Yoenis Cespedes – CF
Daniel Murphy – 2B
David Wright – 3B
Lucas Duda – 1B
Travis d’Arnaud – C
Michael Conforto – LF
Wilmer Flores – SS
Matt Harvey – RHP
It is totally irrelevant, 100 percent, replays showed Blake Swihart’s drive off the wall that resulted in an inside-the-park home run would have been ruled a conventional homer had it been reviewed.
Also irrelevant, and unacceptable, is Juan Lagares’ explanation that he saw the ball go over the line.
“One hundred percent,’’ Lagares told reporters. “It hit over the line. That’s why the ball came back that hard.’’
Yes, it did, but that doesn’t matter. More important were his actions during the play. I don’t want to say Lagares is lying, but I’m not buying what he said.
If Lagares really thought the ball struck over the line, then why did he run after it? Actually, he jogged after it, which is also not acceptable.
OK, Lagares misplayed the drive and indicates he’s continually plays too shallow. He won the Gold Glove last season, but he’s not good enough to play that shallow. He’s not Paul Blair, not Curt Flood, not Willie Mays, not Andruw Jones, and not Andrew McCutcheon. Not even close. A lot of balls have gone over his head this season. (Sorry for the side rant, but that has been building up for awhile.)
The only ones who handled the play properly were Swihart, who never stopped running; the umpires, who never gave the home run call because they didn’t see that; and Ruben Tejada, who ran into the outfield to get the ball.
“I thought it had gotten over because of the way it bounced back, but I just kept my head down running,’’ Swihart said. “I kind of watched the center fielder jogging after it, but I didn’t hear anything so I kept running.’’
Notice how Swihart said Lagares jogged after the ball. He kept running out the play; Lagares did not.
And, give left fielder Yoenis Cespedes a bag of popcorn for the way he watched the play. It hasn’t been the first time he hasn’t hustled.
Lagares needs to hustle after the ball because you never know until the umpires make the call. As a player, you never assume anything, out or safe, fair or foul, until the call is made.
Lagares’ judgment and Cespedes’ lack of hustle can’t be tolerated, not in spring training and especially not during a pennant race.
However, Collins was not quoted regarding Lagares’ part other than to say the ball went over the line. Here’s wrung him out in his office after the game. The Mets are in a race, so this stuff needs to be cleaned up now.
Last night doesn’t cut it in October.
COMMENTS: The place should be rocking tonight like never before. … I like Cespedes hitting third. … Good to see they haven’t forgotten Lagares. Cespedes is the new toy, but the Mets might not have him next season. Best to keep Lagares happy and interested. … No question, Wright gets the biggest cheer. … It will be interesting to see how Harvey responds on 11 days rest.
Here’s the lineup the Mets will use tonight in support of Jon Niese as they go for the sweep in Philadelphia and attempt to extend their winning streak to seven games:
David Wright – 3B
Kelly Johnson – 2B
Travis d’Arnaud – C
COMMENTS: It’s working, so there’s no reason to make a big deal about it, but I am curious as to why manager Terry Collins keeps hitting Cespedes second instead of third or fourth. I’m also curious as to what the batting order will look like when Lucas Duda returns. … And, with how d’Arnaud is hitting, I thought he’d hit fifth. But, I guess I like to tinker with the batting order just like Collins.
As good as the Mets have been, and they’ve been terrific lately, there remain issues surfacing as they head into October. Several were exposed the past week in Baltimore and Denver, and now in Philadelphia. Fortunately, they were able to outslug their mistakes, and we haven’t seen that in a long time with the Mets.
Some of these flaws surfaced again Wednesday, but scoring nine runs is a great buffer. Even so, here’s what they must address:
TERRY COLLINS: Being in a pennant race is new to these guys and that includes the manager. When Jacob deGrom is cruising as he was last week in Baltimore, can’t you just leave him in the game after he gives up a two-out single in the eighth when his pitch-count is still reasonable? If you get into the playoffs, you need to see your ace work out of trouble just as the Giants did last year with Madison Bumgarner.
Collins has a tendency to micromanage. And, speaking of which, with most of the pieces in place – and hitting, by the way – how hard is it to finally pick a lineup?
THE BULLPEN: When they scored 14 runs in back-to-back games in Denver, and went wild Monday in Philly, they needed every one of those runs because of their leaky bullpen. Championships aren’t won with porous bullpens. Look at the Giants last season. If the Mets don’t fix their pen they will be in trouble. The concern isn’t Jeurys Familia, but getting to him. Speaking of which, they will need Tyler Clippard, who was clearly angry after being pulled with two outs in the eighth on Tuesday.
The Mets acquired Clippard for a reason, which was to be the eighth-inning set-up man. Let him do his job. They’ll need him. The bullpen faltered again Wednesday, but Clippard responded and even got to pitch the ninth. This was giving Clippard a needed positive nod.
HANSEL ROBLES: Ron Darling nailed it when he ripped Hansel Robles for trying to quick-pitch in Philly. When the hitter’s head is down you don’t quick-pitch. It is bush league and could have resulted in getting one of his teammates hurt. Philadelphia pitchers can throw hard also, and Daniel Murphy was buzzed.
Robles has outstanding potential to fill the seventh-inning slot. What they don’t need is a hot head who could cost them a game – or a player. While we’re on the subject of not being a hot dog, we don’t need bat flips or styling – see: Murphy – after home runs. Act like you’ve been there before. Ticking off the opposition only puts a target on your back. It’s up to Collins first, then the veterans to make this message.
THE OFFENSE: They are mashing, but in the playoffs runs are at a premium. Teams must manufacture runs in the postseason. We need to see them run, hit behind the runner and string hits together as they did Wednesday.
Yeah, I’m being picky, but you only see the best pitching in the playoffs and not like the staffs or the Rockies and Phillies. What they did in the first inning Wednesday was classic situational hitting, which I loved. Like that more than the homers. And, the ninth was also terrific as they tacked on runs without the homer. Responding to the Phillies’ four-spot in the eighth was something we haven’t always seen and it was a great sign.
It’s a different game in October, which must be realized. They are 14 games over .500 and hold a 6.5 lead over the Nationals. But, nothing is won yet and they have three games coming up with Washington.