The Mets continued to be the most successful franchise in baseball’s storied history as they beat the Braves 6-0, improving their record to an astounding 36-20 after Game 1 of their 56 seasons. And would you believe they started 0-8 on Opening Day? I’ll do the math for you, that’s 36-12 since 1970. They have also won 21 of their last 24 Home Openers.
The Mets scored six times in the seventh inning on the Atlanta bullpen, specifically former Met Eric O’Flaherty.
In a season that is starting with a lot of hope, Noah Syndergaard took the mound for his first ever Opening Day start and promptly threw the first pitch of the season at 98 miles per hour, eventually striking out the leadoff batter, Ender Inciarte on three pitches. Welcome to 2017, Mets fans.
Syndergaard was outstanding, striking out seven in his six innings, including five with his slider, which averaged 94.3 mph. He scattered five hits and didn’t walk anyone, but left after 86 pitches with a blister which will cause the Mets to hold him back a day, making his next start Sunday.
“The blister popped during the last inning”, said manager Terry Collins, “He will dry it out in the next couple of days and be ready to go on Sunday.”
But while Syndergaard was putting up zeroes, so was Atlanta Ace Julio Teheran, keeping the Mets off the scoreboard, matching Syndergaard inning for inning. Teheran has only allowed three earned runs to the Mets in 48 innings against them.
In the seventh, with the game still scoreless, the difference between the teams became apparent. The Mets sent out Hansel Robles (W, 1-0), who needed only 13 pitches to get a 1-2-3 seventh. The Braves sent out Ian Krol (L, 0-1), who could only get one out.
Syndergaard’s personal catcher, Rene Rivera, singled to open the inning, then Krol got an out when Wilmer Flores (batting for Syndergaard) grounded into a fielder’s choice to bring up the top of the order. Flores then stole second and Krol walked Jose Reyes, his second walk of the game. Asdrubal Cabrera then laced his third single of the game into center field, allowing Flores a chance to score.
Inciarte’s throw was in time to nail Flores, but catcher Tyler Flowers took the throw behind the plate and had to reach to tag Flores, who was ruled out by umpire Jeff Kellog. Collins challenged the play and it was overruled as replay confirmed that Flores got his cleat on the plate before the tag. Last year, Flores fractured a finger when he tried to score head first at the plate., learning his lesson and coming in feet first. The Mets had the first run of the game, 1-0.
That was it for Krol, who was replaced by Chaz Roe, who promptly walked Yoenis Cespedes (0-4, 1W), loading the bases and got the quick hook, bringing former Met O’Flaherty to the mound. And just as he did as a Met, O’Flaherty couldn’t get the job done. Curtis Granderson greeted O’Flaherty with a sacrifice fly to center, scoring Reyes and giving the Mets a 2-0 lead.
After a wild-pitch moved Cabrera and Cespedes up a base, O’Flaherty walked Neil Walker to load the bases and followed that up with a five pitch walk to Jay Bruce (who walked three times) to force in a run, giving the Mets a 3-0 lead. Time for another pitcher? Not yet.
O’Flaherty got ahead of Lucas Duda 0-1, but Duda laced a bases clearing double over Inciarte’s head in center and the Mets had broken the game open, 6-0. It took the Braves 35 minutes to get three outs in the seventh inning.
Starting the season at 1-0 is something that the Mets seem to have a good handle on. Let’s see what happens in Game 2.
With an off-day tomorrow, former Met Bartolo Colon will make his first start for the Braves on Wednesday, facing Jacob deGrom. DeGrom was shut down in September, having surgery to reposition the ulnar nerve in his pitching elbow. He is 3-3 lifetime with a 1.90 ERA in eight career starts against Atlanta.
POSITIVES: Opening Day crowd was 44,384 … Braves had won six straight at Citi Field, sweeping the last two series in Queens … Mets fans gave Bartolo Colon a big ovation during the Opening Day ceremonies … Cabrera had three hits and scored a run … Bruce walked three times and scored a run … #5 starter Robert Gsellman struggled in the ninth inning, but got out of it as the Mets pulled off a strange double play to end the game … Met pitchers struck out 11 … Fernando Salas struck out two in his one inning of work in the eighth, giving the bullpen 3.0 innings, 0 runs, 2 hits and 4K … Braves had seven baserunners and didn’t steal a base
NEGATIVES: Collins said that after an evaluation, P-Seth Lugo will miss a couple of weeks … Guess the speed up rules didn’t apply, a game that was 0-0 after six innings still took 3:13 to finish 8 ½ innings …
By Paul DiSclafani:
The Mets saved the best for last as they kicked a late Field Goal and beat the Philadelphia 17-0 in the last home game of the regular season. This was the largest shutout in franchise history.
The win, combined with a loss by San Francisco in San Diego, gives the Mets (83-73) a one-game lead over the Giants (82-74) and the lead for the top Wild-Card spot, which would result in the Wild-Card game being played in New York. The Cardinals (81-73), who play the Cubs tonight, are in a virtual tie with the Giants for the second spot.
The Mets will head into Miami for three games starting tomorrow followed by a day off on Thursday, then to Philadelphia for the final weekend of the series. Although the series in Miami will have a heaviness to it after the tragic loss of Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez early Sunday morning, the Mets just completed a powerful display hitting against the Phillies.
The Mets scored 43 runs in the four game series against Philly, matching a franchise record by scoring at least eight runs in four consecutive games. Of course, the Mets pitching gave up 23 runs in the first three games before rookie Robert Gsellman threw seven scoreless innings in the finale.
After falling behind 10-0 on Saturday and almost coming all the way back in a 10-8 loss, Gsellman was just what the doctor ordered for the Mets bullpen that was decimated in the previous three games. And what a three games it was.
On Thursday, Mets starter Seth Lugo gave up three runs in his five innings, but manager Terry Collins needed six other pitchers to complete the regulation nine innings, capped off by Jose Reyes crushing a 2-run dinger in the bottom of the ninth to tie the game 6-6 after Addison Reed gave up a go-ahead 3-run home run in the eighth to give the Phillies a 6-4 lead. Then the Phils got two runs off Jeruys Familia in the 11th, only to have Asdrubal Cabrera win it for the Mets with an improbable 3-run homer in the bottom of the 11th for a 9-8 Mets win. Collins ended up using 10 pitchers in the game, nine of them in the final six innings.
Then on Friday, Collins burned through three pitchers in the first five innings before the Mets blew the game open with six runs in the fifth and three more in the seventh. Gabriel Ynoa threw 43 pitches in the first two innings and Logan Verrett followed with 46 more in the next two. Josh Smoker needed 32 to get his three outs in the fifth, but he got the win. Mets needed three more pitchers to finish the game, now having used 16 pitchers in two wins.
So of course, Saturday’s starter Sean Gilmartin couldn’t even get out of the first, giving up five runs on four hits and three walks. Rafael Montero came in to get the final out of the first inning, but he lasted only three more innings giving up five runs of his own to put the Mets in a 10-0 hole after just four innings. You already know that the Mets AAA players took over and almost completed an improbable comeback, falling 10-8. But it took five more pitchers to finish that debacle, bringing the total to 23 pitchers to complete three games.
It was up to Gsellman to save the day. “Our bullpen was shot,” manager Terry Collins said. “When you run 23 pitchers out in three games, you’re out of gas. It was nice to be able to have comfortable innings at the end of the game.”
In the finale of the very entertaining series, the Mets pounded out 14 hits, had four players hit by pitches and worked out nine walks. They scores a season high 17 runs and even left nine runners on base. Six Phillies pitchers threw 201 pitches in only eight innings. Even Jay Bruce (remember him?) had two hits.
Curtis Granderson hit his 30th home run of the season, a career high and Jose Reyes drove in four runs, coming to bat four consecutive times with the bases loaded. In the seventh, with the score 7-0, Cabrera hit a grand slam and in the eights, the Mets tacked on six more to complete the rout.
Now it’s on to Miami for what will unquestionably be an emotional experience. The Mets are banking on veteran Bartolo Colon to be up to the task. “Tomorrow is going to be a rough one for everybody”, Collins said, “Because I’m sure they’re going to be all fired up not only to beat us, but in honor of Jose. But we’ve got to do what we’ve been doing — go out and play, execute. We’ve got to feel good because we’ve got Bart going tomorrow night, because if anybody can handle those situations, it’s him. We’ll see what happens.”
Six games left. The Mets have a Magic Number of 7 with the Cardinals, pending their game tonight.
- Mets (6 games): 3 @ Miami; Thursday off; 3 @ Philadelphia
- Giants (6 games): Monday off; 3 vs Colorado; 3 vs Dodgers
- Cardinals (8 games): 1 @ Chicago; 4 vs Cincinnati; 3 vs Pittsburgh
HONORING JOSE FERNANDEZ
The Mets honored Miami Marlins star Jose Fernandez before the game by hanging a #16 Mets jersey (Fernandez’ number) and his name in the dugout. The Mets will take the jersey with them to Miami for the series next week.
POSITIVES: Mets home attendance (2,789,602) was the highest since the first season at Citi Field (3,154,262) … Four hit batters were a franchise record as Cespedes, Rene Rivera, TJ Rivera and Gavin Cecchinni were all bruised today … Two more home runs today gave the Mets 112 at home, a team record. Their 212 overall is already a team record … Mets scored 28 runs (27 earned) against the Phillies bullpen in 17 innings … Jay Bruce, who hit the first pinch hit home run of his career in the Mets 10-8 loss, was 4-2 … TJ Rivera had two more hits and his average is up to .361 … Mets finished 44-37 at home this year. Mets were 49-32 at home in 2015.
NEGATIVES: Granderson has just 56 RBI with his 30 home runs. He needs 9 RBI in the final six games of the season or he will set an MLB record for the least amount of RBI for a player with at least 30 home runs – 64 set by Felix Mantilla (Red Sox) in 1964 and Rob Deer (Detroit) in 1992 …
By Paul DiSclafani:
How do you pump up the fan base on Thursday announcing that one of your best pitchers is ready to go on Sunday, then pull the rug out from everyone less than 48 hours later and announce not only that he’s not ready for Sunday, but he is done for the season.
And that he needs ulnar nerve surgery in his elbow.
And that he will miss at least three months in recovery.
On Thursday, we were discussing if the Mets will line up their pitching rotation so that deGrom would be available for the one-and-in Wild Card game. We were discussing what this may mean to the rotation spots for Seth Lugo and Robert Gsellman with deGrom back and possibly Steven Matz.
Then today we find out this nugget from deGrom, who felt pain in the elbow while shagging fly balls in the outfield during BP on Friday. His elbow “kind of” flared up again. “I think we knew that something was going to have to be done in the off-season, and we were going to put it off until then.” Turns out he has been experiencing “numbness” in his fingers for four or five starts BEFORE the Mets decided to shut him down on September 1st.
Granted, the Mets have no obligation to disclose this information to the press and the fans. As a fan, maybe we really didn’t want to know. But we knew about Noah Syndergaard’s elbow issues and we knew about Matz’ elbow issues and that both would be facing off-season surgery. Why not deGrom?
Why not hold off on triumphantly announcing that he was going to pitch on Sunday until the day after his bullpen to make sure there were no lingering issues? What was the rush to make the Sunday announcement on Thursday?
The Mets released the results of his MRI two weeks ago that there was no damage. Who’s reading these results, Hillary Clinton’s campaign staff?
Sandy Alderson had a press conference on Friday to announce the issue with deGrom’s elbow, saying “So he will not pitch on Sunday and it is unlikely he will pitch the rest of the season. We’ll see.”
We’ll see? Did he have to add that? Was that necessary? Did we really need to add parmesan cheese to the top of a pile of stinking dog doo?
Does he think we Mets fans couldn’t take (or understand) that his elbow problem will require surgery and the sooner we get this done, the quicker he can get back and be ready for 2017?
“It’s likely that this will require a surgical repair, not a significant surgical procedure at least with respect to risk going forward. But it is something that will have to take place at some point.”
Is there any procedure done on a Mets player that has ever been described as “not significant”?
Kind of like saying, “Don’t worry, little Billy. Rover is going to be just fine. It’s a simple procedure to remove all of his internal organs.”
Why can’t the Mets either choose to be straight with the fans, or just don’t announce anything until you have a complete and final answer? Would there have been such an outcry today if on September 1st, Sandy Alderson made this announcement?
“After reviewing and consulting with the medical staff, we’ve made a decision to shut down Jacob deGrom for a few weeks because he has been experiencing numbness in his fingers on his pitching arm. We will reevaluate his condition to see how the elbow responds with rest.”
Then when yesterday’s announcement comes, there is no outcry. We were hoping for the best and preparing for the worst.
And what about Terry Collins and the rest of deGrom’s teammates? You built them up on Thursday, only to knock them down again on Friday.
“I actually watched Jake’s bullpen on Friday and it was outstanding”, Collins said. “The 15 minutes later, after batting practice, he walked in and said ‘I can’t pitch’. You shake your head and the thought is ‘who’s going to pitch?’ It’s hard. The team, we’ve just gotta be resilient.”
Thanks to the Mets Information Dissemination policies, so do the fans.
WILD-CARD HERE WE COME?
With 15 games left, the Mets and Giants are now tied for the top Wild-Card position (and a one-game, home-game playoff) with the Cardinals two games behind and the Pirates five games behind. The Mets are still 9 games behind the Nationals for the NL East Title, so maybe we let that one go, OK?
With one game left against the Twinkies (55-94), Atlanta (57-91) comes into Citi Field for three games, followed by a four game season ending home stand against the Phillies (67-82). That’s a whopping 85 games under .500, and average of 28.3 games under. Add to that the final season ending road trip through Miami (73-75) then Philly again and that’s a boatload of very bad teams.
The Giants have six games left with the first place Dodgers while the Cardinals still have a series against the already-clinched Cubs and the “we’re not dead yet” Pirates. Plus they play each other one more time today.
With 79 wins for the Mets (and the Giants) and 71 losses for the Cardinals, that gives the Mets (and Giants) a Magic Number of 13 to clinch the Wild Card. With 15 games left, if the Mets finished just 7-8 (86-77), the Cardinals would need to finish 10-5. Give the Mets one more win to finish at 8-7 (87-76), the Cardinals would need to finish 11-4.
See where I’m going with this?
However, getting to the Wild-Card game doesn’t really feel like making the playoffs. It’s a silly gimmick MLB came up with a few years ago to keep a few other teams “alive” in the final weeks of the season. Don’t you think there would be enough (if not more) drama if the Mets, Giants and Cardinals were playing for the one and only Wild-Card spot? Now that would be fighting for a playoff spot with the winning team heading to Chicago for the NLDS.
Ask the Yankee fans what they think about making a one-game, winner-take-all baseball game. Baseball should never be a one-game playoff, unless you compete over the course of 162 games and end up in a tie for first. It’s not football and it never will be. Baseball should not try to make it “more entertaining” for fans that are not enjoying it the way it was mean to be played.
THE END OF WALLY BALL
Did it have to end this way for Wally Backman? Of course it did. Backman for all his fire and winning pedigree just wouldn’t play the game that Alderson wanted him to play. He wouldn’t be a puppet. But who through he ever would?
Does anyone what to see Donald Trump become Jeb Bush after he gets to the White House?
People are who they are. That’s why they hired him. The Mets knew what they were getting. What did people expect Roseanne Barr to do when she sang the National Anthem all those years ago, become Pavarotti?
Backman is a firecracker that will lead an under achieving major league team to the playoffs and World Series for one reason and one reason only – the players will go through a brick wall for him. His players will play with a passion or they won’t play at all.
That’s what Wally Backman brings to the table, even with all his baggage.
Maybe that type of managing style went away for good when Lou Piniella retired, but just take a look at the track record and results of guys like Piniella, or Billy Martin or anyone with a little fire in their belly.
They burned bright at first, but then flamed out. But they all achieved results.
Good luck Wally. Hope you get that major league managing chance because we all know you will be successful. Just too bad we couldn’t see you do it here…
Sign Bartolo, sign Cespedes, buyout Bruce and play Conforto. Did I miss anything? … What about seeing if Bruce can play 1B? … Nice to see Lucas Duda’s face again, but why the rush to bring him back to the majors if he hasn’t even faced one pitch of live game action? Understanding that the minor league season is over, there weren’t enough players to put together at the Port St. Lucie complex for a pick-up game he could have played in? …
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.
All it took was one question from the media for Terry Collins to finally unload a season’s worth of frustration.
After his National League Champion Mets were swept by the worst team in baseball, the Arizona Diamondbacks to drop them to .500, Collins fielded the first question of the post game press conference calmly and professionally.
Three minutes and 16 seconds later, he finished answering the question and walked out.
After weeks of playing lackluster baseball and leaving the fans questioning if the players even care anymore, the Mets fell to the Diamondbacks 9-0 on a hot afternoon with their Ace, Noah Syndergaard on the mound.
“Terry, as a manager, where do you go from here?” the reporter asked innocently enough. “Is this (losing)something that you need to talk to them (the team) or do you rely on your veteran players to try and change things up in the clubhouse?”
Collins answered with the normal baseball cliché of, “It’s both. In the past we’ve relied heavily on our veterans in the clubhouse.” Of course, he also took complete responsibility as any manager would. But then the train began to tip off the rails.
Collins wasn’t going to beat around the bush anymore and use injuries as an excuse, although his Mets have had more than their fair share of them.
“As I have said so many times, I don’t care who is not here. There are no excuses here. These are major league baseball players. I don’t care how they got here or where they came from. The names on the back and the name on the front say they are a major league baseball player. It starts with them.”
And he was just warming up in the bullpen.
“You owe a responsibility to the fans, our fan base, the organization, and to yourself to respect this game and come out and grind it out, whether it’s hot or freezing cold. And that is where it’s got to start.
“I know hitting is hard – believe me. If it was easy, we’d be watching you guys play. It’s just not easy. But they got here because they grind out at bats. That’s how they got here. That’s how this organization has been built in the last few years, so we know it’s possible.”
Unlike some of the things he has said at previous press conferences, Collins refused to give slack to any of his players who are not performing well.
“Yes, some guys are having a bad time. You can’t say ‘Woe is me’ at this level. You cannot do it. Everybody is too good here. Nobody feels sorry for you. Everybody’s been humbled and those that get out of it, stay here a long time. Those who don’t, you keep looking up and they keep getting a little time here and a little time there, but they don’t stay.
“I want the ones who can stay.”
As the manager, Collins took responsibility for writing out the lineup card and deciding who pitches and when, but he finally acknowledged what everyone else has been whispering quietly about the last few weeks – the Mets lack of passion.
“I know one thing, there has got to be a passion to come and play. There has got to be a sense of ‘This is what I do for a living and the people who pay to see me play are going to see my best effort’.”
Now he was starting to heat up.
“We are going to get our ass beat again – don’t ever mistake it because that’s part of the game here. You are gonna get beat and you are gonna get beat bad sometimes. But you need to pick yourself up and move on. That’s what baseball players do.”
He used the example of 2B Neil Walker, who broke out of a slump recently, raising his batting average almost 30 points, busting it out of the box on a fly ball to left in a game they were losing 9-0.
“He (Walker) ended up past second base – that’s how you play the game. You don’t throw your hands up and stop at first base or the 45 foot line – you play the game correctly.”
A room full of journalists was completely silent as Collins paused to collect his thoughts.
“We’re all responsible – every single one of us, the coaches, me, the players. There is no one guy to blame, no one to point a finger at. I don’t do that, I have never done that. I am a team guy, I believe in team.”
Nearing the finish line now, Collins took it to the next level.
“I know one thing, starting tomorrow, we’re back fresh. Starting tomorrow, we’re gonna get after it. And those that don’t want to get after it; I will find someone who does. Because in Las Vegas, there is a whole clubhouse of guys who want to sit in this room – and I’ll find them. That’s all I got to say.”
If he were on stage, he would have held out the microphone and dropped it. Instead, he got up and left. It only took 3:16 to challenge his players to understand what it will take to be on his team over the final 48 games.
The Mets, who have lost 11 of their last 15 are still just 2 games back of the Marlins for the second Wild-Card spot. They managed just five runs and 17 hits in the three game series against the Diamondbacks, who came in at 45-66. They haven’t won consecutive games since before the All-Star break.
Now the 49-68 Padres come into town for three games before the Mets head out on a 10 game road trip with three more in Arizona, four in San Francisco and three in St. Louis.
It’s hard to imagine that their entire season comes may come down to the next 13 games. Let’s see if his players respond to the manager’s challenge.
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.
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:
On Wednesday evening, June 29th, the Nationals completed a sweep of the Mets in Washington to take a season high six game lead in the NL East. Licking their wounds and losers of four straight, the Mets and their fans opened one eye to peek at the remaining schedule before the All-Star break and saw an 11-game home stand on the horizon that included four games against the best team in the league, three more against the team directly behind them and four more against these same Nationals. I think the word most fans were looking for was, “Sheesh!”
With injuries beginning to mount as two of their star pitchers, Noah Syndergaard and Steven Matz, announced that they are experiencing elbow discomfort and have bone chips in their elbows, the Mets got even more bad news. While Sundergaard and Matz would continue to pitch through the pain, Matt Harvey’s puzzling season came to an abrupt halt with something that nobody had ever heard of, “Thoracic Outlet Syndrome”.
Not enough for you? How about Yoenis Cespedes straining a quad making a diving catch in the outfield that will put him on the shelf for about a week and cost him his starting role in the All Star game?
Need more? How about Syndergaard throwing three consecutive fastballs that went from 96 to 94 to 91 and then having to come out of the game with “fatigue”? Not to worry, he has no pain in his shoulder or his bone chip filled elbow. “His arm went dead,” manager Terry Collins said. “He’s got a tired arm and (his) stuff went away”.
Where did it go?
His missing “stuff” cost Syndergaard his first ever All Star appearance. “It’s disappointing,” Syndergaard said about not being able to pitch in the All Star game, “But there will be a lot more. It’s a long season, you put a lot of wear and tear on your body, just right now I think I need a little break.”
Through all of this, the Mets had to play 11 games against the Cubs, Marlins and Nationals before they get five days off. And they won seven of them.
That’s right, seven of them. Shouldn’t Mets fans be happy?
They swept all four against the Cubs (hitting 11 home runs) and took two of three from the Marlins, then came back from a 6-0 deficit (the last game Harvey will pitch this season) to beat the Nationals, 9-7 and cut their lead in the NL East to just three games.
Then the bottom fell out when the team found out about Harvey’s TOS and both Cespedes and Syndergaard left the game within 10 minutes of each other. You think that had an effect on the last three games before the All Star break, at least mentally?
Give me a show of hands – how many Mets fans, on Thursday morning June 30th, would have taken a 4-7 record on this 11-game home stand? How about even 5-6? If you are still raising your hand when I get to 7-4, you are not being honest.
With all that has happened to this team in the last two weeks, they are exactly where they were 11 days ago. Granted, a home stand that started out 7-1 and finished with three straight stinkers is not giving you any confidence going into the All-Star break, but what’s the alternative?
Once again, the Nationals are tearing it up against the Mets (9-4 with 6 games left, all in September). However, if you take the seven games against the Mets (6-1) out of the equation for the Nats these last two weeks, they are just 5-10 in 15 other games that included the Padres (2-2), Dodgers (0-3), Brewers (1-3) and Reds (3-1).
Baseball is a funny game and it plays out over six months, not six days. Although six days may not be able to change the course of the season, but it can certainly change the mindset of the fan base. Think about where Mets fans (and the media) were coming into this home stand and where they were after sweeping the Cubs and taking two of three against the Marlins? Now just four games later, it’s gloom and doom again?
Welcome to baseball again, Mets fans. We don’t have a lot of experience with the ups and downs of a baseball season and maybe we panic and celebrate too quickly.
Let’s take a break this week and just try and catch our breath, shall we?
Jose Reyes hit two home runs in today’s 3-2 loss, Wilmer Flores has begun to heat up and we won’t have to see (or hear about) Daniel Murphy until football season starts. Maybe our expectations of dominance were a tad too high? Maybe our reliance on starting pitching without regard to offense will come back to bite us in the butt? We lost our Captain and third baseman for the season and no one has seen or heard from our first baseman in six weeks.
But we have an All Star closer and Bartolo Colon, the ageless wonder. Our pitching hasn’t been dominant, but they have been pretty darn good. And where would we be without Cabrera and Walker?
I don’t think any Mets fan (including this one) is “happy” with being just six games over .500 at 47-41 after getting to the World Series last year, but let’s be honest – with all the injuries, it could be much, much worse.
Take a deep breath and exhale with me. Then we’ll see where we are on August 1st…
The Mets (44-37) accomplished a four game sweep of the Cubs for only the second time in franchise history as they pounded Jon Lester and three other Chicago pitchers (including catcher Miguel Montero) for five home runs and 22 hits in a 14-3 win. The only other time the Mets completed a four game sweep of the Cubs in the regular season was 1985. Oh yeah, they swept the Cubs in the NLCS last year, too.
Third baseman by default, Wilmer Flores, who has been mired in an 0-14 funk while Jose Reyes looms in the not too distant future, tied a franchise record going 6-6 with two home runs and four runs batted in. Flores raised his average 31 points from .224 to .255. Edgardo Alfonzo is the only other Mets player to have six hits in a game (1999).
Once again, the Mets offense battered the best the Cubs (51-30) have to offer. One night after beating the reigning Cy Young winner Jake Arrieta and his 2.10 ERA, the Mets were facing Jon Lester with an even better ERA (2.03) and his 9-3 record. Lester didn’t even make it out of the second inning for the first time in 301 career starts.
The Mets batted around in the second inning, scoring seven times, knocking Lester out of the game after just 1 1/3 innings pitched. Flores greeted Lester with a home run to give the Mets a 2-1 lead and after he struck out James Loney, Lester never got another out. The Mets strung together seven hits and a walk before manager Joe Maddon mercifully came out to get Lester. Before most fans even got back from the line at the Shake Shack, the Mets led 8-1.
Lester (L, 9-4) finished with eight runs (all earned) on nine hits and a walk while surrendering three home runs. Curtis Granderson hit number 14 in the first to tie the game at 1-1 and Rene Rivera hit a two run bomb during the seven run second. Lester hadn’t given up eight earned runs in his last six starts combined.
The recipient of all this run support was Noah Syndergaard (W, 9-3) who showed no real signs of the elbow discomfort that plagued him the last two starts, but also didn’t have to work too hard with a seven run lead after two innings. Syndergaard went seven innings scattering seven hits and striking out eight without walking a batter. He hasn’t walked a batter at Citi Field in 35 innings, dating back to May 1.
In their four game sweep against the team with the best record in the National League, the Mets came back on Thursday (trailing 3-0 in the seventh) to win 4-3; hit five home runs on Friday to win 10-2; held on to win 4-3 against Arrieta on Saturday and then chased Lester with 14 runs on Sunday. In the four games, they scored 32 runs and banged out 48 hits, including 12 home runs.
And it all started with a monster home run by Yoenis Cespedes on Thursday. Trailing 3-0 in the seventh and managing only two hits against John Lackey, Cespedes launched the longest home run ever to be hit at Citi Field in a game, three rows deep into the third deck in left field. ESPN measured it at 466 feet and the velocity off the bat was 110 mph. At the time Terry Collins said, “I think it woke us. I really do. He hadn’t hit one in a while and that was a big one. I really think that got the guys energized.” Guess Collins was right because the Mets scored 31 runs in their next 26 innings.
Mets hit 25 home runs in 27 games in June, and have now hit 11 in the first three days of July.
Mets start a three game series against the Marlins in a late afternoon holiday game with Matt Harvey (4-10, 4.55) against Tom Koehler (6-7, 4.45). Harvey’s 10 losses are tied for worst in the league.
POSITIVES: Mets were 8-18 W/RISP Every starter had two hits except Flores (6) and Reynolds (1). Even Syndergaard had a hit … Kelly Johnson PH a HR in the seventh, his third as a Met … Cubs catcher Miguel Montero pitched for the first time in his career, getting the last four outs. It the first time the Mets have faced a position player on the mound since 2011 … CJ Cron, who went 6 for 6 last night for the Angels and Flores are the first players in MLB history to do it on consecutive nights.
NEGATIVES: Not today, friends. Not this weekend …
By Paul DiSclafani:
Within the span of two games against the team with the best record in baseball, the Mets have brought their fans back a few more feet from the ledge as they hit five home runs against pitcher Jason Hammel on Friday in a 10-2 drubbing between multiple rain delays to go along with Thursday’s thrilling come from behind 4-3 win, which snapped a four game losing streak. Although the Mets had lost nine consecutive regular season games to the Cubs since 2014, they have now beaten them six straight, including a sweep of last year’s NLCS.
With nothing specific to point to other than the infectious smile of rookie Brandon Nimmo, the gloom and doom of being swept in Washington earlier in the week has given way to hope and optimism. That is, until Jake Arrieta takes the mound for the Cubs tonight.
Arrieta, arguably the league’s best pitcher at 12-2 will try to use that league leading 2.10 ERA to his advantage against a Mets team that is suddenly feeling its Wheaties.
The Mets finally provided some run support for Jacob deGrom on Friday as they tied a team record hitting five home runs against the same pitcher, allowing deGrom (4-4) to become a winner for the first time since April 30th, snapping a 10 game winless streak. Asdrubal Cabrera (twice), Yoenis Cespedes (#20), James Loney and Nimmo hit home runs in the rout. For Nimmo, it was his first in the major leagues (measured at 442 feet) and prompted the appreciative Citi Field crowd to demand a curtain call. Nimmo, smiling all the way around the bases, gave the ball, which landed in the bullpen area, to his parents, who were in attendance. Loney and Cabrera went back-to-back in the second inning.
In addition to his home run (and curtain call), Nimmo made a sliding one-handed catch of a fly ball in right field, prompting manager Terry Collins to say, “It’s always nice to have those young guys come up, because they bring energy.”
Now we’ll see how that energy translates to offense against Arrieta. Since tossing six shutout innings against the Pirates on 6/17 and lowering his ERA to 1.74, Arrieta has come back down to Earth a little. He was the losing pitcher against St. Louis on 6/22 and lasted only five innings in his last start against, of all teams, the last place Reds. Arrieta was charged with five earned runs and issued five walks, but the Cubs still managed to get him the “W” in an eventual 11-8 win.
The Mets roughed up Arrieta in Game 2 of the NLCS for three runs in the first inning highlighted by two-run home run by Daniel Murphy en route to a 4-1 win. But Arrieta is 2-1 lifetime against the Mets with a 1.82 ERA in the regular season.
Bartolo Colon (6-4, 2.86) goes tonight and tries to keep this good feeling going for the Mets as they continue to tread water heading into the All Star break next week. After what the Mets have been through the last two weeks, they are certainly enjoying their new-found enthusiasm.
“I’m real aware that it’s the gloomiest days when you lose here,” Terry Collins said. “If you lose two or three in a row here, it’s very hard to deal with. But it’s a long year.”
POSITIVES: Mets hit five home runs in a home game for the fifth time in franchise history, but for the first time at cavernous Citi Field. Last time was at Shea Stadium in 2000 against the Marlins … Juan Lagares has been activated for tonight’s game after going 6-18 with a triple and a couple of RBI with AA Binghamton as he continues to try to play through a partially torn ligament in his left thumb … Reliever Seth Lugo made his big league debut and pitched two scoreless innings of relief (2 hits and a HBP), but then was sent back to AAA Las Vegas to make room for Lagares. He is the first Met to ever wear #67 – now THAT’s a future trivia answer …
NEGATIVES: Curtis Granderson will miss the rest of this series and the Mets expect to make a decision on whether to put him on the DL today or tomorrow … David Wright looked gaunt in speaking to the media yesterday and has resigned himself to the fact that he will not play again this season.
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.
The Mets announced two major transactions prior to tonight’s game against the Atlanta Braves that they hope will give their sagging offense the same jolt they got last July when they promoted Steven Matz and acquired Kelly Johnson and Juan Uribe. The additions of those players were just the appetizer for the main course a week later, Yoenis Cespedes. And don’t discount another Cuban superstar following in blue and orange in the next week or two.
First things first. The Mets swapped first round draft picks with AAA Las Vegas as they promoted 2011 First Round pick Brandon Nimmo (23) and sent down 2013 first round pick Michael Conforto.
The 6-3 outfielder Nimmo was Sandy Alderson’s first draft pick (13th overall) when he took control of the Mets and was was hitting .328 in 63 games in the Pacific Coast League with 5 HR and 37 RBI.
Conforto, the #10 overall pick in 2013 who took NY by storm last season hitting nine HR in 56 games with the Mets has hit just .130 since May 1.
“I think in talking with the coaching staff and the manager, we just felt that, look, this is counterproductive and what we need to do is get him to Las Vegas, get his swing back, and then hopefully get him back here within a relatively short period of time,” Alderson said.
Both Bryce Harper (Nationals) and Jose Fernandez (Marlins) were part of that fruitful first round in 2011 and have already developed into stars at the major league level. Fernandez was taken by Miami directly after the Mets selected Nimmo. This will be Nimmo’s Major League debut.
Was he concerned that the others have not only made it to The Show, but have already flourished? Here’s what he said previously about getting a chance to play against Harper and Fernandez some day in the big leagues:
“If everybody knew how it was going to turn out, I think he (Fernandez) probably would have went No. 1 overall. There were 12 other teams that passed on him too. But I can’t put any pressure on me. I played against Bryce Harper since I was 9 years old. I played those guys. There’s nothing that I can do. I’m myself. I just have to control what I can control and just go out there and have fun.
“It’s the way it is. They’re very talented. Very talented. And they learned the game a little bit quicker than I did. I don’t feel like I’m going to be anywhere behind them. I think I’m going to be playing against them one day and on the same playing field, but it just took me a little bit longer. I hope to face [Fernandez] 1,000 more times, hopefully in the big leagues. We’ll see how it goes. But no more pressure. I’ll just be myself and play.”
According to Terry Collins, Nimmo will not be in the starting lineup tonight, but will start and play left field on Sunday. Cespedes will remain in centerfield.
JOSE REYES II
After weeks of speculation, Jose Reyes signed a minor league deal with the Mets just a few minutes after he became a few agent after being released by the Colorado Rockies, reuniting with the only team he really had any success with.
Of course, the baggage that Reyes brings with him is enormous.
After winning the batting title with the Mets in 2011, Reyes jumped at the Miami Marlins 6-year, $106 million deal just a few minutes after entering the free agent signing period. Although he never lived up to the expectations of a big contract, his off the field domestic abuse issues got him suspended 52 games by MLB and his eventual release from the Rockies.
Reyes, now 33, was signed as teenager in 1999 out of the Dominican republic and spent 12 highly productive years with the Mets. But since signing that mega deal with the Marlins, Reyes was traded to Toronto the following season as the Marlins purged their roster and then traded from Toronto to Colorado last year as part of the Troy Tulowiski trade deadline deal.
Baseball suspended him without pay for the first 52 games of the 2016 season for violating its domestic abuse policy, costing him over $6 million in salary.
With David Wright out for the year and a possible Reyes reunion for the struggling Mets offense at a very low-cost financially, the Mets initially balked at bringing back Reyes because of the league and the fans stigma attached to domestic abuse. Most professional sports franchises want no part of players with that type of item on their resume and the Mets are no different.
“We made the decision to offer a contract to Jose after extensive consideration and discussion with Jose, his representatives, Major League Baseball and various departments at the Mets,” Alderson said today. “We are convinced that Jose has accepted responsibility for his actions and their consequences and have confirmed he is taking steps beyond those prescribed by MLB, including ongoing counseling. Accordingly, we believe he deserves a second chance to return to our organization.”
The Rockies are on the hook for the remaining $39 million on Reyes contract, and the Mets would be responsible for only $507,500, the major league minimum. Reyes will be required to undergo counseling while with the Mets.
“I did meet with Jose personally. We talked for about an hour,” Alderson said. “Obviously this domestic abuse issue was the focal point of that conversation. I came away feeling that he had taken responsibility for this mistake on his part, that he was remorseful. He obviously has paid a penalty for this, both financially and in terms of his career. He, I believe, is committed to ongoing counseling and support of organizations working against domestic abuse.
“And obviously, in addition to this personal meeting, we had a lot of internal conversations. [Chief operating officer] Jeff Wilpon was directly involved in this every step of the way. We were aware of the possible controversy this would generate. We’re also fully aware of the responsibility we sort of have to be leaders in this area of fighting domestic abuse. … At the same time, Jose was a member of the Mets organization for 12 years. He was signed at 16 years of age. He was a solid citizen during all of that time. And so, if you think of it in those terms, us as a place where Jose grew up, almost as a surrogate family, we felt that he deserved a second chance, and that second chance was most appropriate with us.”
Jose Reyes released a statement to the media: “As I have expressed in the past, I deeply regret the incident that occurred and remain remorseful and apologetic to my family. I have completed the counseling required by MLB, have been in ongoing therapy, and will continue with counseling going forward. I appreciate the Mets organization for believing in me and providing the opportunity to come back home to New York.”
Manager Terry Collins, who did manage Reyes in that batting tile 2011 season had good memories of Reyes time with the team. “One of the things that probably caught my imagination was his joy of playing in New York. He loved it. That’s why he moved there. He loved being there. He loved playing in New York. It’s a tough place, because you’re going to have some bad times and some bad days. But he always had a smile. And when he didn’t, something was wrong, and you knew it. And that was the easiest kind of way to judge that it’s time for a day off. In my time around him, he was a joy to be around.”
Met fans have been blowing up Social Media in the last 10 days when Reyes was originally designated for assignment by the Rockies, pretty evenly split between the need to improve the team and their disdain for domestic abusers. “We fully understand there will be differences of opinion about this,” Alderson said. “Some people will feel strongly and differently. I think we accept that. We respect that. All I can say is can is both Jose and the organization will be held to a standard going forward that recognizes the seriousness of domestic abuse and a commitment to stand against it.”
Reyes will report to Class A Brooklyn and begin his second tour with the Mets on Sunday, playing third base. The Mets expect him to move on to AA Binghamton and then to AAA Las Vegas before joining the Mets in a week to 10 days.
IS GOURRIEL NEXT?
And then there is Cuban infielder Yulieski Gourriel, who will attend a private workout with the Mets next week. The 32 year-old Cuban defector was once regarded as the best player in the top Cuban league and has hit 250 home runs with a .335 lifetime batting average. e also comes highly endorsed by his good friend, Yoenis Cespedes. Cespedes called Gourriel “the best player I’ve ever played with”.
Gourriel may require a long term deal, and taking a big risk with an unknown commodity would be unusual for both Alderson and the Mets.