Mets manager Mickey Callaway said his team isn’t focused and maybe it’s time to spend less time before games taking batting practice and more time revisiting spring training fundamental drills.
Callaway was upset when the Mets gifted the Cubs the only runs they needed in today’s 2-0 loss that enabled Chicago to finish its four-game sweep and extend the losing skid to nine of the last 11 games. In particular, he said Steven Matz was slow to first base on a pickoff attempt which enabled Javier Baez to steal home.
This came after Baez faked a steal on the previous pitch.
That was followed by Jay Bruce letting up on a pop-up to short right and letting inexperienced second baseman Luis Guillorme to make the play and allow Willson Contreras – who caught all 13 innings Saturday night – tagged up and score.
Clearly, the Mets didn’t anticipate on either play, which is a fundamental part of playing defense.
“I think we need to shift our focus,’’ Callaway said. “We are not focusing on that part of the game very well. If we have to go out and work on cutoffs and relays and pop-ups and PFP [pitcher’s fielding practice], that is what we will do instead of being on the field and hitting. I guess we need to make some adjustments on what we are focusing on.
“We go out there and do defensive work every day and we go out there and hit, maybe we need to shift our focus to make it more stuff like just ground balls and throwing to bags to be more fundamentals specific. I think it’s focus.’’
Matz said he was being cautious with a runner on third.
“I am not trying to snap a throw [to first] and throw it away,’’ said Matz, but conceded he has to throw the ball harder on the pickoff attempt. “It just caught me off guard. In the future, I’ll be more mindful of the throw. I wasn’t thinking about it.”
There’s no excuse for a left-handed pitcher to be surprised on that play.
As for Bruce, he said he thought Guillorme was already camped to make the catch. Even so, he later admitted that the outfielder has to take charge. He also conceded what we already knew: “I haven’t been good this year. That’s just the bottom line.”
EXTRA INNINGS: The Mets are off Monday, then open interleague play with two games against Baltimore. … They have lost six straight home games and are 12-17 at Citi Field this season. … The Mets have been shut out four times, all at home. … The Mets’ offense has scored one run in its last 24 innings. The Mets have scored two or fewer runs 21 times this season. … Brandon Nimmo lead off to start the game and has reached base safely in 14 of 29 leadoff appearances with a .483 on-base percentage in the first inning.