On Thursday, I had the privilege of being to be invited on the Simply Amazin‘ Podcast. On the podcast, I mentioned Wilson Ramos, Tomas Nido, Rene Rivera, Pete Alonso, Gerson Bautista, Jarred Kelenic, Jeff McNeil, Robinson Cano, Edwin Diaz, Jeurys Familia, Brad Brach, Daniel Zamora, Seth Lugo, Robert Gsellman, J.D. Davis, Dominic Smith, Noah Syndergaard, Steven Matz, Marcus Stroman, Luis Santana, Keon Broxton, Felix Valerio, Juan Lagares, Luis Guillorme, Paul Sewald, Luis Avilan, and others.
The Mets are not interested in doing all they can do to grab the second Wild Card. No, they’d rather prove a point and send a message to Noah Syndergaard than do everything they can do to win a pivotal game.
Despite Syndergaard pitching like a Cy Young caliber pitcher with Tomas Nido and Rene Rivera behind the plate, the Mets started Wilson Ramos. After all, as an organization, you’d rather be invested in the 31 year old catcher than the 26 year old pitcher who is the last Mets pitcher to both win a World Series game and have a scoreless postseason start.
Well, as is usually the case, Ramos couldn’t get the low strikes, and as is typically the case, he wasn’t calling for Syndergaard to throw those pitches. The ball was elevated, his pitch count was going up, and eventually he hung one to Gavin Lux who hit a three run homer capping off a four run inning.
With Clayton Kershaw, it was game over. In his 12 year career, he’s lost just one game where he’s had four runs of support. He’s now 104-1. As was expected, he shut down the Mets offense because he’s Kershaw.
Throw in Jeurys Familia, Luis Avilan (why is he allowed to face RHB), and Walker Lockett getting roughed up to that tune of five runs combined along with the Mets only getting one home with the bases loaded in the seventh, you get a 9-2 loss.
That’s on a day the Cubs won pushing the Mets to 3.0 games back of the second Wild Card.
There were a couple of middle fingers to Syndergaard and the fans in this game from the Mets. Despite the purported need for Ramos to catch Syndergaard due to his offense, Juan Lagares would start, and Pete Alonso would sit. Finally, Nido would catch the ninth.
Hopefully, sending this message to Syndergaard was worth it. Judging by the score and losing a game in the standings, it wasn’t making this just a petty decision to cut their noses to spite their ace.
Game Notes: The Dodgers have won nine straight at Citi Field. That’s 10 straight if you include Game 4 of the 2015 NLDS.
The Mets have swept the Arizona Diamondbacks, and once again they are back in the thick of the Wild Card race after having played their way out of it. This has been one of the most mercurial seasons in team history setting forth what should be a fun emotional roller coaster ride over the final 16 games.
1. If you want to get off to a great start, there is no better way to accomplish that than starting with Jacob deGrom. He proved that by going seven innings of shut out ball. When you follow that up with Seth Lugo for two innings, there is no team in baseball that has a chance.
2. To put into perspective how incredible deGrom’s season was last year, he may be the leader in the clubhouse for the 2019 National League Cy Young award, and his ERA this year is a full run higher than it was last year.
3. In terms of this year’s Cy Young Award, tonight will be the second time over his last three starts where he faces off against another Cy Young leader. He pitched better than Max Scherzer the last time out, and this time he is facing off against Hyun-Jin Ryu, who has not been the same pitcher he was in the first half.
4. It is not just deGrom who is pitching great for the Mets lately. Zack Wheeler has three straight starts of 7.0 innings and just one earned. It might’ve taken a little more time than expected, but second half Wheeler finally arrived, and it could not have happened at a better time.
5. As good as deGrom and Wheeler are going, that is nothing compared to Steven Matz at Citi Field. This year, he is 7-1 with a 1.94 ERA at home. This is part of his pitching very well in the second half with a 2.52 ERA limiting opposing batters to a .227/.281/.364 batting line.
6. Then Marcus Stroman followed this trio with his best start in a Mets uniform. With him keeping the ball on the ground, you got a glimpse on just the pitcher the Mets thought they were going to get when they traded for him.
7. On Stroman, you see the impact a catcher can have on a pitcher. With the Blue Jays, Stroman had a 44.2 GB%, but when Wilson Ramos was catching him, it went down to 44.2 percent. Yesterday, the Diamondbacks only got the ball in the air 40.7 percent of the time.
8. This is another reason why we should note Noah Syndergaard‘s objections over Ramos are fact based. Even if it’s not, there is clearly a psychological impact upon him. Really, if the Mets are interested in winning, they would pair Syndergaard up with Tomas Nido or Rene Rivera.
9. What was surprising was seeing Nido homer yesterday. That wasn’t as surprising as Juan Lagares having a two home run game. We had Gary Cohen’s voice cracking as evidence of that. It was a great moment for Lagares who has been a good Met likely playing his final games in a Mets uniform.
10. Homers were a theme in this series with the Mets setting a team record hitting five homers in two straight games. They also set team records for homers at home in a season (114) and homers in a series (13). What is really surprising about this stretch is while everyone went homer happy, Pete Alonso didn’t hit one over the final two games.
11. Alonso is struggling now in an 0-for-12 stretch with seven strikeouts. Things must be getting to him as he took time to go into the clubhouse and shave his mustache mid-game. Unfortunately, it didn’t work, and it may get worse with the Dodgers coming into town with Ryu, Clayton Kershaw, and Walker Buehler.
12. Of course, it was not all bad news with Alonso. He had a two home run game to surge to the Major League home run lead. However, that was nothing compared to his getting first responder cleats for the entire team. That was an incredible move which not only shows character, but it also shows he gets it.
13. The fact Alonso was forced to go that route is because yet again Major League Baseball refused to permit the Mets to wear the first responder caps. They did it while touting Sammy Sosa running with the American flag, and Mike Piazza hitting that homer.
14. They also sell special 9/11 patched caps. That’s Major League Baseball for you. They won’t let players do the right thing because it would interfere with their ability to profit off of a tragedy were many Americans lost their lives, and they continue to do suffering from 9/11 related illnesses.
15. It was not only special to see all the Mets wearing them, but specifically the local Mets like Matz, Stroman, Todd Frazier, Rajai Davis, Joe Panik, and Brad Brach. On that note, Matz pitched six shutout innings, and Frazier would homer wearing those cleats.
16. Matz wearing them was reminiscent of John Franco wearing an FDNY cap in the Mets first game post 9/11. With respect to Matz, he has undertaken charitable work to help those first responders, and due to his efforts he has been a Roberto Clemente Award nominee for the second straight year.
17. On Frazier, he his red hot right now. He has hit three homers over two straight games, and he is playing his usual good defense at third. He is getting hot just at the right time because the Mets need their absolute best from everyone right now.
18. That is something which has made this Mets team really special. They are all giving what they could give. Robinson Cano is playing as much as his leg would allow, and based upon what we heard from Mickey Callaway, J.D. Davis is doing the same. Brandon Nimmo has returned from a potentially season ending injury to play great. Brach is dealing with a shoulder injury, and Justin Wilson has an elbow issue. Right now, everyone is giving this team what they can. That deserves the fans’ love and admiration.
19. We’re also seeing players doing all they can to come back. Dominic Smith is hitting off a tee and running. Robert Gsellman is throwing on the side. They are both doing this despite both having suffered what really was season ending injuries. Again, say what you will about this team, but this is a special group of players.
20. The 1999 Mets overcame a two game deficit over the final three games of the season to force a one game playoff. This team has 16 games. Anything is possible.
This game wasn’t even close. The Mets absolutely destroyed the Diamondbacks hitting six homers and Marcus Stroman having his best start as a Met in their 11-1 win. There were all sorts of records.
There's no sweeter sound than a well-hit homer
Here's all six(!!) of today's Mets home runs pic.twitter.com/JWQ9etZvTd
— SNY (@SNYtv) September 12, 2019
It was the first time in team history they hit five homers in consecutive games. With the six homers, they’ve eclipsed their single season team record of homers at home.
Those homers came courtesy of Todd Frazier, Juan Lagares, Robinson Cano, Tomas Nido, and Michael Conforto (number 30 for number 30). If you noticed that’s just five names meaning someone must’ve hit two.
That would be Lagares. If you think you are incredulous, you should’ve heard Gary Cohen’s call for Lagares’ first career grand slam:
Go to bed with some positive vibes heading into Friday, courtesy of Juan Lagares and Gary Cohen pic.twitter.com/sWUFpm44GO
— SNY (@SNYtv) September 13, 2019
It was Lagares’ first homer at home since September 7, 2017. He wouldn’t have to wait much longer for his next one. The liost of Mets center fielders fo homer and collect such RBI are Lagares and Yoenis Cespedes.
His game had everyone happy for him. Fans cheered him. His teammates were elated. There was universal love and admiration for the player who is currently the longest tenured Met. He’s also a player who is a pending free agent, which means these could be the final days of Lagares’ Mets career.
Lagares has been the single most talented defensive outfielder. He won the Gold Glove in 2014, and he probably should’ve won the year prior. He was a player who always played the game the right way. He always hustled, and as you would hear from the Mets, he would leave no stone upturned in trying to improve as a player.
There are some who may want to dwell on his never being the player they hoped he would be. Part of the reason that was the case was the injuries, which were largely the result of his hustling like none other. It did lead to the Mets moving him away from being an everyday player to his being a role player. He never did receive enough credit for willingly accepting the role for the betterment of the team and not disrupting the clubhouse.
In the end, Lagares was a player who just wanted to win. On that front, he did all he could do with an excellent 2015 postseason. He also had an excellent stretch this year helping the Mets get back into contention. If the Mets are going to continue to contend this year, they’re going to need his glove, and on days like yesterday, his bat. When he hits like that he’s going to receive the love and admiration of Mets fans and players.
Yesterday was probably his last great game as a Mets player. It was probably the last time he’s going to receive the cheers he received. It might’ve been the last time the Mets fans got to say thank you for his performance on the field without having to say good-bye.
It was a great moment yesterday for someone who has been a good Met in his career. He’s been someone who has always played the game the right way, and he is someone who has been worthy of our admiration and respect. This was probably his last hurrah on this front for personal accomplishments. The good news is there is still more time for him to help experience glory in a Mets uniform. If that’s going to happen, the Mets are going to need him.
During Saturday’s game against the Phillies, Steve Gelbs did a segment to discuss why the Mets are one of the least shifting teams. When you boil it all down, the Mets believe the shifting has a negative impact on the Mets pitchers psychologically leading to them making mistakes:
When they discussed it I immediately checked for your take. pic.twitter.com/aC1M9OfNhE
— Roger Cormier (@yayroger) September 8, 2019
It should be noted these conclusions aren’t because Fred Wilpon or someone else in the Mets front office being staunchly against the numbers and wanting to play the game the way it was played back in the Brooklyn Dodgers days. Rather, it is the result of the work of Russell Carlton, who literally wrote the book on the shift entitled The Shift: The Next Evolution in Basebal Thinking.
He would also write a piece on the topic for Baseball Prospectus. In his article, he would write about how the shift has correlated to an increase in walks and generally how “pitchers often talk about how The Shift made them uncomfortable.” His ultimate conclusion was there is much research left to be done with the shift, and ultimately, “The Shift should be used very cautiously.”
It should be noted the Mets hired Carlton this past year. What they haven’t done is hired someone who has written at length about the significance of the pitcher/catcher relationship. That was made abundantly clear yesterday.
In an exclusive article by Joel Sherman and Kevin Kernan of the New York Post, it was revealed how Noah Syndergaard has become increasingly frustrated by the Mets pairing him with Wilson Ramos instead of Tomas Nido or recently Rene Rivera.
When it comes to Syndergaard, the Mets apparently have little to no regard for his psyche. As noted in the article, “Van Wagenen’s front office believes the pitcher-catcher dynamic is overstated and favors the best offensive matchup against the opposing pitcher.”
As noted previously in an article on this site, the conclusions derived by the Van Wagenen front office are not factually sound. Rivera and Nido have excelled at framing the low pitches, which is an area where Syndergaard needs the calls to be effective. We’ve seen that play out recently with Syndergaard pitching seven shut out innings with no walks and 10 strikeouts sandwiched between complete and utter duds with Ramos behind the plate. This was after a stretch where Syndergaard pitched extremely well with Nido behind the plate.
Perhaps, this is nothing more than psychological with Syndergaard, and that despite all the data to the contrary, the Mets front office is right there is nothing really to personal catchers. That is all well and good, but it is really odd that the same front office which doesn’t shift much in response to the impact on the pitcher’s frame of mind completely disregards the impact a catcher has on a pitcher’s psyche.
In essence, the Mets front office believes there is more bearing on where the second baseman stands than who is standing behind the plate.
There is really no making sense of that. There is also no sense in weighing 3-4 at-bats Ramos will get in a game over the 20-30 batters Syndergaard or another Mets pitcher will face in a game. Essentially, the Mets think four at-bats from Ramos is more important than 20 from the opposition.
The best way to sum this up is the Mets believe in pitcher psychology until they don’t. They believe in the impact a shift has on a pitcher but not the impact framing and pitch calling has. They believe in doing all they can do to support Ramos but not Syndergaard.
The New York Mets had another golden opportunity to make headway in the Wild Card race, and once again, they failed. Instead of taking control of their destiny, they have lost two out of three propelling the Phillies and not the Mets forward:
1. To a certain extent, it would be better if the other Wild Card teams would just put the Mets out of their misery. They’re not, and we’re all hanging on desperately hoping they’ll find their way to the Wild Card Game.
2. Mickey Callaway was terrible in this series. You can’t let Tomas Nido bat knowing you’re pulling Marcus Stroman. You can’t let Luis Avilan face Maikel Franco. Intentionally walking Andrew Knapp makes little to no sense. His decision making in those three instances was just ugly.
3. Really, Callaway put the Mets in a position to fail, and like when Franco predictably homered off of Avilan, the Mets did fail. However, it should be noted it was the players failures before and after the decisions which magnified the simply awful decisions Callaway made.
4. J.D. Davis has to catch that ball, and Stroman has to pick him up. Even with that ridiculous error, there is no reason that had to become a four run inning except for the Phillies hitting Stroman quite hard.
5. Going to Davis for a second, defense matters, and you can’t keep putting him in the field if you really want to win. That is all the more the case when Brandon Nimmo is back and playing great. Really, you can’t have someone with a -8 DRS over 474.0 innings out there. It’s irresponsible.
6. Noah Syndergaard needs to be better. Under no circumstances can he surrender a 3-0 lead in that spot. He’s a big time pitcher who tries to back it up with his talk and swagger. Big time pitchers don’t lay an egg like he did with the season on the line. He’s better than that.
7. Also, pinch hitting for Syndergaard was the right move. He can slam his helmet all he wants. He deserved to be lifted from that game, and Todd Frazier gave that team a much better chance to score with the bases loaded and two outs. Neither player delivered when they needed it most, which was a theme this weekend.
8. One of the reasons why the Mets didn’t win was Pete Alonso and Michael Conforto came up well short. Each came up two times in the late innings as the tying run. They couldn’t get the key hit or even draw a walk. When you boil it all down, even taking into account Callaway’s terrible decision making, that’s why they lost.
9. On the bright side with Alonso, his bases loaded walk winning Friday night’s game was a real sign of maturity. He was clearly amped up for that at-bat, and while he ran the count full swinging at some pitches he probably shouldn’t have, he did take the one he needed to take to draw the walk to win the game.
10. The bigger problem with the Mets is this bullpen. The one day Justin Wilson doesn’t have it, and the Mets don’t have someone to pick him up. When you dig deeper, it’s very likely Paul Sewald is the third or fourth most reliable reliever out of the bullpen. That can’t happen.
11. Speaking of the bullpen, you can’t have a series like this and not have Seth Lugo not throw one pitch. Not one. Unless he is hurt, that’s inexcusable, especially with the season on the line yesterday.
12. In terms of Lugo, at some point the Mets need to begin contemplating shutting him down for the year. If you are not going to win this year, you should not be wasting his innings. In all likelihood, that decision will likely be fueled by how the Mets do in this upcoming series against the Diamondbacks.
13. Seeing all that Brodie Van Wagenen did this past offseason, he deserves to watch the Diamondbacks pass them in the Wild Card standings led by a Wilmer Flores who he did not want on the team.
14. On that note, while Stroman was struggling, Anthony Kay had a strong Major League debut against the Rays. His eight strikeouts was a Blue Jays debut record. It should also be noted in that game Travis d’Arnaud would drive home the go-ahead run for the Rays.
15. In Seattle, Justin Dunn was called up. That means Jarred Kelenic remains the only first round draft pick made by Sandy Alderson who has not made it to the majors. Sandy really acquired about built up the young talent in the Mets system.Of course, Van Wagenen couldn’t wait to get rid of them in one bad trade after another.
16. When you boil it all down, the issue isn’t Callaway or the bullpen or the depth. The issue is Van Wagenen. As one noted on this site, Van Wagenen mortgaged the future and ruined the payroll flexibility to build the fourth best team in this division. Seeing how he’s operated the team and how the Wilpons continue to operate this team, Major League Baseball needs to intervene. At a time with their being concerned about attendance and ratings, they cannot possibly let a team in the largest media market in the world continue operating this way. It’s not good for the game.
17. What is good for the game is Nimmo. He’s always enthusiastic on the field, and as we saw this weekend, he can come up big when the Mets need him. Since he came off the IL, he walked nine times in 22 plate appearances. He drove in a run and found a way on base with the game on the line. He’s been great . . . just like he was last year.
18. Credit is due to Amed Rosario. He made a great play in the hole on Friday to turn what could’ve been a Rhys Hoskins RBI single into an inning ending double play. He was also 3-for-5 yesterday getting on base twice in the late innings starting what should’ve been run scoring rallies. If you want to take some solace in this series and season, Rosario’s growth is the biggest takeaway.
19. Mets fans won’t want to hear this, but Edwin Diaz is THIS CLOSE to figuring it out. He has struck out 12 out of the last 20 batters he has faced. That shows he is getting back to what he was last year with the Mariners. Of course, he still has allowed too many big homers, and even if he is starting to figure it out, it appears to be too little too late.
20. On that front, thanks to the Brewers this weekend, the Mets are still alive. Until such time as the odds become impossible, the Mets have a chance especially since they have Jacob deGrom and a host of other very good players. As long as the Mets have a pulse, and seeing how they continued to fight back in this series, they do, we should continue to believe.
There is a wealth of information which proves to us CERA is not a reliable source of information upon which to base decisions. The sample sizes are too small to draw any sort of conclusions, and there are too many variables at play like home plate umpires and opposing lineups. Despite all of that, the pairing of Noah Syndergaard and Rene Rivera seems significant.
Certainly, it felt that way in Washington last week. After a Trea Turner leadoff single, Syndergaard retired the next 16 batters in a row striking out nine of them. Syndergaard’s final line was 7.0 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 10 K. The last time Syndergaard pitched seven innings walking none and striking out 10 was April 20, 2017. His catcher that day? Rene Rivera.
Now, Syndergaard has had plenty of dominating performances since he was last paired with Rivera. That said, he seemed to be much more consistently dominant with Rivera behind the plate. For example, Syndergaard started the 2017 season allowing just two earned runs in his first three starts while averaging 6.1 innings per start. In those games, he struck out 20 and walked none. Syndergaard would have similar runs in 2016 including but not limited to his GREAT performance in the 2016 Wild Card game.
Overall, Rivera has caught Syndergaard 29 times. In those 29 games, Syndergaard has a 2.52 ERA. When Syndergaard is caught by another catcher, he has a career 3.57 ERA. When Syndergaard is caught by Rivera, he has a 1.9 BB/9 and a 10.3 K/9. When he is caught by anyone else, Syndergaard has a 2.2 BB/9 and a 9.5 K/9. Again, these numbers could be explained by sheer randomness, but seeing the disparity, it does call for further examination as to why the discrepancy.
On that front, Rivera has long been noted for his pitch framing skills. In fact, he has elite pitch framing skills. Specifically, he has quite the ability to frame that low pitch. As the Hard Ball Times put it in 2014, Rivera’s ability allows “pitchers to have dominion over the low, outside corner, nabbing strikes that hitters would have to lunge to make contact with. It seems like it was part of a consistent strategy for Rivera and his battery mate to nip that corner on 0-0.”
Considering how Syndergaard likes throwing his sinker, he needs a catcher like Rivera to thrive. When you also consider Rivera’s years of experience behind the plate, Rivera also serves as a mentor of sorts for Syndergaard. He knows how to read Syndergaard knowing when he does and doesn’t have it. He knows what pitch to call in each situation. There is a comfort between the two, and based on Rivera’s skill behind the plate matching Syndergaard’s ability on the mound, they bring out the best in one another.
With the Mets making a push for the Wild Card and trying to get the best out of their starters, they should be pairing Syndergaard with Rivera. That goes double when there is a day game after a night game. As an aside, when the two aren’t paired, Rivera should be counseling Tomas Nido, a catcher who has a similar skill set and has gotten similar dominance from Syndergaard.
Ultimately, when it comes down to it, the Mets need to do what is best for their starters. Like in 2016 and 2017 and with his last start, Syndergaard needs to be paired with Rivera.
There are a number of reasons why the Mets lost this game to the Phillies. Going 0-for-11 with RISP and leaving nine runners on base certainly attributed to that. Behind that was defense.
The key play was in the first. The Mets loaded the bases with two outs, and Todd Frazier hit what should’ve been a bases clearing double off Drew Smyly. It appeared that was going to be the case until Adam Haseley made a leaping catch in right to end the inning.
🎶 Isn’t he (g)lovelyyy! 🎶 pic.twitter.com/ibKvxQKKzh
— Philadelphia Phillies (@Phillies) September 7, 2019
Conversely, the Phillies four run fourth began when J.D. Davis had a brutal error allowing Scott Kingery to reach. From there, the Phillies continued to hit Marcus Stroman, who allowed a season high 10 hits. One of the reasons why was the BABIP gods were unfair tonight. There were others including defense. All told, it was a four run inning putting the Phillies up 5-0.
Those two errors were the difference as was the ability to capitalize on them. For example, the Mets had first and second no outs in the bottom of that inning with Todd Frazier and Juan Lagares reaching on successive Brad Miller errors.
That’s where Mickey Callaway made some very curious decisions. At that point, Stroman had been laboring all night, and the Mets were down five. This was their chance to capitalize, and Callaway stood in the way.
Knowing he was removing Stroman, he still let Tomas Nido hit over Wilson Ramos. After not using Ramos, he then didn’t have Ramos, who has been great in the second half, hit. Instead, he used Jed Lowrie who just rejoined the team after a very lengthy IL stint.
From there, the Mets never really threatened, and that Phillies continued to play very good defense. In the end, it was a 5-0 loss. That’s a loss the Mets cannot afford to have. They need to be better than this because they’re running out of time. That being better especially includes defense.
This was a show down not just of the past two Cy Young winners in the National League. In many ways, it was a showdown between the two pitchers who could finish 1-2 in this year’s Cy Young voting.
Advantage Jacob deGrom . . . at least in the Cy Young race.
In the first, the Nationals had deGrom on the ropes scoring a run on a pair of doubles from Asdrubal Cabrera and Juan Soto. Matt Adams would strike out getting deGrom off the hook. It wouldn’t be the first time he and the Nationals would do that.
This wasn’t classic deGrom. Instead, this was the version of deGrom who uses his guile and intellect to navigate his way out of jams. Overall, deGrom would have just 1-2-3 inning all night. In a way, deGrom not having his best stuff and getting his way out of trouble minimizing damage proves his greatness every bit as much as his 10+ strikeout performances.
The key moment for him did feature some luck. In the sixth, after Juan Soto was hit by a pitch, Adams singled. After that single, Kurt Suzuki hit about the longest single you’ve ever seen. He hit it to the center field wall, and Brandon Nimmo couldn’t make the catch on the leaping attempt. For some reason, Adams stopped at second keeping the double play in order.
Three pitches later, deGrom got the ground ball he needed with Gerardo Parra hitting into the inning ending 4-6-3 double play. That was a huge chance for the Nationals, and it was a key moment in the game.
At that point, the Mets led 4-2. Part of the reason was Mickey Callaway seemed to guess right stacking his left-handed batters against Scherzer. To the consternation of some Joe Panik and Luis Guillorme would play over J.D. Davis and Amed Rosario, but Callaway would be vindicated partially because the Mets opted to attack Scherzer. The strategy worked in the fourth.
On three straight pitches, Scherzer allowed singles to Pete Alonso and Michael Conforto before allowing an RBI double to Wilson Ramos. Of course, Nimmo would be the first batter in the inning to take a pitch, and in that at-bat, he’d hit the go-ahead sacrifice fly. Then, well, the impossible happened:
HOW ABOUT PANIK AT THE DISH THO 💥 pic.twitter.com/vbQTaFIiM1
— SNY (@SNYtv) September 4, 2019
That was Panik’s first homer as a Met, and it was his first since May 28th. It gave the Mets a 4-2 lead which the Mets would not relinquish partially because the Nationals bullpen is terrible.
One of the key plays in this game would prove to be Jeff McNeil homering off Roenis Elias in the top of the eighth. It proved so important because Callaway would make a very questionable move sending deGrom out for the eighth.
Anthony Rendon hit an infield single neither deGrom nor Todd Frazier could field. Then, instead of having Luis Avilan up or going to a warmed up Seth Lugo, Callaway allowed deGrom to face Soto a fourth time, and Soto made deGrom and the Mets pay by hitting a two run homer.
The homer pulled the Nationals to within 5-4, and it would sour what was an impressive deGrom performance. With Lugo shutting down the Nationals, it wouldn’t cost deGrom the win.
The Nationals would stick with the left-handed Elias in the ninth, and Nimmo would homer to leadoff the inning expanding the Mets lead to 6-4. Things would devolve from there for the reverse splits Elias who allow a hit to Panik.
Daniel Hudson “relieved” Elias, and he’d immediately walk Frazier. After Guillorme lines out, Tomas Nido hit what should’ve been the inning ending double play. It wasn’t as Trea Turner forgot how many outs there were, and he’d only get Nido at first.
McNeil made the Nationals pay with an RBI single, and Alonso would put this game supposedly out of reach with his 44th homer of the year putting the Mets up 10-4.
This allowed Callaway to pull Lugo and go to Paul Sewald to wrap it up. While Sewald typically thrives in these situations, he was bad tonight recording just one out while Turner and Rendon would drive runs home.
With runners at first and second with one out and Soto due up, Callaway was forced to go to Avilan. He didn’t get the job done allowing a single to Soto to load the bases.
Zimmerman would hit a two run double just past the diving Conforto, and suddenly the laugher was 10-8 with the tying runs in scoring position. Then, Suzuki hit a Gabe winning three run homer to cap off a seven run ninth.
There are no words for how bad a loss this is.
On Sunday, I had the privilege of being invited back on A Metsian Podcast to discuss the Braves series and all things Mets. During the podcast, I recall mentioning Pete Alonso, Jacob deGrom, Matt Harvey, Dillon Gee, Logan Verrette, Aaron Altherr, Tomas Nido, Jed Lowrie, Brandon Nimmo, J.D. Davis, Amed Rosario, Wilson Ramos, Joe Panik, Todd Frazier, Jeff McNeil, Jason Vargas, Carlos Delgado, Endy Chavez, and others.
Please take time to listen. Thank you.