More than any game this season, you expected the Mets to lose yesterday. Jason Vargas and his 10.62 ERA were pitching on three days rest. The team made a flurry of moves to add Tim Peterson, Buddy Baumann, and Scott Copeland, a trio many joked were really names spit out by the Madden name generator, to the roster. Once again, they had an extremely short bench.
And to make matters worse, the Braves were pitching Julio Teheran, who has owned the Mets in his career.
But something very interesting happened. Vargas was actually good. The veteran lefty would pitch five shutout innings against the Braves. Better yet because of a pair of fourth inning doubles from Jay Bruce and Adrian Gonzalez, the Mets actually had a 1-0 lead through five.
Interestingly enough, many were actually second guessing Mickey Callaway‘s decision to pull Vargas after five. The main arguments were he was pitching well, and he had only thrown 65 pitches.
Those arguments neglect the obvious counterpoint that Vargas was on short rest, and he’s been bad all year. Those five innings were a gift, and rather than look in the horse’s mouth to see if anything was left, he thanked the baseball gods and gave the ball to Peterson.
Peterson is an interesting story because as the Mets 2012 20th round draft pick, he was going to have to do more than the average prospect to prove himself. He has done just that coming off a 1.14ERA in Binghamton last year, a terrific stretch in the Arizona Fall League, and a 3.45 ERA and 12.6 K/9 for Las Vegas this year. With the rash of injuries, at 27 years old, Peterson was finally going to get his shot.
He would immediately prove he belonged pitching a 1-2-3 sixth inning, an inning where he faced Ozzie Albies–Freddie Freeman–Nick Markakis. That is no small feat indeed. In fact, in his two innings of work, he would allow just one hit. Unfortunately, that one hit was a Johan Camargo homer to the same exact spot he hit his walk-off against Gerson Bautista the previous night.
Fortunately, that homer would cut the lead to 2-1 because the Mets came up with two huge two out hits against Teheran. First, Amed Rosario hit a rope to center past Ender Inciarte that turned into a two out triple. Then, Brandon Nimmo would jump on a 3-2 pitch and rip a single to right to give the Mets a then 2-0 led. That triple set up an important insurance run, but it would not be the last impact Rosario would have on this game.
In the top of the eighth, Shane Carle relieved Teheran, and the Mets immediately went on the attack. After a Jose Bautista double, Bruce was intentionally walked, and Kevin Plawecki worked out a six pitch walk. Gonzalez, who the Braves are paying $21.8 million not to play for them, hit an RBI single giving the Mets a 3-1 lead. The rally would end there as Luis Guillorme hit into an inning ending double play.
Callaway then made a decision he promised to make heading into the season, but he has not followed through. He brought Jeurys Familia into the eighth inning because the Braves had the top of the lineup coming up. No, this was not going to be a six out save chance. Rather, Callaway was using his best reliever to get out the best hitters in the Braves lineup.
The move almost blew up with Albies and Freeman hitting a pair of one out singles followed by Markakis smoking a grounder up the middle. That’s when Rosario made a truly great defensive play to save the inning and perhaps the game:
— SportsNet New York (@SNYtv) May 31, 2018
That 6-4-3 double play ended the inning, and it might’ve saved the game.
In the top of the ninth, Rosario and Nimmo added an insurance run off Miguel Socolovich with a pair of one out doubles to increase the Mets lead t0 4-1. That three run margin was more than enough for Robert Gsellman to record his first one inning save.
Ulitmately, in a series of many twists and turns, the Mets battled through injury and fatigue and somehow walked away with a split. Perhaps more importantly, we now have a signature game from Rosario, who suddenly seems like he is figuring it out in each and every aspect of his game. He’s been exciting, and as he continues to develop, you have more and more reason to get excited about this Mets team.
Game Notes: To make room for the aforementioned three relievers, Phillip Evans and Jacob Rhame were sent down to Triple-A. To make room for Copeland and Peterson on the 40 man roster, Juan Lagares was transferred to the 60 day disabled list, and P.J. Conlon was designated for assignment.
There aren’t many things which are right with the Mets right now, but a big thing that’s right with this team right now is Jacob deGrom, and with him, we are seeing reports how the team may look to trade him. Of course, the best way to do that is to win as many games as you can between now and the trading deadline. Part of doing that is going out and not wasting deGrom starts.
Part of that is letting deGrom go out there and do his thing, and really he did his thing tonight.
In seven phenomenal innings of work, deGrom tied his career high with 13 strikeouts, and as noted by the great Michael Mayer, he became the 10th pitcher in Mets history to reach the 800 strikeout mark. He also lowered his ERA this season to 1.75.
There are many ways to say how great deGrom was, but perhaps the best way to say it is his final line: 7.0 IP, 6 H, R, ER, 0 BB, 13 K.
He carried into the game and extended his scoreless inning streak to 24.1 innings. It ended in the top of the sixth when Jake Lamb scored Steven Souza from first on a double. On what was a truly bizarre play, Souza ran through the stop sign only to stutter step and then take off from home. After Asdrubal Cabrera missed the relay, Adrian Gonzalez backed him up and nailed Lamb at third.
The Diamondbacks threatened in the seventh again with a Daniel Descalso leadoff double. Being the great pitcher he is, deGrom settled down, and he got the next three out in order.
Fortunately for deGrom, this would be one of the few games where he got real run support, and it began with a first inning rally against Diamondbacks starter Zack Godley, and like with many Mets rallies this season, it all began with a Brandon Nimmo walk.
After Descalso botched what was at a minimum a force out, and quite likely with Cabrera’s speed a double play ball, runners were at the corners with no outs.
Conforto would repeat that feat in the fifth inning. After a Flores two out walk and Jay Bruce walk, the inning was on Conforto, and he delivered with another RBI single. It was part of Conforto’s first three hit night of the season and just the second four hit night of his career. Overall, he was 4-4 with two RBI.
Really, the Mets need more of that from Conforto because he is not just the best hitter in the lineup, he’s the best hitter on the team. When the team is without Yoenis Cespedes and Todd Frazier, Conforto has to carry even more of the load. He did it tonight, and if he continues doing it, like he did last year, this Mets team will be in much better shape.
Things got interesting in the eighth. After a Conforto one out single, Gonzalez dropped a perfect bunt against the shift. After a Jose Reyes pinch hit walk, the bases were loaded with two outs. This led to Amed Rosario popping one out to Descalso, but he then dropped it. Initially, it was ruled a drop leading to two runs scoring. Upon the umpires commiserating, it was ruled an out meaning it was a 3-1 and not a 5-1 lead.
After Robert Gsellman and Jeurys Familia shut the door, deGrom had his fourth win of the season, and the team beat a Diamondbacks team who is having a very similar season to the one the Mets are having. Hopefully, this weekend the Mets will take advantage of a reeling team like other teams have done to them over the last few weeks.
Game Notes: Juan Lagares, who suffered a toe injury in the rain soaked game is likely done for the year leaving the Mets with three healthy outfielders on the 40 man roster. Jerry Blevins was activated from the paternity list, and he took Lagares’ spot on the roster. Paul Goldschmidt had the golden sombrero.
Over in Washington, D.C., even though the Nationals and Yankees were facing even more pressure than the Mets and Blue Jays to get their game in, they postponed the roughly game and a half they had to play. Perhaps both teams were aware they had important players they did not want to see get hurt, and it was better to do this another day.
Not the Mets.
Despite torrential rains, the Mets decided to play. Despite a rain delay which required the grounds crew to empty the coffers of diamond dust to eliminate the standing puddles on the infield, the umpires decided to let these two teams play.
Actually, check that, it was the Blue Jays who played a game. The Mets were there to get drowned.
For Zack Wheeler things started well enough. Sure, he didn’t get an 0-2 pitch quite up and in enough to Justin Smoak, but other than that, Wheeler was good over the first three innings. In that time, he had struck out six while allowing just the one homer.
Then came the inane rain delay precipitated by J.A. Happ not liking how he landed on the mound. The umpires did the right thing delaying the game to get the field in playing condition. It would have been a better thing to call the game because that field was dangerous.
And yes, someone did get hurt. Juan Lagares went back on a ball, and his foot hit the wall causing a sprained toe. Maybe if the ground conditions were better, he gets back to the ball quicker, and doesn’t need to jump. Maybe in better conditions, he’s better able to plant and go up. Or knowing Lagares, maybe he gets hurt anyway.
Fact remains, he got hurt in nearly unplayable playing conditions. That’s not okay, and the Mets and MLB should be forced to answer to that.
Yes, we know there were problems with these pitchers, but they knew the job when they took it on. It would have been unfair to expect 2015 results from each of these pitchers, but it was fair to expect a progression based on what we saw last year. We haven’t.
That includes Wheeler falling apart after that lengthy rain delay. He began the fourth and fifth yielding lead-off walks. He got through the fourth allowing a two run homer to Teoscar Hernandez. He wouldn’t get an out in the fifth leading Callaway to go to his bullpen.
While the Blue Jays, who play their home games in a retractable roof, were not bothered by the conditions, the Mets couldn’t manage.
Considering in his last start Happ allowed seven runs in 3.1 innings, his two hit seven inning effort made the Mets offense all the more embarrassing. It gets worse when you consider one of those two hits was a Luis Guillorme infield single.
Perhaps, that is also a reflection of the 4-9 hitters having all spent time in Las Vegas over the past year. It’s also an indication Michael Conforto is not Conforto anymore. With each passing day, we get closer and closer to asking the question about whether this is shoulder related.
In the end, there were really no positives until there were two outs in the ninth. That’s when Brandon Nimmo battled back from down 0-2 in the count to hit an opposite field home run. Really, this team needs a lot more Nimmo than whatever it is this team has right now.
That was once again clear after this 12-1 loss.
Game Notes: Guillorme became the first Met since Steven Matz to being his MLB career going 3-3.
Heading into the game, there was much said about how Dave Eiland challenged or disrespected Noah Syndergaard in his saying Thor hasn’t accomplished much at the Major League level. During the broadcast, it was discussed, and Ron Darling said as a player, he would have taken it the wrong way.
Whatever the case, Syndergaard seemed motivated by it in the first inning as he struck out the side while needing just 15 pitches. You got all the more excited seeing Syndergaard knocking home Devin Mesoraco from first after he had drawn a leadoff walk against Jaime Garcia giving the Mets a 1-0 lead. For a moment, it seemed as if things would go rolling on from there, and we would see the Syndergaard we saw prior to the lat injury.
Instead, we saw the Syndergaard we have seen all this season.
In the third, he allowed a one out single to old friend Curtis Granderson, who was playing his first game against the Mets since being traded to the Dodgers for Jacob Rhame last year. After Josh Donaldson popped out, that should have been the end of any prospect of danger.
Instead, we got to see some of Granderson’s knowledge from his playing time with the Mets. He would put himself in scoring position stealing a base, and he would hold at third on a Justin Smoak single. It wound up being a terrible throw from Juan Lagares, but he charged the ball hard, and Granderson, being perhaps well aware of Lagares’ arm, held on third. It didn’t matter because after Syndergaard plunked Teoscar Hernandez with a pitch, Yangervis Solarte hit a two RBI single.
On the single, it is quite arguable any other second baseman but Asdrubal Cabrera gets to that ball, but he didn’t leading the the Blue Jays taking the 2-1 lead.
Seeing how the Mets have played of late, this was a real danger sign. Fortunately, the Mets offense would finally break out.
Beginning with a Jay Bruce double, the Mets would quickly load the bases for Syndergaard, who tied the score with a sacrifice fly. Amed Rosario then nearly hit one out with the ball hitting the top of the fence and bouncing in instead of out. In any event, it was a two RBI double giving the Mets a 4-2 lead.
It should be noted Jose Reyes, who started because with the left-handed pitcher on the mound, Wilmer Flores started at first and Adrian Gonzalez sat, somehow did not score from first. Really, he did not score from first on a ball which was nearly a homer to one of the deeper parts of the park. At best, this was shades of Timo Perez. At worst, this is a player who no longer belongs in the majors.
Lagares would make sure both Reyes and Rosario both scored as he slashed a two RBI single to center, and even with Donaldson cutting it off, he would get to second ahead of the throw.
.@Mets challenge call that Juan Lagares is out at 2B in the 4th; call overturned, runner is safe.
— MLB Replay (@MLBReplays) May 16, 2018
A Cabrera double after that, and the Mets not only had a five run inning, but they would also have a 6-2 lead. In the fifth, the Mets would add the runs needed to make this the laugher the Mets desperately needed.
Gonzalez, Rosario, and Brandon Nimmo would hit consecutive singles first scoring Mesoraco and later scoring Gonzalez. After that Lagares hit an infield single to third allowing Rosario to score.
When Gonzalez pinch hit for Syndergaard that inning, it was the end of Syndergaard’s night, but really, he was going to be pulled after the fifth anyway.
As noted earlier, Syndergaard labored through the third, and he would do the same in the fifth needing a Hernandez double play to get out of the inning. Overall, Syndergaard needed 103 pitches to get through five. He walked an uncharacteristically high two batters. While he’s been effective, he has not yet been Syndergaard this year.
Finally, in the eighth, the Mets would put a capper on this game. Lagares hit a leadoff triple, and he scored on a Luis Guillorme RBI single, his first RBI. After a force out, Mesoarco hit his second homer as a member of the Mets expanding the Mets lead to 12-2.
All-in-all, a pretty good night for the Mets. Mesoraco could not make an out going 2-2 with three walks, four runs, a homer, and two RBI. Lagares was just as good going 4-5 with two runs, a triple, and three RBI. Really, in a game like this, you are going to see everyone contribute somehow, and that’s what the Mets did. The only hope now is the team left some hits in those bats.
Game Notes: The Blue Jays have never beaten the Mets in Flushing going 0-12.
Well, if you were feeling good about the Mets after their win last night, those feelings were quickly dispatched. Todd Frazier, arguably their second best position player all year, landed on the disabled list meaning Jose Reyes was in the starting lineup. Worse than that, Jason Vargas was the starter.
Right away, Vargas loaded the bases, and he then allowed a Eugenio Suarez two RBI single to give the Reds an early 2-0 lead. It was a minor miracle the Reds did not score more from that point.
However, they would score two more in the second with Suarez once again being the catalyst. His RBI double scored Joey Votto from first, and he would come home on a Tucker Barnhart, the catcher the Reds kept, RBI single.
Overall, Vargas’ final line was 4.0 innings, six hits, four runs, four earned, two walks, and one strikeout. As poor as that start was, it should be noted this was his best start this year. With his pitching, you almost have to question why he’s guaranteed a starting spot while the team is keeping some pitchers in the minors and sending another one to Cincinnati.
That four run margin would prove to be enough for a number of reasons.
The first was Reds starter, Luis Castillo, no not that one, but then again it doesn’t really matter because nothing good happens to the Mets when there is a Luis Castillo on the field. He would limit the Mets to just a single over the first five innings.
Finally, in the sixth, the Mets would break through on a Wilmer Flores one out homer. Now, Flores did not start the game. Rather, he was double switched in for Amed Rosario despite Rosario being the one Met with a hit, and Reyes being a terrible defensive shortstop.
The Mets would continue from there with a two out rally. With consecutive walks to Yoenis Cespedes, Jay Bruce, and Adrian Gonzalez, the Reds forced home a run. That’s when Mickey Callaway opted to pinch hit Brandon Nimmo instead of Juan Lagares or even the newly acquired Devin Mesoraco to face the left-hander Amir Garrett.
Nimmo struck out to end the rally, and things would only go downhill from there.
AJ Ramos was fighting it, but he kept the Reds off the board in the sixth, but he would allow a double to Scott Schebler, and with Votto coming up, Jerry Blevins would come into the game. He got his man, but he would be pulled for Hansel Robles.
After a Suarez single, Scooter Gennett would have Robles pointing to the sky again with his three run homer giving the Reds a 7-2 lead.
Making this game worse was the fact the Mets had called up Corey Oswalt in place of P.J. Conlon to give them some length in the bullpen. Of course, they called up Oswalt on three days rest instead of Chris Flexen on full rest. The end result was Callaway ripping through his bullpen trying to save Oswalt’s arm . . . the very same Oswalt who was called up to supposedly help protect against that.
That’s embarrassing. Almost as embarrassing as getting blown out by the now nine win Reds team.
Game Notes: On the eve of the game, Matt Harvey was traded to the Reds for Mesoraco.
This is the point where the Mets were in 2015, 2016, and 2017. A Mets team with much promise has either regressed or been exposed, and you are left wondering how exactly things were going to get better for this team.
One of the more troubling things we saw both yesterday and throughout this season was how Noah Syndergaard hasn’t been Thor. It’s not too dissimilar to how Matt Harvey had stopped being The Dark Knight, except with Syndergaard there really isn’t any reason to suspect any injury.
That’s not to say Thor was or has been bad. Far from it. His only allowing two runs over six innings is a testament to that. However, it was the way he pitched that was the problem.
A pitcher with remarkable control walked four batters. That included him issuing back-to-back walks in the third inning to Nolan Arenado and Gerardo Parra to force in a run. Between that and the solo home run he allowed to Ian Desmond in the second, he gave away the Mets 2-0 lead. Yes, it was a thin margin of error, but we have seen Thor thrive with even narrower margins.
The Mets two runs were scored in the first off of Kyle Freeland. The first run was the result of three straight singles from Juan Lagares, Yoenis Cespedes, and Asdrubal Cabrera to start the game. After that, Todd Frazier hit a sacrifice fly to give the Mets a 2-0 lead. In that first inning, Cespedes once again injured his right quad:
I thought he was just doing the Robert Gsellman exercises pic.twitter.com/aUQXXO631T
— Good Fundies is short for Good Fundamentals (@goodfundies) May 6, 2018
He would be removed from the game for Brandon Nimmo, who we would find out can still draw a walk off a left-handed pitcher, but with two strikeouts, he sure does struggle hitting off of them.
Really, the Mets struggled to hit Freeland for the rest of the game. After that three hit onslaught to begin the game, the Mets would get just one more hit off of him until he departed after seven strong innings.
With the Mets not hitting, Syndergaard settling back down, and Jerry Blevins and AJ Ramos combining to pitch a scoreless seventh, Mickey Callaway went to Hansel Robles in the eighth. No one can be quite sure if Robles pointed to the sky again, but we do know he surrendered another homer. This time to Desmond, his second of the game.
With the Mets inability to hit right now, it might as well have been a walk-off home run for all intents and purposes.
The 3-2 loss ended a dreadful home stand which saw the Mets go 0-6. They pitched poorly and hit even worse. They dropped from first to third place in the NL East. They don’t look like a team in a freefall inasmuch as they look like a bad baseball team without any answers. Hopefully, the trip to Cincinnati and Philadelphia will awaken their bats. Although, we should shutter to thing what will happen to the pitching.
Game Notes: Wilmer Flores was 0-2 with a walk against Freeland. He is now hitting .161/.235/.226 off of left-handed pitching this season.
The Mets started 12-2, and it seemed like they could do no wrong. That was until a complete bullpen eighth inning meltdown against the Nationals. Since that point, the Mets have gone 5-9, and they have fallen to second place in the division. With that as the backdrop, we turned to the Mets Blogger Roundtable to ask if Mickey Callaway‘s Mets team is for real:
We’re already seeing the Mets falling back to earth, and there was never any question that they would lose more than 15 games this year. The positive is that they have a core that’s skilled, and a new manager who will hopefully find ways to adapt and keep the room positive throughout the highs and lows of a season.
What *is* reality anyway? We are all one big consciousness agreeing upon a never ending list of rules and quibbling over interpretations of shared perceptions, right? That’s what I learned in third grade from the bus driver who smelled weird. If the reality of the situation is I am being asked if the Mets are as good as they were when they started 11-1, then no, they are not “for real.” They have been the fourth-luckiest team in all of baseball while the Nationals have been the most unlucky. We aren’t going to cry over Bryce Harper‘s misfortune (the Vegas native should be aware of streaks of bad luck at the very least anecdotally). We will cry over the Mets though. Yet we shouldn’t; they just have to play .500 ball from their 13th to 162nd game to hit lucky number 86 wins. They uh, haven’t played over .500 ball since that time but I guessed they would make the wild card game five weeks ago, so I might as well keep my chips on 86.
Right now I want to jump off of my seat in section 509.
Editor’s Note: this response was sent during the game after we learned about deGrom’s elbow.
Yes, but they have holes to fix and this passive approach to every situation is part of the problem.
Are the Mets for real in the sense that they have a genuine chance to end the season where they ended April, in first place? Based on what we’ve seen…sure, why not? I’d hate to think they’re pulling the cap down over our eyes.
Are the Mets for real in the sense that I’m supremely confident they won’t fall out of the race altogether after a while? That’s what the rest of the schedule is for: to find out.
But overall I feel pretty good about this team. The next 130+ games are always the hardest.
Caveat: All of the above is up for grabs in light of the uncertainty surrounding Jacob deGrom.
I think the Mets’ start is most-definitely indicative of the potential of this team moving forward through the season.
The inevitably-oncoming adage of “Jake and Thor, then pray for it to pour” that was true for most of the first month of the season seems to be slowly fading away.
After the inconsistencies of Steven Matz and Zack Wheeler over their first few starts, as well as the banishing of Matt Harvey to the bullpen and the alarming start to Jason Vargas’ second stint with the Mets, things have started to look up lately.
If Wheeler can be effective (read: keep his pitches low), his stuff alone places him among the upper-crust of middle-of-the-rotation starting pitchers in the NL, and the same goes for Matz.
If Vargas has shown anything over his career, he’s proven to be the model of mediocre-but-efficient consistency, and that’s all the team really needs out of him.
I think this offense is truly one of the more-dangerous groups we’ve seen here since the days of Carlos Beltran/David Wright/Carlos Delgado, and I mean that. The recent upticks in production for Jay Bruce and Adrian Gonzalez are promising.
The Mets’ bullpen has, for the most part, been the strength of this team and will continue to be, in my opinion. AJ Ramos looks to have found his groove and Robert Gsellman is absolutely thriving in his new role. Even Seth Lugo, who may not be adapting as easily as Gsellman has, has had some success and only figures to get more comfortable as time goes on. And, to be honest, Harvey could come to be a key cog in the relief corps once he gets a feel for things.
Are the Mets for real? It’s hard to say, but what’s becoming clear is that this season certainly won’t be easy. We got off to a hot start with Yoenis Cespedes, Michael Conforto, and Bruce all slumping, and you have to think we’ll get more from all of them going forward — but we’ll also presumably see regression from Todd Frazier and Asdrubal Cabrera, and the pitching has gone downhill fast since the first few turns through the rotation. Now deGrom is hurt too…if our starters besides Thor are a failed Harvey, a failed Matz, an inconsistent Wheeler, and an unimpressive Jason Vargas, there’s only so much room to get wins with that kind of rotation. Sure, things could turn out well — anything can happen. But as I said, the only thing that’s clear is that it certainly won’t be easy.
Initially, I had a long piece detailing how much the lineup and the pitching staff could benefit from Kevin Plawecki‘s return. How even with the inability to hit for power right now, Conforto is playing a good outfield and getting on base. How when you look deeper into the farm, you see Gavin Cecchini and Peter Alonso getting off to terrific starts making you wonder “What if . . . .”
None of that matters if deGrom is injured like he was in 2016 or Syndergaard was in 2017.
This is not to say his having a serious injury ends the Mets season. Rather, it means the season needs a miracle. In 2016, the Mets got that out of Lugo and Gsellman. Maybe the Mets get that this year out of some group that includes Harvey, Matz, Corey Oswalt, or Chris Flexen.
Maybe . . . .
Personally, I’d like to thank everyone for being able to respond to this roundtable. It was all the more impressive when you consider how panic striken we were collectively as a fanbase when deGrom left the game last night. We do know when that news finally breaks, there will be some terrific things written about deGrom and the Mets. Some of the best things will be written by the people in this roundtable, and I hope you will visit their sites.
That is except for Becky. She is currently a free agent and needs a home to write about the Mets. Hopefully, someone will soon jump in and find a home for her terrific work.
If you blinked, you might’ve missed Jason Vargas pitching for the Mets 10 years ago. In his two starts for the 2007 Mets, he was 0-1 with a 12.19 ERA.
Well, if you missed it, you got a sample of it tonight.
Right off the bat, the Padres made Petco look like pre-humidor Coors Field. Vargas allowed a two run homer to Christian Villaneuva, and later that inning, a Juan Lagares rare misplay led to a Manuel Margot two RBI triple. Believe it or not, things got worse from there . . . much worse.
After all was said and done, Vargas’ final line was 3.2 innings, nine hits, nine runs, nine earned, three walks, and five strikeouts. The Padres, who entered the game as the worst hitting club in the majors, had a triple and two homers off of Vargas. That would have been three homers off Vargas had Lagares not made this incredible play to rob Villanueva on what should have been his second homer of the game:
— New York Mets (@Mets) April 29, 2018
Really, that Lagares play and a sixth inning Yoenis Cespedes two run homer was it for the highlights from the Mets for this game. That’s typically the case in a game that ends at 1-2. It’s just time to shake things off, forget about this game, and get back on track.
Game Notes: With the Padres starting a second straight game, Wilmer Flores started at first base. The Mets also announced Jay Bruce will get getting some games at first in the upcoming homestand leaving you wondering what Adrian Gonzalez‘s role, if any, will continue to be for this team.
With the Mets having lost three straight series, the last thing they needed was a West Coast trip. They needed to play in Petco Park even less. It’s not just that it’s a suddenly woeful Mets offense was going to one of, if not the, most extreme pitcher’s park in the league. No, it was the Mets all-time record at Petco Park entering this game was 18-32.
Fortunately for the Mets, they had their best weapon out there tonight – Jacob deGrom.
Once again, deGrom was brilliant. His final line on the night was 7.1 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 3 BB, and 8 K.
This is the third straight game he would strike out at least eight, and he now has the longest stretch in the National League of pitching at least 5.1 innings. Basically, deGrom is pitching about as well as anyone, and really, he’s been better than almost everyone.
Given how he’s pitched of late, the offense, and his luck, the questions were whether he was going to get run support and whether the bullpen could hold things down.
In Jacob deGrom's last two starts he's left the game in line for the win only to have the bullpen surrender the lead .According to Elias, since 2014, deGrom has 20 such "blown wins", the most in the majors.
— Michael Mayer (@mikemayerMMO) April 27, 2018
Well, deGrom would get his run support before he even stepped foot on the mound. After Doug Eddings, who had a wildly inconsistent strike zone all game long, ruled a 3-1 pitch was a strike and not a ball, Asdrubal Cabrera hit a lead-off double off Clayton Richard. After moving to third on a Yoenis Cespedes fly out to deep right, Cabrera scored on a two out Todd Frazier RBI single.
The score stayed that way until the seventh because the Mets could not get anything going against Richard, Michael Conforto made a couple of nice plays in the field, and the Padres were afraid to challenge Yoenis Cespedes‘ arm.
At that point, it was time for Cabrera to once again leave his mark not just on the game but on the early part of the season.
Juan Lagares led off the inning with an infield single just beating Carlos Asuaje throw. Jose Lobaton, who easily had his best game as a Met, singled to set up runners at the corners with no outs. With Richard faltering, it seemed like this is where the Mets would blow the game open. It almost . . . ALMOST didn’t happen.
First, there was the Lagares base running mistake. Instead of following Christian Villanueva down the line on the deGrom sacrifice bunt/safety squeeze, he immediately dashed back to third. If he followed Villanueva down the line, it’s quite possible he scores. Instead he stayed, and when Amed Rosario hit a sharp grounder to Asuaje, the Mets had runners at second and third with no runs and two outs.
With the Padres going into a strong bullpen, it seemed as if they were going to get out of the jam. That perception was absolutely wrong as Cabrera hit a Craig Stammen mistake for a three run homer to effectively end the game.
In the eighth, the Mets would expand their lead with a two out rally. After recording two quick outs, Kazuhisa Makita hit Lagares with a 1-2 pitch, and Lagares would score on the ensuing Lobaton RBI double.
Again, Lobaton easily had his best game as a Met. He caught deGrom, who had a great game. He threw out Franchy Cordero, who was the only Padre to attempt a stolen base. On the play, it was a perfect throw and a perfect tag by Cabrera. Finally, and perhaps most surprisingly, Lobaton was 2-4 with a run, a double, and an RBI.
With the 5-0 lead, the only remaining question was whether the bullpen could hold onto the lead or whether there would be another meltdown.
When deGrom parted with one out in the eighth, there was a runner on, and Jerry Blevins came on to face Eric Hosmer. Conforto needed every bit of that deep right field to corral the long fly Hosmer would send. Mickey Callaway then went to AJ Ramos who got Villanueva to fly out.
Then, Callaway went with Matt Harvey in the ninth to close the door. As bad as things have been for Harvey since 2015, no one could have imagined this outing.
No, he didn’t blow the lead, although he did make everyone nervous with Cordero greeting him with a homer, and Harvey walking Jose Pirela. Given Harvey’s recent history and the recent bullpen meltdowns, this was an ominous sign, and Jeurys Familia was rapidly trying to get loose in the bullpen.
Fortunately for the Mets, Harvey, whose velocity dipped all the way down to 90, yes 90 MPH, got a fly out and a game ending double play.
Yes, there was plenty of reason to be excited for this 5-1 win, but seeing Harvey pitch this way certainly did put a bit of a damper on things. Hopefully, both Harvey and the Mets can figure something out at this point because this has become sad and painful to watch.
GAME NOTES: Before the game the Mets recalled Jacob Rhame and sent Corey Oswalt back down. The Mets moved David Wright to the 60 day disabled list to make room for LHP Buddy Baumann, who the team claimed off waivers from the Padres. Bauman was sent down to Triple-A Vegas. Despite his good numbers against Richard, Callaway sat Adrian Gonzalez in favor of Wilmer Flores
The story of this game should have been Noah Syndergaard returning to form. Like on Opening Day, he was mowing down the Cardinals, but this time, he was much more efficient in doing so. Through six, he kept the Cardinals scoreless striking out six and allowing just two hits, and it looked like the Mets were going to cruise to a 2-0 victory at that point.
Both RBI came from Yoenis Cespedes, who snapped out of his funk going 2-5 with a double and two RBI. The first RBI was a first inning off Carlos Martinez scoring Brandon Nimmo from first. In the seventh, in what looked like window dressing at the plate, he plated Amed Rosario with a sacrifice fly.
However, as we have learned with Cespedes, sometimes he will giveth and sometimes he will taketh.
That was evident with Tommy Pham “doubled” on a ball that hit off of Cespedes’ glove. Pham would then come home to score on a Marcell Ozuna single to cut the lead to 2-1. With the way Paul DeJong kills the Mets, really it was a miracle he didn’t tie the score on his double.
Ultimately, it didn’t matter as the Mets gave up the lead in the eighth with some more poor defense.
What was interesting was Mickey Callaway let Syndergaard start the eighth while holding back Robert Gsellman. Really, you wonder why not just go to the fresh arm after an inning in which Syndergaard faced some trouble. Really, this is a bit nitpicky because this is Syndergaard we are talking about here.
In any event, Rosario threw a ball away on a Greg Garcia grounder starting off the inning with a runner on first instead of one out and the pitcher’s spot coming up. Syndergaard struck out Yadier Molina before allowing a single to Matt Carpenter leading to his getting pulled from the game.
Gsellman was in a tough spot, and he didn’t deliver immediately. The first batter he faced, Pham, singled to tie the score. To his credit, with the go-ahead run in scoring position and just one out, Gsellman got Jose Martinez to ground into the inning ending 6-4-3 double play.
After a rusty Seth Lugo battled through a hit batter and walk to get through a scoreless ninth, the Mets would get an absolute gift run in the 10th.
After two quick outs, Jay Bruce and Todd Frazier hit back-to-back singles putting the game into Adrian Gonzalez‘s hands. Somehow, not only would Luke Gregerson walk Gonzalez, but he would also walk Jose Lobaton to force in a run. With Jeurys Familia coming into the game, it seemed like the Mets would win a series after losing two straight.
After two quick outs, Pham hit a ball up the middle most second baseman make fairly routinely. The problem is Asdrubal Cabrera, even at full strength, doesn’t have much range. With his current leg injury, he has almost no range. Cabrera did all he could do, but he really had no shot at Pham.
Oddly enough, Juan Lagares wouldn’t have a shot at the subsequent Martinez double. Oddly enough, Callaway went against his recent trends, and he put in Lagares for defense. Martinez’s ball to deep center was a play almost no center fielder makes, but we have all become so spoiled by Lagares, he almost makes the impossible seem routine. He ran back to dead center, leaped, and missed. Instead of another highlight reel defensive play, it was a game tying double.
AJ Ramos pitched a perfect 11th, and Paul Sewald pitched a perfect 12th. Unfortunately, the hottest pitcher in the Mets bullpen couldn’t keep the Cardinals off the board. A Martinez walk followed by consecutive singles to Ozuna and Dexter Fowler was the ballgame.
With that, the Mets have lost three straight series, and the vibes from their amazing start have faded. They have faded because the bottom of the lineup is black hole, but mostly, it is because this defense is bad and plays bad.
Game Notes: With the Mets out of position players, Sewald hit for himself in the top of the 13th. Jose Reyes grounded out in the 10th to end that rally.