To hear Brodie Van Wagenen tell it, the Mets were completely blindsided by Yoenis Cespedes opting out of the 2020 season. They had no idea he was contemplating this, and they had no idea he would do this.
Given the quirky nature of Cespedes, the Mets account was believable. Cespedes really was the guy you never knew what he was going to do next.
The Mets actions told another story. At that postgame press conference to address Cespedes’ opt out, Van Wagenen notably ended the conference somewhat abruptly with many questions still pending. After Van Wagenen was done, the Mets only made rookie pitcher David Peterson available.
They told everyone they knew he was alright despite admitting they weren’t in contact with him.
Yesterday, the Mets made their players available for the first time since Cespedes’ opt out. Pete Alonso was first. He sidestepped the question about whether he knew, but he did talk about what a great teammate Cespedes was and how the whole team supports his decision.
Then, there was Brandon Nimmo who would cast doubt on the Mets whole version of events. His version was his representatives told the Mets prior to the game. Specifically, as reported by Mike Puma of the New York Post:
There’s two sides of the story,” Nimmo said. “We have the side where [the Mets] were let known before the game and we’ve also heard the side where they weren’t let known until the eighth inning, so I honestly don’t know which one to believe and I’m not going to try to figure that one out, but as far as us, we knew that people could walk whenever they wanted.”
You’ll note Nimmo said the players understood Cespedes informed the team before the game. That would include Michael Conforto confirming to his teammates Cespedes opted out.
The other version, the wholly unsubstantiated version, is the one the Mets have been pushing. Their version is despite confirming Cespedes was safe without speaking to him and the Mets obtaining an outfielder before the game, they had no idea Cespedes would opt out.
The only thing which is clear is no one told Luis Rojas. That’s really unfortunate.
The players apparently knew and didn’t tell him. According to the players, Cespedes informed the Mets, and the front office didn’t tell the manager. The manager deserves to be treated better by everyone.
Honestly, Cespedes needed better treatment here too. For example, the Mets didn’t need to put their SNY smear machine into effect with their Wilpon paid talking heads saying he was never the same player after he signed his deal, and he quit over money.
Wow this is really truly disgusting and it is below my lowest expectations for the state-owned network:
“He quits because he has a .161 average … and conveniently uses COVID as an excuse .” – Sal Licata
— Good Fundies Brian (@OmarMinayaFan) August 4, 2020
This is typical for the Mets who never had a kind word for someone who departed the team. There is no graciousness with them.
Given the Mets history of smearing people, telling half-truths, and outright lying, there’s simply no reason to believe them here. This whole Cespedes situation is right out of their playbook.
With respect to Cespedes, yes, he’s quirky and maddening. He’s also honest and forthright to a fault. He told the Mets about his injury immediately including how he sidestepped a boar. He also spoke about how he’d like to return to Oakland before his career was over.
Looking at the respective histories, one is honest, and the other is notoriously not. One has their version of events substantiated by the players, the others don’t.
In the end, you can choose to believe what you want, but when doing so, keep in mind Cespedes has been historically honest, and the Mets really haven’t.
In case you thought things were really bizarre with the Mets in 2020, we just saw something truly bizarre. The Mets gave Jacob deGrom run support.
The big outburst came in a four run third.
With runners at first and second, Michael Conforto delivered the hit the Mets desperately needed with an RBI single off Mike Soroka. After Pete Alonso walked, Robinson Cano delivered an RBI single scoring Conforto.
— New York Mets (@Mets) August 4, 2020
Disaster would strike that inning. When it seemed Soroka couldn’t get anyone out, J.D. Davis hit a fielder’s choice to Freddie Freeman. When Soroka went to go to first he pulled up lame, and he had to be helped off the field.
Soroka was not the only injury on the day.
Davis was plugged into the starting lineup because Jeff McNeil experienced lower back tightness. After hitting a single in the third, reaching third on a Marcell Ozuna error, Amed Rosario was pulled from the game with left quad tightness. Robinson Cano, who has been insanely hot of late, left the same with left groin tightness.
Aside from the injuries, the Mets offense was clicking. Cano would have another RBI single before departing the game. Wilson Ramos had an RBI single and a two run homer.
— New York Mets (@Mets) August 4, 2020
Those seven runs were more than enough for deGrom. He’d allow just two runs over six with one of them being a Travis d’Arnaud fifth inning solo homer. His final line was
— New York Mets (@Mets) August 4, 2020
It wasn’t complete smooth sailing for the Mets. Jeurys Familia loaded the bases with one out in the seventh. He’d strike out Ozzie Albies, and Justin Wilson would relieve him to get Freeman to ground out to end the jam.
Jared Hughes made his Mets debut pitching two scoreless innings to secure the 7-2 win. Even with all the injuries, it seemed like this was a game where the Mets got healthy.
In case you missed it with the Mets making a circus of the Yoenis Cespedes situation, the team once again traded a prospect for a defensive replacement in center. This is the third such trade the Mets have made since Brodie Van Wagenen was hired as the Mets General Manager.
The first trade was trading Adam Hill, Felix Valerio, and Bobby Wahl for Keon Broxton. Broxton played just 34 games with the Mets in 2019. He had a 3 OPS+ and a -0.5 WAR being released. He has signed a minor league deal with the Mariners. Currently, he is part of their 60 player pool, but he has yet to be recalled.
With Juan Lagares departing via free agency, instead of pursuing any one of the cheap defensive center fielders on the fee agent market, Van Wagenen traded Blake Taylor and Kenedy Corona for Jake Marisnick.
Marisnick lasted just four games before landing on the IL. Meanwhile, Taylor has been sensational for the Astros. He’s pitched 7.1 scoreless innings over five appearances. Ironically, his 0.8 WAR would lead the Mets this year.
What is maddening about that is the Mets couldn’t just gone out this past offseason and signed Lagares. Last year, Lagares had a very good 5 OAA. This past offseason, he settled for a minor league deal with the Padres, which based upon incentives, could’ve reached $2.4 million.
The Mets not only gave up prospects for Marisnick, but the perpetually cash strapped franchise, agreed to pay him $3.3 million in arbitration.
Instead of Lagares, the Mets could’ve signed Billy Hamilton. This past offseason, Hamilton signed a minor league deal with the Giants.
Considering the Mets only use their defensive players sparingly, begrudgingly letting them bat on occasion, Hamilton was perfect for this team. He’s an elite defensive CF with speed which could be best utilized as a pinch runner.
But, Hamilton only required a minor league deal with an invitation to Spring Training. Since that wasn’t coupled with the unnecessary parting of prospects, Van Wagenen wasn’t interested.
However, now, that the Mets were able to give the Giants Jordan Humphreys, who is a very real prospect with a live arm, the Mets were suddenly interested.
They were interested despite Hamilton missing part of summer camp for undisclosed medical reasons. He would not make the Giants Opening Day roster. Instead, he would be part of their player pool.
The Mets made this trade despite having Lagares back. They also had other no-hit defensive replacements like Johneshwy Fargas.
Obtaining Hamilton when you already had reasonable facsimiles is an odd move. Trading an actual prospect for him when you had those pieces is a plain bad move. When you give up pieces for a player you could’ve had for a minor league deal and wasn’t even on a MLB roster at the trade of the trade is pure and simple incompetence.
Parting with five prospects and a MLB reliever for three defensive replacements, two of whom did nothing of value for your team, and the third not even being on a MLB roster, is a fireable offense. That goes double when Lagares has been with the organization.
This is an embarrassing misallocation of resources. Even if you want to make the dumb and highly flawed argument these prospects may not develop into productive major leaguers, the Mets lost the ability to move these players for actual useful pieces.
In the end, we focus on the loss of Jarred Kelenic and Justin Dunn. We can and should look at that to use it to criticize Brodie Van Wagenen. However, if you want a real sign of how Van Wagenen doesn’t know what he’s doing, look no further than his parting with real prospects for the privilege of overpaying players who just could’ve been signed for the league minimum.
In the end, not even comprehending the market and how to properly manage and allocate his resources shows just how much Van Wagenen doesn’t comprehend how to do this job. Whenever the Mets are finally sold we can only hope the new owner has Van Wagenen follow the Wilpons out the door before he inflicts any more damage to the franchise.
Before the game, the New York Mets announced Yoenis Cespedes went missing. The Mets didn’t know where he was, and as time progressed, it turns out, we didn’t even know if the Mets did the bare minimum to locate him . . . if they even did that.
During the game, they informed us they still haven’t heard from or located Cespedes, but they knew he was safe. That’s an odd statement to make about someone you haven’t spoken to nor know his whereabouts.
In the end, it turned out Cespedes opted out of the 2020 season due to COVID19 concerns. As reported by The Athletic, Cespedes has a family member who was high risk for COVID19 which drove his decision.
Before the season, there were reasons to play. There was a lot of money on the line not just for 2020, but if he could prove he could play, his 2021 contract was at stake.
However, as time passed circumstances changed dramatically. The Marlins had an outbreak. The Cardinals may be on the verge of one. He wasn’t getting the playing time, and he wasn’t hitting to the extent he needed to hit those incentives.
All in all, it’s possible Cespedes said it wasn’t worth the risk anymore.
However, at this point, we still don’t know. Cespedes hasn’t commented, and the Mets made sure no one but Brodie Van Wagenen commented on the matter.
In the same Zoom session Brodie Van Wagenen talked about transparency, #mets PR cut off the session with 6 hands still raised and then made just one player — a rookie pitcher — available.
— Zach Braziller (@NYPost_Brazille) August 2, 2020
While the Mets told us about how they were blindsided by Cespedes, they certainly seemed to know he was alright, and the team also seemed to have addressed his absence by obtaining Billy Hamilton from the San Francisco Giants.
So, to sum up, the Mets traded for another outfielder, knew Cespedes was alright, stopped answering questions about it, and they refused to let the players speak to the press about it. Believe what you want, but the Mets are hiding something here.
So today’s fiasco seems to be either:
1. The Mets sent a statement designed to shame Yoenis Cespedes.
2. The Mets sent out a statement to say Yoenis Cespedes didn’t come to work — but without first determining his wellbeing.
A well-run organization would do neither.
— Marc Carig (@MarcCarig) August 2, 2020
On the field, the Mets continue to disappoint.
David Peterson had a quality start allowing three runs over six innings, but he’d take the loss because the Mets were shutout. The team was 1-for-15 with RISP and left 13 runners on base.
There were many culprits for this 4-0 loss, but the biggest was the Mets front office spearheaded by Brodie Van Wagenen with not just how he handled this situation, but each and every situation with this team.
Well, after losing two in a row, Rick Porcello got to play the role of stopper for his hometown team. Initially, it didn’t look good.
After two quick outs, notorious Mets killer Freddie Freeman got the rally started with a single. That started a string of four starting singles. The last two came for Matt Adams and former Met Travis d’Arnaud. That gave the Braves a 2-0 lead when if they lowered Porcello’s ERA.
Rick Porcello just allowed two runs in the first inning, which LOWERED his ERA from 27.00 to 24.00.
— Ed Leyro (@Studi_Metsimus) July 31, 2020
Porcello would actually settle in, and he’d put up some zeros. Thanks to a six run fifth, he’d be in position to pick up the win.
— New York Mets (@Mets) August 1, 2020
Alonso walked to force in a run, and then Michael Conforto showed incredible wrist strength on a 3-2 check swing and also walked to force in a run. Yoenis Cespedes hit a two run double. The Mets then batted around with Cano hitting an RBI single increasing the Mets lead to 8-2.
You’d think the Mets should cruise, but then again, this is the Mets.
After Porcello issued a lead-off walk to Dansby Swanson, J.D. Davis just flat out dropped a fly ball. His error was dubbed the Mets worst error of the year by Gary Cohen. Instead of one on, one out, it was two on, no outs. That led to Paul Sewald replacing Porcello thereby cheating Porcello of the chance of getting the win.
Again, it was Adams and d’Arnaud hurting the Mets. Adams hit an RBI double, and d’Arnaud singles to pull the Braves within 8-4. An Austin Riley RBI groundout made it 8-5.
An Amed Rosario homer to lead off the sixth began a two run inning giving the Mets a 10-5 lead. It still wasn’t enough.
— New York Mets (@Mets) August 1, 2020
Chasen Shreve, easily the Mets best pitcher of the night still allowed a run in his two innings. On the bright side, five of his six outs recorded were strikeouts. His one non-strikeout was a great play by Gimenez
— Matt Musico (@mmusico8) August 1, 2020
The Mets brought on Dellin Betances to start the eighth, and that’s when the wheels fell off.
Betances didn’t have it both in terms of control and stuff as he was only hitting 94 MPH on the gun. The bad inning started with a leadoff single by Adeiny Hechavarria. Then, Betances walked Ender Inciarte.
Swanson singled to pull the Braves within 10-7. Then, Betances nearly hit Freeman on a 3-0 pitch. That pitch got past Ramos. Betances was late to the plate, and he still almost got the tag down on Inciarte. In fact, it appeared he did, but replay confirmed the run.
Lugo wasn’t sharp. He walked Marcell Ozuna. That was the seventh walk Mets pitchers issued and the fifth by the Mets bullpen. After Lugo got Johan Camargo to hit a shallow fly ball, d’Arnaud came up to the plate.
d’Arnaud would hit an RBI double to right center. Notably, on that play career right fielder Ryan Cordell, put in center for defense, couldn’t cut it off in time. As a result, it was a bases clearing double giving the Braves an 11-10 lead.
Instead, the Mets fell behind. The decisive blow was delivered by their former catcher, a guy Brodie Van Wagenen cut. Last year, d’Arnaud was more productive than Ramos, and tonight, d’Arnaud was 3-for-4 with a double, walk, and five RBI.
In a nice juxtaposition, it was Ramos, who is hitting .208 this year, who flew out to end the game with the tying run at second. That saddled Lugo with the loss and the entire Mets team with an uglier loss.
This was an ugly loss which exposed the Mets bullpen and only further highlighted the team’s bad defense. When you have that, you’re going to have more than your fair share of these losses.
Game Notes: Gimenez started at third over Jeff McNeil. Mets scored 10 runs tonight. They’ve scored 12 runs in five home games.
Oft times, managers catch too much blame for team losses. For example, last year, people were livid with Mickey Callaway for bringing in Seth Lugo, the best reliever in the game. That actually happened.
Then, there are times like tonight where you really have to wonder what the manager was thinking. Tonight was one of those nights for Luis Rojas.
The Mets had entered the bottom of the seventh with the game tied 3-3. Because life isn’t fair, the Mets failed to get Jacob deGrom a win.
deGrom has allowed just two runs over six innings. Both runs came in the fourth. Rafael Devers and Mitch Moreland hit a pair of doubles, and then deGrom unleashed two wild pitches allowing Moreland to score.
In the sixth, Andres Gimenez, who got his first Major League start at short, came up huge hitting an RBI triple in the sixth. It was his first career triple and RBI. With Lugo coming in, you had to feel good about the Mets chances.
Unfortunately, Lugo hung a curve to Christian Vazquez, who hit a solo homer to tie the game. Still, it was only tied, and the Mets had a chance in the bottom of the seventh.
Jeff McNeil was hit by a pitch, and Pete Alonso singled putting two on with one out. Michael Conforto failed to deliver the RBI, but he did advance the runners. That should have brought up Smith, the team’s RBI leader up against a tired Josh Osich.
To compound the mistake of using Davis as a pinch hitter, Rojas put him in left. That proved wrong when Kevin Pillar hit a fly ball literally every other LF in baseball, Smith included, catches. But that’s what happens when you have to play very deep to accommodate insufficient range to play the position, and Davis lacks the instincts and ability to read the ball causing him to let an extraordinarily playable ball drop in front of him.
That play was all the more problematic because Justin Wilson was on fumes. To put it in perspective, this was Wilson’s fourth appearance, and this was the Mets sixth game.
He would load the bases with one out. After Wilson struck out Devers, the bad luck would start. Moreland has a swinging bunt McNeil could not cleanly pick up. Then, for some reason with Dellin Betances earning and ready in the pen, Rojas stuck with the fatigued Wilson to face the right-hand hitting Vazquez.
Vasquez hit a bleeder past a diving Alonso scoring two giving the Red Sox a 6-3 lead. After Wilson walked Alex Verdugo to reload the bases, Rojas finally went to Betances, who got the Mets out of the inning.
From there, well, the Mets did what they do best. They ripped your heart out.
Heading into the bottom of the ninth, it was 6-4 because Cespedes crushed his second homer of the season in the eighth.
— New York Mets (@Mets) July 30, 2020
Brandon Workman had no command whatsoever, and the Mets loaded the bases with no outs. The Mets failed to tie it.
Conforto, who struggled mightily today, struck out looking on a 3-2 pitch on the corner. After an infield single pulling the Mets to within 6-5 because Devers couldn’t make a string enough throw, Cespedes came up.
Cespedes had a poor AB swinging at a 2-0 pitch out of the strike zone and whiffing on a 3-2 flat cutter in the middle of the strike zone. That put the game in Robinson Cano‘s hands. Sadly, he lined weakly to short to end the game.
Frankly, this was an abominable loss. The game was replete with poor at-bats in key spots, and Rojas made a number of mistakes. With Rojas, this is game six for him. We can and should expect better from him.
Game Notes: Jake Marisnick was put on the IL. Ryan Cordell was called up to take his place on the roster. Jordan Humphreys was designated for assignment to make room on the 40 man roster. Alonso had a four hit game.
The fun part about MLB debuts is you can never quite be sure how it will go. Will they be the player they were in the minors? Will the stage be too big for them? Or, will they rise to the occasion and take their game to the next level?
Peterson raised his velocity from the high 80s to low 90s to 94 MPH. He showed slightly better control. He rose to the big moments.
Case in point was the third inning. Former Met Kevin Plawecki hit a routine fly ball J.D. Davis misplayed into a double. After an ensuing walk to Andrew Benintendi, Brandon Nimmo sprinted and dropped a deep Jose Peraza fly ball to load the bases.
Peterson responded by striking out J.D. Martinez. Then, he got the ground ball he needed. It was an odd play where Robinson Cano was ruled to have caught a ball he seemed to short hop. The second base umpire had a delayed out call leading to Benintendi taking off for third.
Benintendi was finally tracked down in the run down as Plawecki scored. At that time, it was 3-1 Mets.
The Mets got that lead with a three run third. The first run game on a Cano RBI double. After that double, Nimmo was walked to load the bases. Amed Rosario then delivered a bloop single scoring two.
With the lead, Peterson was pitching well despite not getting much help from his defense. As mentioned above, Davis misplayed a ball, and we’d see Jeff McNeil throw a ball away. On McNeil, his arm may be something which needs monitoring because his throws to first haven’t been good. Really, the only standout defensive play came from Michael Conforto.
Michael Conforto, wow pic.twitter.com/yuviWa9DOp
— Jacob Resnick (@Jacob_Resnick) July 29, 2020
After that odd third inning run, Peterson starting putting up a string of zeros. That I included his inducing an inning ending double play to end the fifth.
Peterson hit the end of the line in the sixth. Rafael Devers and Kevin Pillar hit a pair of doubles pulling the Red Sox to within 5-2. Drew Smith came in for Peterson, and he had another impressive performance striking out Mitch Moreland to end the inning.
While Smith was impressive, the story was Peterson. He was much better than you could’ve hoped. With the increased velocity and better control, he suddenly changed what could be his ceiling. You could not ask for a better debut than this.
— New York Mets (@Mets) July 29, 2020
On that note, Cano started that rally. TGIF was a great night for him where he seemed rejuvenated. Overall, he was 2-for-3 with a run, double, and an RBI.
In fact, for the second straight night, the Mets offense was clicking. Overall, Yoenis Cespedes and Pete Alonso were the only two Mets without a hit. However, both would reach base safely with Alonso drawing a walk and Cespedes getting hit by a pitch.
Overall, if you’re looking for something to lament, Hunter Strickland struggled again allowing a run in the ninth. Still, there’s no need to focus on that with the Mets beating up on the Red Sox again and getting to over .500.
Today would normally be a good day. With Peterson’s great debut, it was a phenomenal day.
Game Notes: Despite entering the game as the team’s RBI leader and homering yesterday, Dominic Smith was benched again. In response to the Marlins COVID19 outbreak, they’re being shut down for the week. The Phillies series against the Yankees has been canceled, and the Yankees will play the Orioles instead.
Baseball is finally back, and the Mets offense looked like they haven’t played a game since September losing 2/3 to the Braves.
1. Jacob deGrom is still the best pitcher on that planet.
2. And Seth Lugo is still the best reliever.
3. Yoenis Cespedes homering on Opening Day to help give the Mets a 1-0 victory may be the highlight of the season . . . especially if the backend of the rotation will be this bad.
5. With the exception of the Braves offense going bezerk yesterday, it appears the juiced ball is gone. That’s going to be a problem for some of the Mets hitters who relied upon it.
7. That goes double when his defense is that bad. It’s already turned a single into a double and an out into a game altering RBI double.
8. No, you don’t want to overreact to a slow start, but remember a three game set is the equivalent of eight games. That’s over a week of the season.
9. On that note, Porcello was bad last year, and Davis was extraordinarily lucky with his hitting a juiced ball. These two are more than worth monitoring and having a short leash.
10. As for Porcello, he’s locked in the rotation because the Mets have no starting pitching depth. That, and there’s no way the Mets bench him and his prorated $10 million.
11. One of these days, Corey Oswalt will be given a legitimate opportunity to succeed. Last night, being rushed to warm up and brought into the middle of an inning when he was supposed to be preparing to start on Tuesday isn’t remotely giving him a fair shake.
12. Aside from Oswalt imploding, the Mets bullpen looked really good with Jeurys Familia rediscovering his power sinker.
14. One nit to pick with Rojas is he needs some consistency. You can’t let Wilson Ramos run the bases with three catchers but pinch run for Cespedes with two outs and a runner on first. It doesn’t make sense to make wholesale defensive changes and leave Dominic Smith on the bench.
16. Diaz’s stuff has looked great. However, that was a bad pitch to Marcell Ozuna. He threw five straight pitches to that side of the plate, and the previous day he went there to strike Ozuna out. Ozuna couldn’t have had a better idea what that pitch was going to be even if he was a Houston Astro.
17. That spoiled a GREAT start from Steven Matz who has seemingly taken another step forward from his second half turnaround. That added velocity and improved change makes him a legit number two instead of the one he is on paper.
18. Mets are going nowhere if Marcus Stroman‘s injury is serious.
19. We have seen Travis d’Arnaud and Tyler Flowers miss this series with COVID19 symptoms. Marlins catcher Jorge Alfaro tested positive along with some teammates. It appears with catchers unable to socially distance during games, they are the players facing the brunt of the COVID19 risks.
20. It’s great having baseball back even with the universal DH and extra inning rules bastardizing the game. On the later, with all four extra inning games ending in the 10th, Rob Manfred may really push for that rule to stay. Naturally, the universal DH fans who love gimmicks to produce offense must love that.
Luis Rojas and the Mets had done nearly everything right, and they were one strike away from going to 2-0 on the season.
He got a lead in the fifth on a rally started by the same Michael Conforto we’re all told can’t hit lefties hit a double off Braves left-handed starter Max Fried. Conforto scored on an Amed Rosario RBI triple, and Rosario scored on a Jeff McNeil sacrifice fly.
Jeurys Familia was great out of the bullpen flashing the same power sinker which made him a great closer. Dellin Betances had a rocky debut for the Mets, but it didn’t hurt that Mets for a few reasons.
First, Rojas went to Justin Wilson to face Matt Adams. When Adams singled, it didn’t score a run because in the top of the eighth, Rojas brought in Jake Marisnick for defense. If that’s Brandon Nimmo in center, Adams single goes for extra bases and ties the score. Instead, the Mets got out of the inning with the lead.
Now, there were some questionable decisions. After Wilson Ramos led off the seventh with a single, Rojas didn’t pinch run for him even with the Mets having three catchers. Ramos was stranded at third (even if his speed wasn’t really the reason).
What made that interesting was in the eighth with two outs Rojas did pinch run Eduardo Nunez for Yoenis Cespedes. Nunez would steal second, but he would be stranded there. He was stranded there because in his first MLB at-bat Andres Gimenez.
Gimenez was brought in for defense for Robinson Cano even with Cano due up fourth. It’s not a bad decision, but you do wonder why not Luis Guillorme there when he had a good year last year, especially in those spots.
9th inning. 2 outs. Full count.⁰⁰
— Atlanta Braves (@Braves) July 25, 2020
For those defending the pitch, EVERY PITCH OF THE AT-BAT WAS ON THE OUTSIDE CORNER. Ozuna knew exactly the location allowing him the advantage of knowing to go the other way. You go belt high to a batter knowing the location, bad things are going to happen.
In the bottom of the ninth, the Mets had runners on first and second with one out, but neither Nimmo (who batted ninth) nor McNeil could drive in the game winning run.
In the tenth, we saw that ridiculous new rule putting a runner put on second to start the inning. That runner scored immediately when Hunter Strickland allowed an RBI single to Dansby Swanson. Strickland wasn’t good at all. By the time he allowed a RBI double to William Contreras, the Braves fourth string catcher, it was 5-2.
Honestly, when you look at this game, Diaz was not the only player to blow it.
Nimmo and McNeil twice had runners in scoring position in the late innings, and they failed to deliver the needed insurance run. They also failed to capitalize in the bottom of the 10th.
The Mets loaded the bases with no outs against Luke Jackson in his second inning of work. Instead of Cespedes up, it was Nunez, who hit a shallow fly. Dominic Smith pinch hit for Gimenez and hit a sacrifice fly pulling the Mets to within 5-3.
That would be the final score with Ramos, who was not pinch run for, grounding out to end the game. That groundout came on the heels of some interesting (if not questionable) decisions. It came on the heels of a number of blown chances.
In a normal season, a loss like this feels devastating. In a season where a game is equivalent to 2.7 games, it may actually be devastating.
Game Notes: Last year, Diaz had a 13.50 ERA with zero days of rest, and he had a 6.14 ERA pitching to Ramos. J.D. Davis has started the year 0-for-6 with two strikeouts.
The last we saw the Mets Dominic Smith was hitting a walk-off extra inning homer against the Braves. So much has happened since then, including but not limited to a pandemic. About nine months later, the Mets and Braves were back squaring off at Citi Field.
With this matchup it seemed like the Mets picked up where they left off. That was the case with Jacob deGrom who pitched like his Cy Young self.
deGrom began the game just throwing 100 MPH with ease. The Braves just could not put up much of a fight against him. Even when Marcell Ozuna, a good MLB hitter, got up 3-0 in the count, deGrom still dispatched him with ease.
Overall, deGrom was limited to just five innings because it’s the first start after the revamp of the season. He’d allow just one hit and one walk while striking out eight. Of course, with this being deGrom, he had a no decision.
Part of the reason was Mike Soroka started for the Braves. Soroka emerged as a future ace in his rookie year last year. Soroka was good . . . and lucky.
In the first two innings, the Mets got the lead-off hitter on only for the runner to be erased on a double play. Ender Inciarte robbed both J.D. Davis and Jeff McNeil of potential RBI extra base hits. There was also a bad McNeil base running gaffe.
While the Mets offense was getting shut down, the combination of deGrom and Seth Lugo was doing the same to the Braves.
Lugo mowed down the Braves in the sixth, but he’d have to come up big in the seventh. Ozuna hit it sharp to left. With a better defender, it might’ve been a single, but the Mets don’t care about defense.
After his one out double, Ozuna took third when Wilson Ramos, who had not caught in a week due to his attending to personal issues, whiffed on a pitch.
The Mets brought the infield in, and we saw one of the most unique plays you’ll ever see. Matt Adams, who was recently released by the Mets, was the Braves DH. He hit a sharp grounder to the right side. McNeil, who flipped from third to second with the shift, fielded the ball and walked it to first for the extremely rare five unassisted at first.
After that unique play, Lugo struck out Austin Riley to get out of the jam. That put Lugo in line for the win in the event the Mets could score at least one run.
Enter Yoenis Cespedes.
Cespedes was back after double heel surgery and a wild boar attack. He was inserted in the lineup as the first ever DH Mets DH in a game between two NL teams. After a pop out and ground out against Soroka, he faced Chris Martin.
— New York Mets (@Mets) July 24, 2020
Right there, the Mets were up 1-0 with a homer we honestly would’ve expected from Cespedes years ago. These were the moments he thrived, and at least today, he seemed primed to be that player again.
What’s fascinating is Cespedes became the first ever DH to record a hit, homer, and RBI in a game between two NL teams. Believe it or not, he has now homered in three straight games.
Cespedes' last three games:
May 13, 2018
July 20, 2018
July 24, 2020
He homered in all three.
— Jacob Resnick (@Jacob_Resnick) July 24, 2020
The Mets pitching, which was excellent, made that 1-0 lead hold up. Justin Wilson worked around a lead-off single in the eighth to pitch a scoreless inning.
Edwin Diaz issued a one out walk to Freddie Freeman in the ninth. In case you had fear this was going to be the same Diaz who imploded all of last year, he’d quash those concerns by striking out Ozuna and Adams on seven pitches to end the game.
The Mets pitching was phenomenal in this win. They combined to shut out the Braves allowing just three hits and two walks while striking out 15. The Braves had no chance today.
When the Mets pitching is at this level, they don’t need much. Last year, they don’t get that run. This year, they have Cespedes. That may be all they need.
Game Notes: The Mets won their first challenge of the season when McNeil was incorrectly ruled out when stretching a single to a double. The play caused Keith Hernandez to quip about the umpire, “Get an eye chart!” Matt Adams made MLB history by being the first DH to have a PA in a game between two NL teams. The Mets wore Black Lives Matter shirts (before the game but did not kneel for the anthem.
— SNY (@SNYtv) July 24, 2020