Jerry Blevins

Seen This Loss Too Many Times This Year

The Mets fought hard to get back into this game.  In the end, it was the usual culprits that would let the Mets down – injuries, defense, and the bullpen. 

After Curtis Granderson led off the game with a home run off Dan StrailyRobert Gsellman would just give the lead back. 

In the bottom of the first, the Marlins had runners on first and second with two outs, but Gsellman couldn’t come up with that big pitch to get out of the inning. Justin Bour singled to tie the game, and Martin Prado doubled to give the Marlins a 3-1 lead. 

It was one of those nights where you knew Gsellman probably wasn’t long for the game. You’d be right, but not for the reason you’d expect. 

In the fourth, Lucas Duda got a rally started with a one out double, and it appeared as if the Mets would strand him there. Travis d’Arnaud came up with the big two out RBI single pulling the Mets within one. 

Then came the Gsellman injury. Gsellman would ground out to the pitcher. On the play, he’d vacillate between jogging and busting it. It led to a leg injury. Rather go on a rant here about another injury, it’s best to leave it to Ron Darling:

This led to Paul Sewald getting thrown into the game. He did a great job pitching three scoreless innings keeping the Mets in the game. It allowed d’Arnaud to tie the game with a solo shot off Kyle Barraclough

The hit got the Mets going, and it seemed as if the Mets might take the lead. Brandon Nimmo worked out a pinch hit walk, and Granderson smoked a grounder up the middle. 

That’s when JT Riddle made a phenomenal play on the Granderson grounder to get a 6-6-3 inning ending double play. 

With the game tied at 3-3 heading into the bottom of the seventh, Terry Collins went to Neil Ramirez and his 6.66 ERA. You knew nothing good would come of this. 

Ramirez would issue a leadoff walk to J.T. Realmuto, and Riddle would smoke a grounder towards Duda. It was difficult, but Duda needs to make that play. The ball hit off his glove setting up first and third with no outs. 
Like all Mets fans, Collins had enough of Ramirez and went to Jerry Blevins, who has pitched poor of late, to pitch to Ichiro Suzuki

Being the wily veteran with 3,049 career hits entering the game, Ichiro knew just where to hit it – right by Wilmer Flores, who went in the completely wrong direction:

From there, Blevins walked Giancarlo Stanton to get to the left-handed Christian Yelich.  The move didn’t work as Yelich hit a two run single giving the Marlins a 6-3 lead. 

This loss was the same loss that we’ve been seeing all season long. This is the same loss that has derailed the Mets season. 

Game Notes: Michael Conforto was not available to pinch hit after getting hit on the wrist in Sunday’s game. Erik Goeddel pitched 1.2 scoreless. He has three scoreless innings in three appearances this year. 

In A Cabrera Second, Mets Bats Come Alive

After having the tar beaten out of them by the Nationals and Dodgers, the Mets finally found a team worse than them. 

The team jumped all over Giants starter Ty Blach.

Curtis Granderson led off his third straight game with a hit.  This time it wasn’t a homer. He’d move to third on an Asdrubal Cabrera single. Cabrera’s hit was only a single because Brandon Belt tracked down the bloop hit and threw out Cabrera trying to stretch the single into a double. For a player that did not want to be at second today, Belt granted him his wish. 

Granderson would score on a Wilmer Flores two out RBI single. Unlike the past two games, the Mets would win a game they had a 1-0 lead after the top of the first. The main reason for that was the Mets bats exploded in the top of the second. 

The rally started with a Lucas Duda lead-off double, and he’d score on a Seth Lugo RBI double. After a wild pitch, Granderson hit a sacrifice fly to make it 3-1. 

After Cabrera singled, Yoenis Cespedes would hit his third home run since coming off the disabled list:

The rally didn’t end there. Flores, Michael Conforto, and Travis d’Arnaud hit consecutive doubles to give the Mets a 7-1 lead. 

With that lead in hand, Lugo was cruising. Through the first five innings, he had just allowed one run, and he was making quick and efficient work of the Giants. 

His lead would grow to 10-1 in the sixth. Cespedes hit an RBI double scoring Granderson. Flores hit a sacrifice fly scoring Cabrera, and Conforto hit a two out RBI single scoring Cespedes. 

After another long inning, Lugo struggled. After having thrown just 59 pitches through the fifth, his pitch count would escalate to 95, and he still didn’t get out of the inning. 

It was a combination of the Giants batters being more patient and Lugo issuing two of his three walks on the night. 

He loaded the bases with one out, and Brandon Crawford tattooed one that became a sacrifice fly. 

Lugo issued another walk to re-load the bases, and Gorkys Hernandez followed with a two RBI single. At that point, Terry Collins had little choice but to go to his bullpen. Paul Sewald came on and got the out to keep the score at 10-4. 

From there, Duda continued his monster night at the plate. He hit a seventh inning homer, and he nearly missed another in the ninth. Overall, he was 3-5 with with two runs, two doubles, a homer, and an RBI. 

In addition to Duda, Cespedes also went 3-5. Cespedes was also amazing falling a triple short of the cycle. With the sac fly, Flores was 3-4. Overall, the only Mets batter without a hit was Jose Reyes who walked twice. 

Cabrera should also be signaled out for having a good game. Despite all the pregame hysteria over his move to second base, he came to play. He was 3-6 with two runs. He was flawless in the field even turning a double play. Perhaps if he had played this well all year, the Mets never would’ve had the inking to move him to second. 

This was more than enough for Jerry BlevinsErik Goeddel, and Addison Reed to close it on out. Each pitched a scoreless inning to secure the Mets first win in over a week. 

Game Notes: Before the game, Cabrera demanded the Mets trade him for the team’s decision to play him at second base. Sandy Alderson said Cabrera’s option would not be picked up.  Gavin Cecchini was sent down to Triple-A to make room for Cabrera on the roster. 

Mets Should Be Angry They’re Terrible, Not at Puig Homers

Yesterday, the Mets lost their cool with Yasiel Puig‘s home run trot.  Wilmer Flores had something to say to him as he passed first base.  Travis d’Arnaud said something as Puig crossed home plate.  Between innings, Yoenis Cespedes and Jose Reyes pulled Puig aside to talk with him about the incident.  Jay Bruce voiced his displeasure with Puig in a post-game interview.  That’s where we are this season.
Cespedes and Reyes, two players known for their on field celebrations, are talking to another player about how he acts on the field.  More than that, it’s bizarre that a Mets team who has played terrible baseball this year is going to go out there and tell another player how the game should be played.  Instead of Puig, maybe the Mets players should be focusing on their own issues:

1.  They Can’t Pitch

The Mets have a team 5.05 ERA, which is the worst ERA the Mets have had since the 1962 Mets.  It doesn’t matter Matt Harvey, Noah Syndergaard, Seth Lugo, and Steven Matz have been injured this year.  That ERA is just inexcusable.  There was still enough talent on this roster that an ERA that high should never be that possible.  Certainly, there is no reason why this pitching staff should be in the same conversation as the worst baseball team in history.

2.  The Defense Is Terrible

The team -9 DRS and team -7.3 UZR ranks 21st in baseball.  Their -14 DRS at the shortstop position is the worst in baseball, and the -6.0 UZR is ranked 27th.  At third base, the Mets -7 DRS is 27th and -4.8 UZR is 26th.  Behind those numbers, Asdrubal Cabrera has no range anymore.  Travis d’Arnaud is having difficulty throwing out base stealers.  Flores and T.J. Rivera have once again showed they are bats without a position.  Overall, it’s ugly, and they are not helping their pitching staff.

3.  They’re Always Injured

Of all the position players on the Opening Day roster, Michael Conforto, Bruce, and Reyes are the only ones who have not spent time on the Disabled List.  For his part, Conforto is playing through back issues, and his play has dipped in June.  The only two pitchers in the starting rotation from the famed seven deep group who haven’t been on the Disabled List are deGrom and Gsellman, both of whom are coming off of offseason surgeries.  In the bullpen, the Mets have seen Jeurys Familia go down with an injury, and Terry Collins pitched Josh Smoker into one.  If the Mets want to be angry, be angry with their trainers, physicians, and maybe even themselves for how they prepare.

4.  They’re Under-Performing

So far this season, the Mets have had 13 position players with at least 100 plate appearances.  Only five of them have an OPS+ over 100.  Cespedes is the only player with a .300 batting average.  Conforto is the only one with a .400 OBP.  Aside from Cespedes, each player has had one month where they have been in a deep slump.

Other than Addison Reed and Jerry Blevins, no Mets pitcher who has thrown at least 15 innings has an ERA below 3.29, and that ERA belongs to Syndergaard.  After him the lowest ERA on the team is 3.94.  There are five pitchers who have an ERA over 6.00 and seven with an ERA over 5.0

We can get on Collins for his bizarre managing decisions all we want, and they are quite justified.  Still, Collins is not to blame for these players under-performing.  That’s on all of them.

5.  They’re Not Showing Up For The Big Games

It’s easy to forget, but the Mets were on the precipice of being relevant in the National League East and Wild Card races.  They had back-to-back four game sets against the Nationals, who were reeling with their terrible bullpen, and the Dodgers, who have had injury issues of their own.  Instead of taking control of their destiny and making themselves relevant, the Mets fell flat on their faces.  In the seven games thus far, they have allowed 14 homers and have been outscored 53-22.  It is one thing lost six of seven.  It is a whole other thing to be dominated by teams the Mets believed they were better than entering the season.

If the Mets want to be angry with anyone, they should be angry with themselves.  They are allowing the homers.  They are the ones who are getting their doors blown off on a nightly basis.  They are the ones who have taken a promising season and made it a disaster.

For once, Collins had it right when he said, “We’ve got bigger problems than somebody’s home run trot right now.” (Anthony DiComo, mlb.com).  Maybe instead of focusing on Puig, the Mets should be focusing on those bigger problems.

What Is There To Even Sell?

After getting outclassed by the Washington Nationals, the Mets are now six games under .500, and they are 10.5 games back in the division.  Things are bleaker in the Wild Card race.  The Mets are now 12 games out of the second Wild Card spot.  One of the teams they are trailing are the defending World Series champion Chicago Cubs.  While it may be too early on July 20th to say the season is over, realistically speaking, the Mets really need to consider selling.

Aside from Michael Conforto, Yoenis Cespedes, and the core group of starting pitchers, the Mets should look to sell everyone on the major league roster.  The problem is why would anyone want what the Mets are selling?

Travis d’Arnaud has had another injury this year and has regressed in all aspects of his game.  His backup, Rene Rivera has been hitting .162/.205/.297 over his last 10 games.  With Rivera, this isn’t too far from what he’s been his entire career.

Across the infield, the situation is no better.  Lucas Duda has had his typical hot and cold season with him hitting .175/.283/.375 over the past two weeks.  It also doesn’t help that he struggles against left-handed pitching.

Just as Neil Walker was playing great again, he suffered a tear in his hamstring, and he will not be able to come back from the disabled list until after the All Star Break.  That leaves little time for him to get back into form before the trade deadline assuming he is even able to return by then.

Asdrubal Cabrera is having a terrible season.  He has twice landed on the disabled list with a thumb injury.  His already poor range has been further limited.  While he’s always been a second-half hitter, his stats this season lag behind last year’s first half stats.

Flat out, Jose Reyes has been the worst infielder in the major leagues.  With his poor defense, he is little more than a pinch runner.

In the outfield, Curtis Granderson has shaken off his cold start, and he has been much better of late.  However, he’s still hitting .212/.302/.396, and he’s still 36 years old.  If a team were interested in Juan Lagares and his Gold Glove defense, that opportunity has passed with Lagares’ thumb injury.

Outside of Addison Reed and Jerry Blevins, the bullpen has been mostly terrible.  Josh Edgin has had a nice season there, but 30 year old LOOGYs hardly fetch a large haul at the trade deadline.  And for what it’s worth, the Mets still have years of control over Edgin.  He’s more valuable to the team as a pitcher than a trade asset.

Certainly, if the Mets were interested in moving Blevins, many teams would be interested in the LOOGY.  With his outstanding season, he’s probably going to get a larger return than your standard LOOGY, which still won’t be a prospect who will be a major piece of the future.

No, the only two players really capable of that are Reed and Jay Bruce.  With respect to Bruce, the bar has been set fairly high for his return.  Last year, the Mets traded Dilson Herrera, who was seen as an important part of the Mets future, and Max Wotell, who is an interesting left-handed pitching prospect.  If the Mets can match or come near that, they’ve done well.  The problem is Bruce is now a pending free agent making that kind of a return all the more unlikely.

Based on last year’s trade deadline, the Mets can legitimately ask for the moon for Reed.  He’s been great as a Met, and he’s been great this year.  He’s a great eighth inning reliever, and this year, he is showing he can replicate that success as a closer.  At the trade deadline, everyone is looking for relief help meaning everyone should be looking at Reed.

And the Mets better maximize that return because looking at the team as a whole, the Mets aren’t likely to get a whole lot back at the trade deadline.  Certainly, it will be paltry compared to the Yankees haul last year.  The sad part is if these players were playing better, the Mets return might’ve surpassed that.  Then again, if these players were playing that well, we wouldn’t be talking about selling at the trade deadline.

It Was Juan Grandy Win

This game started just like yesterday’s game with Anthony Rizzo leading off the game with a home run. Then, things were worse than where last night’s game started when Ian Happ followed with a home run of his own to make it 2-0 Cubs before there was an out in the game. 

It seemed Iike things were going to be worse than that. It has become passé to say Matt Harvey didn’t have it, but he really didn’t have it tonight. He was throwing his two seamer in the high 80s. Even when Harvey’s been at his most injured, he was never there. The Cubs would take advantage too. 

Kyle Schwarber was chief among them with this shot OVER the Shea Bridge:

The Cubs would go up 4-1, and Harvey would only last four innings. 

However, unlike last night, the Mets were in this game. 

In the second, the Mets took advantage of an error by Kris Bryant to cut the lead to 2-1. Bryant’s throw in the dirt allowed Jose Reyes to reach safely, and it allowed Jay Bruce to score. 

In the fourth, the Mets loaded the bases with no outs with Harvey due up. Yoenis Cespedes wasnot yet warmed up to play, because, why have all your players ready to play the game.  Michael Conforto likely wasn’t an option with the left-handed starter Mike Montgomery on the mound. Terry Collins opted to go with Steven Matz as the pinch hitter. 

Matz made Collins look like a genius (nah) with an infield single in a ball Javier Baez didn’t get quite cleanly enough. After Juan Lagares‘ sacrifice fly, the Mets rally sputtered, and the Mets went to the fifth inning and their bullpen down 4-3. 

The Mets pitchers contributions were terrific. Matz had the RBI single. Paul Sewald pitched two scoreless. Fernando Salas pitched two-thirds of an inning scoreless. Jerry Blevins had his longest outing of the year pitching 1.1 scoreless innings. Robert Gsellman entered the game as a pinch runner. 

Their collective work allowed the Mets to stay in the game and have a chance to win. 

The chance came when Curtis Granderson earn a lead-off walk. Two outs later and two strikes on Lagares, it appeared as if the Mets might squander the opportunity. Then, Lagares hit a ball off Pedro Strop only Lagares could’ve caught:

The score remained tied until the eighth when Granderson did what Granderson does when the Mets need a huge hit:

The homer ignited the Mets offense.  The next big hit came from Lucas Duda:

As it turns out, Duda wasn’t even supposed to be in the game. With the left-handed starter on the mound, he was on the bench. However, when Neil Walker suffered a leg injury attempting a bunt single, Duda came in the game.

The homer didn’t kill the rally either. The Mets poured it on against Carl Edwards, Jr. Three more hits would follow culminating in a T.J. RBI single to make it 9-4. 

Collins went to Addison Reed to close out the game.  It wasn’t easy with the Cubs loading the bases with two outs and Rizzo coming to the plate. Rizzo grounded out, and the Mets won 9-4. 

This was a huge win in front of a huge series this weekend. Things are definitely looking up for this Mets team. 

Game Notes: Walker is getting an MRI tomorrow and is likely DL bound. Gavin Cecchini was held out of the 51s game, and he looks like he will get the call once Walker is put on the DL. Granderson’s eighth inning home run was the 300th of his career. 


Thank You Sean Gilmartin

When you have a magical season like the Mets had in 2015, there are a number of players that step forward to have remarkable seasons.  For the Mets, one of those seasons came from the unlikeliest of sources in Sean Gilmartin.

With the return of Matt Harvey and the signing of Michael Cuddyer, the Mets were letting the baseball world know 2015 was going to be their season.  There was just one small problem.  They never could quite get the LOOGY they needed.  Jerry Blevins was supposed to have that role, but he broke his pitching arm.  Josh Edgin and Jack Leathersich would join him on the disabled list.  The team traded for Alex Torres, but he was a disaster.  That meant the only real lefty they had in the bullpen was Rule 5 pick Gilmartin.

Except, Gilmartin wasn’t a LOOGY.  In essence, Gilmartin was a pitcher.  In fact, prior to joining the Mets, Gilmarting had spent the entirety of his minor league career with the Braves as a starting pitcher.  As a starter, Gilmartin had neutral to almost reverse splits.  To that end, he wasn’t the guy you wanted as the LOOGY.  Still, Gilmartin knew how to pitch, and when he was given the opportunity, he showed that to the Mets.

It took about a month and a half, but Terry Collins finally figured out Gilmartin’s role.  Gilamartin becaume the long man out of the pen.  It may not be the most glamorous of bullpen jobs, but it is of vital importance.  You need a pitcher who can go out there and keep his team in the game.  If there is an injury or a starter that just doesn’t have it, you need the long man to give the team an opportunity to make the comeback.  In extra innings, you need the guy who can go out there and reliably soak up two or even three innings and put up zeros.  Mostly, you need someone reliable who can save the bullpen.

Gilmartin was exception in that role.  During the 2015 season, Gilmartin made 18 multiple inning relief appearances accounting for 37% of his relief appearances.  Beginning on May 20th, which was really when he was made the long man, Gilmartin made 16 multiple inning relief appearances over his final 33 relief appearances of the season.  Essentially, half the time Gilmartin was used for multiple innings about half the time thereby saving the bullpen.  Namely, Gilmartin was saving Jeurys Familia, who Collins used over and over again because he was just about the only guy Collins trusted out there.

In Gilmartin’s multiple inning appearances, he was dominant.  When he pitched multiple innings, he pitched 32.2 innings going 3-1 with a 1.38 ERA, and a 0.704 WHIP.  Perhaps the key to this was the fact Gilmartin grew stronger as he pitched.  He did his best work between pitches 26 – 50 limiting batters to a .161/.235/.194 batting line.

As for a highlight, pick one. There was his first career win.  The Mets found themselves in a rare slugfest after Dillon Gee was bounced after 3.2 innings having allowed eight earned.  Torres wasn’t much better.  Gilmartin was the first pitcher to enter that game to put up multiple scoreless innings.  He stabilized the game, and he put the Mets in position to win.

There was the July 19th 18 inning game against the St. Louis Cardinals.  At that time, the Mets were so inept offensively, you could load the bases with no outs and start the batter with a 3-0 count, and the Mets still couldn’t score a run.  Gilmartin came on in the 14th inning, and he pitched three scoreless to give the Mets a chance to win that game, which they eventually did with two runs in the 18th.

On August 24th, Gilmartin was overshadowed every which was possible.  The Mets were off and running afte rthe team obtained Yoenis Cespedes.  It was David Wright‘s first game since he came off the Disabled List, and he homered in his first at-bat back with the team.  Lost in the shuffle was this was the rare poor start for Jacob deGrom with him being unable to get out of the fourth.  Gilmartin came on and pitched 3.1 scoreless to give the Mets a chance to come back from an early 7-2 deficit.

More than that, Gilmartin got his first career hit and run scored.  His sixth inning single got yet another rally started.  He scored on a Daniel Murphy three run homer, the Mets lead had actually expanded to 12-7.

Ultimately, it was Gilmartin’s August 24th relief appearance that was the essence of what it means to be a long man in the pen.  He not only went out there and saved the bullpen by tossing 3.1 innings, but he also gave his team a chance to win.  It was a tremendous effort that was overlooked because Wright played in his first game in four months, and the Mets overcame a five run deficit to blow out the Phillies.

Initially, Gilmartin was left off the postseason roster, but after Erik Goeddel‘s struggles in the NLDS, the Mets did the right thing and put Gilmartin back on the roster.  He’d make just one appearance pitching 0.2 scoreless in Game Two of the World Series.  Part of the shame of that World Series was there were multiple occasions to bring on Gilmartin.  Instead his role had gone to Bartolo Colon, who just wasn’t as effective in the role as Gilmartin.

After the 2015 season, the Mets wanted to use Gilmartin as a starter.  With a loaded major league rotation, that meant Gilmartin started the year in Vegas.  He was doing well there until the Mets started messing with him.  With the bullpen not having the effective long man that Gilmartin was in 2015, this meant the team had to call him up to the majors on multiple occasions.  This meant Gilmartin would have to fly cross-country, and the Mets would insert him into games despite his not having had full rest.  He’d develop a shoulder injury.  It may not have been enough to need surgery, but Gilmartin was never the same.

Instead of putting Gilmartin in a position to succeed, the Mets messed around with him until the point they felt his was expendable.  For some reason, with this Mets team again needing a Gilmartin in the bullpen, they refused to give him a chance instead going with Josh Smoker and Neil Ramirez and their pair of ERAs over 7.00.

Gilmartin deserved better than this.  He was a good pitcher who had a significant impact on a pennant winning team.  It disappointing the Mets never again put him in a position to succeed.  With that said, getting designated for assignment by the Mets was probably the best thing for his career.  He will once again have an opportunity to be a good major league pitcher.

While the Mets have overlooked his importance, and fans have become frustrated with him, there are those that never forgot what he once meant to this team.  Personally, I will always be grateful for his 2015 season, and I hope him nothing but success.  He’s still a good pitcher, and he should soon remind everyone of that.

Thank  you and good luck Sean Gilmartin.

 

Lugo Reminds Us What We Were Missing

At the end of last year, Seth Lugo was everything the Mets needed.  He was a terrific arm in the bullpen who made Anthony Rizzo look downright silly with one of his curveballs.  He transitioned to the starting rotation after the rash of injuries, and he was terrific there too.  Overall, Lugo had a largely unheralded season going 5-2 with a 2.67 ERA and a 1.097 WHIP.

The offseason was a different season.  Many an article was written about the majesty of Lugo’s curveball.  In the World Baseball Classic, he was the ace of a Puerto Rican team that went all the way to the championship game.  As the team ace, Lugo dazzled with his full repertoire, curveball included.  The amazing thing to think watching his was that arm wasn’t good enough to crack the Mets starting rotation.

Then disaster struck not just to Lugo, but the Mets team as a whole.  Lugo went down, and the Mets starters either were injured or under-performed.   Lugo, who was once seen as a luxury for a Mets team purportedly deep in pitching, was now seen as a necessity.  The team needed him back, and they needed him back in the rotation.  They needed him to be the pitcher he was at the end of 2016.  Ideally, they wanted the pitcher they saw in the World Baseball Classic.

Yesterday, we saw Lugo go out there and dominate.  For a Mets team that has struggled to get their pitchers past the fifth inning, Lugo pitched seven innings, and he needed just 90 pitches to do so.  It wasn’t a mirage either.  Lugo did to the Braves what he did all of last year.

For those that forget, Lugo is a throwback.  He doesn’t max out on every pitch.  He pitches to contact because he’s the type of pitcher who is comfortable the opposition is not going to hit him very hard.  When he gets in trouble, he adds a little more to his fastball, and he increases his curveball rate.  This is a major reason why he is able to consistently get out of trouble.

The best example of that was the fifth inning.  After Lugo walked Matt Kemp, the Braves had bases loaded with no outs, and Matt Adams coming to the plate.  In that spot, Lugo did his job.  He got the ground ball from the slow footed Adams he needed.

That play was also reminiscent of what led the 2016 Mets to the postseason.  As we have seen time and time again, Asdrubal Cabrera has little to no range at shortstop.  His real value is being able to make the plays at short that he can get field.  Him and Neil Walker combine to make a veteran up the middle combination that do everything they can to ensure they can turn that double play.  There was no wasted motion by either infielder, which helped them JUST get Adams to get out of the inning preserving the 2-1 lead.

The Mets got the 2-1 lead by playing some small ball.  Michael Conforto led off the game with a double off Braves starter Jaime GarciaJuan Lagares followed by sacrificing him to third, and Conforto would score on a Wilmer Flores sacrifice fly.  It was the old get’em on, get ’em over, and get ’em in type of baseball.  It may not always be the most effective way to score runs, but when executed as perfectly as the Mets did in the first inning, it has its own beauty.

In the third inning, Lugo helped himself hitting a one out double, and he moved to second on a Conforto ground out.  Lagares came up, and he did what he needed to do most in that spot.  He put the ball in play.  Lagares hit a chopper to the left of Braves third baseman Johan Camargo who made a diving stop, but there was no throw.  You can debate whether it was Camargo never quite fully getting control of the ball or Lagares’ speed.  Either which way, Lagares got what was the game winning hit.

From there, the Mets had base runners in every inning but the eighth inning.  However, they could not push the insurance runs across the plate.  The seminal moment was the ninth inning.  Jose Ramirez quickly put Walker and Cabrera on.  After two quick outs, Curtis Granderson hit a pinch hit infield single to load the bases.  This seemed like a big spot for Conforto.  It wasn’t.

The Braves went to Ian Krol, and the Mets countered with Yoenis Cespedes.  Look, it’s easy to criticize Collins in this spot.  Conforto was 2-4 with a double in the game.  He’s a much better hitter against left-handed pitching this year hitting .265/.390/.559 off of them this year.  Collins was taking out a hitter going well for a cold hitter just off the Disabled List.  But, this is Cespedes.  Right now, it’s a fair debate over who is the better hitter right now.  With the way Krol has been dominating left-handed batter this year, Cespedes was the right choice.  His popping out to end the inning doesn’t change that.

With the lack of insurance runs, that meant the game was now in the hands of the Mets defense and bullpen.  For most of the season, this has spelled disaster.  Today, it worked.

Cabrera made a nice diving stop to get out of the seventh.  With Nick Markakis and Adams due up in the eighth, Collins was able to go to Jerry Blevins for a full inning, and he pitched a perfect inning.  Addison Reed, who has been much better of late, came on to pitch a perfect ninth for his 11th save.

Just like that, the Mets look like the team we expected them to be.  The veterans are playing solid if not spectacular baseball.  The starting pitching is going deep into games.  The left-handed batters can’t hit Blevins.  Reed looks like the dominant reliever he has been since joining the Mets.  The Mets are dominating bad baseball teams like the Braves.

As good as this feels right now, we’re about to find out if this team is for real with the Cubs and Nationals coming into town.

Game Notes: Jose Reyes started for the third time in this series.  He’s now in a 2-30 streak and his -1.1 WAR is the second worst among National League infielders.  This is the first time all season three Mets pitchers pitched into the seventh inning in consecutive games.

 

Mets Bullpen Holds This One

If you like a traditional offense of get ’em on, get ’em over, and get ’em in, this was not the game for you. The Mets were 1-5 with RISP making them much better than a Pirates team that was 1-12.

That one hit wasn’t much of a hit either. In the fourth, Elias Diaz followed a one out Jordy Mercer double with an “infield single.”  It really should have been an error as Wilmer Flores charged the ball and had it go underneath his glove. With that being the one hit, you already know the Pirates did not capitalize on the opportunity. 

In fact, they let Robert Gsellman off the hook. After a 1-2-3 first, Gsellman allowed base runners in all six innings he appeared. 

The only rally they cashed in on was a third inning rally where the Pirates started the inning with back-to-back singled to set up first and third. Gregory Polanco hit an RBI groundout to plate a run. 

The only other run the Pirates would score off Gsellman was a Josh Bell second inning homer. 

The Pirates did have a golden opportunity in the sixth. Despite his having thrown 96 pitches heading into the sixth, Terry Collins went with Gsellman to start the inning. The Pirates put runners on first and second with one out, and Gsellman was up to 109 pitches. Collins then went to Fernando Salas

Salas came on and struck out yesterday’s hero Elias Diaz, and got Jose Osuna to fly out to end the inning and preserve the Mets 4-2 lead. 

With the Mets similarly struggling with runners in scoring position, they had to turn to the home run to win this game. 

The Mets got an early 2-0 lead as Neil Walker hit a two run first inning home run off Pirates starter Tyler Glasnow. After the Pirates tied the score at 2-2, Jay Bruce hit a solo homer to make it 3-2 Mets in the third. Wilmer Flores then hit a fourth inning homer to make it 4-2. That’s where the score stayed besides both teams having a number of chances. 

In the sixth, the Mets had first and third no outs off Pirates reliever Johnny Barbato. Flores and Rene Rivera strikeouts book ended. Curtis Granderson popping out to center. 

In the sixth, seventh, and eighth, the Pirates hand two on, and they would not score a runner. Jerry Blevins and Addison Reed made the pitches they needed, and they preserved the lead.

For his part, Reed was double switched into the game in the eighth and was entasked with the six out save. Prior to this, he had never recorded a four out save. 

Reed buckled  down and did it. It wasn’t uneasy, but he got the job done. The Mets did as well.  It was a good win, and the Mets needed to build off of this win. 

Game Notes: Asdrubal Cabrera made his eighth error of the season thereby surpassing his error total from last year. Jose Reyes took over for him in the eighth when Reed was double switched into the game. 

Typical Bizarre Mets Game

Mets games have just become the theater of the absurd.  Noah Syndergaard refuses an MRI and then leaves his next start with a torn lat.  Matt Harvey doesn’t show up to every game.  Kevin Plawecki apparently is kinkier than we think.  Mr. Met is walking through Citi Field flipping off the fans.  Today?  Well, for the Mets, it was more of the same.

In the fourth, the Brewers got a rally going on a couple of base hits including a Jonathan Villar single that deflected off Zack Wheeler.  After a Nick Franklin RBI single, the Brewers had a 2-0 lead and runners on first and second.  Brewers pitcher Chase Anderson squared to bunt and popped it up in front of home plate.  Travis d’Arnaud went to let it drop in the hopes of starting a double play.  Instead, he hesitated after picking the ball up, and he couldn’t get an out.  In a normal baseball game, this would be a fairly event filled inning.  Not the Mets.

Eric Sogard would pop up in fair ground in what should have been the second out in the inning.  Instead the ball boy ran directly into Wilmer Flores‘ arm causing him to drop the ball:

Same old Mets.  Fortunately, Wheeler settled down, and he was able to induce Sogard to hit into the inning ending double play.  It was one of three double plays the Brewers would hit into on the day.  The double plays would allow Wheeler to go deep into the game.  He would throw 102 pitches over 6.1 innings allowing 1o hits, two runs, two earned, and one walk with six strikeouts.  He departed the game down 2-0 with a runner left on second base.

Jerry Blevins got the job done getting Sogard to ground out by striking Eric Thames out.

Unfortunately, it didn’t matter as the Mets offense did nothing against the Brewers starter for the second straight game.  Lucas Duda (2-3) and d’Arnaud (1-2) were the entirety of the Mets offense on the day.  To be shut down yesterday by Junior Guerra is one thing.  Getting shut down today by Anderson is another.

While the Mets offense was inept, the pitching was doing its job.  That includes the bullpen.  After Blevins bailed out Wheeler, he got into some trouble of his own in the eighth leaving runners on first and second with no outs.  Fernando Salas came on and he got the Mets out of the jam striking out three batters.

In the eighth, the Brewers went to Jacob Barnes.  On the first pitch he threw, Flores launched a home run to deep left field to cut the score to 2-1.  Unfortunately, it was not the start of a comeback, but rather a single flare that went unheeded by the rest of the Mets offense leading to a 2-1 loss.  Case in point, Reyes and Jay Bruce took back-to-back strikeouts looking to start the ninth against Brewers closer Corey Knebel.

This was an extremely winnable game, and the Mets let it slip through their fingers.  For a team fighting just to get back to .500, they can’t keep doing this.  It’s losses like this that have put them in this position, and it is losses like this that will sink their season.

Game Notes: Asdrubal Cabrera got the day off, and Jose Reyes moved from third to shortstop for the day game.

Harvey Was Something

Whenever he takes the mound, the biggest story in any Mets game is going to be Matt Harvey.  Part of the reason is Harvey is a lightning rod.  The main reason is the Mets need Harvey to be good if they have any hopes to get back to .500 and then back into the NL East race.  If we get the Harvey we saw tonight, there is a chance.

Now, this wasn’t the Harvey of 2013 or even 2015.  Heck, this wasn’t even the Harvey of April.  This was a Harvey still trying to find himself and succeeding more than he has been.  We saw some things from his struggles this year that gave you some pause as to how this game would progress.  First, there is his propensity to give up the long ball as evidenced by the Gregory Polanco second inning home run.  There is the command as shown by Harvey’s two walks.  Then, there is the inability to really put batters away.  Tonight, he had only four strikeouts.

And yet, there was a Harvey emerging that could be a good pitcher again.  The one thing that stood out was his ability to limit the damage.  The biggest example of this was the fourth inning.  The Mets had a narrow 2-1 lead, and the Pirates had a rally going.  David Freese hit a one out infield singles, and Andrew McCutchen followed with his own single.  As if this wasn’t enough, Harvey threw a wild pitch putting runners on second and third with one out.  Harvey responded by striking out Francisco Cervelli and Jordy Mercer to end the inning.

Overall, Harvey threw 102 pitches over six innings.  It was his longest outing in over a month, and it was his second straight win.  It might’ve been due to a weak Pirates lineup.  It could be Harvey is getting back to becoming a reliable pitcher.  Whatever it is, the Mets should take it right now.

The Mets will also take the seven runs they got tonight.  The biggest source of those runs came from the three players who would be most affected by the return of Yoenis CespedesJay Bruce, Lucas Duda, and Curtis GrandersonBruce showed signs of getting out of his May funk going 3-5 with a run, two doubles, and an RBI.  Granderson, hitting lead-off with Michael Conforto getting the night off, had hit first three hit game of the season going 3-5 with a run, double, and an RBI.  Duda homered in his second straight game, and third out of the last four games.

Jose Reyes and Asdrubal Cabrera also collected RBI hits in what was an easy 7-2 victory.  Overall, the only thing that put a damper on the night was Terry Collins‘ handling of the bullpen.  With a five run lead in the seventh, he turned to Paul Sewald for two innings making him unavailable again for a few days.  It wasn’t until the ninth that he used Neil Ramirez, and Ramirez struggled enough to lead to Jerry Blevins having to warm up in yet another game.

Still, the Mets took two out of three in the series.  It was a step in the right direction and another step towards .500.  Sooner of later, the Mets are going to have to stop giving games away, and they are going to have to turn some of these series victories into sweeps.  Still, it was a good win leaving the team on a good note as they head back to Citi Field.

Game Notes: This was the Mets first win on a Sunday since their first Sunday game of the season.  For the second straight game, a Mets pitcher failed to get down a sacrifice bunt.  Juan Lagares was the only Mets starter without a hit.