It’s hard to be a Mets fan right now. For the second year in a row we’ve entered the season with high hopes only to see poor play and injuries sabotage the season. Many of you have made a completely rational decision – stop watching. Where have you gone, Metsense? We so need your rational look at things and your ability to complain without whining.
But if you think it’s hard to be a Mets fan, what would you call it if you were involved with another team that did essentially the same thing? I work for a summer collegiate baseball team that plays a 52-game season. This year we started out 6-2. And now we sit with a 7-12 record. For those of you who avoid subtraction, that’s a 1-10 record in our last 11 games. So, it’s especially fun for nights when we have a home game and the Mets play, too. Bad baseball in stereo.
Last night offered the promise of something different. We were sending out our best pitcher and the Mets had Jacob deGrom on the hill. Both games were going on at the same time, so my plan was to avoid updates on the Mets game and watch the replay when I got home.
Our pitcher did not disappoint. He pitched six innings and allowed just one run. And then we had a pleasant surprise as we had a reliever go three scoreless innings. So, we ended with a win, right? Well, not exactly. Our offense, which began the year with 115 runs in their first 12 games (9.6 rpg) managed only one run through nine innings.
So, we went to extra innings. This year the league adopted Mickey Mouse rules, where each extra inning starts with runners on first and second. We gave up four runs in the top of the 10th, scored three in the bottom of the inning and got hung with a 5-4 loss.
After arriving home, it was time to catch the replay of the Mets game. As you probably already know, the Mets gave deGrom a 2-1 lead, he surrendered it, the bullpen made things worse and the Mets ended up on the wrong end of an 8-3 score.
A night that began with the promise of something different ended up just more of the same.
And to make matters worse, it was a Fox game, which meant we had to be subjected to John Smoltz, who’s devolved into “Get off my lawn!” guy. Smoltz took great pleasure pointing out the Mets’ difficulty in scoring runs here recently and the graphics team followed up with the hard data on the team’s performance with RISP. It’s like 2016 all over again, in that regard.
The Mets had two golden opportunities last night to score a run and came up empty both times. We heard Smoltz imploring the Mets to put the ball in play and instead they struck out. A lot. It was painful to watch. Smoltz went on and on about the evil of strikeouts. Put the ball in play and you have the possibility of scoring a run.
At one point, Smoltz opined that teams should offer a $1 million bonus to a batter who goes the whole season without striking out with a runner in scoring position. If memory serves, that was right before Asdrubal Cabrera whiffed with a runner on third. Again, it was a painful game to watch.
But while if the Mets could have hit a lazy ball to the outfield at the right time and scored two more runs in the game, that still would have left them short, this time by an 8-5 score, rather than an 8-3 one. While it was perfectly fine to lament the team’s inability to deliver a key hit, the solution is not to make outs. The solution is to get, oh I don’t know, hits!
And while the Mets failed time and time again, we needed only to look at the other team to see how it should be done. The Dodgers scored eight runs last night, with seven of them coming on hits. And not only hits, but ones that went for extra bases. There was a solo homer, a two-run double and a grand slam.
The Dodgers started the year in a funk and after 42 games they were in last place with a 16-26 record. Since then they’ve gone 24-9 and they didn’t get there by making outs. Instead, they’ve scored 174 runs, an average of 5.3 rpg. They have a .244/.327/.469 line as a team and you can see they’re not doing it with AVG – they’re doing it with power. They have 125 XBH, including 56 HR. By contrast, the Mets have scored 118 runs in their last 33 games (3.6 rpg) and have 36 HR. While the Dodgers have a team ISO of .225 in their last 33 games, the Mets have just a .157 mark.
Right now, the Mets should not turn up their nose at scoring runs in any way possible. If they want to crank up the wild pitch offense, that would be fine with me. Beggars can’t be choosers, you know. But ultimately, this team was built to win with power. The only way they’re going to get back in the race is by amassing extra-base hits. Just like the Dodgers have. If the Mets excelled at efficiency and maximized their current scoring chances, they probably would have eked out a few more wins. But they’d still be in fourth place. Meanwhile, the Dodgers have risen to second place, just 2.5 games out of first.