Nori Aoki

Cubs Walk All Over Mets

Well, if you watched last night’s game, you got the jist of what was going to happen tonight. The Cubs dominated the Mets, and you were left looking for bright spots. 

Certainly, one was and continues to be Juan Lagares and his defense in center:

Not seen there was Lagares making the throw. His throw lead to a run not scoring on a double base running gaffe by Ian Happ and Willson Contreras. Happ’ was trying to go to third with two outs, and Contreras’ was not hustling home while watching the horror unfold. 

At the time, the play kept the game tied at 2-2. 

The Mets runs had come off a Jose Reyes keynote address off Jon Lester, and a Matt Harvey safety squeeze plating Amed Rosario. No, it didn’t make up for what happened yesterday. 
Speaking of Harvey, the best thing you can say about his start is he left under his own power.

The velocity was there, but his location wasn’t.  When he wasn’t leaving pitches in the hitting zone, he wasn’t throwing strikes. When he was pulled with one out in the fourth, he allowed seven hits, two runs (both earned), and four walks with just two strikeouts. He also left the bases loaded. 

He left them loaded for Hansel Robles, who is having a nightmare of a season. That became evident when he issued a bases loaded walk to Anthony Rizzo and then a two RBI single to Contreras.  Just like that, it was 5-2 Cubs on the way to becoming a 10-2 lead. 

But hey, Robles had a sparking stat line. His was 1.2 innings, one hit, no runs, one walk, and two strikeouts. 

He was the only pitcher with a good stat line. Chasen Bradford allowed four runs in an inning of work. He certainly wasn’t helped out when Asdrubal Cabrera let one go through the wickets. Javier Baez homered off Kevin McGowan in McGowan’s lone inning of work. Jacob Rhame surrendered 

One of the runs Rhame allowed was off a Rivera double. The former Met had quite an evening himself. Despite coming off the bench, he was 2-2 with a run, double, and two RBI. 

Jamie Callahan then had a sinilsr outing to Robles. He relieved Rhame with the bases loaded and one out in the eighth. Just like Robles, he issued a bases loaded walk to Rizzo. Albert Almora then hit a bases leading triple. Unlike Robles, he’d get hit with a charged run. 
With all the frustrations, the Mets showed some fight in the eighth. Rosario scored on a Rene Rivera passed ball. Later in the inning, Dominic Smith hit a two run homer to pull the Mets within 10-5. 

All said and done, it was a hard to watch 13-5 loss featuring Mets pitchers issuing 11 walks. It’s quite the metaphor for a team that everyone not named the Reds or Phillies have walked all over. 

Game Notes: Brandon Nimmo dat for a second straight game against a left-handed pitcher while Nori Aoki got the start in both games. 

Cubs Show Mets How Much Better They Are

For three and a half innings, the Mets had fight, and they were actually leading the Cubs 1-0. They were in that position for unlikely reasons. 

The first is Travis Taijeron, who has struggled mightily since he was called up, delivered his first non-HR RBI as a major leaguer. That rally got started due to a Juan Lagares hustle double to start that inning. 

At the time the run was scored, you figured it wasn’t going to be enough for Robert Gsellman who was flirting with disaster only to be bailed out by some good defense and good luck. 

In the first, the Cubs had bases loaded and one out. With Willson Contreras having been ruled to have gone out of the baseline to avoid a Jose Reyes tag, Ian Happ grounded into an inning ending double play. 

The Mets turned their second double play in the third with Travis d’Arnaud throwing out Ben Zobrist after a Kris Bryant strikeout for the strike ’em out, throw ’em out double play. Before you get too excited by d’Arnaud, Zobrist was running at maybe half speed. 

Through three Gsellman was well over 60 pitches, and despite him throwing three straight scoreless innings, he was laboring. For those three innings, he bent. In the fourth, he broke. 

The Cubs tied the game on a Jose Quintana perfectly placed sacrifice bunt down the first base line. It not only allowed himself to reach safely, but he moved Jason Heyward to second. More than that, Kyle Schwarber scored on the play. 

He scored because Dominic Smith somehow got a late break and still tried to get Schwarber at the plate. Many will disagree, but trying to get Schwarber wasn’t a bad play because a better throw gets him. 

From there, the Cubs played Home Run Derby blowing the doors off the Mets. The first was a three run homer by Bryant off Gsellman. 

By the time the fourth inning was over, the Mets were down 4-1, and Gsellman had thrown 93 pitches. His final line in the loss was 4.0 innings, five hits, four runs, four earned, five walks, and four strikeouts. 

Schwarber would hit a solo homer off Tommy Milone in the fifth. Ian Happ homered off Josh Smoker in the seventh. 

In sum, the Mets would use four relievers to pitch the final four innings. All of them, Milone, Smoker, Jacob Rhame, and Chris Flexen, would pitch an inning and allow a run. They all contributed to the 8-3 loss.

If you’re looking at a positive from this loss, Asdrubal Cabrera was 3-4 with a double. However, the contributions of Reyes and Cabrera don’t mean much in what should be a 90 loss season. 

Other than Cabrera, you’re looking at Lagares and Amed Rosario each making terrific plays in the field. Short of that, there’s not much to be enthusiastic about in this loss. That is unless you think d’Arnaud throwing out a base runner and his fifth inning sacrifice fly was a big deal. 

It wasn’t. 

Game Notes: Erik Goeddel was unavailable as he was in New York seeing a doctor for dizziness and blurred vision. Nori Aoki grounded out with the bases loaded in the ninth to make it 8-3. 

Montero & Plawecki Lead Mets to Victory (Not a Joke)

If you had the duo of Rafael Montero and Kevin Plawecki powering the Mets to victory, one of three things are probably true:

  1. You’ve been in a coma since 2014;
  2. You’re a much better gambler than Craig Carton; or
  3. You just started watching baseball this September. 

Seriously, Montero and Plawecki have been much improved players at a time where it seemed even the Mets were beginning to give up on both of them. Finally, the Mets faith in both seems to be rewarded. Tonight was the latest example. 

Plawecki has been much improved at the plate.  It’s not just batting average or OBP, it’s his hitting for power. 

His two run shot in the second inning was a no doubter. It was the second of the season and sixth of his career. It gave the Mets a 2-1 lead, and the team didn’t look back. 

For the first five innings that was because of Montero. Except for a 1-2-3 first, he was in trouble all night long. Part of that was the re-emergence of his walks problem with Montero allowing five walks in five innings. 

Still, while the walks re-emerged, the meltdowns didn’t. He made the pitches he needed to get out of jams and innings. 

He then handed the call to Chasen Bradford, who has rebounded well from his one poor outing against these Reds at the end of August. In that outing, he gave up four runs without recording an out tonight. He got redemption pitching 1.2 scoreless striking out four. 

He not only kept the lead, but he allowed the Mets to blow it open for their fourth win in a row. 

The Mets got a little breathing room with a Dominic Smith two out sixth inning RBI single scoring Asdrubal Cabrera. Cabrera had led off the inning with a double. 

Cabrera’s next double plated Nori Aoki in the seventh. This followed Aoki singling home Matt Reynolds and Jacob deGrom. Reynolds was hit by a pitch, deGrom pinch hit for Josh Smoker, and both advanced on a Jose Reyes sac bunt. 
With the Mets having a 6-1 lead, it was an easy game for rookie Jamie Callahan to put to rest. It might’ve been the reps or the five run lead, but he looked more relaxed and composed. All the Mets look that way with the team playing much better of late. 

Game Notes: Amed Rosario is feeling better, and he may play tomorrow v

When deGrom Can’t Beat The Phillies, All Is LostĀ 

This is a season where you can pretty much pick your nadir. Tonight might have been that night because when Jacob deGrom can’t beat the Phillies, the Mets really have no hopes of winning games. 

Coming into tonight, deGrom was 6-0 with a 2.10 ERA, 0.917 WHIP, and a 9.5 K/9 against the Phillies. He was 22-14 with a 2.17 ERA, 1.033 WHIP, and a 10.2 K/9. 

Tonight, deGrom allowed nine runs (six earned) off 10 hits and two walks while striking out five. 

With this poor start, deGrom has allowed five plus earned runs in three of his last five starts. Given how dominant we have seen him at times this year, and how this Mets season has gone, you’re just waiting for the Mets to announce he’s injured.

It certainly doesn’t help his team let him down once again. Dominic Smith made a second inning error allowing the first run to score in a three run inning. With the game at 5-1, Nori Aoki made a throwing error on an Odubel Herrera RBI single, which made it 6-1. The error let the other runners get into scoring position, which helped facilitate the six run inning. 

At the end of the day, the Mets lost 9-1. 

If you’re looking for a positive, Jacob Rhame got himself into a bases loaded jam, and he worked his way out of it without allowing a run. Kevin McGowan also pitched a scoreless inning. 

But really, we’re just grasping at straws looking for the positive. In the end, a bad team looked bad against another bad team. That’s it. 

Game Notes: The Mets lone run came on a first inning Travis d’Arnaud RBI double scoring Aoki. 

The 2017 Mets Summed Up As Why The Hell Not

Since he was first called-up to the majors, Dominic Smith has been benched and pinch hit for against left-handed pitching. As a result, when Smith was allowed to face the left-handed Francisco Liriano and swing away 3-0, reporters rightfully ask about it. Collins answer was startling:

With rumors already swirling Collins won’t be back next year, it sure seems like he’s checked out. 

He’s that guy who gives his two we notice and shows up to work everyday in a Hawaiian shirt, cargo shorts, and flip flops. He takes two hour plus lunches, and leaves before 4:00. 

It’s why the top of his lineup is now locked in as Jose ReyesNori AokiAsdrubal Cabrera

He disagrees and really doesn’t know how long Amed Rosario has dealt with a finger issue. 

Brandon Nimmo won’t hit leadoff anymore. 
Odd and inconsistent use of his relievers will continue. 

Injured players will continue to play well after they shouldn’t. To that end, just wait for what we know is Wilmer Flores‘ imminent return. 

The marginalization of young players for underperforming to not performing vets will continue. 

Bad decision making will continue. 

Why will all this continue?  Why the hell not. 

Mets Lose Game And OpportunitiesĀ 

When you watch Mets games now, you’re not really looking for wins and losses. Mostly, that’s because you’re really only going to see losses. 

No, you’re looking for important or exciting moments. It’s even better when it comes from a player  who has a possibility of being a part of the 2018 Mets doing something important. 

Of course, that is difficult with Terry Collins as the manager. For consecutive games, Collins has set forth Jose ReyesNori Aoki, and Asdrubal Cabrera as the top three hitters. Of course, that’s more productive than seeing Brandon Nimmo atop the lineup. 

We can dwell a bit by bit how a 4-0 lead turned into an 8-6 loss, but frankly we shouldn’t care all that much. The team has a manager more interested in stopping a 90 or maybe a 100 loss season than doing the right thing and playing the young players. 

Collins can’t ignore the veterans, and the front office doesn’t care. Worse yet, they handed him Aoki to only further fuel his wants and needs. 

Despite the Mets focus on declining vets, it doesn’t mean we all have to focus on them.  To that end, here’s what we need to know from this Mets loss to the Astros:

  • Dominic Smith continued hitting well going 2-5 with a double and an RBI single in the first. 
  • Nimmo continued showing off his patience at the plate drawing three walks. One of them was with the bases loaded. 
  • Chris Flexen fell apart in the third blowing a three run lead. He threw 79 pitches and didn’t get into the fifth inning. 
  • Amed Rosario was 0-3 and was forced to leave the game with a finger issue. 
  • Juan Lagares continued hitting well at the plate going 1-3 with a walk and an RBI single. That and he continues to amaze in the field:

So, yes, the Mets lost. Of the young players who actually got to play, Smith was the standout. Oh, and Rosario got hurt because that’s what happens to Mets players. 

Game Notes: Aoki was 3-4 with two runs, a double, two RBI, and a stolen base. Reyes stole two bases. 

Doubleheader A Microcosm Of Mets SeasonĀ 

Well, we finally have the moment that perfectly encapsulates the Mets 2017 season. We just had to wait for the 135th game of the season and the second game of today’s doubleheader:

That’s right, Wilmer Flores fouled a ball off his face and had to leave the game. 

That moment right there is the Mets season. In fact, the whole double header was the Mets season. 

In the first game, Matt Harvey was rocked in his first game back from the DL. Yes, you did get the sense Houston seemed to relish teeing off on Harvey. More than anything, they just seemed relieved to be playing baseball. 

Harvey only lasted two innings throwing 70 pitches. His final line was two innings, eight hits, seven runs, seven earned, no walks, and three strikeouts. 

Harvey had some velocity hitting 94 MPH, but he didn’t have much else. Again, like he’s done many times in the past, he said there were mechanical issues. As history repeats itself, we know Dan Warthen lacks answers. 

After that, we got the Major League debuts of Jacob Rhame and Jamie Callahan. Rhame had the more successful debut of the two, but still, both threw some serious heat. Like Harvey, Callahan was abandoned by his defense, but he didn’t pitch well enough to make it an issue. 

The shame of Callahan’s tough outing was the Mets made a game of it after a poor Harvey start and bad Tommy Milone relief appearance (2.2 IP, 3 ER). 

Dominic Smith hit a two run fourth inning homer to cut the deficit to 7-2. In the seventh, Flores hit a grand slam to make it a 10-7 game. 
With Callahan’s poor outing, it would end at 12-8. 

Of course, with the doubleheader, we got fun with Collins making lineups. 

Despite Brandon Nimmo starting both ends of the doubleheader, he didn’t lead off once because the Mets have Jose Reyes and now have Aoki. Also, we were blessed to see Cabrera play in both ends of the doubleheader. 

The Mets were much more competitive in the second game of the doubleheader. Note, competitive, not good. 

The main problem was the Mets offense was not doing anything against Brad Peacock. In fact, when the Mets got to him in the sixth, they didn’t really get to him but to George Springer

Juan Lagares led off the sixth with a triple to right-center. Lagares busted it out of the box, and he appeared to have a shot at the inside-the-park home run. However, Glenn Sherlock held him up at third. 
For a moment, it seemed as if the Mets wouldn’t score. Amed Rosario, who came on for Flores, struck out, and Asdrubal Cabrera walked. The Astros then brought in Francisco Liriano to face Smith. 

To the surprise of everyone, Terry Collins didn’t PH for Smith. Perhaps that is because Flores was already out of the game. 

Smith lined a ball to Springer, which might have been deep enough to score Lagares. It didn’t matter as Springer misplayed it into a double. Because Cabrera is slower than Sid Bream right now, he didn’t score on the play. 

It wound up biting the Mets because the horrors of this season continue to repeat themselves. 

Seth Lugo cruised through five innings keeping the Astros scoreless. In the sixth, the Astros began going through the lineup for the third time, and they began teeing off on Lugo. 
The first three reached against Lugo with the Astros tying the game on a Josh Reddick RBI single. They then took the lead taking advantage of new Met Nori Aoki‘s bad arm. 

Astros third base and outfield coach Gary Pettis sent Jose Altuve. With Aoki’s throw up the line, he didn’t give Kevin Plawecki much of a chance to make the tag. Just like that, the lead was gone. 

Later, Matt Reynolds got gun shy with a shot to nail the runner at home. He took the sure out at first. With the shift being on, his being far off third allowed Marwin Gonzalez to go to third setting up his scoring on a sac fly. 

As if the indignity wasn’t enough, Reynolds lost a ball that was literally lost in the roof. The ball would drop right in front of him just out of his reach. 

Of course because baseball is cruel, a ball would once again go into the rafters:

After the rough half inning was over, the Mets were down 4-1 with all four runs being charged to Lugo. 

In the end, the Mets were swept in the doubleheader by a MUCH better team. They lost to a team representing a city who needed this distraction. Hopefully, those who are still suffering were able to take some time and enjoy these games. 

As Mets fans, we’re hard-pressed to enjoy any of this. The veterans are still playing over the prospects. The players are still getting hurt. The pitchers are still struggling. 

Game Notes: Reports indicate once the Rumble Ponies season is over, Tomas Nido will get called up to the majors. Former Met Carlos Beltran did not appear in either end of the doubleheader. He is dealing with a foot injury.