By Paul DiSclafani
The hits just keep on coming in this disaster of a start to the 2017 season for the Mets.
Mets closer Jeurys Familia was diagnosed with an “arterial clot” in his right shoulder and is headed to St. Louis to see Dr. Robert Thompson for further tests. Thompson is the same surgeon that operated on Matt Harvey for Thoracic Outlet Syndrome.
Familia, who has pitched in just 11 games this season after serving a 15-game suspension at the start of the season, has just three saves. Familia was charged with his first blown save of the season after surrendering four runs (three earned) to the Giants on Wednesday afternoon, failing to protect a 3-2 lead in a game the Mets eventually lost, 6-5.
Former Mets pitcher David Cone had a similar blood clot issue in his arm pit in 1996 and missed four months following surgery.
Familia had pitched just 9.2 innings in his 11 appearances, and was pulled by Manager Terry Collins twice already this year. He has 8 walks to go along with his 10 strikeouts.
When the Mets acquired their former spark plug Jose Reyes back in June and promoted him to the big club on July 5, they knew he was not the same player that won the batting title in 2011, the year before he bolted to the Marlins after signing a huge Free Agent deal in the off-season.
They knew he had a lot of baggage with his recent domestic abuse situation that cost him a 52 game suspension and his job with the Colorado Rockies. But they also knew that their moribund offense was going nowhere unless it hit home runs, so they took a chance that Reyes could provide a jolt. That lightning bolt finally arrived tonight.
Reyes (33), making his first appearance at Marlins Park since he was traded in 2012 to Toronto, had three hits, scored twice and drove in a run in the Mets 5-3 win over the Marlins. The Mets (51-44) pulled to within a half game of second place Miami (52-44) and picked up a game on the first place Nationals, now trailing by five games.
“He brings some energy to the lineup,” manager Terry Collins said after the game about Reyes. “He gets on base and gets into scoring position. He creates havoc. When he gets on base, people worry about him.”
Reyes started the game with a double, stole third and scored on a sacrifice fly by Yoenis Cespedes to give the Mets a 1-0 lead. Then in the fourth, his two-out RBI single gave the Mets a 2-0 lead.
“We don’t have to sit back and wait for the home run,” Collins said. “This guy is producing runs.”
After the Marlins had tied the game in the sixth on a two run homer by Christian Yelich, Reyes made things happen again in the seventh to get the Mets the lead. He banged a one-out single up the middle and using his speed, went from first to third on a Curtis Granderson single to right, putting himself in position to score on another Cespedes sacrifice fly to give the Mets a 3-2 lead.
“”I know if I get on base,” Reyes said, “the guys behind me will drive me in. I’m starting to get more comfortable at the plate.”
Collins echoed Reyes comments about getting more comfortable at the plate. “It’s a matter of accumulating more at bats and getting comfortable from both sides of the plate. We’ve got a lot of games to play and he is going to make a big difference in our lineup.”
“He’s like a can of Red Bull bottled up into a human being,” starter Logan Verrett said about Reyes. “That’s something that we were lacking. He brings that energy to the field every single day. He had a huge game for us today at the plate. He brings the same exact energy if he’s 0-for-4 at the plate, which is what you need.”
Verrett (ND) took a shutout into the sixth, but gave up the two-run home run to Yelich to tie the game. Handel Robles came on to get the final two outs after the Yelich home run and put in a 1-2-3 seventh inning to pick up his fifth win (5-3). Robles is 5-0 since June 10th with a 1.59 ERA in 22.2 innings with 26K and only 9 walks.
With a 3-2 lead and Jeurys Familia getting ready to try for his 50th consecutive save, James Loney gave the Mets some breathing room in the ninth inning. Loney, who came on in a double switch in the eighth inning, crushed a 2-run home run into the upper deck in right field to give the Mets a 5-2 lead. It was Loney’s fifth home run of the year after getting only four all last season.
As has been the story recently, Familia found himself in trouble, but managed to escape. On Tuesday, the Cubs loaded the bases in the ninth with no outs, but Familia worked out of it to get save #49 in a row, thanks to a game ending double play started by Jose Reyes. Tonight, he gave up a run to make it 5-3, but got two strikeouts to get save #34 on the year and his 50th consecutive regular season save. Familia is only the fourth player in MLB history to get 50 or more consecutive regular season saves, closing in on Jose Valverde (51) and Tom Gordon (54), but still far away from Eric Gagne (84).
“He’s been unbelievable,” Collins gushed after the game about his All-Star closer. “He has great confidence when he goes out there.”
Jacob deGrom (6-4, 2.38) takes on All-Star Jose Fernandez (11-4, 2.53) tomorrow. DeGrom is coming of a 1-hit, complete game shutout of the Phillies last week.
WHEELER UPDATE: Zack Wheeler was in the ballpark today at Miami to visit with his teammates and threw 30 pitches in a bullpen session. He will face live batters in a few days and could ready for a rehab assignment as early as next week. That puts him at late August, early September for a possible return.
POSITIVES: Cespedes had two RBI (both Reyes) on sacrifice flies as Mets manufactured three of their five runs … Reyes raised his average from .215 to .250 with his 3-5 … Reyes already has three SB as a Met … Marlins were a hot team, going 8-2 in their last 10 games … Mets have won 11 of their last 20 vs Miami … Mets are now 4-3 on this 9-game road trip … Addison Reed had a 1-2-3 eighth and his 21st hold (whatever that means) .. Ichiro Suzuki is just four hits shy of 3,000.
NEGATIVES: Neil Walker was 0-5 and saw his average drop to .242 .. Marlins closer Fernando Rodney has given up just two home runs all year, Loney’s tonight and the other to Alejandro De Aza …
Paul DiSclafani is a featured author at “A View From the Bench”, an official affiliate of MLB.com. “A View from the Bench” is recognized in the Top 100 of MLB.com/blogs.
By Paul DiSclafani:
After their surprising four game sweep of the Chicago Cubs last weekend, the Mets (46-38) took care of business against the Marlins, winning the rubber game, 4-2 and can now set their sights on the First Place Nationals, who come into New York for a four game weekend set.
After being swept by Washington, the Mets were left for dead heading into their big rematch series with the Cubbies, but pulled themselves out of the offensive funk that plagued them for most of the month of June, shocking everyone, including themselves, and sweeping all four games against the team with the best record in the league. But that left them vulnerable this week as their personal tormentors, the Marlins, came into town.
With Matt Harvey on the mound for the Holiday game on Monday, the Mets found themselves in a 6-0 hole before chipping away at the lead, scoring in each of their last five frames for an 8-6 comeback win for their fifth straight. But on Tuesday they laid an egg, dropping a 5-2 decision as Giancarlo Stanton hit two home runs. That set up the rubber game on Wednesday afternoon.
Wilmer Flores, who hit two home runs on Sunday when he tied a franchise record going 6-6 against the Cubs, hit two more today as the Mets get a win for Jacob deGrom, 4-2. DeGrom, who hadn’t won a game since April 30th (10 straight starts) has now won two straight as the Mets have won six of their last seven.
DeGrom (W, 5-4) pitched seven strong innings, striking out seven and allowing two runs. Both came in the form of solo home runs by Stanton, who also hit two home runs on Tuesday. Stanton hit milestone #200 in the sixth inning. He hit home runs in his last two AB’s on Tuesday and his first two AB’s on Wednesday, giving him four home runs in consecutive AB’s. Last time that happened was with Albert Pulols in 2006.
Jose Reyes got to play shortstop instead of third base when Asdrubal Cabrera was unable to play due to a family emergency and made the most of his second start in his re-debut with the Mets. After taking an 0-4 collar on Tuesday, Reyes smacked two doubles as the leadoff hitter. “He creates a lot of problems at the top of the lineup,” Neil Walker said. “He’s going to be important for us setting the table for the guys in the middle.”
Curtis Granderson, batting behind Reyes in the lineup, drove in two runs in the third inning to give the Mets a 3-0 lead before Stanton got one back in the top of the fourth. But Flores got that one right back in the bottom of the inning.
Addison Reed pitched a perfect 8th while protecting a 4-2 lead, setting up first time All-Star closer Jeurys Familia to get the final three outs for his 30th save of the year. Familia has now registered 46 consecutive regular season saves.
Now the Nationals, with a four game lead over the Mets, come into town before the All-Star break, for a four game series. After being swept in their previous series, the Mets have fought back, winning six of their last seven, but trimming only two games from the Nationals lead. This might be considered a “statement” series for the Mets, their chance to show the Nationals they are not going to go quietly into the night.
Game one will feature 43 year-old Bartolo Colon (7-4, 2.87) against rookie Lucas Giolito (0-0, 0.00). The highly regarded Giolito made his major league debut against the Mets on June 28, throwing four shutout innings of one-hit ball before the rain came and he needed to be replaced.
The rest of the series probable pitchers shape up like this:
- Game 2 (FRI): Noah Syndergaard (9-3, 2.41) vs Stephen Strasburg (11-0, 2.71)
- Game 3 (SAT): Logan Verrett (3-5, 4.01) vs Max Scherzer (9-6, 3.21)
- Game 4 (SUN): Steven Matz (7-4, 3.34) vs Gio Gonzalez (4-8, 4,79)
HARVEY ON THE DL
Matt Harvey landed on the 15-Day DL with “discomfort in his right shoulder”. After meeting with team doctors, Harvey will visit a Thoracic Outlet Syndrome (TOS) specialist Robert Thompson in St. Louis on Thursday. Maybe this at least partially explains the recent poor performances Harvey has experienced. Zack Wheeler is not expected back until late July, so the logical choice will be Logan Verrett to take Harvey’s spot in the rotation.
Harvey is just 4-10 in his 17 starts with an ERA of 4.86. He has allowed 111 hits in 92.2 innings, the fourth highest hit total in the league and tied for the league lead with 10 losses.
Former Mets pitcher Chris Young experienced “Thoracic Outlet Syndrome” in his career and was miserable until he had surgery. Obviously, the Mets are worried enough that Harvey might also be suffering from TOS that he is seeing an expert on the subject tomorrow.
THE RETURN OF JOSE REYES
The superstitious baseball fan will point to Tuesday’s Mets loss, following a five game winning streak, as proof that you don’t mess with success and that putting Jose Reyes into the lineup jinxed the Mets. Guess that lasted only one game as Reyes followed his 0-4 re-debut with the Mets on Tuesday with two doubles and a run scored in Wednesday’s win. Reyes, for all his baggage, gives the Mets the one thing that no one on the current roster can – speed. Is it really a bad thing that he took a spot away from Matt Reynolds?
POSITIVES: Familia is only the 15th player in Major League Baseball history to reach 30 saves before the All-Star break, which happens to be a Mets record. Three of the other 14 did it in 2013: Jim Johnson (33), Joe Nathan (30) and Mariano Rivera (30) … Granderson, Flores and Reyes all had two hits … Flores now has seven home runs … Cespedes (0-4) snapped a nine game hitting streak and has had a hit in 13 of his last 15 games, raising his average from .280 to .304
NEGATIVES: Got a bad feeling about Harvey going to see a Thoracic Outlet Syndrome expert …
Paul DiSclafani is a featured author at “A View From the Bench”, an official affiliate of MLB.com. “A View from the Bench” is recognized in the Top 100 of MLB.com/blogs.
By Paul DiSclafani:
The Mets (41-37) snapped a nine game regular season losing streak against the Cubs (51-27) with a come from behind 4-3 win, scoring three times in the seventh inning and holding their breath as the Cubs threatened in the ninth inning. Jeuurys Familia worked out of a jam as the Cubs put runners on second and third with no outs.
Trailing 3-0 in the sixth and being held to just two hits by Cubs starter John Lackey, the Mets seemed well on their way to their fifth straight loss when lightning struck in the form of Yoenis Cespedes.
After getting Neil Walker to foul out to first to start the sixth inning, Lackey fell behind Cespedes 2-0 before the Cuban launched a moon shot into the third deck in left field (section 436 to be exact) to put the Mets on the board and cut the lead to 3-1. Nobody has ever hit a home run into the third deck in Citi Field since the park opened in 2009, but Cespedes was among a handful of players that did it during the 2013 Home Run Derby.
The homerun energized not only the crowd but the Mets as the bench erupted.
Mets starter Steven Matz, who was pitching with an extra day’s rest, put them in a 2-0 hole after just five pitches when Kris Bryant followed Ben Zobrist’s leadoff single with a home run. He later gave up a solo home run to Javier Baez in the sixth. Matz pitched just 5 1/3 and issued three walks and seven hits to go along with six strikeouts.
Eric Goddel (W, 1-0), who relieved Matz in the sixth and got the final two outs, threw just 10 pitches to finish the seventh inning when the Mets offense went back to work.
With Lackey still on the mound, Travis d’Arnaud singled to left with one out after Wilmer Flores opened the inning with a line drive out to center. That was it for Lackey, who was replaced by Joel Peralta. Peralta got ahead of pinch hitter Alejandro De Aza 1-2, but eventually lost him, putting runners on first and second.
Rookie Brandon Nimmo, making only his fifth start for the Mets, also fell behind Peralta 1-2, but he kept battling, fouling off three straight before singling up the middle and collecting his first major league RBI as d’Arnaud scored to make it 3-2. With De Aza racing to third, center fielder Albert Almora threw to third late and Nimmo alertly took second on the throw.
“I’m just trying to stay calm, act like nobody is on base,” Nimmo said about his RBI single. “… I was absolutely ecstatic. It is hard to put into words because this is just something I dreamed about ever since I was a kid. To be able to come through and help the team win, you always need it, but tonight was really, really big. To just be able to help the team somehow and be able to come up here, it feels good to contribute.”
Cubs manager Joe Maddon then summoned Pedro Strop to pitch to Walker and decided to play the infield in to try to cut down the tying run at the plate. Strop got ahead of Walker 1-2 and he grounded it slowly to second base. Even with the infield in, Baez had no play at home, so he fired to third to get Nimmo as he tried to advance. But Bryant, who was also playing in at third, didn’t get back to the bag in time and the throw went off his glove and into foul territory, allowing Nimmo to score along with De Aza and the Mets took a 4-3 lead.
Now it was up to the bullpen to hold the lead and get the Mets a win they desperately needed. But the Cubbies were not going to go quietly into the night.
Wilson Contreras greeted Addison Reed with a single to lead off the eighth and moved to second on a wild pitch. Reed struck out Baez and Chris Coghlan, but then walked Addison Russell and Terry Collins brought in Jerry Blevins to face pinch hitter Jason Heyward. Why not bring in Familia for a four out save in that situation? Blevins got behind Heyward 2-1, but got him to ground one back to the mound and the Mets were out of the inning, still clinging to a 4-3 lead.
That set the stage for Familia as he tried to nail down his 27th save of the season and 43rd in a row. After getting ahead of pinch hitter Miguel Montero 0-2, he walked him on four straight pitches, then gave up a booming double to Zobrist over Nimmo’s head in right field and the Cubs were in business with second and third and no outs and Bryant coming up.
“I’ve been in that situation before”, Familia said, “I try to calm down a little bit, don’t get too high, control my emotions and make my pitch.”
Familia pounded Bryant with splitters out of the strike zone and struck him out for the first out. After intentionally walking Anthony Rizzo, Familia pounded Countreras the same was as Bryant, getting him swinging for the second out. He then got Baez to pop up an 0-2 pitch to end the game.
If there was ever a “must” win game for the Mets this season, this was it. Coming off a moribund 2-5 road trip in which they had more injuries than runs scored, facing the best team in baseball for a four game set was not what they had in mind. Even though the Mets swept the Cubs in the NLCS, the Cubs were much improved and the Mets were not.
“It sure came at the right time, to come back against that team the first game of this 11-game homestand,” Collins said. “I think it’s huge for us. It lifted the spirits of everybody in there that they could come back and win a game, which we haven’t done in a while.”
As the Mets say good-bye to a miserable June, Jacob deGrom (3-4, 2.67) faces off against Jason Hammel (7-4, 2.58) on Friday night. DeGrom is 0-4 in his last 10 starts and hasn’t won a game since April 30th. Hammel has never beaten the Mets in five starts (0-3).
POSITIVES: Familia leads all of baseball with 27 saves … Mets had lost nine straight to the Cubs dating back to 2014 … Cespedes has 19 home runs … Mets had just six hits, but d’Arnaud had two of them …
NEGATIVES: Granderson was out of the lineup after an MRI revealed a mild strain of his left calf. He may miss a couple of games, but Juan Lagares is ready to come off the DL.
By Paul DiSclafani:
Fresh off putting together back to back wins against the Royals, the Mets (38-32) and their fans couldn’t even enjoy the moment. Both Noah Syndergaard and Yoenis Cespedes were forced to leave today’s game with injuries.
With everything going on around them, all the bad news of injuries, all the talk about a possible Jose Reyes reunion and a workout scheduled for Free Agent Cuban star Yulieski Gourriel, the Mets managed to shake it off and win two against the defending World Series Champions.
The Mets bullpen, which was largely responsible for the World Series collapse considering they led in every game at one point, was spot on in these two games. After Colon got hurt on Tuesday after the first batter, they were called on to get the final 26 outs in a 2-1 win.
Today, after Syndergaard was unable to come out for the seventh inning after throwing just 91 pitches, they protected the 4-3 lead with three innings of one-hit ball. Jeurys Familia, who was charged with three blown saves in the World Series against the Royals, finished each game for his 23rd and 24th save of the season. He now has saved a club record 40 consecutive regular season games.
With Juan Lagares already on the DL with a thumb injury and Steven Matz having elbow tightness, the Mets then found out that Zack Wheeler is experiencing tightness in his TJ elbow.
And now this…
Noah Syndergaard, one of the few Mets pitchers who has NOT had Tommy John Surgery, is experiencing tightness in his elbow. Sheesh.
Yoenis Cespedes, who is hitting .290, hit his 18th home run yesterday and had two hits in the game, left with a wrist injury. “I don’t know what the issue is”, manager Terry Collins said about Cespedes after the game, “But I am certainly concerned about it. He had a similar problem last fall with that left hand and he ended up tearing up the National league for a while.”
The Mets that could play, came to play today. Asdrubal Cabrera hit a home run, made a fantastic play behind second base, flipping a backhand throw to second for a force out and then scoring the first run of the game by avoiding a tag at the plate with a great inside slide, giving the Mets a 1-0 lead in the fourth inning.
Syndergaard (W, 8-2) has won six straight decisions, but he allowed a home run to Cheslor Cuthbert in the fifth to tie the game and the Royals scored again on a single, a sacrifice and two out single to take a 2-1 lead.
The Mets got that one back and more in their half of the fifth when Cabrera hit a two run home run to center, giving the Mets a 3-2 lead. Not to be outdone, KC came right back the next inning with another two out hit as Paulo Orlando drove in Salvador Perez, who had doubled. Tie game again. But not for long.
Matt Reynolds, making his major league debut in the outfield, hit his first home run in the majors off Joakim Soria, giving the Mets the lead again, 4-3. When asked why he would put Reynolds into the outfield when he had never played there before, Collins said, “He’s making the most of every opportunity. He’s never played the outfield in the big leagues. He’s a baseball player. There are those guys who will do whatever you ask. He handled himself just fine.”
With Syndergaard unable to come out for the seventh inning, Jerry Blevins and Addison Reed did their job (2 innings, one hit) setting up for Familia.
Thursday is an off day as the Mets look for revenge in a weekend set in Atlanta.
POSITIVES: Blevins has now gone 21 straight appearances (13 innings) without giving up a run …Colon is still scheduled to make his next start ,,, James Loney RBI single in the fourth snapped the Mets 0-28 futility with Runners in Scoring Position. Loney is hitting .289 … Cespedes was 4-6 with a HR and RBI against KC … Syndergaard beat KC in the second game of the season and had the only win for the Mets in the World Series, so he is 3-0 lifetime against them.
NEGATIVES: Rene Rivera is hitting just .180 … Wilmer Flores is just 1-14 since getting hit by a pitch on the wrist …
By: Paul DiSclafani
Mets manager Terry Collins wasn’t fooling around in the 8th inning as his Mets were clinging to a 2-0 lead over the Miami Marlins. The Mets (3-5) had lost four straight and needed to win this game, not only to avoid a sweep, but to get back on track after a miserable 2-5 start to the season.
With one out in the eighth and Christian Yelich on first, Collins came out for reliever Jerry Blevins and summoned closer Jeurys Familia for a five out save. That raised a number of eyebrows, not so much because the move seemed a little panicky, considering it is only the eighth game of the season, but Familia pitched two days in a row (36 pitches in total) and was now being summoned to save what should be considered a meaningless game just 11 days into the season.
Was it panicky? Tell that to the New York Media or the New York Fans, who have been struggling with their emotions as the Mets have stumbled out of the gate, hitting just .186 as a team and ranked 29th in runs scored with just 18. Everyone needed the Mets to win this game. Everyone.
”We’ve gotten off to a slow start. It happens. It happens. It’s part of the game,” Collins said. ”There’s a lot of teams that get off to great starts and falter. There are teams that get off to slow starts that have huge second halves and run away with stuff. I just thought it was important today for our fan base to stay excited.”
Fans have been lighting up social media since spring training about the Mets lack of urgency and possible lack of preparation as they lost 13 straight Grapefruit games and just continued to shrug off the results, pointing to the “real” games when the season started. Well, here we are, seven games into the season, and the Mets have looked exactly as they did during the spring – punchless at the plate and clueless on the field.
”I’m not worried about the confidence. I’m worried about the perception is that there’s no energy here, which is completely not true, that we’re not prepared, we’re overconfident or we’re not taking things seriously,” Collins said. ”I heard that last night and it made me sick to my stomach, that people actually think that this team, that accomplished what they did last year, would have any semblance of that type of makeup.”
The players and coaches are certainly taking notice of what is happening and they are plenty aware of what is being written and said about their low energy start. After the incredible high of the playoffs and World Series last year, compounded with seeing the start the Washington Nationals are having, winning exciting games late and coming out of the gate 5-1, Mets fans are a little nervous and a little impatient.
”I’m not deaf, and I’m not blind. I listen. I see how people are reacting. I hear what’s going on,” Collins said. ”I read the stuff, and I read between the lines of what’s being said.”
David Wright knows the expectations in the clubhouse as the Captain said, “This isn’t the start that we thought about and planned to have.”
Backup catcher Kevin Plawecki rescued the Mets with a two-out single in the 7th, driving home both Wilmer Flores (making his major league debut at first base) and Asdurbal Cabrera, giving them a 2-0 lead. A lead that Collins felt was so worth protecting, he made the call for Familia with five outs left.
”If you start saying games are must wins, I think there’s some pressure that really is not needed,” Plaweicki said, ”but definitely there was a sense of urgency to get a win today.”
Lost in the Familia shuffle was Logan Verrett, who tossed six shutout innings in a spot start for Jacob deGrom, allowing just three hits. And in the seventh inning, with the game still tied 0-0, Collins went to reliever Jim Henderson, who threw a career high 34 pitches about 17 hours prior. Henderson was awful, allowing a leadoff single and two walks to load the bases with no outs. Henderson’s velocity is 89-91, way down from 95-97 in his previous appearances.
Hansel Robles came to the rescue, striking out Miguel Rojas looking and Derek Dietrich swinging. Blevins finished the job by getting Dee Gordon to fly out to left and end the inning. But after getting the first out in the eighth, Blevins allowed a single to Yelich that ended his night and started the inquisition of Collins as Familia came into the game to face Giancarlo Stanton.
Familia snuck two fastballs by Stanton to get ahead 0-2, then got him to fly out to center for the second out. Martin Prado then singled, moving Yelich to second. Familia got ahead of Justin Bour 1-2, but Bour singled to left to make it a 2-1 game. Although Familia got JT Realmuto to hit it back to the box on the next pitch to end the inning, he still needed to go out there again in the ninth to secure the win.
In the ninth, Familia (S, 2) took care of business, just like Collins drew it up, finishing with a strikeout of Gordon to end the game and the Mets losing streak at four games.
”We’re talking about something now that’s going to be written up tomorrow like we’re on the cutting edge here, we’re walking that razor blade,” he said. ”We’re not. We just wanted to win today.”
So did everyone else.
Mets have the day off on Thursday and head out on a nine-game road trip, beginning with a weekend set in Cleveland as Bartolo Colon (0-1) gets things started on Jackie Robinson Day in MLB.
POSITIVES: Blevins got the win (1-0) … Yoenis Cespedes went flying into the stands in the eighth inning to try to snag a ball, crashing into a fan and hitting his knee. He stayed in the game and was later rewarded by being hit in the elbow by a pitch … Cabrera had two hits … Flores, making his debut at 1B, turned a nifty 3-6-3 DP
NEGATIVES: Jacob deGrom may be headed to the DL … Mets were 3-9 W/RISP, but scored both runs on the same AB … Gordon snapped a 19-game hitting streak against the Mets
The Royals are primed to celebrate their first World Series Title in 30 years with a flag raising ceremony in front on their home crowd on Opening night, followed by receiving their Championship rings two days later. Both ceremonies will take place front and center, with the Mets watching (or not watching) from the visitor’s dugout.
Captain David Wright addressed the mood of his team and how it will feel on Opening Night as the Royals open up old wounds as they celebrate with their fans.
“It’s impossible to simulate World Series atmospheres,” Wright said, “but with them getting their rings and raising the banner and things like that, I think it would give a little bit of motivation. But I also think they deserved it. They outplayed us during the World Series, no question.”
The Mets have had all offseason to lament their performance in the World Series, falling to a far superior Royals team. Although they had a lead in every one of the five games, they managed to win only once. But the theme of both training camps seemed to be that it’s time to turn the page.
”A lot of guys here were not in the World Series. At some point, you turn the page and get ready for 2016, and for us that was this spring,” Wright said. ”It stinks to fall a little bit short, but it was a heck of a run. We just can’t keep talking about last year.”
Even KC manager Ned Yost, who has guided his Royals to two consecutive World Series appearances, cautioned that it is not as easy as it looks. The last time a team made it to the World Series three consecutive years was the Yankees (1998-2000) and before that, the Oakland A’s (1972-74).
”It’s extremely difficult to maintain that, and just to get there,” Yost said. ”Our focus in spring training was getting off to a good start, and at the end of the year, having an opportunity to fight our way back. Because it is, it’s a fight. Everyone starts the year with those aspirations and dreams of making it to a World Series, but it’s very difficult to do.”
For the first time in baseball history, the two teams that met in the World Series will meet again on Opening Day.
If the Mets want to learn from their mistakes in the 2015 season and win the World Series for the first time in 30 years, all they have to do is look across the field at the Royals and follow their lead. The Mets road back to the World Series begins right where it left off in 2015.
The Mets (90-72) and the Royals (95-67) meet for two games on Sunday Night and Tuesday afternoon at Kaufman Stadium in Kansas City. The Mets finished 2015 with a 41-40 road record, while the Royals were an impressive 51-30 at Home.
Matt Harvey (13-8, 2.71) will start Opening night for the Mets against Edison Volquez (13-9, 3.55). Harvey had a medical scare earlier in the week with a blood clot in his bladder, but he has been cleared to make this start. Volquez and Harvey met in Game 1 of the World Series, but didn’t factor in the decision as the Royals prevailed in 14 innings. Both gave up three earned runs in their six innings. They hooked up again in Game 5, another extra inning game that they Royals won, this time to take the World Series Crown. Harvey was brilliant for 8 shutout innings and Volquez was poised to be on the losing end, having surrendered just two runs, one earned.
Noah Syndergaard (9-7, 3.24) was set to face the newest KC starter, Ian Kennedy (9-15, 4.28 with San Diego), but a hamstring injury may force former Met Chris Young (11-6, 3.06) to start instead. Syndergaard was the only Mets pitcher to win in the 2015 Fall Classic, winning Game 3 of the series. Syndergaard started the game by throwing the first pitch over the head over leadoff hitter Alcides Escobar and the Mets responded with two home runs in a 9-3 win.
WHAT TO EXPECT:
Nobody really knows. The Royals are the World Champions, playing in front of their home crowd for the first time since winning the World Series almost 1,200 miles away in Citi Field. Obviously, there will be plenty of emotion and pride as they raise their banner and receive their Championship rings. The Mets have had a difficult spring as far as results on the field are concerned, failing to win in 14 straight “games” at the end of the Spring and although everyone insist that they don’t count (and they don’t), there were a couple of red flags.
Understanding 100% that the “results” of the games in the Spring are bogus, individual performances over the course of an entire Spring need to at least be considered.
Consider this: The Mets hit just 17 home runs in 25 Grapefruit League games, seven of them from players who didn’t make the Opening Day roster and one came from the backup catcher. David Wright, Yoenis Cespedes and Lucas Duda hit one each – and they played a combined 45 games and had 125 AB’s. Add in Michael Conforto, who hit two HR in 49 AB’s, and that’s just 5 HR in 174 AB’s. Not exactly the type of numbers that will light up the Mets Home Run Apple.
A little more concerning are the relief pitching individual numbers. Antonio Bastardo pitched nine Spring innings, but gave up 8 runs (7 earned) and 10 hits. Remember, relief pitchers are only charged with runners they put on base that scored. Addison Reed surrendered 9 hits in his 8.2 innings (3 earned runs) and Jeurys Familia 8 hits in his 7.1 innings (also 3 earned runs). Granted, pitchers admit to “working on things” during the Spring, but it is still a little disconcerting.
So what can we expect for this Opening Series between the best teams from 2015 in each league? Both teams think they have a lot to prove after their success / failures in the postseason and both teams want to get out of the gate quickly, but frankly, who doesn’t? Both teams are all saying the right things and the Royals backtracked on their supposed “revenge” on Syndergaard’s opening pitch of Game 3, but one thing remains…
The 2016 Mets want to be the 2015 KC Royals, a team that returned to the World Series and finished the job. The 2015 Royals started last season sweeping the Chicago White Sox at home and went on to win their first seven games, making a statement to everyone in the American League that their 2014 appearance in the World Series was no fluke. Let’s see what the Mets can do behind Harvey and Syndergaard now that everything “counts” again.