Heading into this year’s Yankee Stadium portion of the Subway Series, the Mets had a decided advantage in starting pitching. Yesterday, that led to a win with Noah Syndergaard on the mound.
Up until that point, the Mets had a 1-0 lead due to a Michael Conforto second inning homer. That lead completely evaporated in the bottom of the fourth.
It started innocuously enough with a Giancarlo Stanton leadoff single. Then with one out in the inning, Matt den Dekker would make a number of defensive miscues starting with the Didi Gregorious RBI “triple.”
Throughout that fourth, Matz would make his pitches, but his team, specifically den Dekker, wasn’t making a play behind him. All told, it was a four run inning for the Yankees.
With two outs in the inning, Amed Rosario hit an RBI single that not only brought Conforto home, but it allowed Bautista to go to third. It mattered because Robertson threw away a pickoff attempt allowing Bautista to score. The rally would end there as den Dekker struck out.
The Mets would quickly see the 4-3 deficit grow and grow.
It’s hard to say Matz pitched well considering he surrendered five runs, all earned, but he did. The defense was that poor.
In the ninth, it seemed like Aroldis Chapman was in to pitch his inning and let everyone get home before the rain came later tonight. The issue with Chapman was he couldn’t get an out.
Now, it should be noted Asdrubal Cabrera should have been due up. The problem was he was ejected in the fifth after getting tossed arguing balls and strikes. When that happened, he joined hitting coach Pat Roessler who was tossed in the third for the same issue.
Cabrera was replaced in the lineup by Devin Mesoraco (as a DH). He’d face Chasen Shreve who came on for Chapman, get the most important at-bat of the game, and he’d hit into a rally killing 4-6-3 double play.
With that, the Mets did just enough to lose. Just enough.
Game Notes: Jeurys Familia was finally traded to the Athletics. Yoenis Cespedes was unavailable as he was too sore to play. As it turns out, he also needs surgery to remove calcifications in both heels. The recovery time is approximately 10 months.
In some ways, the Mets final game before the All Star Break was a microcosm of the entire first half of the season. It started with a lot of promise, and things would quickly unravel from there.
Really, the biggest thing you want to take away from this game is just how good Corey Oswalt pitched. He only needed 59 pitches to get through five innings. In those five innings, he allowed just one earned on two hits while walking none.
In four of his five innings, he got the Nationals to go down 1-2-3. The only issue was the second when Anthony Rendon and Matt Adams led off the inning with back-to-back singles setting the stage for a Michael Taylor RBI ground out. Even with that rally, Oswalt still impressed inducing Matt Wieters to hit into a rally killing and inning ending double play.
Of course, with how well he was pitching, you knew Mickey Callaway was going to be double guessed for lifting him for a pinch hitter in the fifth.
At the time, the score was tied 1-1, and to be fair, the Mets weren’t really setting the world on fire against Jeremy Hellickson.
After Jose Reyes hit a one out double and advanced to third on a wild pitch, Amed Rosario had a chance to deliver the go-ahead RBI and not just get the lead but keep Oswalt in the game. He struck out. Dominic Smith, who was given a talking to by Callaway, pinch hit for Oswalt, and he was hit by a pitch.
Unfortunately, Brandon Nimmo, who hasn’t been hitting near as well since he was hit on the hand in Atlanta, couldn’t deliver.
Seth Lugo came out of the pen for a shutdown inning, but after that it was the typical Mets comedy of errors coming out of the bullpen.
The Mets would use Anthony Swarzak, Tim Peterson, and Jerry Blevins in the seventh. None of them were effective. Swarzak was the worst with him walking the two batters he faced before getting pulled. Ultimately, to add insult to injury, it was Daniel Murphy who delivered the go-ahead hit in what would become a five run inning.
In the end, the Mets lost 6-1, and they have not won a series since May. They have the fewest wins in the National League, and they continue to play Reyes everyday while not giving younger players like Jeff McNeil or Smith an opportunity.
Really, this is a bad team whose front office is managing it to the ground.
Game Notes: Blevins escaped the seventh inning jam by picking off a runner. That was his third pick off of the season tying him with Steven Matz for the team lead.
Even when the Mets were at their best, Max Scherzer dominates them. In fact, as the Mets were preparing for what would be a pennant run, Scherzer threw a no-hitter against them.
Shockingly, the Mets were actually game against Scherzer tonight.
That rally sputtered with Bautista getting nailed by Taylor inches:
.@Nationals challenge call that José Bautista is safe at 2B in the 1st; call overturned, runner is out.
— MLB Replay (@MLBReplays) July 12, 2018
In the fourth, Bautista hit a solo homer, and Kevin Plawecki homered in the seventh.
It wasn’t enough as the Mets were chasing all night.
Aside from the Rendon at-bats, Matz had a pretty good game. He limited the rest of that lineup to six hits in 6.1 innings.
Still, he would be tagged with the loss.
The big hit for the Nationals came after Matz left the game. With the Mets down 3-2 in the seventh, Mickey Callaway brought in Jerry Blevins to face Bryce Harper. Harper would launch a homer to give the Nationals a 5-2 lead:
— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) July 13, 2018
After that homer, Bautista and Michael Conforto drew back-to-back walks putting the tying run in scoring position with one out.
Since it was the eighth and not the ninth, Wilmer Flores fouled out, and den Dekker followed with a strikeout.
In the ninth, Plawecki led off against Ryan Madson with a single. That went nowhere.
The Nationals are back over .500 now and are in the thick of the postseason race. The Mets are 17 games under .500 and starting Reyes.
Game Notes: Jeff McNeil, a prospect the Mets previously said is only a second baseman, started tonight at third base. This is on the same night Bautista started at third for the Mets.
The Rays have become a story in baseball for using an opener, i.e. a reliever, to start some games. They’ve arguably had to experiment with it due to the state of their starting pitching. The obvious exception to that is today’s starter Blake Snell, who has been phenomenal this year.
Snell is an ace, and when you face him, you have to take advantage of your opportunities and not make mistakes.
Well, Steven Matz did make mistakes, including walking and hitting Snell, but he fought through it with what was a really good start. In fact, in a fair and just world, Matz gets through his 6.1 innings unscathed.
Matz got the grounder with Wilson Ramos grounding it right at Amed Rosario. Rosario charged in, and the ball hit him in the heel of the glove. This cost him a shot at Duffy, and it gave the Rays a 1-0 lead.
With the Mets offense completely sputtering and shooting itself in the foot, that one run was enough.
In seven of the nine innings, the Mets got their leadoff runner on base. In three of those innings, it was a leadoff double.
Still, the Mets had one really good opportunity in the seventh, and it as bad luck that cost them.
Jose Reyes led off the eight with a double past the outstretched arms of Duffy. Then, in what was a tough at-bat against Snell, Brandon Nimmo hit a ball which seemed destined for center field. Instead it tipped off of Snell’s foot leading to a 1-4-3 put out.
So much for the momentum from Bautista’s grand slam.
Game Notes: Wilmer Flores had nearly half of the Mets seven hits going 3-4 with a double.
While the Mets are trying to pull out all the stops against a Marlins team actively trying to lose games, over in Cincinnati, it seems Matt Harvey is starting to put things together.
Over his last three starts, Harvey has been terrific pitching to a 1.47 ERA, 0.818 WHIP, and a 7.0 K/BB ratio. Over these starts, opposing batters are hitting just .200/.257/.231 against the Dark Knight. What makes these starts all the more impressive is when you consider they have come against the Cubs, Braves, and Brewers.
That’s three quality offensive opponents in games all started in hitter’s parks.
But it’s more than just the opponents and the results. His velocity and control are back. As already noted, Harvey is no longer walking batters, and apparently, he’s not leaving the ball in a position to be teed up by opposing batters:
Matt Harvey, 96mph Fastball paint. 🎨🖼️🖌️👨🎨 pic.twitter.com/ZJ4RHx09yc
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) July 1, 2018
According to Brooks Baseball, Harvey is back to throwing 95+ with a slider near 90. Before getting traded to the Reds, Harvey was missing a tick or two on all of his pitches. In some of his outings, he had nothing but guts out there.
As noted by C. Trent Rosencrans of The Athletic, Harvey says he is feeling better than at any time since 2013. That’s notable because in 2013, he had Tommy John and in 2016 he was diagnosed with Thoracic Outlet Syndrome.
That could partially because the Mets never really let Harvey get back to full strength post TOS surgery. It also could be because Harvey always believed he was getting better and getting there. It just so happened that has actually proven true with the Reds.
Maybe the credit should go to Reds interim pitching coach Danny Darwin and an assistant pitching coach Ted Power. The duo, especially Darwin, are beginning to get credit for helping turn not just Harvey around, but also what was once considered a bad Reds pitching staff.
That’s not a criticism of Mickey Callaway and Dave Eiland. After all, the Mets duo has helped Jacob deGromreach another level in his game. They have also seen Zack Wheeler and Steven Matz possibly turn the corner in their careers becoming more reliably and healthy starters.
What it is an indictment upon is the Mets patience and their ability to properly evaluate their own players. After all, Harvey’s spot in the rotation was effectively taken over by Jason Vargas to be an effective starter this season. Therein lies the problem.
To that point, here’s the series of transactions and moves the Mets made immediately after designating Harvey for assignment:
- May 5th – Call up Hansel Robles
- May 6th – Call up P.J. Conlon for spot start
- May 8th – Call up Corey Oswaltas an extra arm in the bullpen
Since that time, the Mets have designated both Robles and Conlon for assignment. We’ve also seen the Mets give chances to Buddy Baumann, Scott Copeland, and Chris Beck. At a minimum, this is really bizarre roster management, and you have to question what the Mets saw in Baumann, Copeland, and Beck that they didn’t see in Harvey.
Even if you invoke all the Justin Turner non-tender defenses (wouldn’t happen here and the like), that doesn’t mean getting rid of Harvey was the right decision.
It’s not the right decision when you look at the pitchers who have made appearances and struggled in his stead. It’s not he right decision when you consider the team miscalculated on whether Harvey had something left in the tank. Really, they miscalculated on his being a disruption.
Since his being traded, the Mets are 14-30 (.318). They just had a 5-21 month. On the other hand, the Reds 26-19, and they were 15-11 in June.
Overall, both the Mets and Reds are sellers, and right now the key difference between them is as a result of the deal, the Mets will be looking for someone to take Devin Mesoracowhereas the Reds will have Harvey, who is suddenly a pitcher who is building up trade value.
In the end, it’s funny. Harvey was partially traded to remove a distraction to help them win ballgames. In fact, in pure Metsian fashion, the opposite happened. They fell apart with his replacement in the rotation, Vargas, going 2-6 with an 8.60 ERA and a 1.832 WHIP.
On the one hand, you knew it wasn’t June anymore because the Mets beat the Marlins 5-2. On the other hand, things aren’t that different because they played a really sloppy game.
The thing is the Marlins played an arguably sloppier one. To that end, we shouldn’t be surprised these two teams set the game of baseball back a few years.
Even with the comedy of errors, three Mets errors to be precise, Steven Matz kept the Marlins at bay.
Oddly enough, the one time the Marlins scored off of him, it featured a Matz error.
Like Matz, who lowered his road ERA to 2.25 after allowing no earned in 5.1 innings, Cabrera and Frazier would contribute to the win.
Cabrera hit a third inning solo homer off Straily. In the eighth, Frazier hit an RBI double which gave the Mets a then 4-1 lead.
That would become a 5-1 lead when JT Realmuto got cute and tried to pick Frazier off third. Instead, he threw it away allowing Frazier to score.
The Mets other runs came from a Kevin Plawecki second inning RBI double and a Matz fourth inning RBI single.
One note on Lugo entering. He came in with one out in the fifth after Matz threw 109 pitches.
That cannot happen.
Just yesterday, Reyes blatantly refused to run a ball out because he claimed to have felt something. As a result, he needed to be benched today.
He needs to be benched because: (1) he dogged it; (2) he’s hurt; or (3) both.
In any event, the Mets finally won and are out of the basement of the NL East.
Game Notes: It was revealed Dominic Smith has been dealing with a wrist injury which required an injection. Purportedly, that’s why he hasn’t been playing.
Coming off the news their general manager, the man who brought all of them to the Mets, was once again fighting cancer, and he was going to take a leave of absence, which was phrased more like a termination, the Mets seemed game to win one for Sandy Alderson.
In the first, surprise leadoff hitter Jose Bautista led off with a single off Pirates starter Chad Kuhl. After two quick outs, he found himself on third after an Asdrubal Cabrera walk and a Kuhl wild pitch. Both runners would score on a Wilmer Flores seeing eye single through the left side of the infield.
From there, the Pirates would make three errors, Pirates pitching would throw three more wild pitches, and Kuhl would leave early due to injury. They would not be able to take advantage of any of it, which put Steven Matz in a precarious situation.
To start the game, Matz was terrific, and he would not yield a hit until David Freese hit a leadoff single against him to start the inning. That leadoff single would create some trouble for Matz.
In the bottom of the sixth, the Mets would have an opportunity to reclaim the lead for Matz. After Kevin Plawecki was hit by a pitch, the Mets would have runners at first and second with two outs. Jose Reyes would fly out to left to end the inning. On the play, Pirates outfielder Austin Meadows almost overran the ball, but he recovered in time to make the inning ending catch.
That all loomed large as it allowed Mickey Callaway to give Matz the seventh. With two outs in the inning, a terrific outing was spoiled as Polanco hit what looked to be the game winning homer.
Fortunately for Matz, the Mets would bail him out as Michael Conforto delivered hit own two out home run in the bottom of the inning to tie the score anew.
With Matz off the hook, Callaway initially went to Anthony Swarzak to keep the score tied in what would become a truly bizarre top of the eighth.
With Josh Harrison following a Meadows one out walk, Callaway took no chances, and he brought in Jeurys Familia. Familia used his fabled sinker to induce what should have been an inning ending double play. That never materialized as Reyes took his sweet time not only getting to the ball, but also flipping it to Cabrera.
With Harrison making a good hard-nosed slide, Cabrera had little choice but to record the out and jump to avoid the slide. That offended Familia who got into words with Harrison leading to the benches clearing. Things died down when Cabrera hugged Harrison, which was something the booth did not take kindly.
Familia still got out of the jam, and he pitched a scoreless ninth. Tim Peterson, who has been very good in limited duty, followed with a scoreless tenth.
In the tenth, Conforto got things started with a leadoff walk against LHP Steven Brault. Things got more interesting when Todd Frazier followed the walk with a single. After Cabrera popped up not one but two bunt attempts, with the second one being caught, Flores would get his third walk-off hit of the season with a single down the third base line.
On a day of tears, it is quite fitting that Flores would be the guy to get the game winning hit.
There’s shooting yourself in the foot, and then there is doing what the Mets did against the Rockies today.
Somehow, the Mets grounded into five . . . FIVE! . . . double plays.
Each one of them were brutal.
Bautista would be erased when Kevin Plawecki grounded into a 6-4-3 double play.
In the third, after Brandon Nimmo hit an RBI single to pull the Mets within 5-2, Frazier would hit into the inning ending 5-4-3 double play.
Speaking of Reyes, he can’t field and doesn’t know how to use sunglasses:
How is Reyes to know to put his sunglasses on? He's only been alive for 35 years. pic.twitter.com/5GbS3AvmIs
— Good Fundies is short for Good Fundamentals (@goodfundies) June 21, 2018
Finally in the eighth, after the Mets pulled themselves to within 6-3 on a Flores sacrifice fly, Devin Mesoraco hit into the inning ending 5-4-3 double play.
You combine all of these double plays with Steven Matz allowing five runs on eight hits and two walks in 5.2 innings, and you have all the makings of a 6-4 loss.
Last night, despite the Mets being mired in what was become an absurd slump, the entire Mets team was on the top railing. They were almost willing something to happen.
In the postgame, Mickey Callawaytalked about how much closer the Mets team was. It was a sentiment met with derision or eye rolling.
With the Diamondbacks starting the left-handed Patrick Corbin and with the Mets ineptitude against left-handed pitching, it seemed like the Mets offense was going to have to wait another day to finally break out.
Well, baseball is a funny game because this was the day the Mets offense broke out.
Actually, it wasn’t really the Mets offense. It was really Michael Conforto:
— New York Mets (@Mets) June 17, 2018
The homer coming off a LHP, which the Mets told us Confurto could turn hit, gave fans all the more reason for optimism.
It was more than just the three run homer from Conforto. In the sixth, he would also double home Devin Mesoraco.
That increased the Mets lead to 5-1 with the five runs scored being the most amount of runs scored by this Mets team since the McKinley administration.
The fourth run was scored on a Corbin wild pitch in the third. Just so you know the Mets are still the Mets, that wild pitch also put Todd Frazier at second with just one out. The Mets could not get him home.
The five run lead held up because Steven Matz was terrific. He kept the Diamondbacks at bat limiting them to just one run on six hits and one walk through 6.2 innings.
He would get into a bit of trouble in the seventh with Deven Marrero and Daniel Descalso hitting back-to-back one out singles. The second of which was deflected by a diving Dominic Smith, who could not make the play.
The Nick Ahmed grounder up the middle looked like trouble, but Asdrubal Cabrera showed more range than he has in over a fortnight. Cabrera got the ball and flipped it to Amed Rosario out raced Jay to the bag for the final out of the inning.
Believe it or not, it was smooth sailing from there with the Mets pulling out a 5-1 victory.
Game Notes: Gsellman became the first Met to use the Diamondbacks bullpen cart
If you looked at the Mets lineup today, it looked like the lineup you put together when you’re: (1) grasping at straws; (2) overthinking things; or (3) trying to do something different for its own sake:
— New York Mets (@Mets) June 9, 2018
As bizarre as the lineup looked, it worked . . . at least in the first.
— New York Mets (@Mets) June 10, 2018
From there, the Mets offense reverted back to itself throwing away golden opportunities. That gave Steven Matz a decent lead, but not a big one against a dangerous Yankee lineup.
For a while, Matz kept the Yankees at bay. He did what he needed to do to stymie rallies including picking off Aaron Hicks in the first.
Despite Matz pitching well, it didn’t stop Gleyber Torres from hitting a third inning homer to pull the Yankees to within 3-1.
In the sixth, Matz got himself into trouble by walking Gary Sanchez on five pitches, and then he hung a curve to Miguel Andujar. Suddenly, it’s a tie game, and you’re once again wondering just how the Mets are going to score.
Really, from the Cabrera homer through the sixth, the Mets offense did little. Then, against David Robertson, Adrian Gonzalez led off the inning with an opposite field double down the third base line.
Guillorme struck out against a reliever who had reverse splits.
In quite fitting fashion, this game ended with Jose Reyes flying out to end the game. Really, on a night where the Mets had no real bench to rely upon, it made sense there was no better option than Reyes, who we all knew would fail.
Game Notes: Cabrera was ejected an inning after he struck out looking for barking from the dugout. Yoenis Cespedes was pulled from his rehab start.