Rene Rivera

Hard Fought Loss Is Still A Loss

As if the Mets weren’t injured enough, the team had a new rash of injuries heading into tonight’s game. 

Wilmer Flores and Lucas Duda went on the disabled list. Travis d’Arnaud and Yoenis Cespedes didn’t, but they couldn’t start. At least d’Arnaud was available to pinch hit. To make matters worse, Asdrubal Cabrera is now dealing with a hamstring injury keeping him out of the lineup, and Jacob deGrom woke up on the wrong side of the bed. 

With deGrom waking up with a stiff neck, he missed tonight’s start, and he probably needs someone to start for him tomorrow. 

With so many people out of the lineup, the Mets needed someone to step up. The Mets had people stepping up all over the place tonight. 

First was Matt Harvey who was the surprise starter. Harvey gave his team a chance to win pitching seven innings. His final line was seven innings, four hits, three runs, three earned, two walks, and two strikeouts. 

Harvey pitched well, but he was tripped up by the long ball. In the first inning, he grooved one to Bryce Harper who launched it for a two run homer. It was a strange site to see when you consider Harper couldn’t get a hit off pre-TOS Harvey. The third run off Harvey came off a Jose Lobaton solo shot in the fifth. 

Despite the two homers and the makeshift lineup, Harvey had a no decision.  

He was first helped by a Michael Conforto first inning blast off Tanner Roark‘s first pitch of the game:

The second and third runs came courtesy of Curtis Granderson. In the fourth, Granderson had a two out RBI single scoring Jay Bruce. He then tied the score in the sixth:

It was a terrific night for Granderson. Coming into the night, he was hitting .143/.197/.214. Just like he’s done in his entire Mets career, Granderson stepped up when the Mets needed him most going 2-4 with a run, two RBI, one walk, and the home run. 

The Mets nearly took the lead in the seventh. Zack Wheeler hit for Harvey and hit a pinch hit double. The Mets would load the bases, and the Nationals would go to Oliver Perez, who got Bruce to line out to end the inning. 

In the ninth, there was some craziness. Rene Rivera earned a lead-off walk off Joe Blanton, and Terry Collins opted to pinch run Robert Gsellman. T.J. Rivera then bunted Gsellman to second. 

Cabrera then pinch hit for Addison Reed and drew a walk. Given his hamstring issues, Collins sent out Kevin Plawecki to pinch run for him. No, it didn’t make sense to do this and force the pitcher’s spot to come up earlier in the lineup, but nothing in this inning made much sense. 

In the long run, Blanton worked his way out of the inning. Another side effect of the inning, Collins’ mechanations led to the pitcher’s spot coming up three spots earlier in the lineup. He did that in a game where the Mets had a short bench. Just an inexcusable move. 

The Mets certainly could’ve benefitted from better managing as the pitcher’s spot did come up in the bottom of the 11th with the Mets down 4-3. 

The Mets were down 4-3 because Jeurys Familia is still rusty. Keep in mind, he only made two relief appearances in the minors before his suspension was over. 

After Josh Smoker allowed a lead-off double to Harper, Murphy was intentionally walked, and Familia entered the game. He threw a wild pitch allowing Harper to go to third. It didn’t matter much as he issued back-to-back walks to Anthony Rendon and Trea Turner to force in a run. Familia settled down after that, but it was too late. The Nationals took the lead. 

Shawn Kelley came on in the 11th and pitched a 1-2-3 inning to earn the save. With that, the Mets fought valiantly, but still lost. They’re now under .500, and who knows who will be healthy enough to play tomorrow. 

Game Notes: Daniel Murphy‘s 19 game hitting streak came to an end. He was 0-4, and he was intentionally walked in the 11th. Apparently, Reed wore the wrong hat during his appearance. 

No Defending This Loss

There was every chance that the Mets defense was going to suffer tonight.  Jose Reyes isn’t a third baseman.  Michael Conforto is miscast as a CF. With Lucas Duda (elbow) and Wilmer Flores (infection) out, Jay Bruce was really miscast as a first baseman. 

But no, the defense was a disaster. Somehow, it was the sure-handed middle infield of Neil Walker and Asdrubal Cabrera that was the problem. 

After the Phillies had already plated a run off a Tommy Joseph RBI double, he would move to second on a Noah Syndergaard wild pitch. It was in the dirt, but Rene Rivera did a terrible job on the ball. He tried to backhand a ball between his legs and didn’t get down. Terrible. 

Freddy Galvis “singled” to Bruce and advanced to second on a “Bruce throwing error.”  Look at what really happened:

Walker ran to the bag and stopped despite the ball apparently being theory to him. 

The throw not only allowed a run to score (it was anyway), but it put Galvis in scoring position. He’d then score on an Andrew Knapp ground rule double. 

Just like that, it was 3-0 Phillies after two. 

The Mets would get one of those runs back led by a Reyes single and stolen base. He’d score on a two out Rivera RBI single. 

Syndergaard plunked Daniel Nava to lead off the inning, but he did get the double play ball he needed. However, Cabrera booted the Odubel Herrera grounder. Nava scored on a Maikel Franco RBI double to left. 

On the double, Cespedes made a great throw to Walker, who literally fell over himself trying to make the tag. Right there, the Mets had already given away three outs in the inning. 

Fortunately, Syndergaard limited the damage allowing just one more run on an Aaron Altherr RBI groundout. 

Syndergaard was not at his best, but he deserved a much better fate. Technically, only three of the runs allowed were earned. However, watching the game and the shoddy defense, only the first run was really on him. Syndergaard’s final line was seven innings, seven hits, five runs, three earned, no walks, and 10 strikeouts. 

While his team wouldn’t help him, Syndergaard helped his team by pitching that extra inning going to 114 pitches. 

Still, the team couldn’t rally to get him off the hook or get a win. It appeared there was a chance after the Walker three run homer to center in the third inning. It was his first extra base hit off a right-handed pitcher all year. 

However, at 5-4 that’s as close as the Mets would get. To add insult to injury, Cespedes left the game after the fifth. In that inning, he pulled up lame on what was a Bruce 3-6-1 double play. 

Fernando Salas couldn’t keep the Phillies at bay in the eighth. He first allowed a lead off homer to Franco. He then allowed back-to-back singles to Altherr and Joseph leading Terry Collins to pull him for Josh Edgin
Edgin would be the lone bright spot on the day getting three straight outs punctuated by striking out Andres Blanco

Even with that, there was no momentum in what was a disappointing 6-4 loss. The Mets are banged up and .500 with the Nationals coming into town. This is exactly where you don’t want to be. 

Game Recap: Juan Lagares was the back-up infielder on the night due to all the injuries. It didn’t happen, but he got into the game with the Cespedes injury. Jeurys Familia made his first appearance since coming back from suspension. His rust showed with him needing 30 pitches to get out of the ninth. 

Bruce Twice Found A Home in RF 

For a multitude of reasons, the Mets needed this one. They needed to snap the four game losing streak. They need to capitalize on all game against the Phillies if they have any designs on winning the NL East. Overall, they needed to get back on track. 

That starts with Robert Gsellman who was very good tonight. He looked more like the pitcher he was at the end of last year. Coincidentally, that pitcher had a 2.37 ERA against the Phillies last year. 

For a moment, it appeared the Mets would give Gsellman a first inning lead. Jay Bruce hit a two out double off Vince Velasquez. Despite Glenn Sherlock giving him the stop sign, Yoenis Cespedes tried to score and was nailed at the plate. 

With Cespedes not scoring there, the game remained scoreless through the first three until the Phillies would finally get to Gsellman. It started with Gsellman hitting Aaron Altherr, who went from first to third on an Odubel Herrera single. Altherr then scored on a Maikel Franco groundout. Gsellman bore down and got out of the inning without any further damage. 

The Phillies touched up Gsellman again in the fifth with Velasquez hitting an RBI single scoring Cameron Rupp who hit a leadoff single. 

The run scored that inning wasn’t the biggest damage to the Mets. Both Lucas Duda and Travis d’Arnaud would suffer injuries that inning and would eventually have to come out of the game. 

Duda was hurt when Gsellman threw a ball into the runner. The ball and Cesar Hernandez arrived at the same time. Gsellman was charged with the error, and Duda suffered a hyperextended elbow. 

Later that inning, d’Arnaud was injured while trying to throw out Hernandez. On the pitch, Altherr struck out and moved towards home plate. Altherr’s bat hovered over home and d’Arnaud’s hand collided with the bat. d’Arnaud tried to argue with Home Plate Umpire Chad Whitson it was interference, but d’Arnaud’s pleas fell on deaf ears. d’Arnaud would stay on through the sixth, but he would have to leave the game as well. 

Just like that the Mets were down both two runs and two players.

In the sixth, the Mets would stage a two out rally after Curtis Granderson‘s GIDP seemingly killed a potential rally. 

Asdrubal Cabrera would get the two out rally started with a two out single. Cespedes followed with a walk. Bruce then: 

It was a huge home run, and it put Gsellman on the long side. Unfortunately, Gsellman would not get that win. 

Gsellman started the eighth inning due to game conditions. With Rene Rivera leading off the inning with a single, the Mets having a short bench, and with the right-handed Altherr due to lead-off in the top of the eighth, Terry Collins stuck with Gsellman. Considering how well Gsellman was pitching and how tired the Mets bullpen has been, it was probably the right move. 

Despite it being the right move, Altherr hit a bloop double to lead-off the inning. Collins wasted no time, and he went to Jerry Blevins who couldn’t quite get out of the jam. 

Herrera grounded out pushing Altherr to third. Then Blevins got a huge strikeout of Franco. Michael Saunders then lined a single that dropped right in front of a sliding Cespedes tying the score at three. 

It was a shame Gsellman wouldn’t get the win. He was the first Mets starter to pitch into the eighth.  He only allowed six hits, three runs, three earned, and one walk with seven strikeouts. 

Gsellman wouldn’t get the win, but Hansel Robles, who came on for Blevins, would. 

Cespedes would lead-off the bottom of the ninth with a single off Luis Garcia. Bruce then followed with his second home run of the game:

In what may be his last save attempt as the Mets designated closer with Jeurys Familia eligible to return from suspension tomorrow, Addison Reed recorded his fourth save. He allowed a run due in part to Franco’s one out triple, but Reed would shut the door on the 4-3 win. 

Game Notes: Jose Reyes was 0-2 and is now hitting .096. Granderson is 0-11 in his last 11 ABs. Neil Walker still doesn’t have an extra base hit from the left-hand side. Six of Bruce’s 14 homers with the Mets have come against the Phillies. 

Travis d’Arnaud Putting Together An All Star Caliber Year

We have been teased by Travis d’Arnaud‘s talent in the past.¬† In fact, back in the 2015 season, d’Arnaud had the second highest wRC+ among catchers with at least 250 plate appearances.¬† While he had always been knocked for his throwing, he caught 33% of base stealers, which was higher than the league average of 28%.¬† d’Arnaud did this in conjunction with his terrific pitch framing skills behind the plate.¬† Unfortunately, d’Arnaud did not build off of this terrific season.¬† Instead, in 2016, d’Arnaud had another injury plagued year where he regressed in almost every aspect of his game.

This offseason saw the Mets hire Glenn Sherlock as a catching coach to help d’Arnaud sure up those aspects of his game where he regressed.¬† He worked with Kevin Long to eliminate the wrap in his swing.¬† While it is still early in the season, d’Arnaud not only seems to be back to his 2015 form, he appears to be better than that.

After his early season struggles, d’Arnaud is now hitting .323/.417/.645 with two doubles, a triple, two home runs, and nine RBI.¬† His most recent home run was the game winning home run after he had already caught 15 innings.¬† For all the concerns about his throwing arm, no one has been running against him this season.¬† Through 10 games, there has only been one stolen base attempt against him.¬† This includes two games against the Marlins, whose running game Terry Collins was so intimidated by he started Rene Rivera over him in one game.

Another aspect of d’Arnaud’s game that has been overlooked has been his adeptness around the plate when it comes to tagging out base runners.¬† While both Yoenis Cespedes and Michael Conforto deserve a lot of credit for making strong accurate throws, d’Arnaud deserves credit as well.¬† Each time, d’Arnaud cleanly fielded the throw and got the tag down before the runner could touch the plate.¬† Over the past weekend that stopped four runs from scoring.

But there is more to it than just that.¬† We have seen d’Arnaud improve as a pitch caller.¬† During Jacob deGrom‘s second start of the season, the two adapted on the fly and called a different game to much better results.¬† And yes, he has continued his terrific pitch framing.¬† He is adept at both making sure strikes are called strikes and in getting that extra inch on the corner for his pitchers.

Overall, d’Arnaud is excelling in each part of the game right now, and he is quickly becoming one of the best catchers in the National League.¬† Because of this, he has started to move up in the lineup.¬† If it continues, we may not be talking just about where he is in the Mets lineup, but where he will be in the All Star Game lineup.

Terry Doesn’t Know Who To Abuse

After what was a shaky second inning where he allowed back-to-back homers to Justin Bour and Marcell Ozuna, Jacob deGrom settled in and found his dominant form yet again.

The Marlins had no chance against deGrom who had all his pitches working. His velocity was back as well with him even hitting 99 on the gun. Through seven innings deGrom had only allowed four hits, which includes the two solo home runs, and one walk while striking out 13 batters.

After seven innings, deGrom had thrown 97 pitches, and with a 4-2 lead, he seemed poised to win the game.

deGrom was on the long side as the Mets bats finally hit Adam Conley whose start was pushed back a day with Don Mattingly using him in the 16 inning game.

You knew Conley wasn’t going to have it when he walked¬†Jose Reyes¬†to lead-off the game. By the way it’s interesting that it only took Reyes to be good in one hand for him to reclaim the lead-off spot on the team. It should be noted after the leadoff walk, he went 0-3. Still, Reyes would score on a¬†Neil Walker¬†double giving the Mets a 1-0 lead.

The Mets tied the game in the seventh on a¬†Curtis Granderson¬†RBI triple. The ball tipped off¬†Christian Yelich‘s glove with Yelich trying to emulate a catch¬†Juan Lagares¬†made earlier in the game. Granderson scored on¬†Michael Conforto‘s sacrifice fly giving the Mets a 3-2 lead.

When¬†Asdrubal Cabrera¬†hit a solo home run in the eighth, it seemed as if the Mets’ 4-2 lead would be enough to win the game. It wasn’t.

To much consternation, deGrom didn’t start the eighth. However, it was a very defensible position considering deGrom was already at 97 pitches and his having season ending elbow surgery last season.¬† It was also a very defensible position to use Fernando Salas in the eighth inning.¬† That’s the reason the Mets signed him in the offseason.¬† He was to be the eighth inning guy until Jeurys Familia returned from his suspension.¬† At that point, Salas would become the seventh inning guy.

As happens in baseball, Salas didn’t have it.¬† It’s part of being a reliever.¬† Sometimes you just don’t have it.¬† It also happens when you lead the majors in appearances this season.¬† In fact, dating back to September 1, 2016, his first game with the Mets, Salas is the most heavily used reliever in all of baseball.¬† He was bound to struggle sooner rather than later.

What was strange with Salas was how quickly it just happened.¬† He made quick work of Ichiro Suzuki and Dee Gordon to begin the inning.¬† Then he issued a four pitch walk to Miguel Rojas.¬† Believe it or not, this was Salas’ first non-intentional walk as a member of the New York Mets.¬† This set the stage for a matchup against Yelich.¬† Now, it should be noted Jerry Blevins was warming up just for this situation.¬† If you are going to have Blevins warming up, this is the exact situation you bring him into the game.¬† Plain and simple.

Instead, Collins elected to go with Salas.¬† Note, Salas pitching to Yelich wasn’t a bad move per se.¬† Salas is your guy for this spot, and he did make quick work of the first two batters.¬† However, Blevins was already warming in the pen.¬† If he’s up, bring him in, get out of the jam, and give Addison Reed a two run lead.¬† Instead, Collins left in Salas, who gave up the game tying home run to Yelich.¬† He then gave up a go-ahead home run to Giancarlo Stanton.¬† To add insult to injury, Collins brought in Blevins to get out Bour to get out of the inning.

And with that, the Mets 4-2 lead became a 5-4 loss.¬† Sure, you can’t completely pin the loss on Collins as he made some defensible moves.¬† That was at least until he left a warm Blevins in the pen.¬† You could argue that doesn’t mean Salas should give up a home run.¬† You’d be right, but you’d also ignore the simple fact that Collins didn’t put his team in the best position to win.¬† Because of that, this loss is on him.

Perhaps knowing that, he was angry and downright rude to the beat reporters after the game.  In the video, Collins explained every reason for his decisions, omitting some key facts:

Look, we all agree the starters should be protected, but that doesn’t mean you ruin the arms and the careers of the relievers.¬† There’s a balance, and the fact that Collins doesn’t see that is downright frightening.¬† It’s probably the reason why we saw him run through damaged relievers like Tim Byrdak and Jim Henderson in his career.¬† Apparently, Collins only protects the arms of those pitchers he deems more valuable.

That’s not right, and it needs to stop.¬† Another thing that needs to stop is the faulty logic.¬† If Collins was that concerned over Blevins, under no means do you have him warming up.¬† You either want him rested, or you want him pitching.¬† If you want him pitching, get him in the game against the big left-handed threat in the lineup.¬† Afraid of Stanton, get Reed up.¬† He’s the most rested reliever in that bullpen.¬† Considering how the long games has wrecked havoc on the bullpen, it actually made sense to go with Reed for a four out save.

Right now, Collins is picking and choosing who to abuse and who not to abuse.¬† It is having a tangible effect on the effectiveness of the relievers.¬† It may soon have an effect on their health.¬† We have seen this before with Collins.¬† Hopefully, we won’t see it again.¬† On that front, no one should be hopeful.

Game Notes: With the left-handed Conley on the mound, Collins went with a Yoenis Cespedes-Lagares-Granderson outfield to start the game.¬† Rene Rivera got the start over Travis d’Arnaud giving d’Arnaud two days off after he caught 16 innings.¬† Mets have now lost four of seven to the Marlins.¬† Last year, the Mets were 12-7 against the Marlins.

Fortunately Robles Pitched 

Hansel Robles had pitched in three straight games and four out of the last five. In his last appearance, he appeared gassed. As such, even with Robert Gsellman not getting out of the fifth and the game going deeper and deeper into extra innings, Terry Collins did all he could do to keep Robles out of the game. 

Rafael MonteroFernando SalasAddison Reed, and Josh Smoker all pitched more than an inning. For his part, Smoker threw a career high three innings. With the bench already empty, Jacob deGrom pinch hit for Smoker in the top of the 15th necessitating the pitching change. 
With Robles as the last man standing, he was the obvious choice. Despite him looking absolutely gassed, he managed to pitch two scoreless and pick up the win. It almost didn’t happen.

According to Anthony DiComo of MLB.com, Collins’ Plan B was to pitch Rene Rivera if Robles told him he couldn’t go. There was just one tiny little problem – the Mets were out of bench players. 

This meant Collins was going to have to use a pitcher in the field. The natural choice was probably deGrom, who was a collegiate shortstop, but that wasn’t Collins’s choice. Instead, Collins decided that Zack Wheeler would’ve entered the game to play first base. 

It seemed like the Mets 16 inning win had everything, but apparently it did not. That’s a good thing because Rivera pitching was likely not going to go well. Wheeler at first might’ve gone even worse. 

Lucky for everyone involved, Robles not only took the ball, but he earned the win. He gave his team a chance to win. He gave his team a chance to keep catchers from pitching and pitchers from playing first base. 

D’Arnaud’s Sweet 16

When you play 16 innings, the game takes many twists and turns. Tonight’s game was that and then some. It was full of clutch hits, clutch fielding, gutsy pitching, and bizarre managerial moves. 

This was just a classic Terry Collins game. He made a series of bizarre moves. As usual, they surrounded use of his pitching staff, but today was an extra treat because it wasn’t just limited to the pitching staff. 

From the beginning, it was apparent Robert Gsellman didn’t really have it. In the first, he walked two and eventually allowed a grand slam to Marcell Ozuna putting the Mets down 4-0 before anyone could blink. 

With the Mets offense humming with the series in Philadelphia, the Mets immediately tied the game in the top of the second. 

Travis d’Arnaud hit a bases clearing three RBI triple, and he’d come around to score on a Curtis Granderson two out RBI single. 

The Mets got the lead when Yoenis Cespedes and Wilmer Flores, batting clean-up and playing first with the Marlins starting the lefty Wei-Yin Chen hit back-to-back homers.

 Cespedes’ homer was absolutely annihilated:

With the two run lead, Collins made his first strange move of the game. While Flores started due to the lefty, T.J. Rivera started at third to give Jose Reyes a mental health day. Heading into the bottom of the fourth, with Chen only going three innings, Collins lifted Rivera for Lucas Duda

Obviously, Collins was just itching to shorten his bench with the activation of Juan Lagares from the DL giving him a full bench. Why Lagares didn’t start with this deep outfield and with a lefty on the mound is also bizarre in and of itself. Despite that, the Mets carried a 6-4 lead into the fourth. 

Cespedes added another homer in the fifth for good measure giving the Mets a 7-4 lead heading into the bottom of the fifth. 

Gsellman struggled just like the first. The Marlins quickly loaded the bases, and he walked Christian Yelich pulling the Marlins within two. Giancarlo Stanton hit a sacrifice fly pulling the Marlins within one. 

It was only at this point that Collins went to the pen. With the left-handed hitting Justin Bour coming to the plate in an absolutely pivotal moment, Collins went to Josh Edgin instead of Jerry Blevins

Bour doubled to tie the game. Ozuna was intentionally walked. Derek Dietrich then singled to give the Marlins an 8-7 lead. The Marlins probably would’ve done more damage, but on the Dietrich single, Jay Bruce nailed Bour trying to score from second. 

The Marlins got their revenge in the seventh.  Cespedes took first after he struck out on a wild pitch. He then appeared to score from first to tie the game on a Bruce double:

Naturally, Angel Hernandez got the call wrong necessitating the replay showing Ozuna nailed Cespedes at the plate. Between this play, the grand slam, and all the other plays we’ve seen from Ozuna, he’s become an extremely annoying player along the lines of Willie Harris, except Ozuna is a much better player. 

The Mets were still undeterred. In the top of the eighth, d’Arnaud got on with a two out single. Michael Conforto who has hit every chance he’s been given this year got his latest chance pinch hitting for Blevins. Conforto would double in d’Arnaud to tie the game at eight. 

The battle of the bullpens continued, and it became a war of attrition. 

With the exception of the two lefties, Edgin and Blevins, each reliever pitched over one inning. This includes Josh Smoker who really stepped up for the Mets. Smoker would throw 38 pitches over three scoreless innings. It was an outstanding appearance. Considering his struggles going over an inning last year and his struggles this year, it was simply incredible. 

In the top of the 15th, with the bench already empty to the point that Rene Rivera was playing first base, Jacob deGrom pinch hit for Smoker and struck out.

This left the Mets with no other choice but to put Hansel Robles in the game. Understandably, Collins was hesitant to use Robles with him pitching three straight days and four out of the last five. 

While the Mets plated eight runs, it was not as if everyone was hitting. Asdrubal Cabrera took an ugly 0-7. His double play partner Neil Walker was 1-7. 

Conversely, Cespedes, Flores, Bruce, and d’Arnaud was great. While Cespedes had the two home runs, d’Arnaud was the best of them all. 

In the 16th, having run out of pitchers Don Mattingly turned to tomorrow’s scheduled starter Adam Conley to pitch the 16th Despite, Conley being fresh and having dominated the Mets, and despite d’Arnaud having caught 15 innings, d’Arnaud hit the game winning homer. It was the Mets first hit since the 10th inning. 

By far, this was d’Arnaud’s most memorable game as a Met. He was 4-6 with three runs, a triple, a homer, and four RBI. This was the second game this week he came one hit short of the cycle.

Other Mets with great games were Cespedes with the two homers, Bruce going 3-7 and nailing a runner at the plate, and the entire bullpen not named Josh Edgin. 

After Edgin, everyone stepped up and pitched scoreless inning after scoreless inning. Given their respective usages this year, asking most of them to pitch over an inning, and some of their early season struggles, this was an absolutely amazing group performance from that pen. 

It wasn’t easy in a game where nothing was easy. Ozuna, an absolute pest, made a very loud final out with Lagare catching it right in front of the center field wall. 

It should be noted Collins elected to have Robles pitch to Ozuna with two outs and Conley on deck. Sure, you’re loathe to put the tying run in scoring position and the winning run on base, but the pitcher was on deck!  This game was a classic example of winning despite your manager. 

Robles despite having nothing pitched two innings and got the win in the 9-8 win. This is a special win that signifies just how special this team could be. 

Game Notes: The game lasted 5:38. Even with d’Arnaud behind the plate, the Marlins did not attempt a stolen base. Reyes pinch hit for Edgin in the sixth and singled. Despite starting the game 0-7, Asdrubal Cabrera extended his hitting streak to eight games with a 16th inning single. His double play partner Neil Walker similarly struggled going 1-7. Mets have won consecutive games despite giving up a grand slam in both games. 

Bruce AND Conforto Power The Mets

One good thing about baseball is momentum is your next day’s starting pitcher. Therefore, even with the Marins having dominated the Mets two days in a row, the Mets had all the momentum with Noah Syndergaard taking the mound. 

Syndergaard delivered. His final line was seven innings, five hits, two runs, two earned, no walks, and nine strikeouts. The outing actually raised his ERA to 0.69. 

The Marlins only threatened twice, and they both surrounded the 7-8 hitters Derek Dietrich and Miguel Rojas who had the best at-bats against Syndergaard. In the third, they scored off a Dee Gordon one out double. In the fifth, they were stranded when Gordon struck out to end the inning. 

There could have been more damage in the third, but Rene Rivera nailed him trying to steal third. The inning ended with J.T. Realmuto getting caught trying to steal second. 

The Marlins did not have a successful stolen base attempt against Syndergaard. This is the same pitcher that let the Giants run wild on him last year. He has made a conserted effort to better hold on runners, and we saw tangible effects tonight. A large part of that has been him working with Rivera. As long as nights like this continue, there is no reason to break up this tandem. 

Now with the two runs scored, you would be lead to believe the Mets lost with the way the Mets have been struggling on offense. Not tonight with both Jay Bruce and Michael Conforto (playing center in place of Curtis Granderson) it was a different story. 

The Mets jumped all over Edison Volquez in the first. After what is now becoming the obligatory Jose Reyes out, Asdrubal Cabrera and Yoenis Cespedes hit back-to-back singles. Cabrera’s was satisfying because he laid down a bunt to beat the shift. 

Cabrera then beat a poor throw home when he went home on a Jay Bruce grounder. Neil Walker singled home Cespedes, and Lucas Duda singled to load the bases. Bruce then scored on a Conforto bases loaded walk. Just like that it was 3-0. 

It was 3-2 when Bruce stepped up to bat in the fifth. It was then 4-0 on a home run to deep center:

In the sixth, Conforto made it 5-2 with a home run of his own:

With the 5-2 lead, it set the first stage for Fernando Salas and Addison Reed to close out their first game since Jeurys Familia‘s suspension.  

The two combined to pitch two scoreless hitless innings. Reed struck out two converting his first save of the year. With that, the Mets are back to .500, and fans can now take a collective sigh, especially with the Mets having momentum. 

Jacob deGrom starts tomorrow. 
Game Notes: Reyes went 0-4 putting him at 1-24 on the season. That’s a .045 batting average. 

Wheels Come Off 

After Matt Harvey‘s terrific start last night, most Mets fans were a little more optimistic about Zack Wheeler‘s first start after missing two years due to his Tommy John surgery. 

That optimism crew to a crescendo after Wheeler’s first inning of work. He was getting it up to 98 MPH. He struck out A.J. Ellis and Christian Yelich to end the inning. 

Wheeler got his lead in the bottom of the first when Curtis Granderson got a two out RBI single off Marlis starter Wei-Yin Chen to score Asdrubal Cabrera. It was already Granderson’s second two out hit with RISP this season. He had four all of last year. 

At this point, the Mets were looking good. It was too soon to say the Mets were in control, but based on the first inning, confidence was building. 

Unfortunately, Wheeler would struggle the rest of the game. In the second, Derek Dietrich hit a two run triple giving the Marlins the lead. He later scored on an Adeiny Hechavarria RBI groundout. 

The third inning saw Yelich hit a two run homer off the right field could pole increasing the Marlins lead to 5-1. Dating back to last season, Yelich has homered in his last four games at Citi Field. 

By the end of the fourth, Wheeler threw 80 pitches, and he was done for the night. His final line was four innings, six hits, five runs, five earned, one walk, and four strikeouts. 

There were plenty of reasons for the struggles; the least of which was Wheeler hasn’t pitched in over two years. It was a cold and very windy night. The outfielders were fighting every fly ball. Wheeler couldn’t get an off speed pitch over the plate.  He seemed to lose his velocity after the first inning.  Another factor was he was supposed to be in Extended Spring Training to work on these things. 

Still, there were some positive signs for Wheeler, and it is something he can build upon. 

Unfortunately, the same thing can’t be said for Josh Smoker who really struggled when he took over for Wheeler in the fifth. By the way, this was the spot for Montero because you’re looking for your long man, but that’s Terry for you. 

Smoker was first done in as Yoenis Cespedes misread a ball hit by Yelich. Smoker followed that by issuing back-to-back walks to Giancarlo Stanton and Justin Bour.  Marcell Ozuna and Dietrich followed with RBI singles. After throwing 27 pitches, Smoker was done leaving the bases loaded with one out. 

Surprisingly, Rafael Montero bailed out Smoker by getting Hechavarria to ground into the 1-2-3 double play. 

If you’re looking for a bright spot on the night, it was definitely Montero. Montero came in and attacked the Marlins hitters. Overall, he pitched 2.2 innings yielding just one hit and two walks while striking out two. This was an important outing for both him and the Mets. He needed this outing considering his previous outing, Wheeler’s struggles, and the injuries to Seth Lugo and Steven Matz

The Mets had a chance to get back in the game with Granderson and Neil Walker hitting consecutive one out singles. Jay Bruce ended the rally grounding into the inning ending 6-4-3 double play. 

It was just one of those nights. Simply put when Montero and Josh Edgin are your best pitchers, it’s not going to be a good night. To be fair, Montero and Edgin were quite good. Offensively, the only highlight was Granderson who was 2-4 with an RBI. 

Well, that and Cespedes homered in the eighth. It was his first of the year. 

This game was the epitome of “you can’t win ’em all.”  The game was so bad, GKR was flipping through baseball cards and discussing pizza toppings. Mets just need to forget about this 7-2 loss and get ready for tomorrow night’s game. 

Game Notes: Jose Reyes went 0-5 tonight putting him at 1-18 on the year. Still, it was Lucas Duda who sat in favor of Wilmer FloresRene Rivera started in place of Travis d’Arnaud because Terry perceived Rivera and Wheeler worked well together and to combat the Marlins running game. Wheeler allowed five runs over four innings, and Dee Gordon stole a base. 

Upon Review 2017 Will Be Different Than 2016

For a Mets team that brought in no new players this offseason, it is quite fitting this team picked right up where they left off last season.¬† For those that forgot, and how could you, Noah Syndergaard was dominant, and the Mets couldn’t get that big hit off the other team’s ace.

Today, Syndergaard was dominant.  His final line was six innings, five hits, no runs, none earned, no walks, and seven strikeouts.  Basically, he was just as dominant as he was in his last game only he pitched one less inning.  He pitched one less inning as he had to depart with a blister on his pitching thumb.  Again, the Mets are picking up where they left off last year.

Overall, Syndergaard was up to his old tricks.  Fastballs at 99 MPH.  Change-ups and sliders between 90 Р94 MPH.  Hitters frustrated and overmatched.  The real surprise is that he had to get out of two separate jams.  In the fourth, he worked around a one out triple off the bat of Freddie Freeman (ball was played terribly by Jay Bruce in right) by striking out Matt Kemp and Nick Markakis.

In the sixth, Syndergaard had runners at the corners with one out.  Again, he struck out Kemp by keeping the ball low in the zone.  He then induced a harmless fly ball off the bat of Markakis to end the inning.

Offensively, the Mets struggled against Julio Teheran.   While Teheran was 7-10 last year, he is a terrific pitcher whose record really was hindered by a lack of run support.  In addition to the 7-10 record, Teheran had a 3.21 ERA, 1.053 WHIP, 129 ERA+, and an 8.0 K/9.  Against the Mets last year, he was 2-0 with a 0.90 ERA, 0.600 WHIP, and a 5.4 K/9 in four starts.  Struggling against him is certainly no red flag.

And yet, if you are a pessimistic Mets fan, you saw some troubling signs.  The team did rack up six strikeouts in six innings.  There were seven left on base, and the team was 0-3 with RISP.  The main culprit there was Lucas Duda who twice came up with a chance to knock in a run and both times he came up short.

With Syndergaard leaving with a blister and Teheran leaving due to his pitch count, the game became a battle of the bullpens.  Fortunately, the Mets, even without the suspended Jeurys Familia have a terrific bullpen.  Hansel Robles added a slight hesitation in his delivery to go with the quick pitch, and he mowed down the Braves in the seventh.

The deja vu would end in the seventh.¬† With Ian Krol allowing a lead-off hit to Rene Rivera, Wilmer Flores hit into a fielder’s choice, and he stole second off Tyler Flowers.¬† After Jose Reyes walked, Asdrubal Cabrera lined a single up the middle, and Flores was sent home.¬† Center fielder Ender Inciarte nailed Flores at the plate.

Or did he?

Upon replay, it shows Flores just got his foot in front of the tag from the way too far behind home plate Flowers.¬† With that, the Mets got the lead and momentum.¬† After Yoenis Cespedes walked to load the bases, Curtis Granderson hit a sacrifice fly off former Met Eric O’Flaherty to make it a 2-0 lead.¬† He then walked Neil Walker and Jay Bruce back-to-back to force in a run to make it 3-0.

While Bruce had a misplay in right field, it was a very encouraging day for him.  On the day, he had four good at-bats going 0-1 with three walks and an RBI.  He looked more patient at the plate and more willing to take a walk.  If he continues this for the full season, its going to be a huge year for him.

After the Bruce walk, Duda finally got a hit with runners in scoring position with a bases clearing double off of O’Flaherty.

O’Flaherty’s work in the seventh inning was the most he has done to help the Mets than all he had done for them in 2015.¬† His final line was 0.1 innings, one hit, two runs, two earned, three walks, and no strikeouts.¬† For Mets fans, it was nice being on the other side of an O’Flaherty outing.

In the fateful seventh, the Mets sent 11 batters to the plate, and the team scored six runs on three hits, five walks, and a sacrifice fly.  Basically, this Mets team featuring a number of smart veteran hitters feasted on a poor bullpen.  With the six run seventh, Robles would be the winning pitcher.

Cabrera was easily the best Mets player on the day . . . well, Mets player not named Noah Syndergaard.  He went 3-4 with an RBI and a stolen base.  It was a refreshing change of pace from the Cabrera who seemingly went the first half of the 2016 season without a hit with RISP.

Cabreras wasn’t the only one in midseason form.¬† Gary, Keith, and Ron were great today including them honoring the late Bill Webb. Keith Hernandez told a terrific story about how Webb used to get Keith fined $100 by filming him smoking in the first base tunnel.¬† Keith deadpanned about how all Mets fans knew he used to smoke.

Overall, this was about as good a start to the 2017 season as you reasonably could have asked for.¬† While you were obviously concerned about Syndergaard leaving the game with a blister, you had to be encouraged by Robert Gsellman entering the game in the ninth because Gsellman would be the guy to start in Syndergaard’s place should there be an issue serious enough to cause him to need to miss a start.

After Gsellman’s scoreless ninth, the Mets are 1-0 and in first place where we expect them to be after Game 162.¬† The win also improves the team’s MLB best Opening Day record, which is now 35-21.

Game Notes: Mets fans complain about d’Arnaud, but¬†Flowers is much worse.¬† Both Cabrera and Flores were able to steal bases off of him.¬† In his first Opening Day with the Mets since 2011, Jose Reyes was 0-3 with a run, walk, and two strikeouts.¬† Reyes also became the first Met since Ty Wigginton to be the Mets Opening Day third baseman other than David Wright.¬† Travis d’Arnaud entered the game in the sixth inning as a pinch runner for Rivera.¬† This marks the first season without Bill Webb as director of the Mets games.