May 01

Mets Needed This One

As much as players and managers want to give each game equal weight, it doesn’t always work that way and it didn’t for the Mets tonight in Atlanta. It really was a “must win’’ game for the Mets.

CONFORTO: Homer and three RBI. (AP)

CONFORTO: Homer and three RBI. (AP)

After losing 23-5 and their best pitcher Noah Syndergaard indefinitely Sunday, it would have been easy to see them go into a tailspin. After all, we’ve seen them do it before. We’ve seen them get hit and flop around like LeBron James.

Tonight, the Mets got five pick-me-up innings from Robert Gsellman and got to Mets Killer Julio Teheran with a five-run fourth that didn’t include homers from Michael Conforto and Jose Reyes, in a 7-5 victory over the Atlanta Braves in their new ballpark. Mets finally got to Julio Teheran and gave Robert Gsellman cushion enough to beat the Braves, 7-5.

“It was huge,” said Conforto, who homered to lead off the game and added a two-run single. “It was definitely disappointing yesterday, but it says a lot about this group that we could come back out with this performance.

Manager Terry Collins was understandably testy after Sunday, but said he told his team, “to give it 24 hours and move on.”

Easier said than done because they will be without their best pitcher in Syndergaard and best power hitter in Yoenis Cespedes for an indefinite period, but this was a start, and for Collins, it was the best kind of response.

 

May 01

Mets’ Lineup At Braves, May 1

Robert Gsellman helped save the Mets’ season last week, and with Noah Syndergaard on the disabled list and out indefinitely, he’ll be asked to do it again starting tonight in Atlanta in the first of a four-game series with the Braves.

In his last start, Gsellman gave up six runs on ten hits in four-plus innings against the Braves last week at Citi Field.

He’ll go against long-time Mets Killer Julio Teheran, who has given up two runs in 12.1 innings in two previous starts against New York this year.

Here’s the Mets’ batting order against Teheran in their first game in the Braves’ new ballpark:

Michael Conforto – LF: Conforto has thrived in his opportunity to start, batting .326 with six homers and 11 RBI. … He’s hitting .333 in the leadoff spot.

Asdrubal Cabrera – SS: He sat Sunday in DC, but is back in the lineup tonight. … He’s reached safely in 20 of 23 games.

Jay Bruce – RF: The player the Mets wanted to trade is on the All-Star ballot. … Was the Mets’ MVP for April, batting .292 with seven homers and 16 RBI.

Neil Walker – 2B: If Walker bet on himself in accepting the qualifying offer, so far he’s losing, batting .195 with two homers and ten RBI.

Curtis Granderson – CF: If somebody is going to be moved out of the starting lineup to make room for Conforto when Yoenis Cespedes returns from the disabled list, it will be Granderson.

Jose Reyes – 3B: Has a six-game hitting streak – going .391 in that span – to raise his average to .174.

Travis d’Arnaud – C: Has four homers and 16 RBI to match last year’s totals. … Is batting .313 with RISP with three game-winning RBI.

T.J. Rivera – 1B: Is playing first base with Lucas Duda on the disabled list. … Recalled from Triple-A Vegas, April 21.

Gsellman – RHP: Is 0-2 with a 6.46 ERA in four career games against Atlanta.

Apr 30

Mets Wrap: Duda Not Ready

Whatever the Mets say regarding injuries, always take the over. Always. So, when the Mets suggested Monday as a possible return date for Lucas Duda (hyperextended left elbow), you knew that wasn’t going to happen.

DUDA: Nothing to cheer about. (AP)

DUDA: Nothing to cheer about. (AP)

After complaining of discomfort in trying to make a full extension, the Mets pushed back his return date to undecided.

In the interim, T.J. Rivera will continue to play first base. Should Duda be out for a significant period, it might force the Mets’ to reconsider bringing up prospect Dominic Smith from Triple-A Vegas.

Meanwhile, Duda’s normal back-up, Wilmer Flores, began his rehab assignment at Port St. Lucie. Since it is apparent the Mets have no inkling to have Flores as anything other than a reserve, they might as well bring up Smith.

PLAWECKI PITCHES: Manager Terry Collins raised the white flag in today’s 23-5 mauling to the Nationals when he brought in reserve catcher Kevin Plawecki after Matt Wieters’ three-run homer in the seventh off Josh Smoker.

Plawecki set the Nationals down in order on three flyouts to the wall.

However, Bryce Harper homered to lead off the eighth inning. Adam Lind added a two-run homer and Anthony Rendon also homered. For Rendon, it was his third homer of the game to give him ten RBI.

MOVING REYES: Jose Reyes was moved up to second in the order and played shortstop while Asdrubal Cabrera had the day off.

Reyes looks more comfortable playing shortstop, and with Cabrera bothered by hamstring issues, perhaps flipping them might be the way to go. Then, again Reyes committed a run-producing error in the seventh, so, who knows?

EXTRA INNINGS: The Mets’ bullpen gave up 18 runs in 7.2 innings, but four of those were charged to Plawecki, followed by Sean Gilmartin (five), Fernando Salas (three) and Smoker (six). … Curtis Granderson finished April hitting .128 with six RBI.

UP NEXT: The Mets visit Atlanta’s new stadium for the start of a three-game series Monday with Robert Gsellman going against Julio Teheran.

Apr 26

Is It Time For Mets To Panic?

As devastating as the five-run first inning against Robert Gsellman was to the Mets tonight, let’s not forget their fourth inning against Julio Teheran.

The Mets had the bases loaded with no outs and the best they could muster was a sacrifice fly. That’s it; the game was over right there, and the Mets were on the way of losing, 8-2, to Atlanta.

i-1They have lost five straight and nine of ten, and have three games this weekend in Washington.

Is time to panic?

In a rare display of candor, exasperated Mets manager Terry Collins said: “It could be pretty soon.’’

The first inning was emblematic of what currently ails the Mets. How many times can you say if the Mets don’t homer they won’t score? When the Mets’ pitching goes south as it did for Gsellman tonight, and their defense is horrible – three errors – that’s too big a hole when the offense gets only five hits.

Collins has long said the Mets are built on hitting home runs, but twice this homestand lamented their inability to produce (1-for-5 with RISP and seven runners left on base).

“You know we’re not going to get a lot off Teheran, so that took the air out of the balloon pretty quick,” Collins said of the early hole. “You don’t see any panic in them. We have to stop worrying about home runs and worry about getting some good swings.”

Gsellman said he was told last night he would start, which is contrary to what Collins said. No matter, he had nothing. He explained the problem as mechanical, saying he was flying open with his shoulder that consequently left the ball out over the plate.

Sounds so simple, but why is it so hard to fix? That applies to a lot of things.

Sep 20

Three Mets’ Storylines: Did They Lose Bruce?

In the end, it came down to this: manager Terry Collins has more confidence in Eric Campbell, a player who hasn’t had a hit since May than he does Jay Bruce, the player whom the Mets hoped would carry them into the playoffs.

BRUCE: Did Mets lose him? (AP)

BRUCE: Did Mets lose him? (AP)

Campbell came through with a RBI pinch-hit single in the eighth, but the Mets still lost, 5-4, to Atlanta Tuesday night, and you have to wonder – as Bruce must, also – that he’ll be of little, or no use, to them in the remaining 11 games.

And, after that, do they see a reason to bring him back next season?

There’s no disputing Bruce has been horrid ohis last 24 games, hitting .167 and .125 with RISP. There’s also no disputing he was leading the National League in RBI with 80 when the trade was made.

A manager has a myriad of tough decisions to make, and with this one was the balance between trying to get a player going and winning the game.

“It’s one of the worst things you can do as a manager is to pinch-hit for a star,” Collins said. “My job is to win the game. … I think he’s extremely frustrated. All he cares about is to be a good teammate and help this team. I sure he’s dumped a lot of pressure on himself.”

Collins said he spoke with Bruce before that inning and told him he would use a pinch-hitter, to which he said the player told him: “You do what you have to do.”

Bruce left the dugout as Campbell came to the plate, which isn’t a good image. But, he was probably thinking he didn’t want to have the cameras focused on him for the rest of the game.

Later, it was clear Bruce wasn’t happy, but he said all the right things.

“It was very difficult,” Bruce said about being pinch-hit for. “It’s the first time I was pinch-hit for. (Actually, it is the ninth time according to ESPN). I always think I’m the best choice, but he’s the manager and it his decision and I respect that.

“Coming over here, it has been tough for me. I’m worried about the team. I have plenty of time later to think about myself but now isn’t the time. I’m ready to play. I’ll be ready every day.”

The thing that bothers me about the decision was not that Collins hit for Bruce, but his inconsistency in his decision-making. There have been too many times when logic dictated he do something, but did the opposite. From leaving Matt Harvey in too long to not resting Yoenis Cespedes, to a half-dozen other things, Collins’ track record is inconsistency.

So, did the Mets lose Bruce?

If Bruce is a man of his word, they didn’t. But, that leads to the question whether the Mets’ lack of confidence reached the point where they don’t want him anymore.

Unquestionably, Collins’ decision on Bruce was the game’s primary storyline. The others were the Mets’ offense and a look at the wild-card race.

OFFENSE STRUGGLES VS. TEHERAN:  Perhaps it is an overstatement to say Julio Teheran owns the Mets, but it wouldn’t be wrong to indicate he’s in their heads.

The Mets managed one run on five hits in seven innings against Teheran. Who knows? Had he stayed in for another inning perhaps the Bruce issue wouldn’t have surfaced.

“He’s good, he’s an All-Star,” Curtis Granderson said. “He has some really good stuff.”

Collectively, the Mets have scored 21 runs over their last eight games. And, with the topic of struggling hitters, Cespedes is hitting .179 over his last ten games and struck out to end the game.

WILD-CARD UPDATE: The loss coupled with St. Louis winning in Colorado dropped the Mets and Cardinals to a tie.

Meanwhile, with Miami winning over the Nationals, the Marlins moved over .500 and remain in wild-card contention. The Mets are in Miami for three games next week.

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