There’s a lot of blame directed at Luis Rojas for another brutal New York Mets loss in September. Absolutely, there were some questionable moves.
Marcus Stroman was lifted after six great innings despite being at 89 pitches. On a day when Seth Lugo was unavailable, Aaron Loup, Trevor May, and Edwin Diaz didn’t go multiple innings. There were also pinch hitting decisions.
Putting aside the fact the pitching increasingly looks scripted like with Kevin Cash and Blake Snell in the 2020 World Series, the real issue is this roster. It was a roster largely unaddressed at the trade deadline.
This was a team which had zero hits from innings 2-8 until Javier Báez‘s clutch game tying homer. Yes, he was a trade deadline acquisition, and he’s been great.
— New York Mets (@Mets) September 15, 2021
However, that’s one, and with all apologies to Trevor Williams, really, the only player the Mets added at the deadline. A team in first place didn’t feel terribly compelled to go for it.
The days of the 40 man September rosters are no more. With all due respect, these are three players who should not be rostered at this point in the season. It’s inexcusable for a front office to let this happen.
Rojas did all he could to stop the game from getting to this point. However, you can only avoid the bottom of your roster for so long. Eventually, they’re going to get to play and impact a game and a season.
Ultimately, that’s what happened last night. Instead of asking why Rojas used those players when he did, we should be asking why are these players even here.
The New York Mets offense has been dreadful lately. With that being the case, you can never quite tell if it’s the offense or the opposing pitcher.
Because the Los Angeles Dodgers started Walker Buehler it’s easy to concede it was the starting pitcher. After all, Buehler is arguably the current NL Cy Young favorite. Despite that, the Mets almost got him.
That would be the last time a Dodger reached base. Carlos Carrasco settled in, and he would have his finest start since coming off the IL. It was the first time he went five innings, he struck out a season high six, and he seemingly started figuring stuff out.
After Carrasco, the Mets bullpen did their job putting up zeros. That kept the Mets in the game, and a Pete Alonso fourth inning solo shot had the Mets trailing 3-1 entering the eighth.
— New York Mets (@Mets) August 21, 2021
That eighth inning set umpiring back decades, and you could actually argue putting players on the honor system would be better.
That McNeil at-bat is where home plate umpire Nestor Ceja which would’ve left Eric Gregg scratching his head. McNeil appeared to work out a walk loading the bases. That was until Ceja called a pitch a foot off the plate a strike.
Yeah…about that… pic.twitter.com/rzyA5f6Wis
— SNY (@SNYtv) August 21, 2021
That bogus strikeout was the difference between bases loaded one out and two on with two outs. It would make a huge difference.
It was Alonso driving in another run with an infield single pulling the Mets within 3-2. Problem is it shouldn’t have been a single.
Good catch from SNY broadcast: Alonso's infield single appeared to hit his foot in the box, which would have rendered it foul: pic.twitter.com/Ie99PAaL2m
— Tim Britton (@TimBritton) August 21, 2021
Alonso who has a ton of hard hit outs lately got some assistance from his cleat. On the subject of Ceja, he had called a foul off Jonathan Villar‘s foot when the ball easily cleared his foot.
Davis would strike out. It was the fifth time Davis struck out with the bases loaded, and he has yet to get a hit in that situation. It’ll be interesting to see how he blames that on Alonso.
After Kenley Jansen made quick work of the Mets in the ninth, the Mets fell to two games under .500 and six games behind the Braves. There are just no words for that right now.
After being swept by the Los Angeles Dodgers, the New York Mets were perilously close to being swept by the San Francisco Giants. With all that was happening, you almost expected it.
After all, even by Mets standards, things were completely haywire. It started with Steve Cohen’s tweet calling out the offense.
There was also Tim Healey of Newsday sending a bizarre tweet including the amount of times Marcus Stroman re-tweeted his highlights amongst his game stats. Then, there was Stroman re-tweeting tweets promoting violence against Healey and calling Cohen a clown.
James McCann was still dealing with back spasms, and the Mets still weren’t aware of whether he’d need to be put on the IL. This necessitated Chance Sisco getting emergency called up and Patrick Mazeika doing the dreaded starting a day game after a night game.
Then, well, there was a game where a lot happened. Again, that’s a lot by Mets standards.
Tylor Megill was terrific allowing just one run over six innings. Of course, he’d leave on the losing side because the Mets offense has been terrible. That’s even with Giants starter Anthony DeSclafani leaving the game in the second with an injury.
Over the first eight innings, the Mets only had just three hits. When they did get a base runner, well, they didn’t knock them in, and even better, Jonathan Villar got picked off again. Even for Villar, this was horrendous.
Got hiiiiim pic.twitter.com/nICC2uW7MP
— SFGiants (@SFGiants) August 18, 2021
That seemed to give the Mets life as Michael Conforto followed with a single sending Alonso to third. He’d then score on a sacrifice fly to tie the game. He’d then leave the game as a result of the HBP.
Edwin Diaz mowed down the Giants on six pitches sending it to extras. In the tenth where the Mets inability to score runs went to comical levels.
Villar was the ghost runner, and for some reason, Luis Rojas wanted Mazeika to bunt him to third. Naturally, Mazeika had a poor bunt, and Villar was out by a wide margin.
Diaz again came up big. While he would plunk Austin Slater with one out, he dominated the other Giants hitters sending it to the 11th.
In the 11th, Conforto came up big with a one out RBI double giving the Mets the lead. To no one’s surprise, he’d be stranded there. That hurt as Jeurys Familia allowed a single to the first batter he faced tying the game at 2-2.
— New York Mets (@Mets) August 18, 2021
In the 12th, the Mets offense finally woke up and put the game away. Mazeika hit a one out single, and then Kevin Pillar hit a three run homer giving the Mets the lead.
— New York Mets (@Mets) August 18, 2021
That 5-2 lead grew to 6-2 with McNeil and Sisco hitting a pair of two out doubles. With Diaz and Familia done, the Mets turned to Jake Reed to close out the game.
Once again, Reed was very impressive. He retired the Giants in order. While it wasn’t a save with the Mets having a four run lead, it was every bit of a save considering the Mets struggles and needs to win this game.
In many ways, the Mets had to have this one. It got them back to .500, and it has them past a brutal losing streak. It also has them feeling better heading into a four game set at the Dodgers.
Time will tell whether then can turn their season around and get back in the race. If so, this was a huge next step.
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.
— New York Mets (@Mets) August 15, 2021
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.
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.