Heading into this year’s Yankee Stadium portion of the Subway Series, the Mets had a decided advantage in starting pitching. Yesterday, that led to a win with Noah Syndergaard on the mound.
Up until that point, the Mets had a 1-0 lead due to a Michael Conforto second inning homer. That lead completely evaporated in the bottom of the fourth.
It started innocuously enough with a Giancarlo Stanton leadoff single. Then with one out in the inning, Matt den Dekker would make a number of defensive miscues starting with the Didi Gregorious RBI “triple.”
Throughout that fourth, Matz would make his pitches, but his team, specifically den Dekker, wasn’t making a play behind him. All told, it was a four run inning for the Yankees.
With two outs in the inning, Amed Rosario hit an RBI single that not only brought Conforto home, but it allowed Bautista to go to third. It mattered because Robertson threw away a pickoff attempt allowing Bautista to score. The rally would end there as den Dekker struck out.
The Mets would quickly see the 4-3 deficit grow and grow.
It’s hard to say Matz pitched well considering he surrendered five runs, all earned, but he did. The defense was that poor.
In the ninth, it seemed like Aroldis Chapman was in to pitch his inning and let everyone get home before the rain came later tonight. The issue with Chapman was he couldn’t get an out.
Now, it should be noted Asdrubal Cabrera should have been due up. The problem was he was ejected in the fifth after getting tossed arguing balls and strikes. When that happened, he joined hitting coach Pat Roessler who was tossed in the third for the same issue.
Cabrera was replaced in the lineup by Devin Mesoraco (as a DH). He’d face Chasen Shreve who came on for Chapman, get the most important at-bat of the game, and he’d hit into a rally killing 4-6-3 double play.
With that, the Mets did just enough to lose. Just enough.
Game Notes: Jeurys Familia was finally traded to the Athletics. Yoenis Cespedes was unavailable as he was too sore to play. As it turns out, he also needs surgery to remove calcifications in both heels. The recovery time is approximately 10 months.
Brandon Nimmo led off the game with a walk against Yankee starter Domingo German. After that leadoff walk, Asdrubal Cabrera, Michael Conforto, and third baseman Jose Bautista hit RBI doubles giving the Mets a quick 3-0 lead.
That lead would grow to 4-0 when Cespedes had a Yankee Stadium special ding off the foul pole:
— New York Mets (@Mets) July 21, 2018
That 4-0 lead was good for Syndergaard who had another five inning effort where he could not get that 1-2-3 inning.
Fortunately, Syndergaard, who was popping off at the mouth before the game, was able to navigate through the jams effectively. The only damage against him was a Giancarlo Stanton third inning sacrifice fly.
In the fifth, Cespedes led off the inning with a walk, advance to second on a Wilmer Flores one out walk, and he’d score on a Conforto RBI single.
Bautista walked to load the bases, and they’d come away with just one more run. With the Mets having a 6-1 lead, you knew it was a tight margin for the Mets pen.
Amed Rosario didn’t help matters playing poor defense and going 0-4 at the plate.
With that, the Mets carried a 6-5 lead into the ninth. With the team producing a run with Cabrera getting on, Flores going the opposite way to get him over, and a Conforto sacrifice fly would get him in.
Game Notes: Conforto had a terrific night going 2-4 with a run, double, and three RBI. Bautista has a nice barehanded play. Bautista started at third over Jose Reyes.
I had a previously scheduled event at the precise time as first pitch yesterday. With the Mets 16 games under .500, that should not have been an issue. And yet, I couldn’t help but follow the game on my phone.
I was pumped when I saw the 7-0 led propelled by a Michael Conforto three run homer:
— New York Mets (@Mets) July 14, 2018
I then lamented how Wheeler may soon join Matt Harvey as an ex-Met as this dream rotation is dismantled before it really ever got off the ground.
In the end, really, I write about the Mets because I love this team no matter how bad they are and no matter how awful ownership is.
When Todd Frazier landed on the disabled list, one of the justifications proffered for the Mets not calling-up Jeff McNeil was the organization views McNeil as a second baseman, and at the moment, the team still had Asdrubal Cabrera.
In true Mets fashion, their narrative and their actions made this statement and position increasingly absurd. And that’s before you consider Cabrera having an MLB worst -16 DRS at second base.
First and foremost, the Mets actually had Mickey Callaway say Jose Reyes was playing well enough recently to man third until Frazier returns. It shouldn’t shock anyone that since Callaway uttered those words, Reyes is 1-for-17 at the plate.
While Reyes was hitting, sorry not hitting, Cabrera would hyper-extend his elbow requiring him to come out early from one game and not start the next.
Now, this wasn’t an opportunity to call-up McNeil. Not for a game. However, this was a chance to play Dominic Smith. After all, the former first round pick and once first baseman of the future has only started in 16 of the Mets past 28 games.
Think about that for a second, the Mets actually went out of their way to start the soon to be 31 year old den Dekker in center over giving the 23 year old Smith playing time. Naturally, the Mets are now looking to send down Smith while presumably keeping den Dekker up in the majors.
It gets better.
The average age of the Mets bench last night was 26.0 years old, and that includes the 22 year old Rosario and the 23 year old Smith.
Remember, this is a Mets team who his now 17 games under .500. Sure, you can understand the concept of playing Bautista to try to pump up his trade value. However, it is unfathomable to sit both Smith and Rosario to get Reyes and den Dekker into the lineup.
If you think this is all a sick joke and a gross mismanagement of the team, we have yet to reach the best part.
Last night, McNeil, the guy the Mets solely viewed as a second baseman, played third base for Triple-A Las Vegas. On Monday, McNeil was just a second baseman. By Thursday, he was capable of playing third base. It didn’t take the Mets a week before completely upending their own narrative.
This just highlights how completely lost this entire Mets organization is.
The player the Mets view only as a second baseman is playing third base. The man who is supposed to be the first baseman of the future has played way out of position in left field over one-third of the time. Their starting shortstop, a player upon much of the future hangs, is sat because he’s playing too well.
The Mets would have to significantly improve things in order for them to start looking completely inept and confused. Really, this is as bad as it gets. But hey, at least the Wilpons are doing well financially.
Even when the Mets were at their best, Max Scherzer dominates them. In fact, as the Mets were preparing for what would be a pennant run, Scherzer threw a no-hitter against them.
Shockingly, the Mets were actually game against Scherzer tonight.
That rally sputtered with Bautista getting nailed by Taylor inches:
.@Nationals challenge call that José Bautista is safe at 2B in the 1st; call overturned, runner is out.
— MLB Replay (@MLBReplays) July 12, 2018
In the fourth, Bautista hit a solo homer, and Kevin Plawecki homered in the seventh.
It wasn’t enough as the Mets were chasing all night.
Aside from the Rendon at-bats, Matz had a pretty good game. He limited the rest of that lineup to six hits in 6.1 innings.
Still, he would be tagged with the loss.
The big hit for the Nationals came after Matz left the game. With the Mets down 3-2 in the seventh, Mickey Callaway brought in Jerry Blevins to face Bryce Harper. Harper would launch a homer to give the Nationals a 5-2 lead:
— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) July 13, 2018
After that homer, Bautista and Michael Conforto drew back-to-back walks putting the tying run in scoring position with one out.
Since it was the eighth and not the ninth, Wilmer Flores fouled out, and den Dekker followed with a strikeout.
In the ninth, Plawecki led off against Ryan Madson with a single. That went nowhere.
The Nationals are back over .500 now and are in the thick of the postseason race. The Mets are 17 games under .500 and starting Reyes.
Game Notes: Jeff McNeil, a prospect the Mets previously said is only a second baseman, started tonight at third base. This is on the same night Bautista started at third for the Mets.
Every fifth day, Mets fans are treated to a pitching duel. It’s Jacob deGrom against whoever the starting pitcher will be for the other team.
Tonight, that pitcher was Vince Velasquez.
Now, Velasquez occasionally shows some flashes. That said, this is a guy with a 4.69 ERA.
Didn’t matter for a Mets team historically inept at home (.207 home batting average).
Velasquez limited to no runs in two hits in six innings. The Phillies bullpen contributed two more scoreless including Adam Morgan coming on in the bottom of the eighth to get Michael Conforto to ground out to end a mini rally.
On the other side, deGrom was once again completely dominant.
In eight brilliant shut out innings, he allowed just five hits and a walk while striking out seven.
Because the Mets gave him absolutely no run support, he walked away with yet another no decision. It’s criminal.
However, for the second straight deGrom start, the Mets would win on a walk-off homer.
Because baseball is sometimes comical, Robert Gsellman got the win. He now has six wins which is one more than deGrom.
Game Notes: In the third, deGrom popped up a bunt Maikel Franco let drop so he could turn an inning ending double play.
A day after the Mets bullpen blew another big lead, you had to imagine this game was going to be a disaster. The Mets were starting Corey Oswalt, who was not exactly great in his first career start, and if he could not go deep into the game, it meant more of the Mets bullpen.
The good news is Oswalt held his own. Over four innings, he would allow two earned on five hits with a walk and two strikeouts. The first run was a big blast from Kendrys Morales in the second. When Morales came back up in the fourth, it looked like he got another one.
It turned out to be a double that hit a leaping Michael Conforto in the glove. It was one of those can’t be an error because it required a leap, but you would think a player as good as he is should catch that. In any event, Morales was on second with a double, and he would come around to score on a Lourdes Gurriel, Jr. RBI single. Realistically speaking, the Mets should have had a play at the plate, but Brandon Nimmo, who is struggling in every aspect of his game since getting plunked on the hand on June 24th, spiked the throw home into the turf.
Once again, Lugo showed us why he is such a great bullpen weapon. Lugo would pitch three innings allowing just one earned on three hits. If it was a different batter in the sixth, it might’ve been no runs. After Todd Frazier made a nice play, he got it to Asdrubal Cabrera who made the quick turn to first. As it was the speedy Gurriel, Cabrera’s throw had little chance to get him.
One bright spot there was, that only cut the Mets lead to 6-3, and that was because the Mets had a huge fifth inning.
The scoring began when a Frazier two run homer gave the Mets a 3-2 lead. The homer did not kill this rally as Kevin Plawecki hit a one out ground rule double. After the obligatory Jose Reyes failure to get a base hit, Nimmo walked setting up consecutive RBI singles from Cabrera and Jose Bautista.
Believe it or not, Lugo would get the win as the Mets bullpen did it’s job. First, Jerry Blevins gtting two of the three batters he faced out, and Robert Gsellman got the final out of the eighth. Jeurys Familia came on to pitch a perfect ninth for his 16th save of the season.
With that, the Mets earned a somewhat surprising split, and they are coming home for a long homestand where we may get the last chance to see some of the veterans on this team.
Game Notes: The Mets are about to play 11 games in 10 days as they head into the All Star break.
If you feel like you’ve seen this game before, you probably have.
The first crack against him was in the fifth as old pal Curtis Granderson double home a run. After that, Wheeler settled down and put up a couple of more zeros.
In the seventh, the Mets added an insurance run on a Michael Conforto double. At that point, the Mets had a 6-1 lead, and there was no indication the Mets would Mets this up.
Jose Bautista in his first game back in Toronto misplayed the Grichuk single into a two base error leaving him on third.
Oddly enough, pulling Wheeler was designed to prevent things from falling apart. The only issue is the Mets bullpen is bad.
Gsellman took care of that by allowing a game tying three run homer to the first batter he saw – Yangervis Solarte.
For those understandably clamoring for Tim Peterson in that spot, well, today wasn’t your day.
In the eighth with the score now tied 6-6, Peterson came on, but after two outs, he walked Grichuk before allowing a go-ahead two run homer to Lourdes Gurriel, Jr.
That’s the ballgame with the finishing touch being former Met Tyler Clippard git Conforto to ground out to end the game.
Basically speaking, there is no lead the Mets bullpen can protect.
Game Notes: Dominic Smith got the start, and he played first. He was 2-4 with two doubles. Mesoraco was lifted in the seventh after getting hit by a foul ball and a swing in successive innings. So far, he has passed concussion protocols
Through the mess that has been the Mets of late, the one thing that has been consistently going well has been the starting pitching. Ok, Brandon Nimmo too, but the starting pitching has been quite good.
That is what has made this run so frustrating. The starting pitching has kept them in games and games close only for the team to invent ways to lose games.
Tonight was another outstanding start from the Mets rotation. This time it came from Zack Wheeler, who has recently been good except for that one inning or batter.
Tonight, there was no except. Wheeler was just dominant.
Through seven scoreless innings, Wheeler allowed just five hits with one walk and seven strikeouts. It was about as good a performance as you have seen from him.
Better yet for him, he actually got some run support.
After being sacrificed to second by Wheeler, it seemed like he’d be stranded there. However, Jose Bautista would deliver a two out opposite field RBI double, and then he’d score on an Asdrubal Cabrera RBI single.
The Mets 2-0 lead would expand to 3-0 on a Wilmer Flores solo homer in the sixth.
Bring up the 🍎! pic.twitter.com/CJdFWT9jWN
— New York Mets (@Mets) June 28, 2018
The question with this bullpen was whether a 3-0 lead would be enough. Initially, the answer seemed to be no.
Robert Gsellman came in and he was hit hard with the only out he recorded was a sacrifice fly from Austin Meadows. When Josh Bell followed the sacrifice fly with a hard hit single, Mickey Callaway didn’t mess around.
Callaway pulled a struggling reliever for a hot one in Tim Peterson. Callaway’s faith in him was vindicated as Peterson got the next two outs to get the Mets out of the inning preserving the 3-1 lead.
Despite pitching 1.2 innings last night, Jeurys Familia came on in the ninth for the save.
Before he got an out, the Pirates had the bases loaded with no outs and a run scored.
For some reason, through most of this, the Mets had no one up in the bullpen after an inning where Gsellman got the quick hook.
After Familia gave up a four pitch walk, Callaway went well to Anthony Swarzak, who either doesn’t need much time to warm up or came in way too soon.
Well, it was the later as on Swarzak’s first pitch, David Freese hit a two RBI single to give the Pirates a 4-3 lead. Again, there were no outs in the inning.
All said and done, it was Pirates 5 – Mets 3. Another game and series lost by a Mets who is funding ways to lose games.
Game Notes: Cabrera is hitting again going 3-4 with a double, RBI, and a run. Corey Oswalt was held back from his Triple-A starts so he can make a start this weekend for the injured Jason Vargas. Brandon Nimmo and Michael Conforto swapped defensive positions with Nimmo manning center and Conforto on left.
When it comes to Jeff Wilpon, you keep wondering how one person could be just so despicable. Over the past few years, he fired an unwed pregnant woman leading the team to have to settle a lawsuit.
In 2015, when former co-owner Nelson Doubleday died, the Mets held a moment of silence, but they refused a uniform patch or even a black armband for the man who rescued the Mets in 1980.
As reported by the New York Time this past December, Jeff Wilpon holds a grudge against Ed Kranepool stemming from an incident from about five years ago when Kranepool said rather than buying shares available for sale, he wanted to buy the team from the Wilpons because he could run the team better.
In response to this, with Kranepool suffering through real health issues causing him to sell off some of his personal memorabilia, Kranepool said, “Not that I need them to do anything for me, but Fred or somebody could have called to say, ‘How you feeling?’”
In and of themselves, each of them are despicable acts, but in true Jeff Wilpon fashion, he seemed to raise the bar yesterday.
In what was a surprise press conference, where Sandy Alderson was announcing he was stepping aside so he could continue his battle with cancer, Jeff Wilpon led things off by saying this:
This is a results business and we’re well below our expectations, from ownership on down. Talk to the baseball department, the scouting department, the development department, the coaches, the players. Nobody expected to be in this position.
You have a range of emotion just like our fans that include incredibly frustrated, disappointed, angry about our season at this point, certainly. We’re in a results business and at this point, we’re well below our expectations.
From there, he went into saying how Sandy Alderson was basically stepping aside, and how there was going to be the triumvirate of J.P. Riccardi, Omar Minaya, and John Ricco, who would bring the decisions to Jeff much in the same way they were handled by Alderson.
Put another way, before giving Alderson the floor, Wilpon trashed the job Alderson did this year, essentially said he could do Alderson’s job better, and then he sat there stone faced, disinterested, and playing with the paper in his hands as Alderson, a man fighting for his life, fought through tears to get through everything.
Mets GM Sandy Alderson announces that he will take a leave of absence as he battles cancer. pic.twitter.com/jAXPkRUTzJ
— SportsNet New York (@SNYtv) June 26, 2018
Jeff Wilpon just sat there as Alderson took responsibility for this season and in his saying his performance does not merit him returning to the Mets after he hopefully wins this battle with cancer. Mets fans can all agree Alderson made some mistakes over the years, but you’d be hard pressed to find a single one who believes everything was completely his fault.
To that end, this smelled more like a “dignified” firing with cancer as an excuse that allowing a good man to focus all of his energies fighting cancer and then being given an opportunity resume his duties as the Mets General Manager. Certainly, Jeff Wilpon had plenty of opportunities to say Sandy was welcome to return to the Mets, but he always made sure to steer clear of that.
Perhaps most disgusting of all was there was not one thank you uttered from the lips of Jeff Wilpon. Not one.
This is a man whose hiring probably helped the Wilpons retain control of the team post-Madoff. This was a man who did the rebuild which led to the Mets making it all the way to the 2015 World Series. He is just one of two Mets General Managers to make consecutive postseasons.
Last year, after the season fell apart, he focused on saving the Wilpons money than maximizing the return for each and every single of those the players traded.
Mostly, this was a good man who fought for his country, and who did all he could do for the Mets. In all the years after 1986, Sandy Alderson was quite possibly the closest to winning that third World Series.
When he leaves, he leaves behind players like Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Michael Conforto, Brandon Nimmo, and Amed Rosario. He also leaves behind a farm system with Andres Gimenez, Mark Vientos, David Peterson, Justin Dunn, Peter Alonso, and so much more. Long story short, he did an admirable job in difficult circumstances.
At the very least, even as Jeff Wilpon was trashing him and allowing Alderson to take the heat all upon himself, you would think at some point Wilpon would offer a simple, “Thank you.”
Thank you for serving the Mets for the past eight years. Thank you for 2015. Thank you for allowing us to retain control of the team.
That “Thank you” never did come, and we shouldn’t be surprised if it never comes. After all, Jeff Wilpon has shown himself to be a despicable person who can’t help one gravely ill person in Kranpeool, who fires pregnant women and jokes about it, and lastly, allows Alderson to take the heat for all that has gone wrong.
The point cannot be driven home enough. Jeff Wilpon is a petty and despicable man, and what he did to Alderson yesterday was inexcusable.
For about the millionth time, shame on him.