from Francisco Lindor and Dominic Smith.

The rally continued with a Pete Alonso walk. James McCann drove home Lindor with an RBI single. The Alonso walk knocked New York Yankees starter Jordan Montgomery out of the game. After reliever Lucas Luetge allowed the McCann single, he threw a wild pitch permitting Smith to score the third run of the inning.

That was more than enough run support for Taijuan Walker, who was strong. He didn’t allow a hit until Aaron Judge homered off of him in the bottom of the sixth. His final line was 5.2 IP, 2 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 5 K.

By the time those runs scored against Walker, the game was all but over because the Mets exploded for five runs in the top of the sixth.

Starting with a Jeff McNeil single, the Mets loaded the bases with no outs. Lindor walked to force home a run, and Smith followed with a two run double increasing the Mets lead to 6-0.

Michael King entered the game and nearly got the Yankees out the jam by striking out Alonso and McCann. However, he’d walk Michael Conforto to reload the bases. Kevin Pillar is them delivered a two out two run RBI single. Through six, it was 8-3 Mets.

There was so much to like about this game. Walker pitched well. Nimmo, Lindor, and Smith combined to go 8-for-15. McNeil and Jose Peraza each had two hit games. Jeurys Familia and Drew Smith were terrific out of the pen.

If you’re a pessimistic Mets fan looking for a downside, it was Miguel Castro.

There was two out and one on when Luis Rojas pulled Walker for Castro. Castro then loaded the bases on a HBP and walk before allowing a two run single to Gio Urshela. This forced Rojas’ hand as we brought in Familia to reliever Castro.

Despite that blip, the Mets completely and utterly dominated the Yankees. This once again looked like the Mets team we anticipated seeing throughout the 2021 season. It started with Nimmo atop the lineup and followed with the lineup clicking.

Game Notes: Smith played first and Alonso was the DH. Peraza played third. He had an error. Tomorrow is a split admission doubleheader.

Mets McCann Hit

This was ticketed for another very frustrating game. The Mets offense could do absolutely nothing against Charlie Morton over the first six innings.

In years past. it made sense. Morton has a very good track record, but he entered this start with a 3.68 ERA. While Morton’s curve was sharp, this seemed more indicative of how poorly the Mets offense has performed.

The shame was Tylor Megill gave the Mets another solid effort. He started the game with four scoreless with the help of a great Dominic Smith play in left.

Megill ran into trouble in the fifth. After two quick outs, Ronald Acuรฑa and Freddie Freeman singled, and then Ozzie Albies hit a three run homer. Honestly, at the time, it seemed like the 3-0 lead was insurmountable.

Things changed in the seventh. Smith hit a 3-2 curve for a single. Then, the Mets got a little bit of luck. Kevin Pillar battled Morton, and the home plate umpire Adam Beck called what should’ve been strike three ball four.

James McCann came to the plate as the tying run. McCann had looked overmatched, but then, he hit the game tying three run homer.

Morton was done for the night with his being lifted for A.J. Minter, but the Mets bats weren’t. Jose Peraza hit a pinch hit ground rule double, and two batters later, Francisco Lindor had the go-ahead RBI single.

These runs were the benefit of Drew Smith. Smith picked up the win after pitching a scoreless sixth. It was the first of four scoreless from this Mets bullpen.

Naturally, one of those came from Edwin Diaz. Ehire Adrianza had put a scare into everyone hitting a potential homer JUST foul. Despite the scare, Diaz recorded his 17th save, and the Mets earned the 4-3 win.

Again, there are signs of life from this offense. Overall, what you like most is the fight in this team.

Game Notes: The Mets had two sacrifice bunts with neither coming from a pitcher (Lindor, Luis Guillorme). Michael Conforto is only slugging .318.

20/20 Hindsight: Mets Reawakening In Split Against Braves

The New York Mets treaded water by splitting the series with the Atlanta Braves, but there are signs of a big run coming:’

1. It probably should’ve been more obvious, but having Michael Conforto back really jump started this offense.

2. It’ll be interesting to see how it plays out, but Conforto’s presence on this team with all the things he can do is going to put all the more pressure on the Mets to re-sign him.

3. One interesting thing Conforto said was how much of a leader Francisco Lindor is. Not only does that mean something coming from Conforto, but it’s also an indication on just how much value Lindor provides beyond his play on the field.

4. Mets are lucky Marcus Stroman may not be IL bound because they can really ill afford to lose pitching.

5. There’s a lot of things we can say about Jacob deGrom‘s start, but the biggest thing to come out of it is he came off the field on his own accord with no injuries.

6. deGrom is on pace for the greatest season ever with a 744 ERA+, which is well over double the best season ever.

7. It’s interesting Tylor Megill made his MLB debut when he was 25 years 330 Days old just like deGrom in 2014 (hat tip Christopher Soto). There were certainly some flashes for Megill in his 4.1 innings.

8. No, no one really wants to see a pitcher frisked in Enrico Pallozo fashion when they step off the mound, but as Preston Wilson astutely points out, there really isn’t a better way to do this.

9. So far, the Mets pitchers have been gentlemanly in the checks, which they should be as the umpires didn’t want this. The best reaction so far was the bemused Aaron Loup.

10. Sometimes you get it wrong, and I got it really wrong on Loup. Loup’s three innings was the latest example of how great an addition Loup has been.

11. On the topic of pitcher reactions to umpire checks, Sergio Romo‘s was funny, but it was probably uncalled for given how umpires didn’t want this either. Max Scherzer was just childish with the temper tantrums, especially when he’s one of the reasons why this is happening.

12. In terms of asking Scherzer to get checked out, Joe Girardi was right to have Scherzer checked after his two checks. If anything, not asking someone explicitly named as using foreign substances is bad managing. The only spot Girardi was wrong was the childish challenging to a fight.

13. Once again, Corey Oswalt showed he can pitch at this level. His innings came up huge because this Mets bullpen is on fumes and is starting to deal with some significant injuries.

14. Drew Smith is going to get his chance to be a significant part of this bullpen.

15. Luis Guillorme showed why he should be starting over Jonathan Villar and J.D. Davis when all three are healthy. Not only does Guillorme do things defensively the other two couldn’t dream of doing, but he can get on base.

16. We could make a bigger deal of the shut outs and offensive struggles, including that embarrassing base running performance, but really, it was a group stepping up and doing it for as long as they could. You can’t expect the back-ups and the back-ups to the back-ups to not finally relent.

17. Unless something changes, and it very well might, we may just have to admit Pete Alonso‘s career year was 2019, and he’s really the player he was last year.

18. It doesn’t matter how many injuries the Mets suffer, they’ll never need and should never want Bartolo Colon.

19. The Mets are finally getting an off day after playing 15 games in 13 days. While you might’ve wanted more, their dividing lead stays in tact.

20. The Mets aren’t atop All-Star voting, and they probably shouldn’t be, but who cares? They’re winning the division, and that’s what matters.

Recaps

Jacob deGrom Was Great and Healthy

Mets Ran Away from Win

Marcus Stro-No, Not Another Injury

Mets Offense Returns with Conforto