Terry Collins and the Mets made the best out of an awful situation with the Mets playing a late Sunday night game followed by an early Monday afternoon game.
Bartolo Colon flew ahead of the team to make sure he was well rested. Jose Reyes, Asdrubal Cabrera, and Yoenis Cespedes, i.e. veterans with some nagging injuries, were given a day off. Curtis Granderson was also given a day meaning the Mets were without the top four hitters in they’d lineup. With that in mind, an extremely tired Mets team went to their bench to ask them to win one. They did.
That was enough for Colon who navigated his way out of trouble for most of the day. He was aided by two double plays in the first few innings. Twice he stranded a runner on third with no outs. His best feat was in the sixth when he stranded Hernan Iribarren at third after a lead off triple. This was in part due to his unwillingness to test Jay Bruce‘s arm. Coincidentally, Bruce’s throw would go to the backstop.
His final line was six innings, five hits, no runs, none earned, one walk, and two strikeouts.
Still, even with the win, it’s not like the Mets were crisp. Reds starter Robert Stephenson struck out nine in 5.1 innings. The only Mets player with a multiple hits off the Reds stater was Wilmer Flores, who no one was quite sure what he was doing on the bases:
— Mets Daddy (@MetsDaddy2013) September 5, 2016
In the first, he was thrown out trying to stretch a single into a double. In the fourth, he was thrown out trying to stretch a double into a triple. Finally, in the sixth, he had the good sense to stop at first bases much to the delight of Phoebe:
Flores thrown out at another bass pic.twitter.com/Wf1yh8Oudw
— Mets Daddy (@MetsDaddy2013) September 5, 2016
The Mets put the game on ice in the seventh. Reynolds hit an RBI single scoring Travis d’Arnaud, who walked to start the rally. Cabrera pinch hit for Colon, and hit an RBI single scoring James Loney. Alejandro De Aza capped off the rally with a sacrifice fly scoring Reynolds making the score 5-0.
While it was Flores that was perfect at the plate, it was Reynolds who was the offensive star of the game. Reynolds would go 2-3 with two runs, two RBI, and a home run. With the insane scheduling and the veterans’ nagging injuries, the Mets needed someone to step up. It was an exhausted Reynolds who stepped up and powered the Mets offensively.
With that Reynolds and the entire Mets team earned a well needed rest.
Game Notes: This was Bruce’s first game back in Cincinnati since the trade, and the team had a pre-game ceremony honoring him. Bruce would go 0-3 with two strikeouts leaving two men on base.
In reality, the Mets did nothing against a young pitcher who has struggled in his limited major league appearances. In his five major league appearances, he was 0-1 with a 5.32 ERA and a 1.318 WHIP. At 24 years old, he’s still just a prospect who could conceivably break out at any time. However, he’s really seen as a mid to back of the rotation guy. This was just another case of the disappearing Mets offense.
It is a shame too because it spoiled a very good Syndergaard start. Syndergaard’s final line was seven innings, three hits, two runs, two earned, one walk, and four strikeouts. Seeing that line, it begs the question – how did the Nationals score two runs with only four baserunners and no extra base hits.
Simple, Syndergaard cannot hold base runners.
In the first, Trea Turner led off the game with a single. He then proceeded to steal second AND third. No, Travis d’Arnaud wasn’t catching; it was Rene Rivera showing yet again the stolen base issue lies with the starting pitchers. Turner would then score on a Bryce Harper sacrifice fly. Daniel Murphy would also steal a base in the inning, but he would not score.
In the fourth, Harper hit a one out double, and he stole third. That set up yet another sacrifice fly. This time it was Wilson Ramos.
Just like that, the Nationals “manufactured” both of their runs. They got the guys on, got them over, and got them in. It’s something the Mets offense has struggled with all year.
The Mets would have one chance to tie the game in the seventh.
Marc Rzepczynski (your guess is as good as mine as to whether that is spelled correctly) relieved Cole, and he made quick work of Curtis Granderson and Kelly Johnson. Rzepczynski would then issue a free pass to Rivera, and he would plunk d’Arnaud.
At that point, Terry Collins and Dusty Baker would go to their benches. Collins would tab Ty Kelly to pinch run for Rivera. Baker would bring in Koda Glover (definitely no relation to Danny or Donald) to pitch to Jose Reyes making sure Reyes was hitting from his much weaker side. Glover would blow a 98 MPH fastball past Reyes to end the inning.
But, hey, Reyes did this to a ball earlier in the game:
The game was then out if reach in the ninth before the Mets would bat. Jerry Blevins started the inning to face the left-handed Murphy and Harper. A single and a double later, and Collins turned to Hansel Robles. Robles immediately gave up a two RBI single to Anthony Rendon making it a 4-1 game.
What we all observed was the difference between the 2015 and 2016 Nationals. The Nationals have a manger that has a reputation in bringing out the best in his guys. They also gave a much better bullpen. During the stretch run last year, they had Jonathan Papelbon. This year it’s Mark Melancon.
It’s a huge difference. It’s the difference between losing the division by seven games and having a 10.5 game division lead. Well, that and having Murphy.
Game Notes: Even with the righty on the mound, James Loney would sit, and Wilmer Flores played first. Michael Conforto did not start, but he made a PH appearance in the ninth. Fernando Salas pitched another scoreless inning.
Pennant Race: The Pirates lost 1-0 to the Brewers. The Marlins are lost 6-2 to the Indians. The Cardinals lost 3-2 to the Reds.
On a team that traditionally kills the Mets, Christian Yelich is the ultimate Mets killer.
It started in the second inning when he robbed Jacob deGrom:
At the time, the Mets had Jose Urena on the ropes with two outs and the bases loaded. Between last night and tonight, the Mets have loaded the bases four times, and Kelly Johnson is the only one who has gotten a base hit.
In the following half inning, Yelich struck again hitting an RBI single off deGrom scoring Ichiro Suzuki giving the Marlins a 1-0 lead.
In this series, the Mets responded each time the Marlins took a lead, but not tonight. It would be the Marlins who struck next, and once again Yelich would be in the mix.
That would be it for deGrom. His final line was five innings, six hits, three runs, three earned, four walks, and six strikeouts. Considering he has struggled recently and the Mets skipping a start, it was hard to tell if he was rusty or if he’s just lost right now. Whatever it is, the Mets need him, and he hasn’t been able to help.
In the sixth, the Mets would narrow the gap with a Jay Bruce solo home to to make it 3-1.
Yelich would once again be a factor. So would Terry Collins.
Despite a well rested bullpen and newly acquired Fernando Salas available, Collins would push Josh Smoker to pitch a second inning. Smoker didn’t record an out in the seventh, and he gave up an opposite field home run to Yelich giving the Marlins a 6-1 lead. It was Yelich’s third opposite field home runs in as many days.
Credit should be given to Keith Hernandez here. During the Yelich at bat, he noted how well Yelich goes the other way, and he noted Smoker should pitch Yelich inside. Smoker didn’t.
Salas would then make his Mets debut pitching a scoreless inning.
The Mets would build a rally in the eighth. Curtis Granderson and Johnson would lead off the inning with opposite field singles off Nick Wittgren. Bruce followed suit hitting an opposite field RBI single.
Don Mattingly would bring in Kyle Barraclough. Wilmer Flores battled back from an 0-2 count to draw a walk loading the bases bringing up Michael Conforto. Barraclough threw him nothing but breaking pitches, and Conforto hit into the 1-2-3 double play. Despite going 2-4 with a double reaching on an error and making a nice play in the field, knowing Collins, Conforto won’t play in another game this year.
Yoenis Cespedes, who didn’t start the game due to the slick field conditions, would pinch hit for James Loney. He struck out to end the inning and the rally. Again, the Mets couldn’t score a run with the bases loaded.
To the Mets credit, they didn’t go down without a fight. Travis d’Arnaud led off the inning an infield single thanks in part to a lacksadasical Dee Gordon. Asdrubal Cabrera, who also sat due to field conditions, hit his first career pinch hit home run making it 6-4. The Mets would get no closer.
Fittingly, the last three batters would all fly out to left with Yelich getting all three put outs. On the night, Yelich was 3-4 with two runs, four RBI, one walk, a homer, and a sparkling defensive play in center. He was the lone Marlin who came to beat the Mets this series, and he finally accomplished his goal tonight.
With the loss, the Mets missed an opportunity to gain some ground on the idle Cardinals, and yes, for the delusional fan, the idle Nationals.