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Around MLB: Mets battle back, close out NL East stretch

On Friday night, the New York Mets rallied from a 7-1 deficit in the 4th inning to defeat the scuffling Miami Marlins, 8-7, in the opening game of a three-game weekend series at Citi Field. The Mets (13-15, 2nd NL East) sent 11 batters to the plate and scored five times in the bottom of the 7th, propelled by IF T.J. Rivera’s game-tying double off Miami’s RHP Brad Ziegler (1-2). Four batters later, Miami reliever Kyle Barraclough walked New York IF Wilmer Flores with the bases loaded and the Mets took a decisive 8-7 lead. Rivera, who went 2-4 with a HR and 3 RBIs, is batting .407 with 5 2B, HR, and 4 RBIs in his last seven games. It is part of a stretch where the Mets, without LF and cleanup hitter Yoenis Cespedes, have averaged 7.7 runs/game (62 runs) across their last eight contests. New York has sorely needed it, as its decimated starting pitching staff has struggled.

RHP Rafael Montero started on Friday night for New York, and he lacked command and control, going only 3.2 IPs, allowing 7 hits, 5 ERs, 3 BBs, with 4 Ks. Montero started in place of Mets’ ace RHP Noah Syndergaard who is on the 10-day DL with a right lateral muscle tear, which will keep him out for more than two months. Montero did not fool the Marlins (12-16), who brought 11 batters of their own to the plate in the top of the 4th, scoring 6 runs with two out and knocking the Met starter out of the game. The bullpen picked both him and the team up, as New York Manager Terry Collins used seven relievers, and received solid performances and four scoreless innings from RHP Hansel Robles, LHP Jerry Blevins (2-0), RHP Addison Reed, and Closer RHP Jeurys Familia (SV, 3). The Mets bullpen has pitched to a 2.81 ERA over its last 16 games.

Syndergaard received a second opinion on Friday in Los Angeles from Dr. Neil ElAttrache, and it appears that the Met ace sustained a partial tear of the lat, and he may be able to resume throwing in about six to eight weeks. Nonetheless, it’s very likely he’ll be out until after the All-Star break, and it does not reflect well on Syndergaard, who assured the Mets that he was ready to pitch last Sunday and declined an MRI for biceps tendonitis prior to the start. It also does not reflect well on General Manager Sandy Alderson and the Mets’ medical staff, led by Dr. David Altcheck, who seem disorganized and not in synch with their star pitcher. With all of this, the Mets’ pitching depth, their strength heading into the season, has completely eroded:

1) RHP Noah Syndergaard – out 2-3 months with right lat muscle tear

2) RHP Jacob deGrom – (2-1, 3.68 ERA, 6 starts, 36.2 IPs)

3) RHP Matt Harvey – (2-2, 5.14 ERA, 6 starts, 35.0 IPs, coming off thoracic outlet syndrome surgery)

4) LHP Steven Matz – has not pitched in 2017 due to elbow injury; elbow injury and surgery also ended his 2016 season)

5) RHP Zack Wheeler – (1-2, 4.78 ERA, 5 starts, 26.1 IPs coming off Tommy John surgery that kept him out all of 2015 and 2016)

6) RHP Robert Gsellman – (1-2, 6.75 ERA, 5 starts, 26.2 IPs)

7) RHP Seth Lugo – has not pitched since WBC, recovering from elbow injury

8) RHP Rafael Montero – recalled from AAA Las Vegas, shelled on Friday night

The Mets’ biggest strength entering the season is now one of its biggest liabilities. GM Sandy Alderson told the NY Daily News this week that he had inquired into acquiring pitching help from outside the organization. May is not normally a big month for trades, as teams are still assessing what they have and do not have, while also preparing for the June amateur draft. The help that may be available on the market in terms of free agents – former San Francisco Giant RHP Tim Lincecum and veteran RHP Doug Fister have been rumored – will almost certainly take time to get ready in the minor leagues. Look for the Mets to acquire an arm from the Triple AAA level and sign Fister, who still could be successful at the major league level in a fair pitcher’s park (Citi Field) with his sinking fastball, even with diminished velocity. Meanwhile on the field, the Mets, who have now won 5 of 7, and are just 6 ½ games behind NL-East leading Washington (20-9), will look to tread water and continue the grind through this injury-riddled phase of their season.

Here’s how the schedule and pitching matchups look for the remainder of the weekend against Miami (all times Eastern). The Marlins (12-16, T-3rd NL East) have now lost 8 of out 10, after a 10-8 start:

6 May vs. Miami, 7:10 pm (Citi Field): RHP Odrisamer Despaigne (0-0; recalled from AAA New Orleans) vs. RHP Robert Gsellman (1-2, 6.75 ERA)

7 May vs. Miami, 1:10 pm (Citi Field): TBD vs. RHP Matt Harvey (2-2, 5.14 ERA)

This weekend’s series against the Marlins will conclude the Mets’ opening 30 games of the season against NL teams. Starting Monday, they’ll welcome the struggling San Francisco Giants into New York, and by next weekend, the Mets will venture outside the Eastern Time Zone for the first time in the 2017 campaign. Here’s the road ahead:

8 May vs. San Francisco, 7:10 pm (Citi Field)

9 May vs. San Francisco, 7:10 pm (Citi Field)

10 May vs. San Francisco, 1:10 pm (Citi Field)

12 May at Milwaukee, 8:10 pm (Miller Park)

13 May at Milwaukee, 7:10 pm (Miller Park)

14 May at Milwaukee, 2:10 pm (Miller Park)

15 May at Arizona, 9:40 pm (Chase Field)

16 May at Arizona, 9:40 pm (Chase Field)

17 May at Arizona, 3:40 pm (Chase Field)

This week in Mets’ history:

May 6, 1983: Mets’ OF Darryl Strawberry makes his MLB-debut in a 7-4, 13 inning, New York win over the Cincinnati Reds at Shea Stadium. Strawberry goes 0-for-4, with 3Ks, and one run scored. Strawberry is on second base, after reaching on a walk and then stealing his first base, when the Mets win the game on a 3-run walk-off HR by LF George Foster off the Reds’ RHP Frank Pastore.

May 7, 2010: Mets’ C Rod Barajas hits the first walk-off home run in Citi Field history in the bottom of the ninth inning, lifting the Mets to a 6-5 win over the San Francisco Giants.

May 9, 1982: Mets’ 1B/PH Rusty Staub's pinch-hit home run in the bottom of the ninth downs the SF Giants, 6-5.

May 10, 1965: Before an exhibition game at West Point, Mets’ Manager Casey Stengel slips and fractures his wrist. Stengel, who later suffered a broken hip on July 24th, stepped down as Mets’ manager on August 30, 1965.

May 11, 1972: The Mets acquire baseball legend, OF Willie Mays, from the Giants for pitcher Charlie Williams and cash. Later that night, the Mets’ Tom Seaver wins the first game of a doubleheader against Los Angeles at Shea Stadium for his 100th career victory.

May 12, 1962: The expansion-year Mets (40-120) complete their first-ever doubleheader sweep with a pair of dramatic wins. New York defeats the Milwaukee Braves, 3-2, in the first game on C Hobie Landrith's ninth inning home run and the Mets capture the nightcap with an 8-7 win on 1B Gil Hodges's ninth-inning home run.


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. He can be reached at

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