Around MLB: Struggling Mets prepare for the Collision in the Division (Round 1)
On Thursday night, the Mets lost to Philadelphia Phillies 6-4 at Citi Field. With the win, the Phillies took two out of three against the Mets in New York; it was the first time in seven tries, over two seasons, that the Phillies won a series against the Mets. The Mets have now lost five out of six since winning last Thursday night’s 16 inning marathon against the Marlins in Miami. The Mets’ early season record stands at 8-8 (3rd place NL East, 2.5 GB) and they now welcome their division rivals, the Washington Nationals (10-5, 1st place NL East, 2-game lead) into Citi Field over the weekend.
Banged up Mets. New York LF Yoenis Cespedes limped off the field in the fifth inning of Thursday night’s loss to Philadelphia with pain in his left hamstring. He’ll be examined on Friday with an MRI, and may not be available during the weekend series against Washington. The Mets, who were besieged by injuries all last season, entered last night’s game without starting 1B Lucas Duda (hyper-extended left elbow), staring C Travis d’Arnaud (bruised right wrist), and IF Wilmer Flores (infection). On the positive side, d’Arnaud was able to enter the game as a late-inning replacement; he pinch hit in the 9th and grounded out.
Roster moves. The Mets activated RHP and closer Jeurys Familia (15-game domestic violence policy suspension) on Thursday, and recalled C Kevin Plawecki from AAA Las Vegas. The Mets, again looking to regain bench and bullpen balance, sent relief pitchers RHP Rafael Montero and LHP Sean Gilmartin out to the AAA 51’s in a corresponding move. Mets’ Captain David Wright, who has not appeared in 2017 while dealing with a shoulder injury and ongoing back problems, was transferred to the 60-day disabled list to make room on the 40-man roster for Familia. In Thursday night’s top of the ninth inning, Familia made his 2017 regular season debut, striking out two batters, but also walking two. His appearance was characterized by Manager Terry Collins as “rusty”.
Syndergaard strong, defense not. After battling blister problems on Opening Day vs. Atlanta, and leaving his last start early at Miami due to a cracked fingernail, Mets’ ace RHP Noah Syndergaard jumped out fast on Thursday, throwing 11 straight strikes to open the game, striking out Philadelphia’s 2B Cesar Hernandez, OF Daniel Nava, and CF Odubel Herrera. Syndergaard gave the Mets much needed length in his start, throwing 7 innings, allowing 7 hits, 5 runs (3 ER) and striking out 10. He has now struck out 30 batters this young campaign --- and walked none. However, Syndergaard did take the loss as he was betrayed by his defense, notably at 1B, with Jay Bruce filling in for Duda. It was Bruce’s fourth start at 1B in his career, and first since 2014 for the Cincinnati Reds. In the top of the second inning, Bruce inexperience showed when he made a misplay on a grounder wide of first base, not connecting on a flip with either Syndergaard or 2B Neil Walker, who was covering the bag. Bruce’s inaccurate toss helped the Phillies out to a 3-0 lead.
Here’s how the schedule and pitching matchups look for the upcoming weekend against Washington (all times Eastern):
21 April vs. Washington, 7:10 pm: RHP Tanner Roark (2-0, 3.50 ERA) vs. RHP Jacob deGrom (0-0, 1.89 ERA)
22 April vs. Washington, 4:05 pm: TBD vs. RHP Matt Harvey (2-0, 2.45 ERA)
23 April vs. Washington, 8:00 pm: TBD vs. RHP Zack Wheeler (1-1, 5.52 ERA)
The Mets will play the Nationals in six of their next 9 games, all part of their opening 32 games of the season against NL East teams. In another scheduling quirk, the Atlanta Braves make their second visit of the season (already) to Citi Field starting Tuesday. Here’s the week ahead:
25 April vs. Atlanta, 7:10 pm
26 April vs. Atlanta, 7:10 pm
27 April vs. Atlanta, 1:10 pm
28 April at Washington, 7:10 pm
29 April at Washington, 1:05 pm
30 April at Washington, 1:35 pm
This week in Mets’ history:
April 22, 1970: Mets’ ace RHP Tom Seaver strikes outs out 19 batters, including the last 10 in a row (setting an MLB record), in a 2-1 win at Shea Stadium over the San Diego Padres.
April 23, 1962: After losing the first nine games in franchise history, the Mets notch their first ever win with a 9-1 rout of the Pittsburgh Pirates at Forbes Field. New York RHP Jay Hook was the winning pitcher, tossing a complete-game five-hitter. Hook also added a two-run single in the second inning. Bobby Gene Smith and Elio Chacon each added two RBIs for the Mets.
April 24, 1965: Casey Stengel earns his 3,000th victory as a Major League manager with New York’s 7-6 win over the San Francisco Giants.
April 26, 1988: Mets’ 1B Keith Hernandez hits a grand slam and another home run and drives in a career-high seven runs to put him over the 1,000-RBI mark in a 13-4 drubbing at Atlanta.
April 27, 1965: Playing indoors for the first time in franchise history, the Mets fall apart in the Eighth Wonder of the World, the Houston Astrodome. In the ninth inning, Houston’s Eddie Kasko lifts an apparent game-ending fly ball to left. But, New York’s Joe Christopher loses the ball in the roof and it falls for a game-winning two-run double in a heartbreaking 3-2 loss.
About the Author:
Michael Lalor serves as an MLB and NY sports analyst, covering the New York Mets and more for the Spadora On Sports radio program across Sports Byline USA stations. He can be reached at spadoraonsports.com.