Gut Reaction: Rays 2, Mets 1 (9/21/20)

They say never argue with an idiot, because they’ll drag you down to their level and beat you with experience. The Rays should never be considered idiots, as they’re one of the smartest organizations in baseball. But it sure felt like the Rays dragged the Mets down to their level – a low-scoring game – and beat the Mets with experience, as they emerged with a 2-1 win Monday night. The Rays are now 13-5 in one-run games while the Mets are 5-10.

Jacob deGrom traveled back to 2018-19 to be the hard-luck loser. He had outstanding stuff, striking out the side in the first inning on 10 pitches. He ended up with 7 IP and 14 Ks. But he gave up both runs and took the loss.

The Mets’ offense scored for the first time in 15 innings when Jeff McNeil drove in a run on a grounder. But the Rays’ shortstop did a fine job of knocking the ball down and preventing it from going into the outfield, which saved the tying run from scoring.

It was an eventful ninth inning, as the Mets tried to rally for the win. Robinson Cano had an 11-pitch AB before hitting a ball 405 feet to CF. But the wall was 408 feet and it became just a long out. Then with Pete Alonso up, the Rays played with four outfielders. Alonso went up in the count, 3-0, and then struck out on three straight fastballs. Andres Gimenez came on as a pinch-hitter and popped up to end the game.

Gut Reaction: Braves 7, Mets 0 (9/20/20)

The Mets got a strong starting pitching performance for the second straight day. Unfortunately, the bullpen didn’t hold it together and the offense was MIA, resulting in a 7-0 loss to the Braves. Atlanta wins the season series, 7-3.

Rick Porcello got the start and Porcello had been beaten up by Atlanta in his previous two starts, going just 6 IP and allowing 11 R, including 9 ER. But it was a completely different story this time around, as Porcello went seven innings and allowed just three hits. However, one of those three hits was a homer and Porcello left the game, trailing 1-0.

Jeurys Familia was brought on to pitch for his second straight day. He wasn’t great yesterday – allowing a run in his only inning – and was even worse today. The Braves scored two runs against Familia in the eighth, making it 3-0. Chasen Shreve came on to pitch the ninth and was done in by his own error on a double play ball. If he turns the DP, the Mets get out of the inning without any runs scored. The Braves ended up scoring four in the inning.

The Mets were held to just three hits, including two by Wilson Ramos. Mets opened up the ninth inning with back-to-back hits by Ramos and Brandon Nimmo. But Michael Conforto, who struck out his first three trips to the plate, grounded into a double play to kill any thoughts of a miracle comeback.

Gut Reaction: Mets 7, Braves 2 (9/19/20)

It was bizarro night, as the Mets came through with runners on base, while the Braves couldn’t buy a hit with runners in scoring position. Combined with excellent starting pitching by David Peterson, the Mets emerged with a 7-2 win over the Braves on Saturday night.

In the second inning, the Braves had runners on second and third and no outs and didn’t score.
In the seventh inning, they had bases loaded with one out and did not score.
In the ninth inning they had runners on second and third with one out and came up empty.

In the last two threats, Freddie Freeman came to the plate. He hit into an inning-ending double play in the seventh and he struck out in the ninth to end the game. Freeman finished 0-5 with 4 Ks.

Meanwhile, Peterson gave just what the doctor ordered. After three straight starts where the Mets had to go to the bullpen by the third inning, Peterson gave the team six innings and allowed just one run. He also set a career-high with 10 Ks as he out-dueled fellow former first-round pick Ian Anderson.

The Mets loaded the bases in the first inning and cashed in two runs when Robinson Cano dribbled a single to the opposite field. In the fourth inning, Robinson Chirinos smacked an RBI double and in the eighth Brandon Nimmo drove in two runs with a single to right.

But the Mets also brought the longball on Saturday. Dominic Smith and Cano each homered in the eighth inning after the Braves had cut the lead to one run in the top of the frame.

Gut Reaction: Braves 15, Mets 2 (9/18/20)

Not too often does a game live up to the hype but this one did. What was the hype? Here’s the last two sentences from yesterday’s recap: Now the Mets face the Braves with Steven Matz making his first start in a month. Friday could be ugly. The Braves and Matz both did their parts, as Atlanta opened the series with a 15-2 win.

In a game featuring two LHP coming off the IL, Max Fried ran his record to 7-0 while Matz saw his fall to 0-5. But Matz had plenty of company in the lousy pitching department. Franklyn Kilome gave up the same six runs as Matz, but in one fewer inning. Jarred Hughes gave up 3 ER in 3.2 IP. The pitching star of the game for the Mets was Todd Frazier, who pitched a 1-2-3 ninth and even got a strikeout thanks to a generous call from the home plate ump. Frazier threw the ball in the dugout for a keepsake.

It’s pretty darn annoying that the hitting star of yesterday’s game was on the bench because the other team started a lefty. Jeff McNeil was in the lineup and went 1-5. Ditto for Michael Conforto. Dominic Smith was 0-3 and Robinson Cano was 0-1. Brandon Nimmo has historically done just fine against LHP and this automatic benching because of a .650 OPS in 55 PA is a classic case of overreacting to small samples.

The Mets need their best players in the lineup whenever possible. Especially on a night where they figured to need as much offense as possible. But Luis Rojas is a great communicator so we shouldn’t question him for starting Matz and benching Nimmo.

Gut Reaction: Mets 10, Phillies 6 (9/17/20)

Brandon Nimmo tied the game with a two-run triple in the sixth inning and he belted a leadoff homer in the ninth to put the Mets ahead and they hung on through a bases-loaded situation in the bottom of the ninth to escape with a 10-6 win Thursday night in Philadelphia. Nimmo now has a .515 SLG and a .233 ISO. Not too shabby for a guy that never gets counted as one of the Mets’ best players.

Nimmo’s heroics were only possible thanks to some terrific work by the bullpen. While the Phillies threatened mightily in both the eighth and ninth innings, the relievers contributed 7.1 scoreless innings. Justin Wilson was lucky to escape the eighth and he got the win. Edwin Diaz was lucky to escape the ninth and he got the save. Both pitchers were going for the third straight day, which isn’t ideal but in this case it was necessary.

It was necessary because Seth Lugo couldn’t get out of the second inning. Staked to a 3-0 lead in the first inning, Lugo gave up three consecutive homers and a triple and just like that, the Mets were trailing, 4-3. It wasn’t any better in the second inning, which included Bryce Harper’s second homer of the game.

The umpire lost the strike zone at the end of the game, missing calls for both teams. But it probably benefited the Mets more. Pete Alonso got a ball called on what looked like strike three. With the reprieve, he hit a moon shot homer to cut the deficit to two runs at 6-4.

Dominic Smith had three hits on the night, including two more for extra-bases. Of his 50 hits on the year, 27 have gone for extra-bases. Smith scored twice and drove in two runs. Robinson Cano had a two-run single in the first inning and he clocked a two run homer in the bottom of the ninth for the game’s final runs.

As we hoped, the Mets won the starts by Jacob deGrom and Lugo. But those two killed the bullpen, as they combined for just 3.2 IP. Now the Mets face the Braves with Steven Matz making his first start in a month. Friday could be ugly.

Gut Reaction: Mets 5, Phillies 4 (9/16/20)

If before the game started, you were told that Jacob deGrom got pulled after two innings and that Michael Wacha was coming in with the game already at a 3-0 deficit, well you wouldn’t have given the Mets’ a snowball’s chance of winning. The Phillies actually had an 85.4 Win Expectancy during the second inning. But the Mets’ relievers were outstanding and J.D. Davis cracked three extra-base hits to lead the Mets to a highly-improbable comeback, as they emerged with a 5-4 win to even the series.

We’re so used to seeing deGrom blow away hitters that it was quite a shock to see him make it an entire time through the order without striking a batter out. He got through the first inning okay but ran into trouble in the second inning. After three runs were in, he finally got his first strikeout, when he fanned Bryce Harper, the 11th batter of the game for the Phillies. And the Mets caught a break on the same play, as Wilson Ramos threw to first base and picked off Andrew McCutchen.

The Mets scurried to get someone up in the bullpen during the second inning but when deGrom got out of the inning, everyone expected him back for the third. But instead we got recently-demoted Michael Wacha and it seemed the Mets were surrendering – for the game, the series and the season. And then Wacha gave up a homer to the third batter he faced. And then a miracle happened. Wacha ended up allowing just that one run during four innings of relief.

The Mets chipped away at the deficit. J.D. Davis led off the fourth inning with the first of his XBH parade, this one a double to right center. He scored later in the inning on a ground out. Then in the sixth, Brandon Nimmo doubled and came home to score on an opposite field homer by Davis and the Mets were down just a run.

Davis capped off his big night with an RBI double to tie the game in the eighth inning. It almost didn’t happen, as the runner on first didn’t take off when the ball was hit, as he should have with two outs. But Michael Conforto beat the relay throw to the plate and the crisis was averted.

Meanwhile, Justin Wilson threw a perfect seventh inning and Miguel Castro put two runners on in the eighth but wiggled his way out of the jam. After the Mets took the lead in the top of the ninth, Edwin Diaz came on and struck out the side to earn his fourth Save of the year.

Andres Gimenez, who has struggled all year coming up with the big hit, followed up an intentional walk to Jeff McNeil with a solid single to center field to give the Mets their first lead of the game.

Remarkably, as bad as the Mets are playing, they still have a shot at the playoffs. Philadelphia losing seven of its last 10 games certainly helps. There are still too many teams ahead of the Mets to feel good about their chances, even if the actual deficit isn’t too bad. But that they have a puncher’s chance at all is hard to believe.

It was announced during the broadcast that deGrom left with hamstring spasms. This game may be what keeps him from winning another Cy Young Award but the Mets managed to put up another win in one of deGrom’s starts. They’re now 8-2 when their ace starts a game.

Gut Reaction: Phillies 4, Mets 1 (9/15/20)

In a matchup of former Cy Young Award winners with lousy current ERAs, Jake Arrieta did a better imitation of a top pitcher, leading the Phillies to a 4-1 win Tuesday night in Philadelphia, sending the Mets to their third straight loss. In two games against the Mets this season, Arrieta is 2-0 with a 2.19 ERA. Against every other team he’s faced, Arrieta is 2-4 with a 6.19 ERA.

Rick Porcello started and gave the Mets 6 IP but gave up 4 ER. That’s a 6.00 ERA but at this point all we can do is shrug and say – that seems about right. For the season now, Porcello has a 6.06 ERA. He’s been lousy but it’s not like the Mets are in a position to replace him. At least he gives them six innings, with is more than Michael Wacha does while he’s stinking up the joint.

And it’s not like the offense gets a free pass. They banged out 11 hits and somehow only managed to score one run, which came on a solo shot by Brandon Nimmo. They were 0-6 with runners in scoring position, including 0-2 marks from both Wilson Ramos and Dominic Smith. Ramos hit into a particularly deflating double play with the bases loaded, swinging at the first pitch from JoJo Romero, who came on for an injured Arrieta. Ramos weakly grounded to third base for the inning-ending twin killing.

It’s tough to remain optimistic about the Mets’ chances, even with the expanded playoff format. But their starting pitching just doesn’t give them enough chances to win the game. A fact made even tougher when Zack Wheeler and his 4-0, 2.47 self sits in the Phillies’ dugout.

Gut Reaction: Blue Jays 7, Mets 3 (9/13/20)

Jeff McNeil left the game with stomach issues and the rest of us got them once the relievers came into the game, as the Blue Jays took the rubber game of the series with a 7-3 win. After an off day on Monday, the Mets will resume action in a major league city, as they take on the Phillies in Philadelphia.

David Peterson took the loss but was much better than his last time out. He gave up a two-run homer for the only runs he allowed in five innings. The Blue Jays did most of their damage in the sixth inning, when they opened the inning with four consecutive walks and ended up scoring five runs in the frame.

The Mets banged out 12 hits, including eight off starter Hyun-Jin Ryu but they were only able to cash one run against the Toronto ace. Four different hitters tallied two hits apiece for the Mets, including the team’s 3-4-5 hitters. Ordinarily that would result in more runs but the sequencing just wasn’t good today.

Erasmo Ramirez threw two shutout innings and lowered his ERA to 0.90 in 10 innings pitched.

Gut Reaction: Blue Jays 3, Mets 2 (9/12/20)

If you like lousy hitting, poor baserunning, bad umpiring and terrible defense, boy this game was for you. It sure didn’t resemble major league baseball, which is fitting since the game was played in Buffalo. The Blue Jays won the game on a pickoff play, one that was originally called safe and overruled by replay, escaping with a 3-2 win over the Mets Saturday night.

There really isn’t anything good to say about this game and it’s certainly not worth going into a blow-by-blow recap of how the runs for both teams scored.

Seth Lugo was really good the first three innings. But he pitched 5.1 innings, allowed three runs and took the loss. Chasen Shreve wasn’t particularly sharp, either. Perhaps the most surprising thing is that Miguel Castro looked good. And Jeurys Familia pitched a high-leverage eighth inning and did not allow a run, even if it took a high-wire act.

Jake Marisnick was credited with an RBI double on a ball that an MLB 3B really should catch. And he ended up leaving the game with a barking hamstring. Amed Rosario had three hits but was the one who got picked off first base to end the game. Pete Alonso, Robinson Cano and J.D. Davis were a combined 0-11 with six strikeouts.

It was just pitiful all the way around.

Gut Reaction: Mets 18, Blue Jays 1 (9/11/20)

Erasmo Ramirez came out of the bullpen to pitch three scoreless innings to nail down the win for the Mets, as they edged the Blue Jays, 18-1, Friday night in Buffalo. A ridiculous location for an MLB game deserves a ridiculous lede. Sorry, Buffalo, you’re not a major league city. Enjoy those Quad-A players you get to see in a normal year.

Jacob deGrom was the beneficiary of the big offensive night, the second straight start where the Mets have backed him with double-digit runs. It might not make up for two years’ worth of no support but it’s still nice to see. deGrom allowed a first inning run but then was dominant in the second and third innings. He had to sit for over half an hour between the third and fourth innings and was unable to maintain his earlier pace. Still, he struck out nine batters in six innings and lowered his ERA to 1.67 for the season.

Dominic Smith hit his first career grand slam and Michael Conforto hit a three-run shot and had 4 RBIs and 4 runs scored. Robinson Cano, Jeff McNeil and Wilson Ramos each had three hits, and Ramos joined Conforto with the 4-4 Runs-RBIs combo. McNeil got two gift hits, having a pop fly lost by the outfielders in the lights and a ground ball to first where the position player pitching didn’t cover first base.

With the win, deGrom upped his record to 4-1 and the Mets are now 7-2 in games he’s started here in 2020. The Mets are now 9-4 in blowout games, ones decided by five or more runs. And they evened their road record at 11-11.

Gut Reaction: Mets 7, Orioles 6 (9/9/20)

The Mets have had several times this year where they came out on the short end of the stick in games they had no business losing. Wednesday, they got to see the other side of the coin, as they rallied from a four-run deficit to pull out a 7-6 win and split the series with the Orioles.

And if the comeback win wasn’t enough – this one featured great defensive plays in both the infield and outfield. In the sixth inning, Jeff McNeil made a terrific sliding catch in the outfield, one where he ended up hitting the side wall. And later that inning with the bases loaded, Michael Conforto caught a ball on a full sprint midway on the warning track, hauling the ball in over his shoulder. Those catches kept the Mets in the game. In the ninth inning with the lead, Luis Guillorme – who just entered the game for defensive purposes – dove for a ball, rolled over and threw the ball all in one motion, seemingly not even looking at first base. It was a perfect throw, too.

The highlight defensive plays wouldn’t have mattered if the Mets’ bats hadn’t come thru after the pitchers but them in an early hole once again. McNeil homered for the fourth straight game with a two-run shot in the fourth inning, which cut the deficit to 5-3. Conforto hit a solo homer in the fifth to make it 6-4. Andres Gimenez homered to the opposite field off a lefty to tie it at 6-6. And Pete Alonso put the Mets ahead in the eighth with a homer to center field.

Rick Porcello is grateful that the Mets have Michael Wacha. Otherwise, there would be a ton of attention on how rotten he’s been this year. He surrendered 5 ER in 4 IP and now has a 6.07 ERA for the season. The Mets used five relievers to finish the game, with Jeurys Familia getting the win with a scoreless eighth inning and Edwin Diaz picking up his third save of the year with a scoreless ninth, thanks to Guillorme’s fine defensive play, which came with no outs and a runner on first. Without it, there are runners on the corners with no one out. It was still touch-and-go with a runner on second and one out but Diaz got a strikeout and a pop fly to end the game.

Orioles 11, Mets 2 (9/8/20)

It’s not a huge surprise that after yesterday’s big comeback came up short with a loss in extra innings that the Mets came out flat tonight. What will be a surprise is if either Robert Gsellman or Michael Wacha are on the active roster by game time Wednesday night. In six starts, Wacha has now allowed 21 runs in 24 innings. And Gsellman has allowed 15 ER in 14 IP. The only way to describe it is Bashlor-esque. Neither pitcher gives the team a chance to win. And that can’t be allowed to continue.