Hansel Robles

Gsellman, Mets Needed Another Day Off

Robert Gsellman was initially supposed to be skipped tonight so Noah Syndergaard could pitch. The Mets later announced the announcement was a mistake, and Gsellman would indeed get the start. 

Someone forgot to tell Gsellman. 

In a long first inning, Gsellman did not get a batter out until he faced Dansby Swanson, the eighth batter in the lineup. At that point, the Braves were already up 5-0. 

In that brutal first inning, Gsellman allowed walks to Ender Inciarte (lead-off) and Freddie Freeman. Right-handed batters Brandon PhillipsMatt Kemp, and Tyler Flowers (double) took advantage of Gsellman living on the outside corner by going opposite field for their hits. 

The defense wasn’t much help either. Gsellman pulled Jay Bruce way off the bag on an Adonis Garcia dribbler. Yoenis Cespedes had a chance to nail Freeman at the plate on a bad send by Ron Washington, but Cespedes’ throw was well up the third base line. 

Before any of this, Inciarte and Phillips nearly pulled off a double steal. Travis d’Arnaud‘s throw was late, but he got credited with a caught stealing as Phillips overslid the bag. Had that not happened, the first inning could’ve been much worse. 

Not that it mattered much anyway. When Julio Teheran and his 2.21 ERA against the Mets gets to bat before he pitches, the game is over. This one was. 

Worse yet, it was a sloppy game from the Mets. The team had three errors before they got their first hit. 

The Mets had their chance in the fourth loading the bases with no out. All they got was one run off a Neil Walker sacrifice fly. The rally ended after that with Curtis Granderson and d’Arnaud popping out. 

What is even more maddening during that rally was Terry Collins having Fernando Salas warm up in the pen in case Gsellman’s spot in the lineup came up. Why Collins would warm up his seventh inning guy as opposed to Hansel Robles, who has the ability to eat some innings. 

With d’Arnaud making the last out, Gsellman went back out for the fifth. Three hits, one run, and no outs later, Collins was forced to go to Josh Edgin, who did a terrific job getting out of the jam. 

Don’t worry, after Edgin pitched 1.2 good innings, Collins brought in Salas to help Edgin get out of the two on two out jam. Nothing like taking a relieved on pace for 90+ appearances and having him warm up twice in a game. Even better, Salas stayed on to pitch the seventh. 

Speaking of overworked pitchers, Jerry Blevins pitched as well. He had to bail out Salas who ran into trouble himself allowing three hits and two runs to make it 8-1. This led to the overworked Robles coming in. 

The Mets moved some deck chairs, scoring a run in the seventh, but at 8-2 who cares?

We can get on the Mets offense all we want, and they deserve it. However, Gsellman cannot give up five runs in the first inning. Even if he did, he needs to give the Mets some length. Just a bad loss all around. 

Game Notes: At 8-12, the Mets are four games under .500 for the first time since the end of the 2014 season. The Mets have the fewest at-bats with RISP in baseball. Bruce was 2-2 with two walks. 

Bullpen Needed This Rest

One of the ongoing jokes during yesterday’s rain out was that despite the rain out, Terry Collins had Jerry Blevins and Fernando Salas warming up in the bullpen in case the game started on time.  As with most jokes, this one did have a twinge of truth to it.

So far this season, the Mets bullpen has been going on an unsustainable rate.  Mike Marshall holds the single season record for appearances by a reliever with his making 106 appearances for the 1974 Dodgers.  The Mets record for appearances is Pedro Feliciano with 92 appearances in 2010.  This was the reason why Gary Cohen dubbed him Perpetual Pedro.  Interesting enough, Felicano’s record is tied for fourth all-time with Marshall, who had 92 appearances for the 1973 Expos.  Right now, the Mets bullpen is set to challenge these records at an alarming rate.

Blevins is on a pace to make 102 appearances this season.  Hansel Robles is on pace to make 94 appearances this season.  Addison Reed and Salas are on pace to make 85 appearances this season.  Josh Smoker is on pace to make 77 appearances this season. Obviously, this would be career highs for each of these pitchers.

If they are to keep up this pace, Blevins would be second all-time for single season appearances by a reliever, and Robles’ 94 appearances would tie the now standing second place position.  Looking over the record list, no one has made more than 74 appearances in a season over the last five years.  The bullpen’s usage is unprecedented in terms of how many appearances these relievers are making.  It is utterly amazing that the current pace of these relievers would put them at the top five appearances made by a reliever in single season over the past five seasons.

When you combine the appearances with the amount of times these pitchers warm up, they are going to be on fumes.  Certainly, we have seen some diminishing returns already from Salas.  The rest of the bullpen may not be too far behind him.  This bullpen needs a rest and the subsequent rain out helped.  However, they need more help.

They may receive some help now that Jeurys Familia has returned from his suspension.  Certainly, he is the reliever Collins’ trusts most, and he will likely be the one Collins over uses next.  More than Familia, the bullpen can use some length from their starting pitching.

Noah Syndergaard, Matt Harvey, and Jacob deGrom are the only relievers averaging at least six innings per start.  Zack Wheeler and Robert Gsellman are averaging just over five innings per start.  This means every night the bullpen needs to pick up at least 3-4 innings.  With the Mets having already played four extra inning games to start the season, it has been much more than that.

The relative lack of length from the bullpen is understood.  Harvey and deGrom are coming back from season ending surgeries last season.  Wheeler has not pitched since 2014.  Gsellman has not thrown more than 159.2 innings in a season.  Really, you’re only workhorse right now is Syndergaard.

However, sooner or later something is going to have to give.  The starters are going to have to give more length, or Collins is going to have to trust some of the other guys in the bullpen more.  It’s understandable he hasn’t when Josh Edgin is a LOOGY with a 3.68 ERA, and his former long man, Rafael Montero, managed to get worse.  The long story short here is someone has to step up.  Otherwise, the bullpen may not last very long.

 

Bruce Twice Found A Home in RF 

For a multitude of reasons, the Mets needed this one. They needed to snap the four game losing streak. They need to capitalize on all game against the Phillies if they have any designs on winning the NL East. Overall, they needed to get back on track. 

That starts with Robert Gsellman who was very good tonight. He looked more like the pitcher he was at the end of last year. Coincidentally, that pitcher had a 2.37 ERA against the Phillies last year. 

For a moment, it appeared the Mets would give Gsellman a first inning lead. Jay Bruce hit a two out double off Vince Velasquez. Despite Glenn Sherlock giving him the stop sign, Yoenis Cespedes tried to score and was nailed at the plate. 

With Cespedes not scoring there, the game remained scoreless through the first three until the Phillies would finally get to Gsellman. It started with Gsellman hitting Aaron Altherr, who went from first to third on an Odubel Herrera single. Altherr then scored on a Maikel Franco groundout. Gsellman bore down and got out of the inning without any further damage. 

The Phillies touched up Gsellman again in the fifth with Velasquez hitting an RBI single scoring Cameron Rupp who hit a leadoff single. 

The run scored that inning wasn’t the biggest damage to the Mets. Both Lucas Duda and Travis d’Arnaud would suffer injuries that inning and would eventually have to come out of the game. 

Duda was hurt when Gsellman threw a ball into the runner. The ball and Cesar Hernandez arrived at the same time. Gsellman was charged with the error, and Duda suffered a hyperextended elbow. 

Later that inning, d’Arnaud was injured while trying to throw out Hernandez. On the pitch, Altherr struck out and moved towards home plate. Altherr’s bat hovered over home and d’Arnaud’s hand collided with the bat. d’Arnaud tried to argue with Home Plate Umpire Chad Whitson it was interference, but d’Arnaud’s pleas fell on deaf ears. d’Arnaud would stay on through the sixth, but he would have to leave the game as well. 

Just like that the Mets were down both two runs and two players.

In the sixth, the Mets would stage a two out rally after Curtis Granderson‘s GIDP seemingly killed a potential rally. 

Asdrubal Cabrera would get the two out rally started with a two out single. Cespedes followed with a walk. Bruce then: 

It was a huge home run, and it put Gsellman on the long side. Unfortunately, Gsellman would not get that win. 

Gsellman started the eighth inning due to game conditions. With Rene Rivera leading off the inning with a single, the Mets having a short bench, and with the right-handed Altherr due to lead-off in the top of the eighth, Terry Collins stuck with Gsellman. Considering how well Gsellman was pitching and how tired the Mets bullpen has been, it was probably the right move. 

Despite it being the right move, Altherr hit a bloop double to lead-off the inning. Collins wasted no time, and he went to Jerry Blevins who couldn’t quite get out of the jam. 

Herrera grounded out pushing Altherr to third. Then Blevins got a huge strikeout of Franco. Michael Saunders then lined a single that dropped right in front of a sliding Cespedes tying the score at three. 

It was a shame Gsellman wouldn’t get the win. He was the first Mets starter to pitch into the eighth.  He only allowed six hits, three runs, three earned, and one walk with seven strikeouts. 

Gsellman wouldn’t get the win, but Hansel Robles, who came on for Blevins, would. 

Cespedes would lead-off the bottom of the ninth with a single off Luis Garcia. Bruce then followed with his second home run of the game:

In what may be his last save attempt as the Mets designated closer with Jeurys Familia eligible to return from suspension tomorrow, Addison Reed recorded his fourth save. He allowed a run due in part to Franco’s one out triple, but Reed would shut the door on the 4-3 win. 

Game Notes: Jose Reyes was 0-2 and is now hitting .096. Granderson is 0-11 in his last 11 ABs. Neil Walker still doesn’t have an extra base hit from the left-hand side. Six of Bruce’s 14 homers with the Mets have come against the Phillies. 

Reyes & Montero Were The Difference 

This game came down to Jose Reyes and Rafael Montero. What do you think happened?  Of course they lost and spoiled a nice effort from Zack Wheeler 

The only run scored off Wheeler was a first inning Odubel Herrera solo home run.  From there, Wheeler was far from perfect and battled himself and the Phillies. The second inning was his only 1-2-3 inning. 

In the third, Cesar Hernandez singled to lead-off the inning, and he stole second on a horrendous throw by Travis d’Arnaud. The throw was to Neil Walker who wasn’t even the middle infielder covering on the play. Wheeler then issued a walk to Herrera to put runners on first and second with one out. 

Wheeler got back-to-back groundouts from Maikel Franco and Michael Saunders to put an end to the Phillies biggest rally of the night off of him. 

Wheeler would depart after five innings and 99 pitches. His final line was five innings, four hits, one run, one earned, two walks, and seven strikeouts.

He’d leave on the long side due to a Mets first inning rally. 

Michael Conforto, leadoff man extraordinaire, would earn a leadoff walk off Phillies starter Zach EflinYoenis Cespedes then earned a one out walk of his own. Conforto would then score on a Jay Bruce RBI single. 
Cespedes went to third on the play, and he would score on a wild pitch during the Walker at-bat. It’s a good thing Cespedes scored there because the Mets offense would do nothing from there on out. 

For the rest of the game, the Mets only amassed three more hits and no one would reach third. This is troubling considering Eflin’s career ERA is 5.54 and the Phillies have a mediocre bullpen. 

In the sixth, Hansel Robles struggled issuing a one out walk to Tommy Joseph and hitting Cameron Rupp. At this point, I’m sure Rupp has had enough of Robles. Terry Collins did as well lifting him for Josh Smoker with two outs in the inning. 

Smoker struck out Brock Stassi to get out of the inning. He’d start the seventh getting the first two out before giving up a Herrera single.  Fernando Salas came on and got out of the inning. 

Unfortunately, Salas couldn’t get out of the eighth. After getting the first two out, he walked Rupp. He then induced a pop up to Freddy Galvis which Jose Reyes Luis Castilloed.

A hustling Rupp went to third and the slow jogging Galvis would only go to first. It would cost both teams. 

Jerry Blevins came on for Salas, and his steak of stranding 11 batters would end.  Andres Blanco ripped a double into left field. It would have scored two, but upon replay, it was determined to have hopped the wall for a ground rule double. With that, it was a 2-2 instead of a 3-2 game. 
The Reyes error cost the Mets a run, and Galvis’ lack of hustle cost the Phillies. Had Galvis ran, he might’ve been in second. If he was on second, he scores on a ground rule double. 

Blevins got out of the jam, and Addison Reed mowed down the Phillies in the ninth. 

In the ninth, Reyes drew a two out walk and took off initially on a pitch in the dirt. He stopped half way and was only safe because Hernandez pegged him in the back with a throw. It wound up not mattering as d’Arnaud grounded out to end the inning. 

With Reyes’ horrible game and Collins double switched Rafael Montero into the game with Wilmer Flores taking over at third and batting fifth (pitchers spot when Juan Lagares was double switched into the game in the seventh). 

For some reason, Collins has been loathed to use Sean Gilmartin no matter how much the bullpen could use some length or how much Montero struggles. It costs the Mets. 

Saunders led off the 10th with a single off Montero.  Even with him having to freeze on a rope hit in his direction, he went to third on the Joseph single. Then, for some reason, Collins didn’t bring the infield in. 

It didn’t really matter. Rupp hit a deep sacrifice fly which would be the only out Montero would record. Galvis would follow with a single putting runners on first and second. 

Aaron Altherr then hit a pinch hit RBI single to center. On the play, Lagares made a good throw home, but d’Arnaud couldn’t corral it. 

On a night where many Mets struggled, perhaps no one struggled more than d’Arnaud. He was 0-4 with the two miscues. What am I saying?  Reyes and Montero were worse. 

In any event, Collins was finally forced to go to Gilmartin. Gilmartin pitched reasonably well, but the two inherited runners scored when Asdrubal Cabrera didn’t have enough range to get a ball hit up the middle. While Cabrera is as sure handed as it gets, he really lacks range. 

With that, the Mets had a frustrating and downright embarrassing 6-2 loss dropping them to .500. It’s their fourth consecutive loss. 

Game Notes: Walker still doesn’t have an extra base hit as a left-handed batter this year. Conforto was 0-4 with the one walk, one run, and two strikeouts. Collins had his excuse not to play him tomorrow. 

At Least They Battled

It was a Matt Harvey start, so you knew the Mets offense was not going to produce any runs.  In Sunday’s game, the Mets took it to the next level getting no-hit by Dan Straily and a bunch of exhausted Marlins releivers for 7.2 innings before Neil Walker finally broke up the no-hitter.

With that the Mets once again spoiled a terrific Harvey start.  Over six innings, Harvey allowed seven hits, two runs, one earned, and two walks with five strikeouts.  Better than that, Harvey’s fastball velocity improved yet again.  He was averaging 95 MPH on his fastball, and he was hitting 97 on the gun.  He used his slider more, and it is becoming a weapon for him yet again.

The Marlins would get to Harvey immediately with Dee Gordon bunting his way one and then going to third when Harvey threw away a pickoff throw.  Gordon then scored on a Christian Yelich groundout.  In the sixth, the Marlins would strike again on a Marcell Ozuna RBI double scoring Yelich.  Justin Bour tried to score on the double as well, but Yoenis Cespedes relayed to Jose Reyes to nail him at the plate.  Between Cespedes’ arm and Travis d’Arnaud‘s ability to get down a tag, it’s amazing that anyone scores on a ball hit to left field.

At that point, the 2-0 lead could have been 10-0 for all that mattered with the Mets bats looking lifeless.  Then in the ninth, the Mets bats came to life courtesy of David Phelps.  The rally started with a d’Arnaud one out single and continued with a Wilmer Flores‘ two out single.  With Giancarlo Stanton making an error trying to field the ground ball, d’Arnaud and Flores were able to move into scoring position.

Asdrubal Cabrera then pinch hit for Hansel Robles, and he tied the game with an RBI single.  It was an amazing comeback considering where the Mets were offensively for the first eight innings.  It is a pattern we have seen with the Mets not just in this series, but over the course of the season.  This has been one of the more positive signs from the early season.

Unfortunately, a seemingly innocuous move to begin the top of the ninth set the stage for another disappointing Mets loss at Marlins Park.  The Marlins double-switched J.T. Riddle into the game for Brad Ziegler and had him batting ninth.

Addison Reed came on to pitch in the ninth, and he didn’t have it.  He allowed a lead-off single to Ozuna, who was then cut down at the plate when trying to score on a Miguel Rojas RBI double.  This time it was the relay of Cespedes to Cabrera to d’Arnaud that got him out.  Again, it is amazing that anyone would run on Cespedes in left.

Like the prior two games, the Mets heroics just set them up for heartbreak.  Riddle, who was just substituted into the game to start the ninth, hit a walk-off home run to end the game.  And with that, the Mets have once again suffered a brutal loss to the Marlins.  It’s another walk-off loss at Marlins Park:

Nice to know, the Marlins are once again prepared to be a thorn in the Mets side.  The remaining 12 games promise to be not much fun.

Game Notes: Another hitless game for Reyes who is now hitting .087.  Over his last five games, Jay Bruce is 6-25 with no extra base hits.  Flores got the start with Cabrera getting a day off.  Josh Smoker and Robles each pitched a scoreless inning in their first appearances since going to the whip on Thursday’s 16 inning game.

Despite Losing Mets Accomplished Primary Objective 

A baseball season is 162 games. While you want to win each and every game, there are games where there may be a goal other than just winning a game. After last night’s 16 inning victory leading to Josh Smoker and Hansel Robles being unavailable tonight was one of those nights.

The pen was limited and exhausted meaning Noah Syndergaard had to go deep in the game. Syndergaard mostly accomplished his job lasting six innings. 

It seemed as if Syndergaard was pitching more to contact than usual. It reflected in the first inning rally that saw a Gordon lead off single, error, and sacrifice fly to put the Marlins up 1-0. 

Despite that rally, Syndergaard was mostly effective with a final line of 6.0 innings, six hits, two runs, one earned, no walks, and four strike outs. He got through six having thrown just 87 pitches. As it turns out, he was lifted with his finger nail tearing off:

The Marlins needed their starter to go as deep just as much as the Mets did. However, with a Mets offense working the count against Edison Volquez, and with him pitching on short rest with today’s scheduled starter Adam Conley, he would only last 4.2 innings. 

Unfortunately, the Mets couldn’t take full advantage of Volquez. In the third, the Mets loaded the bases with one out. Michael Conforto, starting in place of Yoenis Cespedes because Cespedes has the flu, hit a deep sacrifice fly scoring Curtis Granderson.

It was the only run they’d score in the inning, but at least it tied the score up at one. 

The Mets took the lead in the fifth with Lucas Duda absolutely crushing a home run to deep center:

Unfortunately, Syndergaard couldn’t hold onto the lead. In the bottom of the inning, he allowed three straight one out singles to Miguel RojasTyler Moore, and Dee Gordon to tie the game. 

The runners would advance on a J.T. Realmuto groundout putting runners on second and third with two out. That’s when Thor reached back and struck out Christian Yelich with a 100 MPH fastball. 

The Mets had a chance to get Syndergaard the lead back , and they squandered it. Jose Reyes earned a lead-off walk, and he a advanced to third on Syndergaard’s sacrifice bunt. The Mets couldn’t push Reyes, and the team wouldn’t get another real chance. 

For the first time all season, Reyes had a good game going 1-2 with two walks. With the game, Reyes’ batting average is now at .100. 

For the second straight game, it was a battle of the bullpens. The difference was the Mets did not definitively have the upper hand with the tired and unavailable arms. 

In the seventh, Rafael Montero hit into trouble loading the bases with one out. At that point, Terry Collins brought in Jerry Blevins to get both Yelich out and get out of the jam. Blevins would with a little help from Conforto:

Now, despite T.J. Rivera being sent down to make room for Sean Gilmartin, Collins decided to go with Josh Edgin to pitch the final two innings. Collins did this despite Edgin’s early season struggles and the fact that it was Gilmartin’s turn in the Las Vegas rotation. 

It was a messy eighth that saw Edgin allow a lead-off single to Marcell Ozuna. Ozuna was then erased when Justin Bour grounded into the 6-6-3 double play. Right after that, Edgin hit Derek Dietrich with a pitch. Forunately, Edgin was able to escape the inning by striking out Ichiro Suzuki

In the ninth, Edgin wasn’t so lucky. He gave up a lead-off walk to Rojas, who would score from first on a walk-off two out double by Realmuto. 

While Bruce was hustling, his lack of range showed on the play.  It also didn’t help the ball took a huge hop off the wall. Bruce had zero chance to throw out Rojas. It’s possible if that was someone else out there, they get to the ball quicker. However, it’s likely Rojas scores there no matter who was in right. 

While you wanted the win, the Mets came out of that game only needing to use Blevins. To that end, the game was a successful one for the Mets even if it wasn’t a victorious one. 

Game Notes: It appears Granderson is the new lead-off hitter with his leading off the fourth time this year. Reyes returned to the line-up after a mental health day. Neil Walker got the day off, and Wilmer Flores got his first start of the year against a right-handed pitcher. Flores was 0-4. 

Fortunately Robles Pitched 

Hansel Robles had pitched in three straight games and four out of the last five. In his last appearance, he appeared gassed. As such, even with Robert Gsellman not getting out of the fifth and the game going deeper and deeper into extra innings, Terry Collins did all he could do to keep Robles out of the game. 

Rafael MonteroFernando SalasAddison Reed, and Josh Smoker all pitched more than an inning. For his part, Smoker threw a career high three innings. With the bench already empty, Jacob deGrom pinch hit for Smoker in the top of the 15th necessitating the pitching change. 
With Robles as the last man standing, he was the obvious choice. Despite him looking absolutely gassed, he managed to pitch two scoreless and pick up the win. It almost didn’t happen.

According to Anthony DiComo of MLB.com, Collins’ Plan B was to pitch Rene Rivera if Robles told him he couldn’t go. There was just one tiny little problem – the Mets were out of bench players. 

This meant Collins was going to have to use a pitcher in the field. The natural choice was probably deGrom, who was a collegiate shortstop, but that wasn’t Collins’s choice. Instead, Collins decided that Zack Wheeler would’ve entered the game to play first base. 

It seemed like the Mets 16 inning win had everything, but apparently it did not. That’s a good thing because Rivera pitching was likely not going to go well. Wheeler at first might’ve gone even worse. 

Lucky for everyone involved, Robles not only took the ball, but he earned the win. He gave his team a chance to win. He gave his team a chance to keep catchers from pitching and pitchers from playing first base. 

D’Arnaud’s Sweet 16

When you play 16 innings, the game takes many twists and turns. Tonight’s game was that and then some. It was full of clutch hits, clutch fielding, gutsy pitching, and bizarre managerial moves. 

This was just a classic Terry Collins game. He made a series of bizarre moves. As usual, they surrounded use of his pitching staff, but today was an extra treat because it wasn’t just limited to the pitching staff. 

From the beginning, it was apparent Robert Gsellman didn’t really have it. In the first, he walked two and eventually allowed a grand slam to Marcell Ozuna putting the Mets down 4-0 before anyone could blink. 

With the Mets offense humming with the series in Philadelphia, the Mets immediately tied the game in the top of the second. 

Travis d’Arnaud hit a bases clearing three RBI triple, and he’d come around to score on a Curtis Granderson two out RBI single. 

The Mets got the lead when Yoenis Cespedes and Wilmer Flores, batting clean-up and playing first with the Marlins starting the lefty Wei-Yin Chen hit back-to-back homers.

 Cespedes’ homer was absolutely annihilated:

With the two run lead, Collins made his first strange move of the game. While Flores started due to the lefty, T.J. Rivera started at third to give Jose Reyes a mental health day. Heading into the bottom of the fourth, with Chen only going three innings, Collins lifted Rivera for Lucas Duda

Obviously, Collins was just itching to shorten his bench with the activation of Juan Lagares from the DL giving him a full bench. Why Lagares didn’t start with this deep outfield and with a lefty on the mound is also bizarre in and of itself. Despite that, the Mets carried a 6-4 lead into the fourth. 

Cespedes added another homer in the fifth for good measure giving the Mets a 7-4 lead heading into the bottom of the fifth. 

Gsellman struggled just like the first. The Marlins quickly loaded the bases, and he walked Christian Yelich pulling the Marlins within two. Giancarlo Stanton hit a sacrifice fly pulling the Marlins within one. 

It was only at this point that Collins went to the pen. With the left-handed hitting Justin Bour coming to the plate in an absolutely pivotal moment, Collins went to Josh Edgin instead of Jerry Blevins

Bour doubled to tie the game. Ozuna was intentionally walked. Derek Dietrich then singled to give the Marlins an 8-7 lead. The Marlins probably would’ve done more damage, but on the Dietrich single, Jay Bruce nailed Bour trying to score from second. 

The Marlins got their revenge in the seventh.  Cespedes took first after he struck out on a wild pitch. He then appeared to score from first to tie the game on a Bruce double:

Naturally, Angel Hernandez got the call wrong necessitating the replay showing Ozuna nailed Cespedes at the plate. Between this play, the grand slam, and all the other plays we’ve seen from Ozuna, he’s become an extremely annoying player along the lines of Willie Harris, except Ozuna is a much better player. 

The Mets were still undeterred. In the top of the eighth, d’Arnaud got on with a two out single. Michael Conforto who has hit every chance he’s been given this year got his latest chance pinch hitting for Blevins. Conforto would double in d’Arnaud to tie the game at eight. 

The battle of the bullpens continued, and it became a war of attrition. 

With the exception of the two lefties, Edgin and Blevins, each reliever pitched over one inning. This includes Josh Smoker who really stepped up for the Mets. Smoker would throw 38 pitches over three scoreless innings. It was an outstanding appearance. Considering his struggles going over an inning last year and his struggles this year, it was simply incredible. 

In the top of the 15th, with the bench already empty to the point that Rene Rivera was playing first base, Jacob deGrom pinch hit for Smoker and struck out.

This left the Mets with no other choice but to put Hansel Robles in the game. Understandably, Collins was hesitant to use Robles with him pitching three straight days and four out of the last five. 

While the Mets plated eight runs, it was not as if everyone was hitting. Asdrubal Cabrera took an ugly 0-7. His double play partner Neil Walker was 1-7. 

Conversely, Cespedes, Flores, Bruce, and d’Arnaud was great. While Cespedes had the two home runs, d’Arnaud was the best of them all. 

In the 16th, having run out of pitchers Don Mattingly turned to tomorrow’s scheduled starter Adam Conley to pitch the 16th Despite, Conley being fresh and having dominated the Mets, and despite d’Arnaud having caught 15 innings, d’Arnaud hit the game winning homer. It was the Mets first hit since the 10th inning. 

By far, this was d’Arnaud’s most memorable game as a Met. He was 4-6 with three runs, a triple, a homer, and four RBI. This was the second game this week he came one hit short of the cycle.

Other Mets with great games were Cespedes with the two homers, Bruce going 3-7 and nailing a runner at the plate, and the entire bullpen not named Josh Edgin. 

After Edgin, everyone stepped up and pitched scoreless inning after scoreless inning. Given their respective usages this year, asking most of them to pitch over an inning, and some of their early season struggles, this was an absolutely amazing group performance from that pen. 

It wasn’t easy in a game where nothing was easy. Ozuna, an absolute pest, made a very loud final out with Lagare catching it right in front of the center field wall. 

It should be noted Collins elected to have Robles pitch to Ozuna with two outs and Conley on deck. Sure, you’re loathe to put the tying run in scoring position and the winning run on base, but the pitcher was on deck!  This game was a classic example of winning despite your manager. 

Robles despite having nothing pitched two innings and got the win in the 9-8 win. This is a special win that signifies just how special this team could be. 

Game Notes: The game lasted 5:38. Even with d’Arnaud behind the plate, the Marlins did not attempt a stolen base. Reyes pinch hit for Edgin in the sixth and singled. Despite starting the game 0-7, Asdrubal Cabrera extended his hitting streak to eight games with a 16th inning single. His double play partner Neil Walker similarly struggled going 1-7. Mets have won consecutive games despite giving up a grand slam in both games. 

Conforto Leads, Wheeler Deals, Mets Sweep

Given the fact that it was his second start since missing two plus years due to Tommy John surgery and the fact that the Mets were down to five starters with the Steven Matz and Seth Lugo injuries, Zack Wheeler‘s start had more importance attached to it than usual. 

After a 13 pitch scoreless first inning, things were looking good. He was hitting his spots, and he was hitting 97 on the gun. Then again that’s what happened in his first start. The real test was from the second inning on. 

Wheeler passed the test with flying colors. He maintained both his velocity and control. While he was getting the benefit of some excellent pitch framing from Travis d’Arnaud, Wheeler put the ball where d’Arnaud put his mitt. 

Wheeler put together a stretch of eleven straight retired. That ended in the sixth when he finally started to struggle with his location and velocity. 

There were runners on first and second with one out. Wheeler reached back and got a huge strikeout of Howie Kendrick, but Wheeler lost it all and walked Odubel Herrera. After 5.2 innings, Collins went to Hansel Robles

Third straight day of pitching or not, Robles made a horrendous pitch to what amounts to the Phillies only real power threat. The first pitch hung down the middle of the plate, and Maikel Franco launched it for a grand slam. 

The grand slam put somewhat of a damper on what was a terrific start for Wheeler. His final line was 5.2 innings, four hits, three runs, three earned, one walk, and four strikeouts. 

Arguably, it was the best Wheeler has ever looked in a Mets uniform. Certainly, it was his most important start. The effort earned him a well deserved and long awaited win. 

The Mets offense was humming once again even if Vince Velasquez was pitching pretty well. 

It all got started with surprise lead off hitter Michael Conforto getting the lead-off single and scoring on a Yoenis Cespedes RBI double. The score would become 2-0 when Conforto did this:

Like a true lead-off hitter and table setter, Conforto was in the middle of the next rally. 

The fifth inning started with d’Arnaud getting hit by a pitch, and like the smart player he is waiving off Ray Ramirez:

Wheeler tried to bunt him over, but the Phillies walked him instead. Velasquez then walked Conforto to load the bases. Asdrubal Cabrera, the same player who had an 0-32 streak with RISP last year, came to the plate. 

Cabrera delivered with a two RBI single making him 5-5 with RISP to begin the season. Conforto then scored on a Cespedes sacrifice fly to make it 5-0. As noted above, the Mets needed all of those runs. 

Fortunately, the rest of the Mets bullpen locked the game down. Jerry BlevinsFernando Salas, and Addison Reed combined to pitch 2.2 scoreless innings to preserve the 2.2 innings, the 5-4 win, and the series sweep. 

The Mets certainly got healthy in Philadelphia, and they have momentum as they take their rejuvenated talents to South Beach. 

Game Notes: Curtis Granderson was just given the day off. There were no injury issues. Jose Reyes batted seventh again. He went 0-4, and is now 1-10 from the seventh spot in the lineup. 

Cespedes 3 HR, 14 Runs Scored, Mets Offense Is Back

With the Mets offense struggling of late, and with the Phillies throwing at Asdrubal Cabrera last night, the Mets wanted to get out to a fast start. Yoenis Cespedes took care of that:

It was part of a night the Mets offense that just exploded all over Clay Buccholz and the Phillies. Things got so bad that even Jose Reyes got in on the action hitting a double. Not too long thereafter Buchholz left with an apparent elbow injury. 

Now, it should be noted Reyes’ double came from the seventh spot in the lineup. With him scuffling, Terry Collins dropped him down and put Curtis Granderson in his old lead-off spot. 

Whether it was Citizens Bank Park, Buchholz, Cabrera getting thrown at, the randomness of baseball, or this new lineup putting the top OBP guys atop the lineup, the offense clicked. Every position player got at least one hit:

  1. Granderson 1-4, 2 R, 2B, 2 BB
  2. Cabrera 4-6, 3 R, 2B, HR, 2 RBI, BB
  3. Cespedes 4-6, 3 R, 2B, 3 HR, 5 RBI
  4. Bruce 1-6, 2 RBI
  5. Walker 2-5, 2B, BB
  6. Duda 4-6, 2 R, 2B, 2 HR, 2 RBI
  7. Reyes 1-6, R, 2B
  8. d’Arnaud 3-4, 2B, HR, 3 RBI, BB

As noted above, the lineup hit seven homers with Cespedes becoming the first Met to hit three homers in one game twice:

Cespedes also tied a Mets club record with four extra base hits in one game. 

As impressive as that was, Duda absolutely annihilated a home run to deep center over the batter’s eye in sixth inning:

Duda now has 14 home runs at Citizens Bank Park. That’s the most home runs by a visiting player. 

Another note on Duda, he hit his home run off the left-handed pitcher Adam Morgan. Typically, Duda struggles against left-handed pitching. This year he already has three extra base hits, including two home runs against them. He’s using that up the middle approach that was so successful for him in 2015. This is a good harbinger of things to come.

Another good harbinger was Matt Harvey‘s start. The velocity was there, and the results were mostly there.  He would go 5.2 innings allowing five hits, two runs, two earned, and one walk with six strikeouts. 

The Phillies got the Harvey in the fifth loading the bases with two outs. Harvey then snapped off three nasty curve balls to strike out Odubel Herrera to get out of the inning. Of note, the first two curves were spiked in the dirt, and d’Arnaud gobbled them up keeping the runner at third.

Overall, you knew it was the Mets night when T.J. Rivera pinch hit for Robles and drew a walk. As we know from last year and his minor leader numbers is Rivera never walks. 

The one issue with Harvey is he tweaked his hamstring in the sixth. Collins did the right thing by not chancing anything and going right to Hansel Robles who got the Mets to the eighth. 

Also, if you are prone to overreact, Josh Edgin had his first rough outing allowing two doubles and two runs in the eighth inning. However, the game was a blowout. No one should focus too much on anything when a game gets completely out of hand. 

Conversely, Paul Sewald got into his second game, and he looked more calm and composed even if he walked one. He pitched a scoreless ninth to close it out for the Mets. 

Overall, Cespedes hit three homers. Cabrera, Duda, and d’Arnaud fell just one triple short of the cycle. The seventh inning was the only inning they didn’t score a run. By far, it was the best Mets offensive game this season. 

Naturally, with this being the Mets, we couldn’t exactly enjoy this 14-4 win completely because we have to wait with baited breath about Harvey’s health. 

Game Notes: Mets are now 41-18 in their last 59 games at Citizens Bank Park. The Mets now have 46 homers in their last 21 games at Citizens Bank Park.