May 12

Mets Wrap: Syndergaard Does It All

SYNDERGAARD: Dream game. (AP)

SYNDERGAARD: Dream game. (AP)

Noah Syndergaard was still dealing in the eighth inning, but maybe it wasn’t because his pitch count was low. I’m thinking Terry Collins kept him in the game because Syndergaard was the only Met who was hitting.

Syndergaard drove in all four Mets’ runs with a pair of homers – including a three-run drive in the fifth after failing to put down a bunt – in Wednesday night’s 4-3 victory over the Dodgers.

Maybe it’s something in the water in Southern California.

“I don’t think I ever hit two home runs in Little League,’’ Syndergaard told reporters. “To hit two home runs in a big league game, especially with a pitcher like Kenta Maeta out there, it was an ultimate experience.’’

And, he wasn’t too bad at what he is paid to do, either, giving up two runs on six hits with six strikeouts. Syndergaard gave up five hits in the first four innings, but settled down and retired 11 straight.

Syndergaard amazed everybody.

“He’s throwing 100 (mph) and he’s hitting home runs to the opposite field in Dodger Stadium. It’s legendary,” Mets second baseman Neil Walker said.“He’s a big strong kid. He’s Thor.”

And he put the hammer down.

METS GAME WRAP

Game: #33, May 11   Record: 21-12   Streak: W 1

Standings: First, NL East

Runs: 141     Average per game: 4.3    Times scoring 3 runs or less: 13

SUMMARY:  Syndergaard pitched eight stellar innings and supported his own cause by driving in all the Mets’ runs with a pair of homers.

KEY MOMENT:  Syndergaard’s three-run homer in the fifth.

THUMBS UP: Walker broke a 0-for-22 slide with a double in the second. … Two hits each by Michael Conforto, Yoenis Cespedes and Syndergaard. … No stolen bases by the Dodgers.

THUMBS DOWN: Just joking, but Syndergaard’s error in the second. … Ouch! Curtis Granderson went 0-for-5 as did Asdrubal Cabrera.

EXTRA INNINGS: Steven Matz will miss his next start with soreness in his left forearm. I’ll have more on that later. … David Wright did not play. It was a scheduled day off, but he’s nursing a sore shoulder. … Walker was back in the lineup after missing three games with a bruised shin. … Syndergaard had his elbow checked after his May 1 start against San Francisco. … Wilmer Flores is expected to go on the disabled list today with lefty reliever Sean Gilmartin being brought up.

QUOTEBOOK: When you’re supposed to bunt, you’d like to see him get the bunt down. But, if you don’t get the bunt down, you might as well hit a homer.’’ – Collins on taking off the bunt sign before Syndergaard’s second homer.

BY THE NUMBERS: 14: Groundball outs by Syndergaard, proof his slider was working well.

NEXT FOR METS:  Tonight: Bartolo Colon (3-1, 2.82) vs. Clayton Kershaw (4-1, 2.02). Kershaw has given up two earned runs in 16 innings over his previous two starts, with 24 strikeouts and no walks.

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May 11

May 11, Mets’ Lineup At Dodgers

Noah Syndergaard (2-2, 2.58) starts against the Dodgers’ Kenta Maeda (3-1, 1.66) tonight in Los Angeles. The Mets are 3-3 on their season-long, 11-game road trip. Overall, the Mets are 11-6 on the road this season.

The Mets are 16-6 in their last 22 games.

Here’s tonight’s lineup:

Curtis Granderson – RF: Back leading off after getting Tuesday off. Hasn’t had a good road trip, hitting .184 (4-for-22 with two homers). Has ten strikeouts in his last ten games.

Asdrubal Cabrera – SS: I’m wondering if Cabrera will end up hitting second full time and David Wright will be moved somewhere else in the order. Is batting .212 lifetime against the Dodgers.

Michael Conforto – LF: Is back hitting third. We’ll see how long this lasts, although I’m not betting he’ll be there Thursday against Clayton Kershaw.

Yoenis Cespedes – CF: Has six hits so far on the trip. Is second in the majors with 31 RBI. Has cut his strikeouts with only four in his last 13 games.

Lucas Duda – 1B: Is batting .190 (4-for-21). Is a .203 lifetime hitter (24-for-118) against the Dodgers. Tied with the Orioles’ Chris Davis with eight multi-homer games since the start of last season.

Neil Walker – 2B: Is on a 0-for-20 slide, including 0-for-11 on the trip. Hasn’t homered in his last 33 at-bats.

Eric Campbell – 3B: Playing third with Wright not starting against Maeta.

Rene Rivera – C: His arm could turn him into Syndergaard’s personal catcher to cut down on potential base stealers.

Syndergaard – RHP: Has 49 strikeouts through his first six starts which is tied for seventh in the majors.

 

May 11

Why We Love Jacob DeGrom

It wasn’t Jacob deGrom at his best, but perhaps it was vintage Jacob deGrom nonetheless.

DE GROM: True Grit. (AP)

DE GROM: True Grit. (AP)

Who didn’t have flashbacks to Game 5 of last year’s NLDS when deGrom gutted out six innings to give the Mets a chance to win? On Tuesday, despite lacking his best stuff and perfect mechanics, deGrom was all grit in guile in giving the Mets seven innings in the 3-2 loss to the Dodgers.

Sure, it would have been great for him to be rewarded with a win, even so watching deGrom squirm his way out of trouble was akin to John Elway scrambling to avoid the pass rush.

Watching deGrom is watching sport at its finest and why we love this guy. No drama, no excuses, just a player competing at the highest level.

“This night showed what Jake deGrom is made of,’’ manager Terry Collins told reporters. “We all talk about the ‘plus’ stuff. He’s fighting through some mechanical things right now, and this guy was in trouble for the first five innings.

“And yet you looked up and he gave you seven innings. That tells me a lot about him. … This guy is usually pinpoint, and he hasn’t been that. That’s why he’s been struggling. I’ll tell you one thing: I like running him out there every fifth day.’’

And I love watching him every fifth day.

Hopefully, fifteen years from now, when those long dark locks have been shorn and faded to gray, we’ll enjoy him at the end of a spectacular career.

All done in a Mets’ uniform.

May 11

Mets Wrap: DeGrom’s Outing Wasted

You hate to see good pitching go to waste, but that’s what happened in the Mets’ 3-2 loss to the Dodgers Tuesday night. Jacob deGrom gave up two runs in seven innings – good enough to win most games – but the Mets’ offense responded with an effort bad enough to lose most games.

Mets’ hitters struck out 13 times and only twice had as many as two runners on base in an inning at the same time.

The Dodgers scored the game-winning run in the ninth inning when Trayce Thompson homered off Hansel Robles. It came after Robles shook off catcher Kevin Plawecki’s call for a slider.

I have no problem with Robles shaking off the pitch, because as Plawecki explains in the Game Wrap, a pitcher must be confident in the pitch.

METS GAME WRAP

Game: #32   Record: 20-12   Streak: L 1

Standings: First, NL East

Runs: 137     Average per game: 4.3    Times scoring 3 runs or less: 13

SUMMARY:  The Mets’ all-or-nothing offense was nothing Tuesday night against Alex Wood and three relievers. They had five hits and two walks; went 1-for-7 with RISP; and struck out 13 times to waste a strong outing from deGrom.

KEY MOMENT:  In the second, Mets had two runs home and two runners on with no outs, but Wood regrouped to get the next three hitters.

THUMBS UP: DeGrom was grit again. … Yoenis Cespedes gunned down Adrian Gonzalez at second. … Two hits from Juan Lagares. … A RBI single from Plawecki. … Antonio Bastardo worms out of trouble in the eighth inning once again.

THUMBS DOWN:  After endorsing Michael Conforto, he went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts. It doesn’t matter, he still should’ve hit No. 3. … Three strikeouts by David Wright. … Lagares was picked off to end the fifth.

EXTRA INNINGS:  Be honest, after Chase Utley’s double in the first, how many people thought, “deGrom should have plunked him?’’ … After appearing in three straight games, Bastardo will likely not be available Wednesday night.

QUOTEBOOK: “I put the slider down. Ultimately, I want my pitcher to have conviction with what he’s throwing. And if he doesn’t feel comfortable throwing his slider in that situation, then I’ve got to trust him on that.’’ – Plawecki on Robles shaking off his call for a slider prior to Thompson’s game-winning homer.

BY THE NUMBERS: 3: Strikeouts by Cespedes in his last 10 games. During that span he has also walked seven times and driven in eight runs.

NEXT FOR METS:  Wednesday: Noah Syndergaard (2-2, 2.58) vs. RHP Kenta Maeda (3-1, 1.66). Thursday: Bartolo Colon (3-1, 2.82) vs. Kershaw (4-1, 2.02).

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May 10

Collins Gives No Confidence Vote To Conforto

Looking at the Mets’ lineup for Tuesday’s game in Los Angeles, I couldn’t help but notice a glaring mistake. Perhaps it was just an oversight on manager Terry Collins’ part, but I’m not thrilled with Michael Conforto batting sixth, protected between the red hot Wilmer Flores (.170, one homer and two RBI) and the sizzling Kevin Plawecki (.229, one homer and three RBI).

CONFORTO: Bad move dropping him. (AP)

CONFORTO: Bad move dropping him. (AP)

The Mets touted Conforto as the team’s No. 3 hitter of the future when Collins moved him there in mid-April. The move, where he hit ahead of Yoenis Cespedes, jumpstarted the Mets’ offense and sparked their surge in the standings.

The Mets are 16-5 isince moving Conforto to third, which includes losing the first two games on this trip. Unquestionably, Conforto is on a significant slide, going 3-for-29 (.103) over his last eight games. Basically, that’s a bad week.

Although the Mets are facing a left-hander in Alex Wood, it should be noted he’s 1-3 with a 5.18 ERA. The message indicated a lack of confidence by Collins in Conforto, but the manager’s words flat out shout it loud.

Lefties are batting .367 this year against Wood, but the manager doesn’t think that’s relevant. Collins said batting Conforto sixth wouldn’t create pressure to perform, but he’s mistaken. There’s more pressure now.

Collins made a big deal saying Cespedes’ presence helped Conforto, but if you buy that logic, you must also accept he’s getting next to no protection between Flores and Plawecki. In addition, what must Conforto be thinking about this demotion?

As far as his reasoning for moving Conforto, Collins told reporters today: “I’d like to leave him in the three-hole if I thought he could do some damage.”

That’s another way of saying he doesn’t think he can do any damage against a pitcher with an ERA just under six. How’s that for a pat on the back?

No, I don’t like this decision. Confidence is essential in the development of a hitter, and this move screams Collins has doubts. When Collins moved Conforto, I wrote how important it was for him to stay with him during slumps. At least the first one.

If Conforto is to become the No. 3 hitter the Mets expect of him, he’ll have to endure dry stretches. So, what does Collins do? He bails at the first sign of a problem. Collins said Conforto will bat third against right-handers, but said nothing about lefties. You have to assume he won’t hit third against Clayton Kershaw.

It has only been eight games. Let Conforto work his way out of this, the same way he’s given a long leash to Matt Harvey.

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