Jay Bruce

Yelich Finally Beat The Mets

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. 

In the top of the fifth, Yelich got the rally started with a two out single. He would come around to score on a Jeff Francouer double. Francouer would score off a Xavier Scruggs double. 

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 BarracloughWilmer 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. 

Game Notes: For some reason or other, Rene Rivera played first tonight even with Ty Kelly getting recalled with the expanded rosters. 

Mets August 2016 Report Card

The Mets entered August 6.5 games back in the NL East race behind both the Nationals and the Marlins.  They also trailed the Marlins by 1.5 games for the last Wild Card spot.  The Mets have also fallen behind the Cardinals in the Wild Card race as well.

By going 15-14, August turned out to be just the second winning month the Mets have had this season.  They now trail the Nationals by nine games in the NL East.  After what has been a crazy month, the Mets still remain 1.5 games back of the final Wild Card spot.  Only now, the Mets trail the the Cardinals after having helped put the Marlins away having won the first three against them in a four game series.  Given the Mets weak September schedule, it should be an interesting finish to the season.

Bear in mind, these grades are on a curve. If a bench player gets an A and a position player gets a B, it doesn’t mean the bench player is having a better year. Rather, it means the bench player is performing better in his role.

Position Players

Travis d’Arnaud (C).  After the Jonathon Lucroy rumors died down, d’Arnaud starting hitting again.  However, he has cooled off to hit at a rate slightly better than his 2016 totals.  Part of the reason may be Collins playing Rivera over him with the Mets needing to throw a lot of young pitchers out there.

Kevin Plawecki (Inc.)  Plawecki spent the entire month down in AAA where he has started hitting again.  He should be among the first group of players called up today.  It’ll be interesting to see what, if any, impact he has over the final month of the season.

Rene Rivera (C).  Rivera came crashing back to Earth offensively.  However, his value has always been as a receiver, and he has done that job fairly well helping usher some of these young pitchers into the big leagues.

Lucas Duda (Inc). Duda is most likely gone for the season, and the debate will soon begin about whether he will be a Met in 2017.

James Loney (F).  He didn’t hit for average or power, nor did he get on base much during the entire month.  Worse yet, he has not been good in the field.  The next ball he stretches for will be his first.

Neil Walker (A+).  What has happened to Walker is nothing short of heart breaking.  He had completely turned his season around, and he appeared to be headed for a massive payday this offseason with him standing out as one of the better options in a weak free agent class.  Instead, Walker is going to have season ending back surgery to end his season.

David Wright (Inc.).  It’s clear he’s done for the season, but it is nice seeing him around Citi Field and looking better.

Asdrubal Cabrera (A+).  Since his return from the disabled list, Cabrera has been a blonde bombshell.  He moved into the second spot in the order, and he he has combine with Reyes to form a dynamic and powerful 1-2 duo at the top of the lineup.  The only concern is how much he is going to actually be able to play with that lingering knee issue.

Wilmer Flores (B+).  Flores has continued to rake putting up numbers at an unprecedented.  This month he hit seven homers.  He has benefited greatly by mostly facing left-handed pitchers, and now he’s hitting righties better. The Mets will need his versatility all the more as injuries mounted during the month.

Eric Campbell (Inc.) Campbell did not play in a game during the month, and the Mets are not likely to call him up again until rosters expand in September.

Matt Reynolds (D).  Reynolds didn’t hit well during his 10 games with the Mets this month.  Worse yet for him, he has been passed over on the team’s depth chart by Rivera.

Ty Kelly (A).  During his limited August playing time, Collins was able to maximize Kelly’s abilities by making him a short-lived platoon left fielder with Cespedes dealing with his quad injury.  In his nine August games, Kelly hit .381/.500/.524 with a double and a triple.

Michael Conforto (D).  After a stretch in which the Mets bottomed out, Conforto was sent down as he was a young player unable to handle sporadic playing time.  Since being sent down to AAA, Conforto has hit everything including lefties.  He should be called up today, and most likely, never play as Collins is his manager.

Yoenis Cespedes (A).  It was admirable that Cespedes played until he could play no longer (even if his golfing might’ve been part of the reason why).  Since his return, Cespedes is hitting home runs again.  He has had another incredible month, and he had a walkoff with a legendary bat flip to help the Mets beat the Marlins.

Curtis Granderson (D).  It hasn’t been fun seeing last year’s team MVP struggle the way he has this month.  He lost his job in right, moved to center, and now has become a part time player.  The hope is that with the time off, he rests up, and he returns to the Granderson of old.  Those hopes don’t seem that far fetched after he came off the bench the other night to hit two home runs.

Juan Lagares (Inc).  Lagares didn’t play in August due to the thumb surgery.  It remains questionable if he can return in September as he will most likely not be ready for rehab games until after the minor league affiliates have ended their seasons.

Alejandro De Aza (C-).  De Aza followed a great July with another poor August.  Mixed in there were a couple of terrific games that helped the Mets win a pivotal game against the Cardinals.  Right now, what he brings more than anything is the ability to play center field.

Kelly Johnson (A+).  Johnson continues to be the Mets top pinch hitter as well as a platoon option in the infield.  Over the past month, he has hit for more power including a surprising five homers.  His bases loaded double last night might’ve buried the Marlins.

Brandon Nimmo (Inc).  He only played two games before being sent down to AAA.  Given the fact that he’s one of the few healthy center fielders in the organization, he may see some real time when he gets called up with the expanded rosters.

Jose Reyes (A).  You could say we’re seeing the Reyes of old, but Reyes has never been this good in his career.  He has adapted extremely well to third base while playing a steady shortstop when the Mets have needed him to play over there when Cabrera has been injured or needing a day off.  The one caution is he still isn’t hitting right-handed pitching that well.  Still, his numbers were terrific.

T.J. Rivera (B).  After all this time, Rivera finally got his chance.  He made the most of it hitting .289 in 13 games while playing decently at second and third base.

Justin Ruggiano (Inc).  When he plays, he hits, but he is now on his second disabled list stint already with the Mets. With him being put on the 60 day disabled list, he’s now done for the season.   Seeing what we have seen with the team, there may be something in the water.

Jay Bruce (F).  Since coming to the Mets for Dilson Herrera, he has just been bad.  But hey, it’s not like the Mets need another second baseman, right?

Pitchers

Matt Harvey (Inc).  Harvey is done for the season after having had successful surgery to remove a rib.  For a player who has been criticized in the past for attending Yankee games while being gone for the season, Harvey has been a fixture in the Mets dugout during games.

Jacob deGrom (D).  deGrom had been pitching great until August rolled around.  In back-to-back big games against the Giants and the Cardinals, he couldn’t deliver pitching two of the worst games in his career.  Hopefully, the Mets skipping his last start will help get him back on track.

Noah Syndergaard (B). Syndergaard has had an uneven month, but after his last start, it appears he is dealing better with the bone spurs, and he is getting back to the pitcher who was dominant over the first half of the season.

Steven Matz (C).  Just as you thought he turned things around with his flirting with a no-hitter in his last start, he goes down with a shoulder injury.  At this time, it is unknown as to when or if he can return.

Bartolo Colon (A).  Colon stopped his good start-bad start streak in August, and he started pitching much better during the month of August at a time when the Mets needed him the most.

Logan Verrett (F).  Look, he shouldn’t have been tapped as the Mets fifth starter after Harvey went down, but with that said, he did everything he could to lose the job pitching to a 13.50 ERA in August.  He eventually lost the job to Niese of all people

Jeurys Familia (A).  That’s the Familia we all know and love.  He not only had a sub 1.00 ERA, but he also broke the single season Mets save record he shared with Armando Benitez.

Addison Reed (B+).  You knew he wasn’t going to keep up what he has been doing, but even with him coming back to Earth slightly, he has still be incredible.

Jim Henderson (F).  After being on the disabled list for so long with yet another shoulder injury, Henderson has made his way back to the majors.  Unfortunately, he’s not the same pitcher.  Collins owes him an apology.

Hansel Robles (F).  Robles showed how much he has been overworked this season by Collins this month.  Hopefully, with some rest, he should finally be able to rebound and contribute in September and beyond like he had done for most of the season.

Jerry Blevins (B+).  His 2.16 ERA was terrific, but his 1.560 WHIP gives some reason for pause.  Both righties and lefties are starting to hit him, and he has been allowing inherited runners to score.

Antonio Bastardo (Inc.)  Thankfully, he is gone, and it was worth it even if it meant the Mets had to take back Niese.

Rafael Montero (Inc.) He got an unexpected start due to injuries, and he fought his way through five scoreless innings.  Good for him.

Sean Gilmartin (Inc.)  Gilmartin has only made three appearances since being recalled, and he hasn’t pitched particularly well.  Whether it was the shoulder injury or teams figuring him out, he’s not the same guy he was last season.

Erik Goeddel (F).  There used to be two factions of the Mets fan base: those who thought Goeddel was a good major league pitcher, and those that didn’t.  Seemingly, everyone is now in the latter camp now.

Seth Lugo (A).  Lugo has been nothing short of a revelation this year.  Due to injuries, he has had to go from the bullpen to the rotation.  He has not only shown his stuff translates as a starter, but he also shown he could actually be more effective as a starter.  He has gotten his 2014 deGrom moment, and he has taken advantage of it.

Jon Niese (F).  Somehow, he was worse with the Mets than he was with the Pirates.  He has failed in the bullpen and the rotation.  Hopefully, for him, the reason is because of his knee injury that has required surgery.

Robert Gsellman (Inc.) It’s been a mixed bag for Gsellman.  In his one relief apperance and his one start, he has given the Mets a chance to win.   However, he’s a powder keg out there as it seems as if he is in trouble each and every inning.  To his credit, he has gotten out of most of the jams.  It’ll be interesting to see where he goes from here.

Gabriel Ynoa (Inc.) Ynao was surprisingly called up to pitch out of the bullpen.  In three rough appearances, the only thing you can fairly conclude is he isn’t comfortable yet pitching out of the bullpen.

Josh Edgin (D) Edgin has gone through the long Tommy John rehab process, but he’s not quite back yet.  His velocity isn’t quite there.  With that in mind, he has struggles getting major league batters out.

Josh Smoker (B) After a rough start to his major league career, he has gone out there and gotten better each and every time out.  He is getting his fastball in the upper 90s, and he is a strikeout machine.  He could be a real factor over the next month and in the postseason

Terry Collins (D)  He iced Conforto.  He continues to overwork the bullpen.  He makes baffling lineup decision after baffling lineup decision.  He is even worse with in-game management.  However, with the Mets on a stretch against some bad teams, and the Wild Card frontrunners not having run away with it, he may once again be in position to ride some good luck into the postseason.

Mets Wouldn’t Be Denied a Third Time

With the way the Mets season has gone, you knew they were going to regret not scoring with bases loaded and no outs. The issue was whether they would be able to rebound. 

At the time, the Mets were up 2-1 after a Wilmer Flores two run homer in the second scoring the clean up hitter Curtis Granderson. The home run was off the right-handed Jake Esch, who was making his major league debut. It was an important homer for Wilmer as he needs to hit righties more with the uncertainty surrounding Neil Walker and his back. 

As in the first two games of this series, the Mets scored the half inning immediately after the Marlins too the lead. 

The Mets had their chance to blow things open but failed. Jay Bruce started the rally with a single. Travis d’Arnaud singled himself leading to the Mets loading the bases. The rally was killed and the Mets scored no runs as Bartolo Colon hit into a double play. Which inning was this? 

It was the second and the fourth. 

In the second, Colon came up with one out, and he hit into the 3-6-3 inning ending double play. In the fourth, there were no outs as Colon hit into the rare 5-2-3 double play. Colon had two at bats leading to four outs. 

The second failure with the bases loaded was especially notable as there are no outs and Bruce’s decided not to test Ichiro Suzuki‘s arm despite Tim Teufel waving him in. Kelly Johnson didn’t get the RBI, and after a Jose Reyes groundout, no one scored. 

The Mets would regret missing out on these chances after Christian Yelich hit a game tying solo homer in the sixth. 

The homer was a blip for Colon who was great on the night. His final line was seven innings, seven hits, two runs, one earned, no walks, and three strikeouts. However, he wouldn’t get the win, in part, due to his offense. Addison Reed  would after pitching a scoreless eighth. 

In the bottom of the eighth, the Mets would not be denied again. The bases were loaded with two outs as Johnson stepped to the plate. He would hit a 3-2 pitch for a bases clearing double giving the Mets a 5-2 lead. 

Jeurys Familia came on and closed it out recording his 44th save of the season. With the save, he broke the tie he shared with Armando Benitez for saves in a single season. He is assured to only add to that. 
With that, the Mets have taken three of the first four from the Marlins. They also finish the month over .500 for the first time since April. 

Game Notes: Old friend Kirk Nieuwenhuis did his part to help the Mets hitting a three run home run against the Cardinals. 

Reyes & Cabrera Spark the Offense Again

Much like last night, the Marlins would not have a lead against the Mets for very long. 

In the top of the first, Christian Yelich hit a two run homer off Seth Lugo giving the Marlins an early 2-0 lead. After that, Lugo would shut the Marlins down including robbing Ichiro Suzuki of a base hit to get out of the first. Lugo grabbed the ball dribbling down the line and threw a dart over Ichiro’s head. 

His final line was six innings, five hits, two runs, two earned, one walk, and four strikeouts. 

Jose Reyes and Asdrubal Cabrera would set out to make sure Lugo got the win. With Cabrera playing after missing a game with a knee issue, the two once again served as sparks at the top of the lineup. They started immediately. 
After Reyes leadoff the bottom of the first with an infield single, Cabrera brought him home on a game tying two run homer. 

On the night, Reyes would go 4-5 with two runs and a double. Cabrera was 2-3 with a run, two RBI, a walk, and a homer. With them going like this, you can believe the Mets have what it takes to get back to the postseason.

The first inning rally would continue on a Jay Bruce double. Yes, that actually happened. He would then score on a Wilmer Flores RBI single. It was part of a big night for Flores who was 2-4 with a double and an RBI. 

Just like that, a Marlins lead became a 3-2 deficit. The Mets wouldn’t look back. 

After the first, the Mets kept threatening against Tom Koehler, but they couldn’t quite plate another run. Shocking, I know. The Mets not getting hits with runners in scoring position. 

Things changed in the sixth with Curtis Granderson hitting a pinch hit leadoff home run. It sparked a rally with the Mets loading the bases. Alejandro De Aza singled scoring Reyes making it 5-2, but that’s all the Mets would get that inning. 

On the De Aza single, Cabrera took a wide turn around third, but he did not appear as if he was really trying to score. Rather, it looked as if he was positioning himself in case there was a bobble or something. In any event, he tried to get back to third but he couldn’t because Bruce was standing there. 

Granderson would stay in the game and go to right. He would come back up in the seventh, and he would hit another home run. This was a two run shot scoring Rene Rivera making it a 7-2 game. 

With the Mets now having a big lead, Terry Collins decided to let Hansel Robles stay out there for a second inning because Collins is the only one who hasn’t figured out that Robles is overworked.Fortunately, Robles was able to pitch two scoreless helping to preserve the Mets win. 

The Mets had to turn to Jeurys Familia for the save as Jim Henderson just couldn’t lock down the 7-2 win. Henderson allowed a starting a J.T. Realmuto solo home run, a Jeff Francouer triple, and a Dee Gordon RBI single. Just like that it was a 7-4 game. Familia came in and put an end to the nonsense striking out Marcell Ozuna to record his 43rd save of the year tying the club record he shares with Armando Benitez

With the Mets second straight win against the Marlins, they are now a game ahead of them in the standings.  Things are starting to get interesting. 
Game Notes: Neil Walker missed the game with his lingering back injury. It’s now serious enough that Collins no longer believes Walker can play everyday. James Loney stayed consistent by going 0-3. Before the game, it was announced Steven Matz will not be ready to pitch when his disabled list stint is over because he is still having shoulder issues. 

Pennant Race: The Pirates are losing to the Cubs 3-0 in the seventh. The Cardinals are tied with the Brewers 1-1 in the eighth. The Nationals beat the Phillies 3-2. 

Mets Roster Management Is Horrendous

There’s having a short bench due to injuries, and then there is what the Mets did last night.

With the Mets needing to skips Jacob deGrom start, the Mets needed to call up a starter to take his place in the rotation. The corollary to that is the Mets needed to send someone down to make room for Rafael Montero on the roster.

The obvious choice was Robert Gsellman. Gsellman had just started on Sunday meaning he was not slated to pitch until Friday. However, he wasn’t going to start on Friday. That start is going to go to Steven Matz, who by all accounts, will be ready to come off the disabled list. With Matz reclaiming his rotation spot, Gsellman was not needed.

Instead, the Mets sent down T.J. Rivera.  They sent down T.J. Rivera even though Neil Walker has had to miss a few games with a lingering back injury.  Rivera was sent down despite Asdrubal Cabrera having to leave Sunday’s game due to a re-aggravation of his knee injury.  Rivera was sent down even though he was the only thing resembling healthy versatile infield depth on the Mets roster.  Rivera being sent down meant the Mets had no margin of error on the infield.  It was something that was almost a huge issue last night as A.J. Ramos fell on Jose Reyes‘ shoulder as Reyes scored on a wild pitch.

It also meant the Mets had a short bench last night.  With Rafael Montero only being able to go five innings, Terry Collins had to use Jacob deGrom to pinch hit.  In an effort to win the game with one swing, Collins burned Rene Rivera and then turned to Jay Bruce.  When Bruce didn’t deliver, the Mets best pinch hitting option remaining was Noah Syndergaard.  Fortunately, like he has done so many times in the past, Yoenis Cespedes bailed out the Mets with a tenth inning walk off home run.

Like it has most of the season, the Mets handling of the roster has been left a lot to be desired.  It might not have cost them last night’s game, but it has cost them games this season.  With only two more days before rosters expand, hopefully, the days of the Mets purposefully playing with a short roster are behind us.

Montero Started It and Cespedes Finished It

There was little optimism for tonight’s game. The Marlins were starting Jose Fernandez, who absolutely owns the Mets. Neil Walker and Asdrubal Cabrera couldn’t play due to injury. That left the Mets with an extremely short bench as the team sent down T.J. Rivera to make room for Rafael Montero

Yes, that Rafael Montero. In the biggest game of the biggest series of the year, the Mets led off with Montero against Fernandez because Jacob deGrom needed to have a start skipped with his recent struggles. In the biggest undersell of the century, this was far from optimal. 

Also suboptimal was the strikezone. Montero, who has not dealt well with adversity in his career, was squeezed all night. He issued six walks in five innings. In four of the five innings he pitched, he was on the verge of a meltdown. But then something funny happened. Montero bore down. 

He got out of a jam in the first by striking out J.T. Realmuto. In the fourth, he got out of a bases loaded jam by getting the opposing pitcher, Fernandez, to ground out. In the fifth, he induced a ground ball from Marcell Ozuna, and third baseman  Kelly Johnson started the inning ending 5-5-3 double play. 

It was ugly at times, but Montero pitched an effective five innings to give the Mets a chance. His final line was five innings, two hits, no runs, none earned, six walks, and three strikeouts. It may not be an outing that would earn him another start, but it was a courageous outing that shows he may still yet have a major league future. 

Sean Gilmartin and Jerry Blevins each followed Montero’s effort with a scoreless inning if their own meaning the Mets got through seven scoreless innings. It also meant the Mets successfully outlasted Fernandez, who was brilliant again. 
Fermandez’s final line was six innings, three hits, no runs, none earned, four walks (one intentional), and six strikeouts. While not particularly noteworthy against this team, the Mets were 0-6 with RISP against him. 

It became a battle of the bullpens, and the one guy you counted on most was the one who sprung a leak. Ichiro Suzuki hustled his way to a two out double off Addison ReedAlejandro De Aza made a good play on the ball, but Ichiro is just that fast. Ichiro would then score on a Xavier Scruggs RBI double. 

The Scruggs double was an absolute laser that Yoenis Cespedes didn’t have a real chance to get even at 100%. Still, he took a real baffling route to the ball. 

The Mets, specifically Jose Reyes, would respond in the bottom half of the inning. Reyes lead off with a double off reliever A.J. Ramos. Ichiro misplayed the ball, but Reyes was getting to second regardless. Reyes tagged and moved up on a deceptively deep De Aza fly ball. Normally, you’d question running on left fielder Christian Yelich who has a cannon. However, with him back pedaling, Reyes made a great read and took third. 

Cespedes then stepped to the plate with the crowd a buzz. Ramos would throw a wild pitch allowing Reyes to score. Ramos would come down on Reyes’ shoulder, but Reyes would stay in the game. 

Cespedes and Curtis Granderson would follow with singles, but the Mets couldn’t push either home. 

Jeurys Familia pitched a 1-2-3 ninth. He wasn’t available to go deeper as he was due up third in the bottom of the ninth. Terry Collins couldn’t double switch him in as he had no bench to do that. 
After the ninth, the Mets really had no bench. With two outs in the ninth, Rene Rivera was announced as the pinch hitter against the lefty Mike DunnDon Mattingly countered with the right-handed Nick Wittgren.  Then in a move that made no sense Collins went to Jay Bruce as Collins was the only one who expected Bruce to hit one out of the park. He didn’t meaning the lone position player left was Walker, who couldn’t play due to his lingering back issues. 

Josh Smoker picked the Mets up with a lights out 1-2-3 tenth where he struck out two of the three batters he faced. Smoker has gotten progressively better with each and every outing since he was recalled, and he earned his first major league win because, well, Cespedes. 

 With two outs in the tenth, Cespedes hit the walk off at a time the Mets desperaty needed it. They were almost out of pitchers. They had no more bench players, and he bailed them out evening the Mets with the Marlins in the standings. 

Game Notes: With the short bench, deGrom grounded out while pinch hitting for Montero in the fifth. 

Pennant Race: The Nationals beat the  Phillies 4-0. The Cardinals beat the Brewers 6-5. The Pirates lead the Cubs 6-3 in the seventh. 

Gsellman Gave the Mets a Chance to Win – They Didn’t 

Through the first six innings, Robert Gsellman did his job even though he needed a lot of help with the Phillies getting two runners thrown out at home. 

In the third, the speedy Freddy Galvis tried to sneak home from third when Cesar Hernandez grounded out to Gsellman. An alert James Loney nailed Galvis at the plate. Again, it seems like everyone wants to pull this play off against the Mets since Eric Hosmer surprised everyone, including Lucas Duda, in the World Series. 

In the fourth, Aaron Altherr wasn’t exactly busting it from first on a Jimmy Paredes RBI double. The Jay Bruce to Kelly Johnson relay nailed Atherr at the plate. Instead of it being 2-1 Phillies. The game would be tied at one. 

Still, it was 1-1 heading into the seventh inning. With Gsellman due to leadoff the next inning, Terry Collins left him in the game. Collins might’ve left him in because Gsellman pitched reasonably well, and he had a reasonable low pitch count. He could’ve left him in because the Mets already lost Asdrubal Cabrera earlier in the game with a knee injury after a collision with Phillies first baseman Tommy Joseph (initially, it appeared to be a wrist injury). He might’ve left him in because he wanted to give a still hobbled Yoenis Cespedes and a presumably tired new father, Neil Walker, a full day off. Whatever the case, Collins decision was defendable if not risky. It was a fateful decision.

The Phillies led off the seventh with three straight singles. The rally started when Joseph singled past Loney, who has shown himself to have little range and not quick to the ball. The three singles loaded the bases bringing up new Phillie A.J. Ellis. As usual, Ellis is struggling at the plate this season, but the catcher has a penchant for big hits. With that in mind, Collins went to Hansel Robles to get out of the bases loaded no out jam. To build off the meme, Hansel is so cold right now. 

Ellis hit a two RBI double that one hopped the wall giving the Phillies a 3-1 lead. After an intentional walk to re-load the bases, Robles got ahead of Peter Bourjos 0-2. He would then hit the lite hitting Bourjos on the wrist making it a 4-1 game. Jerry Blevins came on and allowed a sacrifice fly making the score 5-1. 

Jim Henderson relieved Blevins, and he got the last out of the inning. Henderson just pitched the eighth even though he pitched yesterday and he’s coming back from ANOTHER shoulder injury. 
Gsellman took the loss after he gave the Mets a much better start than they probably anticipated. His final line was six innings, seven hits, four runs, four earned, one walk, and five strikeouts. Keep in mind, he allowed three hits without recording an out in the seventh, and Robles allowed all of his runners to score. Arguably, Gsellman deserved a much better fate. 

However, the Mets, as a team, did not deserve a better fate. 

The only major threat they built was in the first inning when they loaded the bases with one out. They would only get one run on a Curtis Granderson sacrifice fly scoring Wilmer Flores, who came on for the injured Cabrera. The Mets then did little against Vince Velasquez and then for the following four innings against a pretty weak Phillies bullpen. 

In the bottom of the sixth, before the ill fated seventh inning, Travis d’Arnaud battled back from an 0-2 count only to ground out thereby stranding Alejandro De Aza at third.  Once again, hitting with runners in scoring position was the difference between winning and losing. 

The Mets lost a game that was in front of them to win. If they want to get that second Wild Card, they are not only going to need to win games like these, but they are also going to have to sweep series against bad teams like the Phillies. If not, they’re not going to make up the necessary ground they need to make. 

Game Notes: Bruce again did nothing much at the plate going 1-4 with a strikeout. 

Pennant Race: The Marlins lost to the Padres 3-1. The Nationals lost to the Rockies 5-3. The Pirates beat the Brewers 3-1. The Cardinals lost to the Athletics 7-4. 

Asdrubal Cabrera Was Golden (Haired)

Jose Reyes and Asdrubal Cabrera let everyone know right off the bat the Mets were not going to take a second division club lightly by hitting back-to-back homers to start the bottom of the first.

They also brought their gloves. After Cabrera made a nice play in the fourth, Reyes followed up with a better one:

At the time, it preserved a Bartolo Colon no-hitter. Colon would lose it in the fifth on an Odubel Herrera hustle double. Herrera scored after the Mets gamble of intentionally walking Peter Bourjos, who is hitting .179 in the second half, to get to the pitcher Adam Morgan. Morgan hit an RBI single to close the gap to 2-1. That’s as close as the Phillies would get. 

In the bottom of the fifth, Wilmer Flores made it 6-1 with a grand slam off Morgan:

Once again both Flores and this iteration of the Mets lineup just crushes lefties.  

In the sixth, the Mets would put the game out of reach off Phillies reliever Frank HerrmannTravis d’Arnaud hit an RBI double, and he would come around to score on Cabrera’s second home run of the game. It was the first time he homered from both sides of the plate. It gave the Mets a 9-1 lead effectively ending the game. 

The Phillies would touch up Colon a bit in the eighth to close the gap to 9-4, but in reality it was just putting lipstick on a pig. Colon was terrific in every way tonight starting with a quick defensive reaction in the first:

He didn’t just help himself in the field, he helped himself at the plate going 2-3 with two runs and a double . . . yes, a double. 

His final line was seven innings, six hits, four runs, four earned, two walks, and six strikeouts. 

On what was a terrific day for the Mets, Cabrera put the capper on the night with a terrific defensive play in the eighth. Reyes tried to bare-hand a ball at third, and he missed it. Cabrera backed him up, and dive to tag out Aaron Altherr

  
After a second lackluster appearance by Sean Gilmartin and his bleeding thumb, Terry Collins wasted no time in bringing in Jeurys Familia even though it wasn’t a save situation. Familia got out of the first and second no out jam to preserve the Mets 9-4 win. 

Game Notes: Neil Walker was activated from the paternity list, and he went 1-3 with a run and a walk. T.J. Rivera was sent back down. Jay Bruce returned to the lineup as well, and he went 0-4 with the golden sombrero. Curtis Granderson sat against the left-handed again. 

Pennant Race: The Nationals beat the Rockies 8-5. The Marlins are losing to the Padres 6-3 in the ninth. The Pirates are leading the Brewers 5-4 in the sixth. The Cardinals lead the Athletics 3-1 in the seventh. 

Jacob deGrom Didn’t Have It Again 

You can point to whatever you want, but the simple fact is the Mets lost this game because Jacob deGrom didn’t have it for the second straight game.  That much was made apparent when Matt Carpenter led off the bottom of the first with a home run. 

He would only last 4.2 innings allowing a whopping 12 hits with two walks while only striking out three. The scary part is it could have been a lot worse than the five runs he allowed. 

In the second deGrom caught a wandering Yadier Molina off second after a leadoff double. The Cardinals still rallied that inning, but they wouldn’t score. Randal Grichuk tried to score on a Greg Garcia single, but he would be gunned down by Curtis Granderson to end the inning. The play was really made by Travis d’Arnaud, who made a terrific tag. 

That would keep the game at 1-1. The Mets sole run of the game was scored off an Asdrubal Cabrera double scoring Alejandro De Aza. It scored De Aza because he was pinch running for Jay Bruce, who injured himself on a leadoff double. The Mets are calling it a cramp. Given their ability to diagnose injuries, I’m sure it’ll be much worse:

In the fourth, the Cardinals expanded their lead to 3-1 on a Grichuk solo shot. They continued to rally, and they had first and second with one out. Carpenter then ripped a line drive right at James Loney, who then beat pitcher Carlos Martinez back to the bag for the inning ending double play. 

In the fifth, deGrom allowed another home run. This one was a two run shot to Stephen Piscotty. After that deGrom would allow a hit and a walk all but forcing Collins to pull him after 95 pitches and the Mets down 5-1. Erik Goeddel came on and got the Mets out if the jam without allowing any further damage that inning. 

It’s understandable why Terry Collins would try to push deGrom. He’s the ace, and he’s the guy who can get people out when he seemingly has nothing. On top of that, the Mets bullpen went 8.2 innings yesterday and needed a break. It should be noted the Mets were in that predicament because they started Jon Niese with full knowledge he had a bum knee, which could mean he would need to be pulled early. 

What is strange is Collins pushed Goeddel, who put in a yeoman’s effort. Goeddel has a history of arm injuries, and he’s not a long reliever. Meanwhile, Hansel Robles was well rested and has had experience and success going multiple innings.

Collins wouldn’t go to Robles until the seventh until Goeddel hit a walk after 1.2 solid innings of work. He did allow a run on a Jhonny Peralta RBI triple that Granderson had some trouble with in right. 

For what it’s worth, Robles wasn’t sharp like most of this over worked Collins’ bullpen has. Robles’ final line was 1.2 innings, five hits hits, one run, one earned, no walks, and one strikeout. He did allow an inherited runner to score tagging Goeddel with a second earned run allowed. 

Through all of this the Mets could not solve Martinez who was great all night. His final line was eight innings, four hits, one run, one earned, three walks, and five strikeouts. 

Overall, this story was about deGrom. Over his last two starts, he has allowed 25 hits to the 52 batters he’s faced while allowing four homers. It marked the first time a Mets pitcher has allowed 12 or more hits in consecutive games. This was deGrom’s third straight bad start against a Wild Card contender. 

As it stands, the Mets lost 8-1, and it wasn’t really that close. The Mets are back at .500 . . . again. They are back to 4.5 games behind the Cardinals for the second Wild Card. 

The loss makes tomorrow’s game all the more important. No matter what happens tomorrow, the Mets need to get deGrom to get back to his dominant self. 

Game Notes: Neil Walker missed his second straight game as he is with his wife and newborn daughter. Yoenis Cespedes looked hobbled again out there in left. He went 0-4 with a strikeout. 

Pennant Race: The Pirates lost to the Astros 5-4. The Nationals lost to the Orioles 10-8. The Marlins beat the Royals 3-0. Jose Fernandez appeared to leave that game with an injury. The Marlins are calling it a cramp. 

Keep Michael Conforto’s AAA Production in Mind

Currently, the Mets outfielders are Jay Bruce, Yoenis Cespedes, Alejandro De Aza, Curtis Granderson, and Justin Ruggiano.  Not on this list is Michael Conforto as the Mets have no intention of calling him up until September 1st.

Conforto is absolutely raking in AAA.  In the 10 games since his demotion, Conforto is 22-40 with four doubles, four homers, eight RBI, and two walks.  That is a .550/.581/.950 batting line.  Offensive statistics in the Pacific Coast League are typically inflated, but they aren’t that inflated.

Better yet, over his two stints in the minors this year, Conforto is hitting .500/.559/.633 with a double, a homer, and seven RBI in 30 at bats.

No, the Mets have no interest in that production right now even with them playing in a crucial three game set against the Cardinals that will have a dramatic impact upon their chances of winning the Wild Card.  Instead, the Mets want to go with the following:

  • Bruce who is hitting .169/.263/.282 in 19 games as a Met
  • De Aza who is hitting .192/.287/.308 on the season and .133/.264/.311 in August
  • Granderson who is hitting .224/.312/.428 on the year and .186/.240/.347 since the All Star Break
  • Ruggiano who was released from the Rangers while he was in AAA and is a career .258/.322/.438 hitter

Overall, the only player who deserves to be in the lineup day-in and day-out is Cespedes.  After that, the Mets have to pick two other outfielders who are playing best to man center and right.  Looking at the Mets 40 man roster, it is hard to believe that Conforto isn’t one of those players right now.

Hopefully, the Mets will sweep the Cardinals and get terrific production from their center and right fielders.  If not, we will all be left asking why were the Mets willing to field their best possible team and best possible lineup in the most important series of the year.