Patrick Mazeika

Mets Offense Explodes With Giant Win

Another game and another New York Mets starter with a big start. This time it was David Peterson‘s turn.

It didn’t start that way for Peterson. In the second, Brandon Crawford hit a two run homer giving the San Francisco Giants an early 2-0 lead.

The Mets would get him a lead in the top of the third. At the time, you wondered if it was going to be enough.

The Mets would nickel and dime Alex Cobb to death. For example, Brandon Nimmo and Starling Marte had consecutive infield singles in the third to help load the bases.

Francisco Lindor followed with a bloop down the left field line. Darin Ruf lumbered over, but he couldn’t make the play as he and the ball landed in the stands for a two RBI automatic double.

The two RBIs tied the score at 2-2. It was also Lindor’s 500th RBI. He would then score his 609th career run as Pete Alonso absolutely launched one to give the Mets a 5-2 lead.

Peterson seemed poised to give that lead right back in the bottom of the third. He walked Ruf to start the inning and then plunked Wilmer Flores.

Peterson bore down, and he got Mike Yastrzemski to hit into the 1-6-3 double play. That play changed the game as Peterson got out of the inning, and the Mets would eventually blow out the Giants.

For Peterson, it was a well earned win. He limited the Giants to the two runs over six while striking out six.

Colin Holderman relieved Peterson in the seventh, and he continued to prove he belongs. He pitched a scoreless inning battling through a bleeding thumb on his pitching hand.

While Mets relievers literally bled, the Giants did figuratively as the Mets offense pounded them in the eighth to break the game open.

It started because Jeff McNeil just couldn’t get a bunt down all game. As noted by Gary Cohen and Keith Hernandez, it was partially because his approach has him running towards first at the point of contact.

When McNeil couldn’t get the bunt down to beat the shift, he instead swung away and hit a two run homer off Giants reliever Mauricio Llovera.

And then, Mark Canha went back-to-back increasing the Mets lead to 8-2.

Patrick Mazeika capped off the scoring in the inning with an RBI double. That gave the Mets a 10-2 lead. For Mazeika, it was his third straight game with a double as he attempts to get the starting catching job.

After another scoreless inning from Holderman, the Giants sent outfielder Luis Gonzalez to the mound. After the dog and pony show was over the 10-2 lead grew to 13-2.

The Mets ability to clobber the Giants pitching led to Gonzalez pitching. Things were so bad for the Giants J.D. Davis, who entered the game hitting .188 with a -0.4 WAR, had a four hit night. It was just one of those nights for the Mets.

Chasen Shreve, who has struggled mightily of late, took the mound in the ninth. Again, he let up a run, but in a 13-3 game, it’s a footnote.

The Mets are now eight up in the division. That includes being nine up on the Atlanta Braves. Yes, the Mets are this good.

Game Notes: This was Max Scherzer‘s spot in the rotation. This was Buck Showalter‘s 66th Birthday.

20/20 Hindsight: Mariners Make Mets Regret Sewald

For the first time this season, the New York Mets lost a series. To make matters worse, it was Mets incompetence of the past which came back to haunt them.

1.  Paul Sewald is absolutely right. The Mets gave up on him. More to the point, as I’ve pointed out, and as Keith Hernandez and Gary Cohen noted on the broadcast, the Mets completely and utterly botched how they handled him. Sewald absolutely deserved this moment.

2.  Sewald was all the more of a debacle when you consider the Mets kept Ryan O’Rourke, Tim Peterson, and Jacob Rhame over him. None of those three pitched past the 2019 season. Sewald is now a very good late inning reliever.

3.  It’s not just Sewald, but Chris Flexen where the Mets screw up was the Mariners gain. The good news here is the morons in charge who made those decisions are now gone.

4.  The people in charge now get us Max Scherzer and Chris Bassitt who were again great in their starts. Much of the Mets success this season is directly attributable to bringing those pitchers onboard.

5.  That Patrick Mazeika start behind the plate was rough, and it limited Bassitt to 5.1 innings when he had the stuff to go much deeper.

6.  That said the legend of Mazeika grew. Not only did he have the game winning homer, but he also had a key hit in that ninth inning rally which fell short.

7.  You cannot have worst at-bats than what Starling Marte and Pete Alonso did with the game tying and go-ahead runs on base than what they did. The Alonso one was even worse considering he got one strike in that at-bat, and he didn’t even swing at the pitch over the heart of the plate.

8.  Brandon Nimmo came up huge in that inning with an RBI double. In fact, he’s been great all season and has been the Mets best player. He’s clearly an All-Star, and sooner or later, if he keeps this up, he is going to get MVP consideration.

9.  Drew Smith went from impenetrable to allowing runs in consecutive appearances. He will be fine.

10. Carlos Carraso looked bad. While he was worse against the St. Louis Cardinals, he arguably looked worse in this start. Again, he’s been very good for all but two starts, so there is no need to dwell too much here.

11. Good for Adam Ottavino for picked up that win. He’s responded well to that rough patch, and part of the reason is Buck Showalter has been much more responsible in how he uses them.

12. Congratulations to Colin Holderman on his Major League debut. It was rocky, but it was a scoreless inning, and he did flash what could be very good stuff out of the pen.

13. Sewald wasn’t the only pitcher to stick it to his old team. Edwin Diaz struck out all three batters he faced in his only save opportunity in the series. By the way, he’s now played more seasons with the Mets than the Mariners.

14. Joely Rodriguez wasn’t great, and Chasen Shreve allowed homers in consecutive appearances. On that note, Aaron Loup is having another great season. So far, this looks like an unforced error by the Mets, and you do have to wonder how much of that is attributable to the Robinson Cano contract.

15. James McCann being out is going to hurt the Mets. He was great behind the plate, and believe it or not, he was a starting level bat at the position in the majors so far this year.

16. Tomas Nido did step-up in this series actually drawing two walks. To put that in perspective, he drew five all of last season.

17. McCann’s injury is the type which may cost him this year even when he can return. Those hammate bone injuries tend to linger and hamper the ability to hit again. Unfortunately, Francisco Alvarez has been struggling in Double-A putting him even further off the horizon.

18. Francisco Lindor hit a big homer. The Mets need more of that from him.

19. One massive takeaway from this series, even with the series loss, is the Mets beat up on reigning AL Cy Young winner Robbie Ray. It doesn’t matter if it was an off game or not from Ray, the Mets finally hit left-handed pitching.

20. The Mets were at the Rangers beating the Penguins in Game 7. Perhaps, we will see the Rangers at Citi Field watching the Mets win their own Game 7 this postseason.

Can Francisco Alvarez Be Juan Soto Or Miguel Cabrera

Back in 2015, nearly everyone was begging Sandy Alderson to call-up Michael Conforto to help a floundering New York Mets offense. Alderson was stubborn in his not being aggressive with prospects until he couldn’t be anymore. Alderson’s concerns were proven unfounded as Conforto had a 133 wRC+ and a 9 DRS in left field.

In reality, some prospects are just Major League ready much earlier than others, and they don’t necessarily need the reps at the upper levels of the minors. As we saw with the Mets, just allowing your best talent to play at the Major League level can pay dividends as Conforto was an important piece of a Mets team which won the 2015 National League pennant.

That’s not something unique to the Mets. In 2013, the then Florida Marlins needed offensive help, so they aggressively called-up Miguel Cabrera who had only played 69 games in Double-A. Cabrera immediately showed he was ready posting a 106 wRC+. He would hit four homers that postseason including one off Roger Clemens in Game 4 of the World Series.

In 2018, the Washington Nationals needed an outfielder, so they called up Juan Soto who had played just eight Double-A games. Like Conforto and Cabrera before him, Soto was ready posting a 146 wRC+. The Nationals would miss the postseason that year, but the following year, Soto posted the second highest WAR among position players on a team who would win the World Series.

That brings us to Francisco Alvarez.

When Alvarez arrived at Spring Training, he declared his goal was to make the Majors this season. That certainly seemed aggressive for a 20 year old player who has yet to play at the Double-A level. Then again, Alvarez is not like just any other minor leaguer. That was very clear when Alvarez hit a monster home run in Spring Training which impressed even Buck Showalter, who has been around the game as long as anyone:

That was a 98.7 MPH fastball Alvarez hit 441 feet to the Clover Field scoreboard. As noted by MMO‘s Mathew Brownstein, since the inception of StatCast, “ only 14 players have hit a HR at least 440 feet off a FB that was 98+ mph with an exit velocity of 108+ mph.” That puts Alvarez in a group of players which include Aaron Judge and Bryce Harper.

With Harper, we should note he moved out from behind the plate when drafted in an attempt to make it to the majors quicker. Harper would make his MLB debut when he was 19, just one year older than Alvarez would be during the 2022 season.

That’s the sticking point with Alvarez. His bat is there, but it is going to be his ability to catch which will be what allows the Mets to decide to bring him to the majors or keep him in the minors for further development. On that point, Alvarez has made significant strides, and his framing has been much improved this Spring:

One other note here with Alvarez is the Mets are not in a great position at catcher. James McCann had a down year at and behind the plate. Tomas Nido is an elite backstop, but his bat is still lacking. Patrick Mazeika is fine depth, but like Nido, he is not much of a hitter.

Should McCann falter or suffer an injury, there is going to be a clear path for Alvarez to get to the majors in short order. Ultimately, his ability to get there is going to be dictated by his continued development as a catcher as well as Alderson and the front office being willing to take the risk like they did in 2015. If everything aligns, we may well see Alvarez become an important piece for a Mets team who can contend for a World Series.

 

Minor Leaugers Will Be Impacted By MLB Lockout

With the collective bargaining agreement stalemate, and Commissioner Rob Manfred announcing the first two series of the Major League season will be canceled, minor league baseball appears to be set to be the only baseball left to be played. This was the case on August 12, 1994 until the end of that season, and right now, we don’t know how long it will be until MLB and the MLBPA reach an agreement.

This begs the question about how this will affect the minor league season. In many ways, the answer is not at all, but in a more global sense, it is a huge impact due to all of the uncertainty.

40 Man Roster Issues

First and foremost, this lockout impacts players on the 40 man roster. Keep in mind with Major League rosters being capped at 26 players, the 14 players who were supposed to play in the minors are now not permitted to play with their respective organizations.

This past offseason, the New York Mets added Mark Vientos, Ronny Mauricio, Adam Oller, and Jose Butto to their 40 man roster. They’re now not eligible to play in games or participate in Spring Training. The same goes for players like Travis Blankenhorn, Khalil Lee, Patrick Mazeika, and Nick Plummer who were likely ticketed for Triple-A to start the season.

Spring Training Battles

If we look back to the pandemic shortened season of 2020, MLB had a very abbreviated “Summer Camp” with players reporting on July 1 and beginning the season on July 24. In 1995, the strike and lockout meant Spring Training was delayed. When the two sides finally agreed to a deal, Spring Training was just three weeks. We’re very likely to see something akin to that again.

As a result, we are not going to have the opportunity to see Spring Training battles breath. At least at the moment, Tylor Megill and David Peterson appear poised to battle for the fifth starter spot. With no real Spring Training, and both pitchers being shut down because they are on the 40 man roster, it would appear the Mets would be all the more emboldened to sign another starter.

Speaking of Spring Training battles, there are those veterans who signed minor league deals. For example, this offseason the Mets signed Daniel Palka who has played 154 Major League games in his career and Matt Reynolds who has played 130 games. They would be permitted to play in Spring Training, where they would not be paid, and they can then report to play in Triple-A Syracuse regardless of the status of the CBA negotiations.

Rule 5 Draft

As noted, players not on the 40 man roster are permitted to participate in Spring Training, and they can begin their minor league seasons when they are slated to begin. That is an enormous benefit for players like Carlos Cortes, Brian Metoyer, and Hayden Senger. Each of these players were on the bubble for Rule 5 protection, and the Mets opted to expose them to the draft.

This means Cortes, Metoyer, and Senger will get to play and improve. That will also give teams an opportunity to get a better look at those three players in determining whether they should be selected in the Rule 5 draft. Of course, that also works in the inverse with the Mets getting a deeper look into players they might be targeting.

Keep in mind, there isn’t much precedent here for this. In 1994, because there was a strike but not a lockout, teams were able to proceed with their business as usual and hold the Rule 5 draft in December (even if it was delayed twice). For the 2020 season, the Rule 5 draft had already taken place in December 2019 because COVID-19 was not yet a concern.

Another important note here is as MLB cancels games, it becomes easier to carry Rule 5 drafted players. As a result, the risk in selecting a Rule 5 player has been greatly mitigated. Another factor at play here is we may see players get drafted based on early season results who may not have been otherwise considered. To sum up, this is a quagmire.

Games

At the moment, the Mets have their minor league mini-camp. Minor League Spring Training is also set to officially begin this week. As of right now, according to their official schedule, the Mets are slated to play their first Spring Training game on March 12 against the St. Louis Cardinals.

Of course, games were supposed to begin February 28, but it was delayed due to the lockout. As of right now, there is no official word if games will be delayed further. That said, there will likely be some form of a Spring Training game schedule even absent a CBA being in place to allow the minor leaguers to prepare for their season. The season for the Mets full season affiliates are set to begin as follows:

  • Syracuse Mets – April 5
  • Binghamton Rumble Ponies – April 8
  • Brooklyn Cyclones – April 8
  • St. Lucie Mets – April 8

For those Mets fans who want to attend a baseball game, the Brooklyn Cyclones home opener will be on April 12 at 7:00 P.M. against the Jersey Shore Blue Claws (Phillies).

Coaching

Right now, the Mets are paying Buck Showalter a lot of money to manage a team which is not set to play. That leaves Showalter with the job of preparing to prepare for the season. In some ways, that’s extremely beneficial for the new staff with new coaches like Eric Chavez to come to work together.

It also gives them an opportunity to work with the minor leaguers in Spring Training, and perhaps, depending on the length of the lockout, to travel to work with some of the minor leaguers. This presents an enormous opportunity for players like Brett Baty, who is battling with Vientos for that future third base job. More than that, it allows some of the more unheralded prospects like a Harol Gonzalez to make an impression in camp and get an advocate from the Major League coaching staff in their corner.

That just speaks to just how different everything will be for minor leaugers. Yes, the players not on the 40 man roster will have no change to their schedule. They will report to Spring Training at the same time, and they will play the games like they normally do.

However, they will also get more exposure to Major League coaching, and they have more of an opportunity to distinguish themselves. Moreover, they will get to prepare for their season and work on their games while fellow minor leaugers who are on the 40 man roster will be at home unpaid and without a chance to work with their coaches to improve their game.

Luis Rojas A Convenient Fall Guy For Mets

It was never set up for Luis Rojas to succeed as the manager of the New York Mets. With his firing, which is what happened when the Mets didn’t pick up his option, it was deemed Rojas did not succeed.

In 2020, he took over a team after Carlos Beltran was forced out without managing a game. He had to take over a team in Spring Training with a coaching staff he didn’t assemble, and by the way, a once in a century pandemic hit.

That season didn’t go as hoped. Noah Syndergaard needing Tommy John and Marcus Stroman opting out probably ended that season before it began.

Entering this season, there were massive expectations, and understandably so given the ownership change and Francisco Lindor trade. That said, the cards would be stacked against Rojas a bit.

Unless you count his two late September appearances as an opener, Syndergaard didn’t start a game. Carlos Carrasco didn’t pitch until July 30, and he was rushed.

The injuries really were the story and the problem. Of course, the biggest injury was Jacob deGrom. In the midst of what was his best year, he went down.

Michael Conforto had COVID, got hurt, and faltered. Lindor struggled to adjust, and when he did, he got hurt. At one point, there were so many injures, James McCann had to play first base for a stretch.

Keep in mind, the Mets entered the season without a third baseman or left fielder. Dominic Smith can hit (when he wasn’t playing through injuries like he did all year) and he can play a terrific first, but he’s just not a left fielder.

This was the year where ReplaceMets were a thing. Patrick Mazeika and Brandon Drury were getting plate appearances in big spots (because there was no other options), and they were delivering.

Eventually, the replacements to the replacements got hurt. Eventually, the dam had to break.

Despite everything, Rojas had the Mets in first place at the trade deadline by 3.5 games. At various times, even if it was just in passing, he was mentioned as a potential Manager of the Year.

The pitching was on fumes, and the best the Mets could do at the trade deadline was Trevor Williams. The Mets thought so highly of him, he was immediately assigned to Syracuse.

Eventually, the magic touch wore off, but then again, when Albert Almora is on your bench, you don’t need magic; you need a miracle. There were no miracles forthcoming.

We saw the cracks in the team. The offense who shifted from Chili Davis to Hugh Quattlebaum never clicked. The barren upper levels of the minors leagues left behind by Brodie Van Wagenen haunted the team. Ultimately, there were just too many injuries which probably should’ve been expected a year after the 2020 COVID impacted season.

There were embarrassments like the first Mets GM Jared Porter being fired for harassment. The next, Zack Scott, took a leave of absence after his DUI arrest during the season. While not of the same vein, there was the Javier Báez-Lindor thumbs down drama.

At some point, the team we all thought would win the World Series became a flat out bad team. They’d set a record by being in first place for as long as they did only to finish under .500.

Yes, during this time, Rojas made some bizarre moves. While the focus was on that, his successes were overlooked, downplayed, or not acknowledged. That’s unfortunate.

What’s also unfortunate was after what was only one full season, Rojas was fired. He never got the opportunity to learn and grow as a manager. He didn’t get to build on the things he did well.

Instead, he’s out as manager.

With the collapse, this was obviously coming. After all, Sandy Alderson wasn’t going to fire himself for punting the trade deadline and having his big time hires blow up in his face.

Between the need for a fall guy and the Mets pursuing a new president of baseball operations, Rojas was as good as gone. After all, the new POBO would want his own guy as manager.

The end result was Rojas losing his job as manager. It’s unfortunate because he never really had a chance. It’s very likely he will get that chance somewhere else, and he will very likely do well.

Until then, it’s incumbent on the Mets to prove they did the right thing. If Rojas’ all too brief tenure is any lesson, that stats and ends with building your roster because no manager, no matter how good, is going to be able to win without two regular players, shallow pitching depth, and all those injuries.

Luis Rojas Facing Increased Scrutiny Because Edwin Diaz Choked Again

There are many reasons the New York Mets blew this game to the Miami Marlins and lost a game they couldn’t afford to lose. Sandy Alcantara was brilliant, and the offense came up short again.

The Mets blew it in the 10th inning. There was probably a botched call from the umpires and replay. That meant instead of Jesus Sanchez‘s error leading to runners at the corners, it was just prolonging the at-bat.

Javier Báez would strike out. Jeff McNeil had some bad luck hitting one off the pitcher for what turned out to be a ground out. Luis Rojas then went running to his bench.

First, it was Luis Guillorme for Kevin Pillar. Guillorme walked. Then, in a somewhat incredulous decision, he pinch hit Patrick Mazeika for James McCann. Mazeika meekly grounded out to end the inning.

With the Mets other high end relievers having been used, Rojas was essentially forced to bring in Edwin Diaz. What was over concern should now be alarm.

After blowing consecutive saves to the Washington Nationals, Diaz was entrusted with getting this tied game to the 11th inning. He’d fail miserably.

The first batter, Magneuris Sierra, laid down a good bunt. Diaz got there and nearly threw it away. Really, it took a great play from Báez to not only get the out, but to also stop Diaz from throwing it away to end the game.

Diaz did rebound to strike out an overmatched Sanchez. Then, Bryan De La Cruz came to the plate. Make no mistake, there’s just no way Diaz should’ve been pitching to De La Cruz.

After the game, Rojas cited a number of reasons why. Those included the R/R matchup as well as Diaz’s control issues. No matter what, the real issue was Diaz.

Despite ordering the intentional walk being the right call, Diaz would pitch to De La Cruz. Instead of being careful, Diaz would throw a 1-1 fastball over the heart of the plate which De La Cruz launched to dead center to end the game leading to Diaz with the Hansel Robles signature finger point:

Again, blame the offense all you want for the 2-1 loss. Blame Rojas for some weird pinch hitting decisions and for pitching to De La Cruz. Those are all valid critiques.

However, at the end of the day, the Mets have a closer who can’t seem to pitch in September in a pennant race. He had a 7.36 ERA in September 2019. He’s allowed five runs in 3.0 innings taking a loss and going 1/3 in save chances.

Closers like Diaz, or at least what many pretend Diaz to be, are supposed to hide some of the deficiencies by ensuring the close games go in your favor. That just doesn’t happen with Diaz in the huge spots.

For the third straight outing, that was the case. You just wonder how many more outings like this he has before the Mets are completely out of contention.

Mets Need To Give Something Extra In Big Win

Well, it was bound to happen. After all the times the New York Mets were going to ignore his track record, they were bound to get Rich Hill through six. Tonight was that night.

This was Hill’s best start as a Met, and he was helped along by his defense and some Nationals snafus.

In the first, Lane Thomas failed to retouch second on a flyout leading to him getting doubled off. In the third, after Luis Garcia doubled, Hill would pick Garcia off second.

Garcia hit his second double in the fifth. If not for a terrific play off the wall by Michael Conforto and a strong relay throw, Riley Adams scores. Instead, Hill got Keibert Ruiz popped out to end the inning

As evidenced by the above and Francisco Lindor, really the play behind Hill was phenomenal. Hill dropping down some and getting Juan Soto out in big spots, like the sixth, is exactly how you pitch six shutout innings.

Hill got the win because the Mets offense did just enough. It also helped they were able to absolutely abuse Soto’s poor defense in right.

In the second. Javier Báez had a hustle double on a ball hit to Soto. He’d score on a frightening moment where Conforto lined one off of Washington Nationals starter Sean Nolin.

Fortunately, Nolin was able to move enough it didn’t hit him in the head. More than that, he was able to stay in the game.

Kevin Pillar followed with a double putting runners on second and third. The runs would not score with Chance Sisco and Hill being unable to deliver a hit.

In the third, Brandon Nimmo drew a one out walk, and Pete Alonso hit a ball the other 29 right fielders in baseball catch. Soto was the one who couldn’t turning it into an RBI triple giving the Mets a 2-0 lead.

At this point, the hope was the Mets offense would take off and put the game away. Instead, the Mets offense went away leaving very little margin for error.

The Mets had chances. In the fifth, there were runners on second and third with one out. In the seventh, they had first and third with one out. They failed to score in either situation.

These are the situations which come to haunt you. We saw Aaron Loup and Seth Lugo handle it. Unfortunately, Edwin Diaz couldn’t.

First, Soto got a measure of revenge with a lead-off homer. After a strikeout, Diaz walked Ryan Zimmerman, who was replaced by the pinch runner Andrew Stevenson.

This is where Nimmo almost cost the Mets the game.

On an 0-2 pitch, Stevenson took off, and Adams lined it to center. Nimmo had no chance to catch it, but he dove anyway. If not for Conforto backing up the play, the Mets lose on an inside the park homer.

Instead, they lost their catcher. Conforto made a strong relay, and Báez made a strong but albeit offline throw. Sisco just got blown up on the play, Stevenson scored. and the game was tied with the tying run at third.

Patrick Mazeika came in, and Diaz settled down to get the next two outs to send it to extras. The Mets would score more in the tenth than the previous nine.

With Lindor as the ghost runner, Alonso golfed one to center giving the Mets a 3-2 lead. When Baez fouled out to deep left, Alonso had heads up base running to tag up and go to second.

This led the Nationals to intentionally walk Conforto to set up the double play. Instead, Kevin Pillar ripped a two RBI double to left extending the lead to 5-2.

That lead would be extended to 6-2 later in the inning when Jonathan Villar hit an RBI single. Remarkably, Villar started the game 0-for-2, and he would still have a four hit game.

Jeurys Familia entered the game in the 10th, and there would be no blowing it. He shut the door on a game the Mets had to have.

Well, the Mets need them all. In any event, the Mets turned what could’ve been a bad loss to a terrific 6-2 win.

Game Notes: Brad Hand was activated. Dominic Smith was placed on the bereavement list. Gary Cohen, Keith Hernandez, and Ron Darling went on the road to broadcast a game for the first time in nearly two years.

Mets Still Alive After Sloppy Win

This is the way it works with Carlos Carrasco. He struggles in the first, and he shuts the opponent down after that. That’s what happened again in his start against the Miami Marlins.

It was 2-0 before Carrasco recorded an out, but he kept the Marlins there. What was unusual was the Mets responded immediately with a Jonathan Villar lead-off homer off Sandy Alcantara.

In the fourth, we’d see Francisco Lindor put his stamp on the game.

Brandon Nimmo led off the fourth with an infield single. He went to second when Isan Diaz threw it away. Lindor drove home Nimmo with an RBI double and moved to third on a fielder’s choice. That put him in position to score when he induced Alcantara to balk.

This speaks to how bizarre the game was from a defensive standpoint. There were just a number a terrific defensive plays. However, there were also a number of errors and miscues. By some miracle, there were no unearned runs in the game.

Case-in-point, in the fifth, Jorge Alfaro reached on a Villar error. He took off on a pitch which Bryan De La Cruz lined to right. Javier Báez brilliant deked Alfaro allowing Michael Conforto to easily throw him out at first.

We saw that in the sixth. Mets killer Miguel Rojas, who opened the game with a homer, hit a lead-off single, and he moved to second on an error from Carrasco. After a one walk, Luis Rojas brought in Aaron Loup.

While he’s been the Mets best reliever, Loup just didn’t have it. He’d walk back-to-back batters to force home the tying run. He’s dig down to get out of the inning, but the damage was done.

After Jeurys Familia pitched a scoreless seventh, he was in line for the win. They’d get it for him giving him a team high nine wins.

Jeff McNeil and Patrick Mazeika hit consecutive one out singles. McNeil was able to go to third on a Jesus Sanchez error.

Rojas went to his bench to have Dominic Smith pinch hit. Smith sat because he’s been struggling and due to his best 0-for-9 off Alcantara. After he ripped a double off Jesus Aguilar‘s glove, he’s now 1-for-10.

If Aguilar didn’t touch it, the ball probably goes foul. However, he did, and in a fitting fashion, the go-ahead run scored on an almost play.

The Mets made good on that 4-3 lead. First, it was Trevor May in the eighth. May did all he could do that inning including trying to dive to catch a foul ball.

In the ninth, Edwin Diaz continued his recent stretch of dominance. He struck out two in a perfect inning saving the sloppy 4-3 win featuring seven errors and a number of misplays.

Game Notes: Brad Hand was claimed off waivers. As it happened after August 31, he will not be postseason eligible. Khalil Lee was sent down for Yennsy Diaz. Like Lee briefly was, Albert Almora is a September call-up.

Marcus Stroman: Big Game Pitcher

The New York Mets were reeling, and honestly, they were on the verge of not just falling out of the race, but completely falling apart. They turned desperate activating Javier Báez without so much as a rehab stint.

This was actually the perfect time for a Marcus Stroman start.

In his career, Stroman was established himself as a big game pitcher. We saw it as he rushed back from an ACL injury to help the Toronto Blue Jays in the postseason. He was the World Baseball Classic MVP. We now have his Mets performance to add to the list.

Entering his start yesterday, Stroman had a 3.07 ERA in the second half. That’s nearly a run and a half lower than the Mets team ERA in the second half. Of course, that team ERA is lower partially due to Stroman.

He took the mound against the Los Angeles Dodgers with the Mets a season worst three games under .500 and 7.0 games back in the division.

Báez proved to be a spark plug to the offense with an RBI double in the first. It actually led to three first inning runs and an offensive explosion of seven . . . SEVEN! . . . runs.

However, before it got to seven, it was 3-0, and it was up to Stroman to ensure the win. After that top of the first, he did what great pitchers do. He shut down the side, and he did it in order.

In fact, Stroman wouldn’t allow a hit until the third. That was a single by the opposing pitcher David Price. A position player wouldn’t get a hit until the fourth. The reason was Stroman was filthy.

He would get into trouble in the fourth, and it was partially because J.D. Davis couldn’t make a play a third baseman needs to make. The bases would be loaded, and Cody Bellinger hit a two RBI single pulling the Dodgers within 3-2.

That’s as close as the Dodgers would get. Patrick Mazeika came up big throwing out Bellinger trying to steal second for the third out of the inning.

Speaking of Mazeika, this was the second straight start he worked with Stroman, and they look like they’ve been working together for years. It’s something Stroman spoke about and for the second straight start, he gave credit to his catcher.

The Dodgers wouldn’t get another hit off Stroman, and they wouldn’t score another run in the game. Stroman’s final line was 6.0 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 6 K.

This isn’t just the line of a pitcher who wants to push his way into the Cy Young discussion, or one who has free agency pending. No, this is the line of a pitcher who wants to will his team into the postseason.

What was a tight game became a blowout. Again, it was Báez igniting things with a double. That seventh inning double didn’t just spark two runs, it was also the smoothest slide you’ll ever see. It was in front of Trea Turner to boot.

In the end, it wasn’t just a 7-2 win, it was a desperately needed win. Mostly, it was a big time pitching performance against a loaded lineup at a time the Mets needed one.

There were many players who stepped up on the day, but in the end, Stroman loomed largest. This is what he does, and it’s what he may well continue to do as he looks to push the Mets into the postseason.

Mets Lose On Umpire Blown Call And J.D. Davis Strikeout

The New York Mets offense has been dreadful lately. With that being the case, you can never quite tell if it’s the offense or the opposing pitcher.

Because the Los Angeles Dodgers started Walker Buehler it’s easy to concede it was the starting pitcher. After all, Buehler is arguably the current NL Cy Young favorite. Despite that, the Mets almost got him.

The Dodgers had jumped out to a 3-0 lead with Trea Turner being a pest. In the first, he led off the inning with a double, tagged up on a fly out, and scored on a Justin Turner RBI ground out.

In the third, Turner he hit a one out single and would score on a Max Muncy double. After Turner walked, Corey Seager hit an RBI single giving the Dodgers a 3-0 lead.

That would be the last time a Dodger reached base. Carlos Carrasco settled in, and he would have his finest start since coming off the IL. It was the first time he went five innings, he struck out a season high six, and he seemingly started figuring stuff out.

After Carrasco, the Mets bullpen did their job putting up zeros. That kept the Mets in the game, and a Pete Alonso fourth inning solo shot had the Mets trailing 3-1 entering the eighth.

That eighth inning set umpiring back decades, and you could actually argue putting players on the honor system would be better.

Patrick Mazeika got it started with a single. Brandon Nimmo followed with a one out single. They’d both advance on. Buehler wild pitch during the Jeff McNeil at-bat.

That McNeil at-bat is where home plate umpire Nestor Ceja which would’ve left Eric Gregg scratching his head. McNeil appeared to work out a walk loading the bases. That was until Ceja called a pitch a foot off the plate a strike.

That bogus strikeout was the difference between bases loaded one out and two on with two outs. It would make a huge difference.

It was Alonso driving in another run with an infield single pulling the Mets within 3-2. Problem is it shouldn’t have been a single.

Alonso who has a ton of hard hit outs lately got some assistance from his cleat. On the subject of Ceja, he had called a foul off Jonathan Villar‘s foot when the ball easily cleared his foot.

With Michael Conforto due up, the Dodgers brought in Alex Vesia. In what was a great 10 pitch at-bat, Conforto drew a walk. Unfortunately, this meant J.D. Davis came up with the bases loaded.

Davis would strike out. It was the fifth time Davis struck out with the bases loaded, and he has yet to get a hit in that situation. It’ll be interesting to see how he blames that on Alonso.

After Kenley Jansen made quick work of the Mets in the ninth, the Mets fell to two games under .500 and six games behind the Braves. There are just no words for that right now.

Game Notes: James McCann and Jake Reed were put on the IL. Geoff Hartlieb and Yennsy Diaz were recalled. Jacob deGrom was transferred to the 60 day IL.