Every so often, you hear a quote in a press conference which causes you to snap to attention so quickly you risk paralysis. You have to go back on multiple occasions just to make sure you heard it correctly because you cannot possibly believe it was said. Yesterday, Brodie Van Wagenen had one of those gems:
Van Wagenen, “I will be the one, along with the rest of the front office team, that will continue to make improvements to this roster as we go forward like we have today with the purchase of Hector Santiago’s contract.”
— Michael Mayer (@mikemayerMMO) May 20, 2019
On a day where the Mets were starting Wilmer Font, announced Seth Lugo was heading to the IL, and Yoenis Cespedes broke his ankle ending his already tenuous ability to return this season, Brodie Van Wagenen stood up there and said he improved the roster by adding Hector Santiago to the roster.
We shouldn’t be too sure to dismiss this as a mistake. After all, in February, Van Wagenen said, “Hector Santiago is an All-Star at the major-league level.” (Matt Ehalt, Yahoo).
You can spin this however you want. You can say this is part of his sales job as the General Manager. After all, he did say the Mets were the team to beat despite not having a fifth starter or starting center fielder. You could say this was meant to say Santiago is an upgrade over what was already there. However, his comments do jive with what he said during Spring Training.
No matter how you look at it, Van Wagenen is once again over-selling us on a below replacement level player. He is doing it while the Mets are paying Santiago a pro rated $3 million instead of say using that money on Gio Gonzalez as the fifth starter. Of course, the Mets couldn’t do that because they’d have to guarantee him a spot in the rotation over Jason Vargas, and we know he can’t do that to a former client even if it meant improving the club.
In any event, maybe Van Wagenen was right. After all, the Mets are now 1-0 in the Hector Santiago era.
As if things weren’t bad enough with the Mets after losing five straight to two of the worst teams in baseball, the Mets were a full blown disaster before the game.
Yoenis Cespedes fell into a hole and broke his right ankle. This ensures he’s done for the year, and the team can no longer sell him as a “trade deadline acquisition.”
Van Wagenen, “I will be the one, along with the rest of the front office team, that will continue to make improvements to this roster as we go forward like we have today with the purchase of Hector Santiago’s contract.”
— Michael Mayer (@mikemayerMMO) May 20, 2019
There’s probably a multitude of things overlooked here but it’s hard to keep track of the Mets drama and incompetence. The one thing we do know is for seemingly the first time in a week, the Mets were better off getting on the field and playing a game.
For the first time in nearly a week, the Mets played well.
— New York Mets (@Mets) May 20, 2019
That lead grew to 4-0 in the third on a rally started with a Rosario lead-off walk. After a Wilson Ramos two out walk, Todd Frazier hit an RBI single. Carlos Gomez doubled scoring Ramos. It was Gomez’s first hit as a Mets in 12 years.
In the fourth, Font’s luck started running out. He was getting hit hard most of the night, and it would be Anthony Rendon who got the Nationals on the board with a homer. The Nationals rally continued, but Font was able to keep things at 4-2. He’d be done after the four.
Gagnon, who was supposed to start, was very good in two scoreless innings walking one and striking out two. With Font not lasting five and how well he pitched, he was in line for the win. That would become dicey.
After a scoreless seventh, Callaway pushed to see if Jeurys Familia could give him six outs. The answer was four.
Rendon hit a one out double chasing Familia from the game. Callaway went to Daniel Zamora to get the left-handed hitting Juan Soto. Soto would punch a single to center. With Rendon getting an excellent read on the ball, he scored easily.
With Lugo on the IL, this meant Robert Gsellman had to step up and fill Lugo’s role. For a split second, it looked like he failed miserably when Howie Kendrick hit a rocket. Fortunately, it was hit right at Brandon Nimmo in left. Gerardo Parra grounded out weakly to end the jam leaving Edwin Diaz a one run lead to protect in the ninth.
Actually, it was two. Carlos Gomez earned a one out 10 pitch walk against Nationals reliever Joe Ross. Ross would then throw over what seemed to be at least three times that amount. Karma stepped in, and Ross threw it away putting Gomez in scoring position.
After Juan Lagares grounded out moving Gomez to third, the Nationals went to Tony Sipp to get the pinch hitting Dominic Smith. Smith jumped on Sipp’s first pitch for an RBI single giving the Mets a 5-3 lead.
For a moment, it seemed like a crucial insurance run. Diaz hit Victor Robles with his first pitch, and two pitches later Yan Gomes blooped a single. Diaz stepped up, and he made sure Gomes was the last National to reach. Diaz recoded his 11th save, and the Mets live to fight another day.
This was a much needed win for the Mets. They had an inexcusable five game losing streak, and just hours before the game, it seemed like the walls were closing in. Instead, the Mets win, so at least for a day, things are good in Flushing.
Game Notes: Cano made a pinch hitting appearance in the sixth. He hit a double beating out a throw from Adam Eaton. Cano was booed.
When Jim Riggleman was hired as the bench coach this past offseason, the running joke was the Mets hired their interim manager. With the Mets faltering, Mickey Callaway‘s seat grows hotter by the day, and it would appear this is less of a joke than it is becoming a reality. Or is it?
Not only is Rojas a rising star, baseball runs through his veins. From the moment he was born, baseball encapsulated his entire life. This is the way things are when you grow up in country like the Dominican Republic. It’s also that way when your father is famed player and manager Felipe Alou, and your brother is Moises Alou. Taking a look at the bloodlines, you could almost see being a Major League manager as Rojas’ destiny.
For his part, Rojas believed this upbringing has influenced not just his career choice but also his views. Rojas would tell Anthony Dicomo of MLB.com, “Growing up in that environment was very impactful, very influential in my baseball growth. Just being born in a baseball atmosphere, right away opening my eyes on baseball from the beginning of my understanding was just really helpful. Right away, I wanted to follow my brothers’ steps. I wanted to follow the family’s steps.”
Obviously, Rojas was never the baseball player he brother was. From 1999 – 2005, he was a part of the Orioles, Marlins, and eventually Expos farm systems. He’d play 37 games for the Expos Gulf Coast League affiliate in 2004 hitting .240/.315/.352. Two years later, Rojas would begin his managerial career for the Expos Dominican Summer League team.
After that one season, the Mets jumped on Rojas, and they made him their DSL Manager for one season. The team then brought him stateside to serve as a coach for two years in the Gulf Coast League. Finally, in 2011, at the age of 29, Rojas would be named the manager of that same affiliate. From that point until this year, Rojas has been a manager in the Mets farm system.
During his time as a manager in the Mets system, he has managed a number of Mets prospects including current Mets Pete Alonso, Tyler Bashlor, Michael Conforto, Jacob deGrom, Drew Gagnon, Robert Gsellman, Seth Lugo, Steven Matz, Brandon Nimmo, Jeff McNeil, Amed Rosario, Dominic Smith, Amed Rosario, and Daniel Zamora. Put another way, Rojas has helped develop the current Mets core become not just Major League players, but in some instances, All-Star caliber players.
He’s certainly left an impression on each of these players. When hired, Alonso shared a story about Rojas’ enthusiasm for his players saying, “He was jumping up and down, arms waving in the air. I honestly think Luis was happier than [Nick Sergakis].”
But it’s more than enthusiasm and relationships, Rojas can coach. It’s one of the reasons why the Mets see him as a rising star and why they were so enthusiastic to name him the team’s first ever quality control coach. In addition to those duties, he is also the team’s outfield coach.
We are seeing his impact as an outfield coach right now. Entering this season, McNeil had played all of 26.1 innings in left field over a six year span. It was up to Rojas to get McNeil up to speed. As he explained, Rojas’ plan was to begin “with the basics: pre-pitch, stance, route, reads off the bat and we progress into other things that we are taking here into camp and then some of the drills that we bring in with some of the outfielders.” (NY Post).
With Rojas coaching McNeil, McNeil has quickly become good in the outfield with a 2 DRS, which is sixth best in the league. It’s also important to note when Conforto was drafted, the knock on him was his defense. He worked with Rojas on his defense, and he has been really good out there. Now that he’s reunited with Rojas, Conforto has a 3 DRS which is good for sixth best in the majors.Credit is due to the players, but they got to that point because they are working with an excellent coach.
Rojas is not just a coach who is able to connect with this players, he is also comfortable not just with analyzing advanced data, but also putting it in terms which are useful to the players. As noted by MMO‘s Michael Mayer, it is Rojas’ responsibility to streamline the data to the players.
While comparisons of this nature tend to be unfairly lofty, in some ways Rojas does remind you of Alex Cora. Rojas has shown the ability to understand not just the fundamental aspects of the game, but he is also well versed and comfortable handling analytical data. He is an excellent communicator and coach. He loves the game, and he loves his players.
Whenever the time comes, Rojas should prove to be a good manager for the Mets. He is everything an organization and its players want in a manager. Being the communicator he is, he should also be able to handle the press well. Hopefully, another team doesn’t realize what the Mets have in Rojas and grab him before the time the Mets have a chance to elevate him into the manager’s role he was destined to be seemingly since the day he was born.
The Mets went to Washington to face a bad Nationals team, and they cam out of the series looking like the bad team. They’re now not just bad, but also injured. Things are going south real fast:
1. The Mets absolutely did the right thing pulling Michael Conforto from that game. The team should be commended not just for pulling him but also for sending him to New York by train. It’s good to see they’ve learned something from how they mismanaged the Ryan Church and Jason Bay concussions.
2. It’s not his fault per se, but Robinson Cano cannot both be bad at the plate and in the field while also taking out the team’s best player.
3. With Conforto and Jeff McNeil having injuries, Cano needs to step up now. Same goes to Todd Frazier, who should begin to see some regular playing time, which should allow him to get into a groove. Not only do these two players need it to happen, Brodie Van Wagenen does as well.
4. Other than Edwin Diaz not one move Van Wagenen made this offseason has panned out,and it looks all the worse considering how much the team gave up in terms of prospects in an attempt to improve the team.
5. Drew Gagnon made Van Wagenen look bad when he out-pitched Wilmer Font who looked like a 29 year old reliever with a career 6.81 ERA trying to be a starting pitcher. Looking at Gagnon, you realize, not only was the trade unnecessary, but also giving up a prospect for a when you had a better version of him was plain dumb.
6. Gio Gonzalez continues to make the Mets look worse. In four starts, he is 2-0 with a 1.69 ERA and a 1.078 WHIP. In all four of his starts, he has gone at least five innings, which is something the Mets have only gotten twice from their fifth starts in their 10 starts. That includes Jason Vargas, who is averaging 3.2 innings per start.
7. As if Gonzalez performing well isn’t enough, and knowing the team passed on him thinking Vargas was better and Steven Matz was dealing with elbow issues, we now find out the team never actually made him an offer.
8. Van Wagenen did the same exact thing with his outfield. The Mets entered the year with just two starting caliber starting outfielders, and the team brought in Keon Broxton, who was a worse version of Juan Lagares. As a result, Broxton has seen almost no playing time.
9. It may not be a good look for Broxton to complain after his noncompetitive at-bat to end the game, but he does have a point. The team traded real assets to obtain him only to superglue him to the bench and not give him a real chance to establish himself.
10. Because of the Mets stubbornness not letting Dominic Smith play left field, the team is forced to play J.D. Davis in left field despite his not having the speed to play left field and his hitting .219/.219/.250 during the month.
11. It is going to be fun seeing Carlos Gomez wear a Mets uniform again. He was the big time prospect who was supposed to take us to the next level, except he didn’t because he was traded for Johan Santana. Then, he didn’t come back because he failed his medicals, which was fine by Mets fans as Wilmer Flores became a folk hero. Through all that has happened, it would be great to see Gomez be the key piece to a Mets winner like we thought he would be in 2007 and 2015.
12. The league has caught up to Pete Alonso. In May, Alonso is hitting just .191/.255/.383 while striking out 29.4 percent of the time. You wonder how long this goes on for before either Alonso adjusts or the Mets are forced to make a decision.
13. Even with Robert Gsellman struggles yesterday, the Mets bullpen has been great in May with the best ERA in the National League.
14. Too much is being made of Gsellman not pitching over eight days. This is a guy the Mets intend on leaning on heavily to pitch multiple innings, and anywhere you can get him a bit of extended rest you do it. It should also be noted between off days and the rain outs, the Mets haven’t played much over the past eight days.
15. So far, Tyler Bashlor has really stepped up and taken advantage of the opportunity given to him. With the way he is pitching, he may be an important piece to this bullpen.
16. Noah Syndergaard is finally looking like Syndergaard again with two of his last three outings being completely dominant.
17. Zack Wheeler‘s own run was broken up with a very disappointing effort against the Nationals. In that spot against that team, Wheeler needed to be better.
18. While we should expect more from Wheeler in that spot, it’s hard to get on Mets pitchers as a whole, as they are the reason the Mets are even close to .500. It’s also important to remember Wheeler is a second half pitcher, and as Syndergaard will tell you, the Mets are a second half team. The trick there is being close enough in the standings to take advantage of that.
20. There are valid criticisms of Callaway like his dry humping Diaz and using Seth Lugo the day before Font was set to start. However, make no mistake, he’s only on the hot seat because none of Van Wagenen’s moves have worked. Ultimately, that makes Callaway the fall guy for a novice General Manager who has looked to be in over his head.
When Jason Vargas on the Injured List and Steven Matz unable to make his start due to injury, the Mets needed to find a starter. Instead of recalling Corey Oswalt or Chris Flexen or making a 40 man move to call-up Hector Santiago or Casey Coleman, the Mets opted to make a trade for Wilmer Font, a 29 year old reliever with a career 6.39 ERA.
When the Mets are making trades to acquire relievers for emergency starts, you get the sense of just how poor this Mets Major League ready pitching depth is. You also see how desperately the Mets need one of their pitching prospects to step up and force their way to the Majors.
Fortunately for the Mets, Anthony Kay has not just been the organization’s best starting pitcher this year, he has arguably been the best pitcher in Double-A this year. In eight starts this year, Kay is second in the Eastern League in ERA while leading the league in complete games and shutouts. He’s second in the league in wins, fifth in the league in strikeouts, and third in WHIP. More than the numbers, he has been dominant.
We saw that again last night. In a complete game seven inning shutout (second game of a doubleheader), Kay allowed just three hits and one walk while striking out eight. In the game, only one batter would reach as far as second base, and Kay would retire 11 of the last 12 batters he faced.
Anthony Kay was masterful today for the @RumblePoniesBB: 7 innings 3 hits 0 runs 1 walk and 8 strikeouts. A complete game shutout.
Kay has a fastball with movement that can get up to 95 to go with a superb changeup and a decent curveball. He has been amazing this year. pic.twitter.com/k3OD62E1gZ
— Yehuda Schwartz (@yaschwa30) May 15, 2019
When you have a complete game shutout, there are a number of areas where you can draw your attention. When it comes to Kay and his development, the main focus from yesterday should be his issuing just one free pass. In his brief professional career, Kay has had control issues walking 3.5 per nine and 4.2 over his first six starts of the season.
Recently, Kay has had better command. In his last two starts, he has pitched seven innings and issued just one walk. He has gone from throwing strikes 60 percent of the time to throwing strikes 70 percent of the time. His pounding the strike zone has permitted him to befuddle hitters and go deeper into games. When he is pounding the strike zone like this, you really take note of his stuff.
The first thing which stands out is his curveball. According to Baseball America, it has an average spin rate of 3,000 RPM. That’s Seth Lugo territory. In addition to a high spin rate on his curveball, Kay has an excellent spin rate on his fastball. His fastball typically sits in the lower 90s, but he is able to ramp it up around 96 MPH. Combine that with a change-up with a 10 MPH difference than his fastball, and you have the makings of what could be a very good starting pitcher at the Major League level.
Before even discussing him at the Major League level, the Mets first need to see Kay in Syracuse. He needs to work with Mickey Abbott to further hone his delivery and control. The Mets need to see him against a higher level of competition to make a better evaluation of whether he is ready to pitch at the Major League level. Considering how Kay has been dominating in the Eastern League and the Mets not having a Triple-A pitcher they want to slot into their rotation, it would seem the time is now to send Kay to Syracuse.
Once Kay is in Syracuse, the Mets can get a much better read of how he performs against better competition, and they can better determine if he is going to be a part of the 2019 Mets pitching staff in some capacity. Considering the depth, the Mets should find this out sooner rather than later, which is why Kay’s next start should be in Syracuse.
Robinson Cano hit what should’ve been an inning ending double play in the first. Except it wasn’t because Gerardo Parra, who was playing out of position, dropped the ball and probably pulled his foot off the bag as well. The Mets would make the Nationals pay for the play (which is technically not an error), when Ramos hit a grand slam off Jeremy Hellickson:
When you go two days without baseball, why wait any longer for runs? pic.twitter.com/5r35prFfqS
— New York Mets (@Mets) May 14, 2019
Syndergaard had a no-hitter through five off just 59 pitches. He’d sit on the bench for a lengthy sixth inning, one which featured a Brandon Nimmo RBI double off the left-handed Matt Grace, the Nationals would finally get to Syndergaard.
Overall, Syndergaard pitched eight innings allowing two earned on four hits and one walk while striking out six.
The Mets would get an insurance run in the ninth when Dominic Smith hit a 3-0 pitch from Joe Ross out to dead center. It should be noted with the homer, it was no longer a save situation, and as we know there is the Diaz Dictate.
This meant Callaway would dry hump Edwin Diaz, and he would bring in Seth Lugo to pitch the ninth. Callaway made that decision despite Diaz being ready to go, and Wilmer Font likely giving the team a short start tomorrow. Hopefully, that won’t matter as Ramos looks to win his second in a row. If he does, the Mets will be back over .500.
Game Notes: Jed Lowrie has been shut down again, this time with a grade one hamstring strain, and he currently has no timetable for his return.
While we all expect Jacob deGrom to receive little to no run support in his starts, this was the Marlins. When push comes to shove, you’d expect the Mets to give deGrom the run support he needed to get the win.
When opposing pitcher Sandy Alcantara doubled home a run in the third, you figured it would be the only run the Marlins got off deGrom. You’d be right too as deGrom allowed just one run over seven innings off five hits and one walk with eight strikeouts.
The Mets finally broke through in the fourth when Michael Conforto singled home Robinson Cano. Still, entering the sixth, it was tied at one, and aside from that fourth inning, the Mets did little against Alcantara.
Then, Pete Alonso and Conforto would make sure deGrom would get his win:
With respect to Conforto, the Marlins cannot get him out. After his going 3-for-3 yesterday with a HBP, walk, and homer yesterday, he was 2-for-3 with a walk and a homer tonight. Perhaps, he should be hitting higher than fifth, especially when you consider he’s probably the best hitter on the team.
Even with the two homers, Don Mattingly didn’t pull Alcantara. The Mets and deGrom would make him pay. After a Brandon Nimmo two our walk, Tomas Nido and deGrom hit back-to-back singles giving the Mets a 4-1 lead.
In the eighth, Mickey Callaway had some fun. He double switched Seth Lugo into the game putting him in a position to go two innings. He’d line up his defense as well with Dominic Smith, Todd Frazier, and Juan Lagares coming into the game. With the way Lugo pitched, it proved to be a superfluous move.
Diaz got the first two outs quickly, but after Diaz issued a walk to Jorge Alfaro, Harold Ramirez hit an infield single bringing Jon Berti up as the tying run. He’d line out to Conforto to end the game, and suddenly, the Mets are in position to not just go for the sweep tomorrow but also get back to .500.
The Mets went out to San Diego already under .500 and incapable of scoring runs. At least for one day, they figured things out, and suddenly things don’t look so bad:
- The Mets schedule so far this year has been idiotic including the team having a two city road trip to Milwaukee and San Diego. Someone should get the person in charge of making the schedules a map of the United States.
- If Chris Paddack was a Met, the fans would love this. In fact, they did when it was Matt Harvey before he had the audacity of getting injured.
- If Pete Alonso is going to hit homers and celebrate on the field, he is going to make himself a target for other teams. This was a good test for him. While he failed the first part striking out twice, popping out, and whining, he responded the perfect way by hitting the go-ahead homer and having a great bat flip.
- Aside from needing to respond to the challenge, he needed a good game because he went into that game hitting .184/.241/.347 over his previous 13 games.
- It wasn’t just Alonso who got off the snide, Brandon Nimmo snapped an 0-for-28 streak which was one off Eric Campbell‘s Mets hitless record. Instead of struggling, he’s Nimmo again with him going 2-for-6 with two doubles and three walks over his last two games.
- At least Robinson Cano was good for a day, but the Mets needs more than just the sporadic outburst from him.
- No one should fault the Mets for rejiggering the lineup to try to get things going, and with the way Amed Rosario has been hitting, it was smart putting him in the second spot in the lineup. However, this is a patch and not a fix, and when Jed Lowrie is finally activated, it is time to move him back down the lineup.
- Once Lowrie is activated, Todd Frazier has to go to the bench. While his defense has been great, his bat has been that bad.
- There is way too much hand-wringing over Keon Broxton, J.D. Davis, and Adeiny Hechavarria. They’re not that good, and no one should be that worried with them being designated for assignment or headed to Triple-A. Instead, they should be worried about what makes up the best composition of the bench and how it complements the roster.
- Indications are if Davis goes to Triple-A, he will work on the outfield. It’s bizarre the Mets would do that with him while simultaneously not even allowing Dominic Smith to work out there.
- Speaking of Smith, the Mets really could have used a left-handed bat off the bench during this road trip.
- It’s not just Frazier who has been bad. It’s the majority of the lineup. While you may expect this to be a blip, this may be Chili Davis‘ influence as his other teams have done the same exact thing.
- Wilson Ramos has a career worst ground ball rate, and there aren’t really signs of him turning things around right now.
- Tomas Nido had offseason LASIK surgery. If his hitting is that much improved, given how well he plays defensively, the Mets are going to need to find him more playing time, especially given Ramos’ struggles.
- The heart says Jeff McNeil looks like an MVP candidate, but the mind sees a staggering .400 BABIP with a low walk rate and wonders when exactly the regression is going to come.
- Brodie Van Wagenen built a team with zero starting pitching depth, and he was forced to trade for Wilmer Font to start a game despite Font not actually being a starting pitcher. It is beyond amusing the Mets had to go to Chaim Bloom to bail them out for the actions of the General Manager who doesn’t quite know what he’s doing.
- After a rough start, Seth Lugo and Robert Gsellman have been terrific, and they are giving the Mets every opportunity to win these games.
- Michael Conforto going in an 0-for-12 streak where he is still drawing walks and getting on base is a testament to how great a player he is becoming.
- More than anyone Conforto gets screwed on balls outside of the strike zone. That’s not just guessing or fan overreaction either, it’s fact.
- Mets fans need to stop over-criticizing Mickey Callaway. Who cares if he didn’t throw a tantrum after that bogus third strike call? The team still rallied after it, so it’s quite possible he has the pulse of this team. After all, Callaway did have the team playing hard last year.
It was hard to tell what the Mets needed more tonight. Was it their inept offense scoring runs, or did they need a win at all costs?
Things did start well for the Mets, who were using a revamped lineup. Jeff McNeil doubled off Padres starter Cal Quantrill, and Amed Rosario got the Mets on the board with an RBI single. Robinson Cano snapped an 0-for-14 streak with a ground rule double putting runners at second and third with no outs.
Pete Alonso hit an RBI single scoring Rosario giving the Mets a 2-0 lead before the team even recorded an out. Then, it all stopped. After beginning the game 2-for-2 with RISP, the Mets were 0-for-their next 9 stranding seven.
The 2-0 lead would prove to not be enough for Noah Syndergaard, who appears to lose both concentration and velocity during the game.
Noah Syndergaard's velo this game is going in the wrong direction pic.twitter.com/qX2BJmgRG7
— David Adler (@_dadler) May 8, 2019
In the first, Syndergaard could have gotten out of a jam. He got Eric Hosmer to hit a grounder which could have potentially been an inning ending 3-6-1 double play. Of course, that doesn’t work when you overrun the base and whiff on catching the ball. Rosario was charged with the error, and Franmil Reyes scored pulling the Padres to within a run.
The Mets threatened in the second, and they had runners at first and second with one out. Rosario would strike out, and Syndergaard would have a second lapse in as many innings getting picked off second to end the inning.
We then saw Syndergaard lose velocity and leave the ball up. That led to homers hit by Reyes and Ty France to give the Padres a 4-2 lead.
That lead grew to 5-2 in the sixth with Hosmer and Hunter Renfroe, two players the Mets have seen more than enough of, playing a big role.
Hosmer doubled past an outstretched McNeil. Renfroe then hit a sharp grounder to Cano, who whiffed on the ball while appearing to be readying to nail Hosmer at third. That made it 5-2 Padres.
Overall, Syndergaard pitched 6.0 innings allowing five runs (four earned) in nine hits and one walk with five strikeouts. The shame of it was he got help from his defense, especially from Michael Conforto, who threw out a runner trying to stretch a double into a triple and with a diving catch.
Air Mike. pic.twitter.com/XvQ7SbRAFj
— Roger Cormier (@yayroger) May 8, 2019
The Mets would get him off the hook anyway in the seventh as their lineup finally woke up.
Runners were at second and third after a McNeil walk and Rosario hustle double. After Cano struck out, Alonso singled to pull the Mets to 5-3. It was 5-4 after Conforto hit a sacrifice fly.
— New York Mets (@Mets) May 8, 2019
With two scoreless from Seth Lugo, the Mets entered the ninth with a chance.
— New York Mets (@Mets) May 8, 2019
Diaz would unleash a wild pitch putting runners at second and third leading the Mets to intentionally walk Manny Machado to load the bases.
Diaz got Hosmer looking on a close 3-2 pitch inside and on the black. This put the game in Renfroe’s hands. While he hit a walk off grand slam against the Dodgers, he hit into a game ending fielder’s choice.
The Mets desperately needed this win, and there were a number of Mets who got the monkeys off their backs. There was Cano and Nimmo, but nothing stood out as much as Alonso getting his revenge against the Padres by going 3-for-5 with two runs, a homer, and four RBI.
This game was starting to look awfully familiar. Even with Amed Rosario hitting an RBI triple, he was bad in the field making yet another error. The offense wasn’t scoring runs at all putting Zack Wheeler in a position to be a hard luck loser.
Wheeler was good against the team he was almost traded to four years ago. In seven innings, he allowed two earned on six hits with one walk and 10 strikeouts. Even with him pitching well, in a sick twist, he was in a position to get the loss against Gio Gonzalez.That was until Pete Alonso came up to the plate against Junior Guerra:
— New York Mets (@Mets) May 5, 2019
As Mark Simon of Sports Info Solutions points out, Alonso is now 6-for-10 with three homers in the ninth inning. This is exactly what clutch looks like.
Seth Lugo was also clutch pitching three scoreless innings. Edwin Diaz came into a tie game in the 12th, and he didn’t allow a home run. He would get through the inning unscathed with some help from Jeff McNeil, who made a diving catch to rob Ryan Braun of an extra bass hit.
McNeil came up big again in the 13th. Despite being 0-for-5 up until that point, with two outs, he singled sending Hechavarria to third. The Brewers went to the bullpen to bring in Adrian Houser to face Alonso. Unfortunately, Alonso didn’t come through a second time.
O’Rourke was not particularly effective. He walked both Eric Thames and Mike Moustakas, but he was still able to get through the inning because Wilson Ramos picked Thames off first, and Yasmani Grandal flew out to end the inning.
That left Robert Gsellman as the last line of defense. He navigated his way through a Braun one out double in the 14th. On the play, Rosario just dropped a throw from Michael Conforto, which arrived much earlier than Braun did.
Rosario was at it again in the 15th. His error allowed Hernan Perez to get on to lead-off the inning. Tomas Nido would erase him on the basepaths when Perez tried to advance on a ball which trickled not too far from Nido.
Fortunately, the 16th inning was uneventful for Gsellman, which sent the game to the 17th. It wouldn’t be Gsellman for the 17th as Steven Matz pinch hit for him. This meant it was all gong to be on Chris Flexen.
FINALLY, in the 18th, McNeil would drive home a run. His two out RBI single in the 18th knocked in Hechavarria who easily beat Braun’s run home. It was McNeil’s third straight hit in extras after not getting a hit through nine.
Flexen wasn’t going to make it easy walking Thames to start the inning, and he’d walk Grandal and Travis Shaw to load the bases with one out. Specifically with the Shaw at-bat, Angel Hernandez missed pitches in the strike zone and called then mmm balls.
With that, Braun would hit a ball Alonso couldn’t handle. It was hit very hard, and really, it was a problem of Flexens making.
In the end, it took 18 innings and 33 games for the Mets to finally go under .500.
Game Notes: Adeiny Hechavarria made his Mets debut getting double switched into the game in the ninth.