The Mets had every reason to lose this game. Marcus Stroman left the game after four with what was a hamstring injury, which for some reason has been an injury plaguing the Mets a bit of late. This made this a bullpen game for the team in what became an extra inning game.
It was an extra inning game partially because Brad Brach gave up the lead in the sixth. It hurt all the more because the Mets bottom of the lineup delivered that run.
Heading into the fifth, Adam Plutko was rolling having allowed just one hit. Given the lineup, he appeared poised to rip through the fifth carrying the 1-0 lead forward as the Mets were already in their bullpen with Jeurys Familia having pitched the top of the inning.
After getting the first out, Todd Frazier singled. The Mets followed the single with a hit-and-run which Juan Lagares hit to the wall for a double. As surprising as the Lagares double might’ve been, the and Luis Guillorme pinch hit double was all the more so.
— New York Mets (@Mets) August 22, 2019
In actuality, the big hits from Lagares and Guillorme weren’t really surprising. Both have been playing very well over the past month, and we’re even seeing Lagares get back to his Gold Glove form.
Make a nice catch ➡️ get a big hit.
— New York Mets (@Mets) August 22, 2019
As alluded to earlier, Brach gave the lead right back. He’d issue a leadoff walk to Carlos Santana, and then he’d allow a one out triple to Jose Ramirez. The triple ruling was a bit generous as J.D. Davis did misplay it along the wall, and Ramirez just beat the throw to third. While Brach did give up the lead, he did settle down getting the next two outs keeping the game tied.
It stayed tied partially because the Mets blew some chances.
The Mets had two on and one out as Frazier and Lagares found a way to start a rally again. This time, it was Rajai Davis pinch hitting, and he struck out. Amed Rosario failed to deliver as well popping out to end the inning.
As bad as that blown opportunity was, for some Mets fans, it was probably worse for them to see Oliver Perez pitch a scoreless eighth. Even worse that included strike outs of Pete Alonso and Michael Conforto.
Perhaps worse than that was having to use Aaron Altherr as a pinch hitter in the ninth knowing he wasn’t going to deliver a big hit.
After Seth Lugo was Seth Lugo for two innings, it was time for Luis Avilan in the 10th. There were two outs, and Avilan had a 1-2 count to Santana. Three pitches later Santana reached across and hit a change-up for a go-ahead homer.
The Indians went to Brad Hand, who had been shaky of late. He was very shaky tonight.
Rosario began the inning with a double with the Indians catching a break because Rosario did not notice Greg Allen bobbling the ball on the transfer in center. In any event, Rosario would make his way to third when Joe Panik laid down a perfect sac bunt.
The Indians wanted no part of Alonso, so they opted to intentionally walk him to have Conforto hit the left-handed Hand. With the Indians infield halfway, Conforto hit a ball grabbed by Santana.
Instead of going home to try to get Rosario, Santana sought to start the 3-6-1 double play. The problem was Hand didn’t go to first apparently thinking Santana would go home. Instead of what could’ve been a close play at first, it was a tie game.
Wilson Ramos then extended his hitting streak to 15 games with an infield single which rolled feet from home plate. This brought the hot hitting Davis to the plate. He battled back from 0-2 to a full count. Finally, on the eighth pitch, Hand hung a slider over the plate, and Davis delivered his first career game winning hit.
J.D. CALLS GAME! pic.twitter.com/Cictia8VC5
— New York Mets (@Mets) August 22, 2019
As much of a frenzy the crowd was in, the players were in one themselves. Davis Jersey was torn off his back in what seems to be the new walk-off celebration, and in the postgame Davis sounded like he’s been a Mets fan all of his life belting out a loud “Lets Go Mets!”
The Mets should not have won this game at all. This was a game they lose easily a month ago. They’re winning these games now, and they’re six games over .500 for the first time all season.
Depending on how you look at things, the Mets either showed they can play with the Braves, or they showed they are not in the same class as the Braves or the best teams in baseball leaving the postseason hopes all the more futile. Really, this was a wild three game series with a lot happening:
1. The one injury the Mets could ill-afford to handle was Jeff McNeil. His versatility is arguably more important than his bat. In any event, his absence really exposes not the Mets lineup but really their depth.
2. As we saw with the Mets yesterday, they can compete without McNeil. For that to happen, Pete Alonso needs to be the first half Alonso, and Amed Rosario needs to continue his breakout. The Mets need higher levels of production from Michael Conforto, and ultimately, they need Juan Lagares and Joe Panik to be everyday players.
3. It has been a pure joy to see Lagares become good again both in the field and at the plate. Of note, Lagares has had as many hits in this series as he’s had in his previous 15 games combined. If Lagares plays like this, he’s an everyday player especially with that glove in center.
4. With respect to second, Panik has to play everyday because Ruben Tejada isn’t good. In one game, he showed why he hasn’t been in the majors in two years, and he looked skittish with his back turned on double plays. You can point to his Triple-A stats, but that ball is all the more juiced than the Major League ball is.
5. Since the Mets opted to go with Tejada, Dilson Herrera has responded by going 3-for-6 with three runs, two homers, five RBI, and two walks in the past two games. He is red hot with a seven game hitting streak. While you may want to say the juiced ball theory applies to him as well (it does), his production was near this level last season. Tejada’s wasn’t.
6. It should be noted the Mets are carrying an extra pitcher with Drew Gagnon, who was beyond terrible last night, and really that spot in the bullpen has been terrible all year no matter who has filled the role. Given how the Mets need some power off the bench, and Herrera presents another player who could play outfield, there is no reason why he spends another day in Syracuse.
7. While Gagnon was terrible out of the bullpen, the rest of the bullpen has stepped up. Brad Brach looks as rejuvenated as Jeurys Familia does as late. Along with Justin Wilson, this gives the Mets three battle tested relievers who are pitching very well right now in front of Seth Lugo. That’s suddenly a good bullpen.
8. Lugo blew it on Wednedsay. We can try to say he didn’t have time to warm up (he did), or say it was another problem (not really), but he just wasn’t good. Fortunately for the Mets, he’s going to rebound from this and continue to be great.
9. Mickey Callaway was right in lifting Lugo for Steven Matz. There were many factors at play with that decision, and he ultimately went with the team’s best available pitcher in a high leverage spot. When he doesn’t have it, the Mets aren’t going to win those one run games.
10. On Matz, he was brilliant, and he has been much improved in the second half. In his six second half starts, he is 2-1 with a 3.06 ERA and a 1.047 WHIP. If you’re getting that from your fifth spot in the rotation, you can beat the good and the bad teams.
11. Don’t make too much about Marcus Stroman‘s “struggles” since joining the Mets. He is adapting to a new team and a new pitching philosophy. The main takeaway from him is he has given the Mets a chance to win in his first three starts. This is probably the floor for his performance, and we should see him take off soon.
12. With Zack Wheeler, it was one poor start. Just one. Don’t overreact and just look forward to his next start against the Royals. On that front, it is interesting he is finally getting that chance to pitch against the Royals after he was supposed to be one of the team’s best starters in 2015 and his almost being traded away for Carlos Gomez that year.
13. The Mets really needed that game from Pete Alonso. He’s been struggling in the second half, and with McNeil down, they really need him to get back to being the All-Star level player. His five hit game was a reminder of just how good he can be. His tying Cody Bellinger‘s National League home run record with more than a month remaining in the season is a reminder as to just how good he has been.
14. Alonso and Rosario each having a five hit game in the same game was not only the first time it happened in team history, but it is a reason to get excited for the rest of the 2019 season and each of the ensuing years.
15. Yet again, we need to point out Rosario has figured things out, and he is now one of the best players on the team and emerging as one of the best shortstops in baseball. Since July 1, he is hitting .364/.399/.536, and in the second half he is a 3 DRS. Don’t be surprised, be ready.
16. Mets should have won this series, but they just couldn’t get that one big hit in either of the first two games. The main culprit was Conforto, but Wilson Ramos was also really bad. It should also be noted in Wednesday’s debacle, almost everyone was bad with the exception of Rosario, J.D. Davis, Luis Guillorme, Panik, and the pitchers not named Lugo.
17. Glass half full is the Mets showed they can play with the Braves. Glass half empty is the Mets chances of winning the division went from realistic to near pipe dream.
18. Starting this pivotal stretch of games 3-3 and being two out of the Wild Card is not a bad start. The Mets now have to make real headway in Kansas City before taking care of business at Citi Field. If they do that, we will have real season to be excited for the meaningful games in September.
19. Congratulations are in order to Howie Rose for being inducted into the New York State Baseball Hall of Fame. This is an honor long overdue, and it should hopefully serve as a precursor to both he and Gary Cohen being inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.
20. Gary Cohen and Howie Rose are no longer allowed to take time off at the same time. Gary Apple is terrible. He should never be allowed to do play-by-play again. Given his smug attitude, I wouldn’t care if he was gone from SNY all together.
There was a time Julio Teheran owned the Mets. Not anymore. Not tonight. The roles are now reversed.
— New York Mets (@Mets) August 15, 2019
The Mets were up 3-0 before recording an out, and the offense was off and running. Teheran wouldn’t make it past the second. Every starter would get at least one hit, and the Mets would record a season high 22 hits.
Rosario and Alonso each had their first five hit games, and it’s the first time in Rosario was a homer short of the cycle, and he’s had nine hits over the past two games. Alonso had a career high six RBI.
Another note with these two is Alonso was charged with an error when Rosario literally threw a ball through his mitt.
Juan Lagares continues his reawakening with a three hit game. Lagares’ eight hits in the series where as many as he’s had in his previous 52 AB.
Marcus Stroman was good enough allowing three runs (two earned) in four hits on four walks and five strikeouts in 5.1 innings. Luis Avilan and Brad Brach continued their improved pitching before handing it off to Drew Gagnon to mop up the game.
Gagnon was terrible allowing two homers to Freddie Freeman along with homers to Ronald Acuna Jr. and Josh Donaldson. That’s four homers making a 10-3 lead a 10-8 nail biter necessitating Edwin Diaz enter the game with two outs in the ninth to try to get the save.
Even if the Mets made a laugher scary, they got the win they needed, and now they fly to Kansas City where the can do some damage.
As impressive as this Braves club has been since the start of last year, and even with them having a big lead in the division, they can be beat. The key is to wait them out.
That’s what the Mets almost did with Steven Matz tonight who was brilliant despite not getting much help in the second.
Matz got himself into trouble allowing a leadoff single to Josh Donaldson and a walk to Adam Duvall. He’d recover by inducing what should’ve been a double play for Johan Camargo. Instead, it was a fielder’s choice with Amed Rosario making a slightly wide throw and Ruben Tejada fielding it like Chase Utley was ready to tackle him.
The Mets got to Keuchel with a rally in the sixth, but it was killed by a Wilson Ramos double play. Conforto followed with a hard fought walk giving Todd Frazier a chance. For a moment, it looked like Frazier would deliver all the way up until Freddie Freeman made the incredible over the shoulder catch on the bloop to end the inning.
Apparently, Freeman doesn’t need a bat to be a Mets killer.
Keuchel looked poised to get through seven until Matz had a two out single. That was it for Keuchel who was lifted for Chris Martin as the lineup flipped over.
Rosario had a hard hit ball which ripped through Johan Camargo. With Duvall trying to get Matz at third, Rosario moved to second. Duvall’s poor decision loomed large when a Davis bloop landed softly into center giving the Mets a 2-1 lead.
At this point, Matz was at 79 pitches. He allowed just the one earned on two hits with a walk and five strikeouts. He retired the last 14 straight.
Conversely, he ran the bases. There was a long delay when Pete Alonso‘s follow through hit Flowers in the mask necessitating a trainer’s visit. The last three outs of the sixth were very hard hit and two of them likely fall for hits if Juan Lagares wasn’t in vintage form.
Opposing batters hit 284/.330/.490 off Matz the third time through the lineup, and Donaldson hits 263/.385/.526 the third time he faces a starter.
It just didn’t work out with the umpire squeezing him. A bunch of balls found a hole. There was Alonso going deep into the second base hole instead of allowing Tejada to make a routine play.
Donaldson had a leadoff walk, and Duvall followed with a hard hit single. After that it was hit after hit after hit. By the time he was lifted for Luis Avilan, it was 5-2 Braves. After Avilan allowed an RBI single to Ozzie Albies, it was 6-2 Braves.
Now, at this point, it was Luis Guillorme pinch hitting instead of Davis batting because Davis was inexplicably double switched out of the game when Lugo entered the game. That decision didn’t come back to bite the Mets as Guillorme hit an RBI single pulling the Mets to within 6-4.
This set the stage for Alonso. Throughout the first half he was great against bullpens and from the seventh inning on. He hasn’t been that in the second half. It was more of the second half Alonso with him hitting what should’ve been a game ending double play.
— MLB Replays (@MLBReplays) August 15, 2019
Instead, Camargo missed second initially, and then he dropped the ball. Bases were now loaded for Ramos. He came up short striking out. The Braves went to old friend Jerry Blevins who struck out Conforto to end the game.
Ultimately, Callaway went with his best guy in the biggest spot in the game. He made the right decision there (with Lugo, not Davis). It didn’t work. It happens. Chances are Lugo won’t blow up like that again, and the Mets win this game the next 10 times.
Game Notes: Tejada was called up for the injured Jeff McNeil.
As bad as it looked, it sounded worse. Jeff McNeil hit the first base bag awkwardly, and he was clearly in pain hobbling and hopping around in foul territory. After the game, he and Mickey Callaway tried to put a good face on it, but they came across despondent.
Even if this isn’t the worst case scenario, it looks like McNeil will have to miss sometime. We can pray for a game or two, but it’s probably more than that.
If you want to be glass half full, Lagares seems to be locked in recently. We saw a vintage Lagares defensive play when he robbed Yan Gomes of an extra base hit on Saturday. Last night, he was 4-for-4 against the Braves. That matched his hit total for all of July, and it was his fifth four hit game in his seven year career.
Looking back, the last time Lagares had struggled offensively and defensively like this was in 2015. Those struggles led to the Mets first trying to obtain Carlos Gomez, and then later “settling” on Yoenis Cespedes.
In 2015, after the Mets obtained Cespedes and the Mets started playing more meaningful games, Lagares stepped up god game. From August 1 until the end of the season, he hit .287/.326/.471. In that postseason, Lagares hit .348/.375/.435.
Maybe, Lagares has that ability to raise his game in these pressure situations. That’s at least the hope now.
The other hope is Panik can raise his game right now. So far, he hasn’t hit much with the Mets going 2-for-10 with a walk. However, what he has contributed has counted for something.
His single Friday led to Michael Conforto‘s walk off hit. His teaching on an error on Saturday led to J.D. Davis‘ go-ahead sacrifice fly. His RBI single Sunday was part of a three run inning to tie the game at 3-3.
That’s what the Mets need from Lagares and Panik. There’s no way they can match what McNeil gave the Mets. There’s maybe five players in all of baseball who could do that. Maybe. Instead, they need to make their hits count while also reaching back and rediscovering their Gold Glove form.
More than anything, if they give the Mets very good to elite defense, the Mets still have a chance. Both players have the skills to do it, so to that end, there’s a legitimate chance.
If they do that, they help the pitching, which in turn, lowers the bar on the amount of runs the Mets need to score to win.
The onus for scoring those runs will have to be shared collectively by the lineup. At the moment, you can’t ask more from Davis than what he’s been giving. The same goes for Wilson Ramos.
The burden shifts to Amed Rosario to pick it back up after going 4-for-23 over his last five games. Todd Frazier needs to return or get close to his June form. Pete Alonso has to get back to his first half form instead of being the guy hitting .188 in that second half hitting the occasional homer. Finally, no matter how good Conforto has been, as a leader and as a guy who’s been here before, he needs to raise his game to another level.
If these things happen, and you get a spark from one of Ruben Tejada, Dilson Herrera, and/or Arismendy Alcantara from Triple-A or a Luis Guillorme and Aaron Altherr from the Major League roster, McNeil missing any time doesn’t have to be a death knell for the season.
Overall, everyone on this roster raising their game is very possible. However, nothing is going to be possible unless Lagares and Panik raise their games. I’d they don’t do that, chances are McNeil missing time will be the reason the Mets moss the postseason.
As big as the Nationals series was, the series against the Braves is bigger. It’s bigger because it’s on the road, a step up in competition, and it’s an opportunity to get into the division race.
Unlike this past weekend, the Mets were not up to the task.
Right off the bat, Zack Wheeler‘s 15 inning scoreless steak was snapped. Actually, it was 15.1 innings as Ozzie Albies flew out between the trio of singles from Ronald Acuna Jr., Freddie Freeman, and Josh Donaldson. That 1-0 deficit grew to 2-0 on a Matt Joyce RBI single in the first.
That first hit was a two out single in the second. He moved to scoring position on a Wheeler HBP, and he’d score on a Jeff McNeil RBI single. It was 2-1, and the Mets would get no closer.
The Braves got that run back in the bottom of the inning on a Freeman RBI single. That lead grew to 3-1 when Acuna homered in the fourth, and then 5-1 when Ender Inciarte hit an RBI double in the fifth.
In total, Wheeler lasted just the five innings allowing a run in four of the five innings he pitched. He was easily out-pitched by Fried, and Acuna was a one man wrecking crew.
For example, in the sixth, the Mets had Fried on the ropes, but they’d shoot themselves in the foot.
Michael Conforto followed a Wilson Ramos leadoff walk with a GIDP. Todd Frazier then just missed a homer hitting it off the center field wall, and he’d need a great slide to get the double. Lagares followed with his third hit of the night, and for some reason, Gary Disarcina thought it wise to challenge Acuna’s arm:
— Atlañta Braves (@Braves) August 14, 2019
With that, the Mets blew a chance to score, and they trailed 5-1 in what was now a battle of the bullpens.
Brad Brach pitched a clean sixth. Luis Avilan got into trouble in the seventh allowing a leadoff single to Donaldson an led plunking Adam Duvall. With Mets killer Charlie Culberson up, Mickey Callaway turned to Jeurys Familia. Familia continued his recent strong stretch by striking out Culberson to end the jam.
It was 5-1, but with the way the Mets have played and with the Braves weak bullpen, there was a chance. That chance came in the eighth.
Shane Greene, who has already lost his closer’s job, did little to instill confidence tonight.
Then, with Jerry Blevins relieving Greene to face Conforto, the Braves could not convert the 3-6-3 double play allowing Alonso to score. Anthony Swarzak came on to face Frazier. After Frazier singled, Lagares hit a ball which ate up Freeman allowing Conforto to score.
Unfortunately, Joe Panik could not get the big pinch hit. This left the Mets squandering what could’ve been a much bigger opportunity and entering the ninth 5-3.
As if things could’ve be bad enough in this frustrating loss, McNeil hurt himself trying to leg out a single against newly installed Braves closer Mark Melancon. With so many games remaining, the Mets could afford to lose a game, but they cannot afford to lose McNeil.
We will all be holding our breath awaiting word.
The Nationals came into town, and the Mets players and fans raised their games in what was the biggest series since 2016. There was a lot to digest, mostly positive:
1. Who in the pool had Todd Frazier having the biggest hit all season?
2. That ninth inning culminating in Michael Conforto‘s first walkoff hit was crazy, and it was perhaps the best Mets moment since Asdrubal Cabrera‘s famous walk-off homer against the Phillies in 2016.
3. Things were so crazy for the Mets this series that Amed Rosario was understandably overlooked. He was 4-f0r-14 in the series with a double, and he made what proved to be somewhat of a game saving catch robbing Brian Dozier of an RBI single.
4. Marcus Stroman proved to be the perfect man to start that series. Even though he had allowed four earned on his six plus innings, he was electric to begin the game, and he really helped get the fans into that game. That set the stage for what was an electric Citi Field.
5. When Wilson Ramos homered off of Patrick Corbin, Citi Field was the loudest I’ve ever experienced it. To put that into context, I was there for when David Wright homered in Game 3 of the World Series.
6. J.D. Davis is unconscious right now. Since his hot streak started on June 30, his 189 wRC+ is the best in the National League. Like Steve Pearce in the World Series last year, just enjoy this ride for as far as it takes the Mets. Hopefully, like with the Red Sox, it will take them to a World Series Championship.
7. There is perhaps no bigger Mets fans and cheerleader right now than Dominic Smith. Despite being on a knee scooter, he has been leading “Lets Go Mets” chants from the dugout, and he has been rolling around the outfield with his “LFGM 2019” license plate cheering with the team. Seeing all of this, it is hard not to love him.
8. Noah Syndergaard put together another seven inning start giving the Mets a chance to win. That’s six in a row, and he has a 1.91 ERA over this stretch. It is a shame he had a rough start to the season while he was trying to figure out the ball because with the stretch he is on now he could have very well been in Cy Young discussions.
9. One important development this weekend was Ramos catching everyone this weekend which is an indicator as to how the Mets would handle things in the postseason should they make it that far. You can certainly understand the Mets pursuing that route with the way he’s been hitting of late. In August, he is hitting .400/.432/.714.
10. While you understand the push, the Mets need to be mindful Ramos is 32 and injury prone. He does not need to be catching day games after night games especially when Jacob deGrom is pitching. Let deGrom compensate for the lack of offense by shutting down the opponent. This will allow Ramos to stay fresh and continue hitting at this level.
11. It is just like to deGrom to struggle and allow zero earned runs. What was not like deGrom was his failing to really cover first base on that Pete Alonso throw. He also needs to make a better throw to Ramos, who should have had that throw anyway. Really, that was just an ugly play all around.
12. Brad Brach quickly endeared himself to Mets fans by relaying a story about how the lifelong Mets fan bought a Mets jersey to attend Game 3 of the 2015 World Series and calling it one of his favorite moments. He further endeared himself by getting Luis Avilan out of that sixth inning jam yesterday.
13. Joe Panik also made a good impression on Mets fans. He may have only had two hits in the series, but both times he got a hit was in the middle of a rally. He also played a good second base. In all, he looked like a real boost to this team.
15. Speaking of Lagares, when are the Mets going to learn he can’t bunt? You cannot send him up there to bunt. In the future, if the Mets need a bunt to get down, and Guillorme has already been used, the Mets should sent in Steven Matz, who is very good handling the bat.
16. While the position players all contributed, the bullpen was not very good with much of their struggles masked by the Mets comebacks. When Seth Lugo allows a run, you know things are going bad for the bullpen. Of course, with Lugo being Lugo, he rebounded from the Juan Soto homer to close out the win.
17. Soto has joined Anthony Rendon in being Mets killers. If the Mets didn’t step up Friday and Saturday night, those two really were in a position to bury the Mets chances of making this miracle run.
18. Speaking of Mets killers, Edwin Diaz has been one of those. He has been worse than anyone could have possible imagined. He’s already lost his role as the full-time closer, and now there are rumblings the Mets should consider demoting him to Triple-A to get straightened out. Of course, that happens the same weekend Jarred Kelenic is promoted to Double-A.
19. One of the brightest spots all weekend was Jeurys Familia striking out the side on Sunday. Whether this is the Mets straightening him out or his stepping up in a big moment, it was a great thing to see, and it gives the Mets some hope for the future, especially if Diaz is not ready to really contribute for the rest of the year.
20. The Braves have not had a good August with a 6-5 record. That record looks all the more suspect when you consider they split four game series with the Reds and Marlins. This has helped keep the Mets alive in the division race, and now, the Mets have a real opportunity to go to Atlanta and go from alive to being a real threat.
Last night was the loudest I’ve ever seen Citi Field. Yes, it was louder than when David Wright hit a homer in Game 3 of the World Series.
This is a fan base who has bought all-in on this improbable run, and they’ve been the 26th and 27th man since the team has returned home.
This is why Stephen Strasburg is challenging Nationals fans to raise their game, and F.P. Santangelo is talking about the great atmosphere. It’s not just the Nationals who have noticed. MLB Network, specifically Eric Byrnes have talked about the playoff atmosphere in Queens.
The team on the field is giving them a lot to cheer for too. Noah Syndergaard gave another terrific seven inning performance. Citi Field exploded when he got off the hook for allowing a two run homer to Juan Soto when J.D. Davis and Wilson Ramos went back-to-back in the fourth off Patrick Corbin.
Even when the Nationals took an eighth inning lead when someone finally got to Seth Lugo with Soto hitting a monster eighth inning shot, the crowd was not defeated. Rather, the crowd seemed poised for another comeback.
It happened in the most improbable of fashions when Luis Guillorme, the man the Mets somewhat controversially kept over Adeiny Hechavarria, hit his first career homer off Fernando Rodney. His pinch hit homer certainly made the Mets look smart for that decision.
With that, Lugo returned to being unhittable pitching a scoreless ninth. The Mets are now five games over .500 for the first time since April 12th. They’re a half-game out of the Wild Card with a chance to grab a spot by completing the sweep today with Jacob deGrom on the mound.
This game almost down to a questionably managed inning by Mickey Callaway (Brodie texting) in the sixth, bit things got crazy in the ninth.
Everything started with his sticking with Marcus Stroman.
Stroman started the night with electric stuff and was untouchable for the first three innings. He then lost it for three batters allowing an Adam Eaton single, Anthony Rendon RBI triple, and a Juan Soto homer.
After that third, Stroman pitches three more scoreless partially because of an absolute Houdini act in the sixth.
Soto led off that sixth with a double. He should have scored when Matt Adams hit a ball deflected by Pete Alonso into right field. Despite the third base coach waiving him in, Soto stopped there. He wouldn’t get past that point even though runners were at the corners with no outs.
Air Amed. pic.twitter.com/dtDsBswPvz
— New York Mets (@Mets) August 10, 2019
At the end of five and a half innings, the score was tied at three with the Mets three runs coming in the fourth when Alonso and J.D. Davis went back-to-back.
Two legends. 💪💪💪 pic.twitter.com/IBqyubp8lb
— New York Mets (@Mets) August 10, 2019
Strasburg was more dominant than Stroman on the night. Those were just two of the four hits he would allow the entire night. The other two came in the bottom of the sixth in the Mets owned botched chance.
Rosario and Conforto led off the bottom of the sixth with consecutive singles setting up runners at the corners with no outs. This was the Mets chance to take the lead. They didn’t as Alonzo lined out to second, Davis striking out, and Wilson Ramos grounding out.
The Davis strikeout was a particularly egregious call. Down 0-2, he did well to work the count full. The eighth pitch appeared close (possibly too close to take), but that didn’t matter. Despite Davis barely taking the bat off his shoulder, the first base umpire ruled he swung. Strike three.
At that point, Stroman was at 102 pitches. Instead of going right to the bullpen, Stroman was asked to get Trea Turner. Like he did in Turner’s previous at-bat, Stroman lost him and walked him.
Now, the pitcher’s spot was due up third in the bottom half of the inning. The Mets bench is exceedingly weak, and a double switch would require lifting Davis, who is the team’s hottest hitter.
With that in mind, Callaway trusted Justin Wilson to get through the rest of the inning. Things started off well with Eaton striking out. Now, Seth Lugo was tossing, but Callaway stuck with Wilson against Rendon. With Soto on deck and Rendon 0-5 against Wilson plus the pitchers spot up third, you could understand. It just didn’t work out well as Rendon hit a go-ahead two run homer.
As bleak as things looked then, they looked worse when Turner struck again in the top of the ninth. He led off the inning with a single, moved to second on an Eaton single, and he took third off McNeil on a shallow fly to right.
Luis Avilan threw one in the dirt which didn’t get too far from Ramos. Turner read it perfectly and scored easily.
After a Davis double and Ramos single, runners were at the corners with no outs. Todd Frazier has been incredibly cold of late, but there’s still pop in his bat. We saw that with him launching an unexpected game tying three run homer:
— New York Mets (@Mets) August 10, 2019
Unlike the old adage, the homer did not end the rally.
Joe Panik kept things going with a single up the middle. The Mets, who never learn, had Juan Lagares pinch hit to bunt. In typical Lagares fashion, he botched the bunt allowing Rendon to get the force out at second.
After McNeil flew out, Rosario singled. Lost in this game was how great Rosario was tonight. He made the leaping catch to keep the game tied in the sixth. He was 3-for-5 at the plate. He was arguably the Mets best player on the night. He’d get overlooked because of Frazier’s game tying homer, and Conforto’s first walk-off hit.
— New York Mets (@Mets) August 10, 2019
So much for Conforto not being able to hit left-handers or hit in the clutch. So much for not recognizing how great a player he is.
This was a GREAT 7-6 win. Great. The Mets absolutely stole one. They rose to this challenge, and they’re dangerous right now. They may have started this run beating up on bad teams, but they’ve now continued it ripping the heart right out of the chest of a good team who got a great pitching performance from their best healthy starter.
This past week the New York Mets could not bring themselves to trust Donnie Hart or Chris Mazza to close out a five run ninth inning lead against the worst team in the National League. There were two opportunities to use them, and the Mets passed each time. More than anything, this was a sign the Mets were 1-2 arms short in the bullpen and something needed to be done.
Yes, Brach has walked an inordinate amount of batters this year. Part of that is the fact Willson Contreras has been one of the wort pitch framers in all of baseball with a -8.5 FRAA. This follows a year in which he was a -15.4 FRAA. Yes, Wilson Ramos has been bad behind the dish, but his -7.1 FRAA is still an improvement. With Ramos being better and Tomas Nido being a good framer, Brach will be getting some help on that front.
More than the walks, Brach still has the ability to get batters out. He has struck out 10.6 per nine which is is best mark since his 2016 All Star season. As noted by Baseball Savant, there are issues like barrels and exit velocity, but there are other factors like his fastball velocity and spin rate which provide hope.
On the hope front, it should be noted Brach had a very similar season last year with his struggling with the Orioles. He was moved to the Braves as the trade deadline, and he turned things back on after the trade. In his 27 games for the Braves, he was 1-2 with a 1.52 ERA, 1.310 WHIP, 3.4 BB/9, and an 8.4 K/9.
Overall, by career ERA, August has historically Brach’s second best month of the season. If that proves true, and his career worst .375 BABIP stabilize (.291 career BABIP), things are really looking up for Brach, and that is before he gets to make adjustments working with Mickey Callaway, Phil Regan, and Ricky Bones.
At a minimum, Brach is another arm to the equation, and he is likely one who will be used unlike Mazza, who is still on the roster, or Hart, who was optioned to Syracuse. Unlike those other two relievers, Brach has Major League success, and with that comes some hope for upside.
Now, let’s get the obvious out of the way. Panik has not been good this year. In fact, this is the worst season of his career by any measure. He has a career worst batting average, SLG, OPS, OPS+, wRC+, and WAR. With his having a -0.4 WAR and a 69 wRC+, you can understand the Giants trading for Scooter Gennett and releasing Panik.
Even with Panik not being good enough for a Giants team who held onto Madison Bumgarner with the hopes of getting a Wild Card spot in Bruce Bochy‘s last season, it does not mean Panik is not an upgrade over what the Mets currently have.
The Mets current second base options are worse than Panik at the plate. Adeiny Hechavarria (62 wRC+) and Luis Guillorme (2 wRC+) have been worse at the plate. You could argue putting Jeff McNeil at second base is a better move, but Juan Lagares (40 wRC+) and Aaron Altherr (-33 wRC+) are probably even worse options than Hechavarria, Guillorme, or Panik.
Arguably, you get more defense at second with Hechavarria (1 DRS) and Guillorme (1 DRS), but Panik is no slouch. He is a former Gold Glove winner, and he has a 0 DRS. Ultimately, when you take the combination of the defense and the bat, Panik is a steadier presence at second.
It should also be noted like with Brach, Panik is historically very good in August with his career triple slash line being better in August than any other month. While it has been just five games, that has proven true so far this year. Overall, Panik finishes seasons well, and the Mets need someone who can finish this season well at second to help propel them into the postseason.
Ultimately, bringing Brach and Panik back home on the roster makes the Mets a significantly improved team. That’s the case even with Brach and Panik not being very good players this year. In some ways, you can treat this as an indictment of the Mets. However, it’s not about that. Right now, the only thing we should care about is the Mets improving. With Brach and Panik, the Mets are improved. With them being improved, they’re in a better position to make the postseason.