Jul 03

Mets Suffer Crushing Defeat; Waste Matz Start

The Mets are like my last girlfriend, the ultimate tease. I mean, if you’re going to tie the game on a pinch-hit homer in the top of the ninth, you might as well hang around and win the damn thing. Instead, the Mets’ bullpen gave it up, and tonight’s 3-2 loss to the Nationals dropped them to 10.5 behind, and in the process waste a sterling Steven Matz start.

MATZ: Great start wasted. (AP)

MATZ: Great start wasted. (AP)

Yes, you have to win the first game before you can sweep, but make no mistake, the Mets needed to sweep this three-game series at Washington. Even if they win the next two games, the most they closest they’ll get is 8.5 games. Still time, but very disappointing.

Curtis Granderson tied it 2-2 in the ninth on a pinch-hit, two-run homer, but the bullpen – using three relievers in the bottom half of the inning – gave the game away. Why not use your best reliever, Addison Reed, for two innings? Reed didn’t pitch Sunday, so he had some rest.

The bullpen has been an issue this season, and Fernando Salas, who gave up the game-winning hit, really has no business being in the game if the ninth inning of a tie game. Another issue is all the Mets’ pitchers’ walks. Two of the Nationals’ three runs were the result of walks. Overall, they’ve walked 305, good for third in the National League.

You thought, maybe the Mets would pull it out once Granderson homered, but when they didn’t take a big lead that inning, you understood disappointment could still loom, as it did tonight.

 

May 30

Bruce Picks Up Cabrera And Pill

Jay Bruce, as he has done most of this season, picked up the Mets with a game-winning line drive single to center to give them a 5-4 victory in 12 innings over Milwaukee.

Bruce’s single snapped an 0-for-5 start to the game.

“I’m not trying to do too much,” was how Bruce described his approach. “I’m not trying to muscle up and power the ball.”

CABRERA: Error leads to long game. (AP)

CABRERA: Error leads to long game. (AP)

Bruce’s hit made a winner out of reliever Josh Smoker, who struck out four in three innings.

The game lasted 12 innings because Asdrubal Cabrera dropped what would have been an inning-ending pop-up with the bases loaded in the seventh inning that allowed two runs to score and tie the game.

PILL TERRIFIC: Tyler Pill was under constant duress, but pitched into the sixth inning and left the game with the lead. The 27-year-old made the first start of his career and showed tremendous grit and guile and should have come away with a victory.

Unfortunately, there’s not a stat for “should have.’’

He had every reason to be happy with his effort, and pitched worthy of getting another start while Steven Matz and Seth Lugo remain on the disabled list.

Pill, the ninth different pitcher to start this year for the Mets, pitched out of trouble in the first, third, fourth and fifth innings, stranding a runner in scoring position each time. He was most impressive in the fifth when he left Eric Thames on third after a leadoff triple.

Pill was shaky in the first, hitting the leadoff hitter and giving up a single to Thames. He was on the verge of escaping when he gave up a double to Travis Shaw on a bouncer that just got over the glove of leaping first baseman Lucas Duda. Had Duda lined up one step deeper he would have made the play.

The Mets gave Pill a 2-1 lead in the fifth on back-to-back doubles by Curtis Granderson and Cabrera, and a bases-loaded walk to Jose Reyes on what could be argued as a gift call from plate umpire Manny Gonzalez on ball three.

Pill gave up one run on three walks, six hits and four strikeouts in 5.1 innings.

BULLPEN, CABRERA BETRAY PILL: Fernando Salas relieved Pill and got out of the sixth, but he walked two hitters and gave up single to load the bases in the seventh.

I realize manager Terry Collins doesn’t have many options, but you never let a reliever walk two hitters in the seventh.

Enter Jerry Blevins, who walked in a run, then appeared to get out of the inning when Cabrera, channeling his inner Luis Castillo, dropped what should have been an inning-ending pop-up by Jeff Bandy to allow two runs to score and tie the game.

Truth be told, had Domingo Santana, the runner on first been hustling, he could have scored.

EXTRA INNINGS: Neil Walker had two hits giving him 1,000 for his career. … Salas, who turned 32, hit for the first time in four years and collected his first career hit. … Duda remains hot with a two-run homer in the sixth. Over his last eight games he has four homers and 11 RBI.

UP NEXT: Jacob deGrom (4-1, 3.23) will start tonight against Milwaukee. DeGrom is 3-1 with a 2.92 ERA is six starts against the Brewers. DeGrom is coming off a season-high 8.1 innings in the Mets’ 8-1 victory at Pittsburgh, May 26.

 

May 25

Last Night’s Meltdown Was On Collins

This one was on Terry Collins. For all the talk about the Mets’ faulty bullpen – and to be sure there aren’t enough quality arms – occasionally the manager has to step up and say, “this was on me.”

Such was the case in last night’s 6-5 loss to the San Diego Padres, a game in which the Mets held a four-run lead.

COLLINS: Bad game. (AP)

COLLINS: Bad game. (AP)

The box score will reveal the Mets used five pitchers from the seventh inning; not quite the formula it wants to use in getting to the closer.

Robert Gsellman had given the Mets a quality outing – three runs in six innings – but Collins wouldn’t let him come out for the seventh, instead, giving the ball to Fernando Salas.

Why? Gsellman was still strong after throwing 84 pitches. Sure, he had been struggling lately, but he appeared to have righted himself. At least it looked that way during his six innings.

“I knew that was going to get brought up,” was Collins’ reply to Gsellman’s pitch count. “This kid has really been struggling. At times, you want him to leave with a good feeling and he gave us six good innings and we just say, ‘Hey, look, he did exactly what we were hoping he’d do tonight to get us to that point.’ ”

Part of me likes Collins’ rationale, but the other part makes me scream: “Enough with the good feelings. Let the precious snowflake try to win the !@#$% game. What’s next, a participation trophy for playing?

At least let him pitch until a runner got on. That should have also been the plan with Salas, who got the first two hitters then unraveled.

A pinch-single, wild pitch and two walks loaded the bases Collins pulled Salas for Neil Ramirez. Why would you keeps s struggling reliever like Salas in long enough to load the bases, with two of the runners by walks?

The Mets had been getting decent production from Jerry Blevins and Paul Sewald, but neither was available having pitched the night before in a 9-3 win. A note: The bullpen was taxed that night before because Matt Harvey couldn’t give the Mets more than five. Incidentally, both Sewald and Blevins pitched with at least a five-run lead.

If you’re going to tinker with your bullpen, why not see what Ramirez can do with a six-run lead instead of with the game on the line?

It was almost a foregone conclusion Wil Myers would tie the game with a two-run single, just missing a grand slam by inches, and Hunter Renfroe would put the Padres ahead with a mammoth homer in the eighth against lefty Josh Smoker.

Why pull Gsellman when he’s throwing well? Why let a lefty pitch to Renfroe? Why save Addison Reed for the ninth when the Mets were losing? All those were questions Collins needed to address. We can point fingers, and rightly so, at GM Sandy Alderson for not providing quality arms in the bullpen, but this was in-game decision making by Collins, and it was bad.

May 17

Alderson Must Take Responsibility Of Mets’ Pitching Collapse

Going against Zack Greinke, it was expected the Mets’ losing streak would reach six, and this morning the fingers would start being pointed.

ALDERSON: Faces a lot of questions. (AP)

ALDERSON: Faces a lot of questions. (AP)

What didn’t happen in the Mets’ 5-4 loss to Arizona was another bullpen meltdown. If you want to call it a moral victory, go for it. I looked for moral victories in the standings and the only thing I could were the regular ones, which have them six games under .500 and nine games behind Washington.

But, wasn’t this team supposed to be a World Series contender if not win the whole thing? They sure were, because many; including GM Sandy Alderson said the Mets possessed the game’s best pitching.

I never bought into that because it simply wasn’t true. How could it be if the vaunted five of Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Steven Matz and Zack Wheeler had never started a complete cycle in the rotation?

How could it be if there isn’t a 20-game winner among the group?

How could it be if they only have two with at least 30 victories (deGrom 32-23) and Harvey (31-31), with Syndergaard (24-18), Wheeler (20-18) and Matz (13-8) to follow? That’s not greatness, that’s potential.

How could it be, if four entered the season coming off significant surgery, and a fifth – Syndergaard – currently on the 60-day DL?

Wishful thinking is nice to have, but building on it is like a house of cards, capable of collapsing at the slightest nudge or breeze.

The Mets tried to build a group of back-ups, but Seth Lugo is on the DL, Robert Gsellman needs be optioned or sent to the bullpen to work on his mechanic, and Rafael Montero can’t find the plate.

New acquisition Tommy Milone was passable tonight, but you don’t win on passable. The best thing Milone did was work into the sixth, which was followed by Paul Sewald (1.1 innings), Fernando Salas (0.2 innings) and Jerry Blevins (0.1) not allowing a run.

The pen worked just 2.1 innings, but most nights it goes three or four, if not longer.

When fingers are pointed, they are initially directed at manager Terry Collins, but that’s too easy. It’s also too easy to blame pitching coach Dan Warthen. In finding out who is responsible for the Mets’ pitching problems, we must look at the nature of the injuries, and who acquiesced in the handling of Harvey and Syndergaard.

That would be general manager Sandy Alderson.

 

Apr 06

Game Wrap: Harvey, D’Arnaud Carry Mets Past Braves

GAME:  #3

SCORE: @Mets 6, Braves 2

RECORD: 2-1    RISP: 2-for-7, four LOB

HOMERS: 1 Wilmer Flores (1).

HARVEY: Big step. (AP)

HARVEY: Big step. (AP)

ANALYSIS

Perhaps the two Mets carrying the weight of the heaviest expectations for this season – Matt Harvey and Travis d’Arnaud – came up big in Thursday night’s victory over the Braves.

Harvey, whose velocity was an issue during spring training, gave up a pair of homers to Matt Kemp, but was generally superb, giving up three hits overall in 6.2 innings. Harvey’s fastball clocked between 94-97 mph., but also important was his ability to command his secondary pitches.

“Obviously, it has been a long time since I’ve gone into the seventh inning,” Harvey told reporters. “For me, the big thing for me was to pound the zone and go as deep into the game as I could.”

As for d’Arnaud, his inability to stay healthy, hit and throw out potential base-stealers has caused many to speculate as to his future with the Mets. It’s just one game, but d’Arnaud’s two-run double in the fifth put the Mets ahead to stay.

ON THE MOUND: Fernando Salas – who was working for the third straight game – struck out Dansby Swanson with the bases loaded to end the eighth inning. … It wasn’t a save situation, but Addison Reed worked a 1-2-3 ninth.

AT THE PLATE: Flores, batting cleanup, hit a two-run homer. … Jose Reyes had his first hit of the season. … Jay Bruce scored a run and walked. He’s drawn four walks in the first three games and leads the Mets in hitting with a .333 average.

IN THE FIELD: Flores played first base. … I would still like to see Michael Conforto get a start in the outfield.

EXTRA INNINGS: In a testament to screwy scheduling, the Braves are back at Citi Field again at the end of the month.

ON DECK: The Mets continue their homestand Friday against Miami with Zack Wheeler getting his first start in nearly two years.