Matt Harvey, the once and future ace of the New York Mets pitching staff in 2013, won his third game in a row today, for the lowly Baltimore Orioles, beating Oakland on the road.
Stephen Matz, the once and future fireballing lefthanded local boy from Long Island, New York is currently 4-0 and pitching lights out – for the Toronto Blue Jays.
Zack Wheeler, the tall righthander with the 99 mph fastball, pitched today for the Atlanta Braves. Against the Mets.
Rafael Montero, who was going to become the next Pedro Martinez as a 21-year old reed-thin righthander with a 97 mph fastball and perfect control, is now the closer for Seattle. That’s in the state of Washington, out that way somewhere. Montero is throwing BBs and getting saves.
They, along with Noah Syndergaard, who hasn’t pitched in more than a year since Tommy John surgery, and a guy named Jacob deGrom were going to win 10 world championships in a row (at least) for the Mets. A starting pitching staff consisting of xix top of the rotation aces, in their mid-20s. All throwing 95-99 mph, on the black, dominating National League hitters.
Mets’ Noah Syndergaard on nightmarish start: ‘When you get your s— kicked in like that, it gives you a different perspective’
The Mets needed Noah Syndergaardat his best on Wednesday in a crucial game against the Cubs, but the right-hander’s outing was nothing but disastrous.
Syndergaard, who had dazzled in his eight second half starts, was the victim of some poor defense and poor luck in the Cubs’ six-run first, but he also left hittable pitches in the zone.
Jason Heyward went down swinging to start the inning, but things quickly went downhill from there. After Nicholas Castellanos was hit by a pitch and Kris Bryantsingled, Javier Baez grounded a slow-roller to short that Amed Rosario underhanded into shallow center field, allowing the first run to score.
Then, after a Kyle Schwarber RBI double, Addison Russell blooped a perfectly placed single into right, scoring two more. Ian Happ then provided the final two runs of the inning with an opposite-field two run homer.
Things didn’t get any better for Syndergaard in the second. Bryant lifted what should have been an easy out to shallow left, but miscommunication between Rosario and J.D. Davis allowed the ball to drop in for a double.
Two batters later, Schwarber slammed the Cubs’ second home run of the night, extending the Cubs’ lead to 8-1.
Through the first two innings, Syndergaard allowed eight runs (seven earned), on seven hits. He walked three and struck out two.
“They capitalized on every mistake that I made, and it just seemed like tonight when it rains it pours,” Syndergaard said after the game. “When you get your sh-t kicked in like that, it gives you a different perspective on things. Definitely a terrible feeling. I’m disappointed in myself. I had the opportunity to go out there and do something big tonight, and I let the team down.”
Mickey Callaway stuck with Syndergaard in the third, but with two away, Castellanos blasted the Cubs’ third home run, ballooning the lead to 10-1. The Mets did battle back to make things interesting, but they ultimately lost the game 10-7, dropping further back in the Wild Card race.
“Obviously a few plays weren’t made,” said Callaway afterwards. “He battled, left some pitches middle, they made him pay. They didn’t miss the ones that were big mistakes. Some of the credit has to go to their offense. It’s still hard to hit even when a Noah Syndergaard makes mistakes. But he just couldn’t get into rhythm. Off night for him. He’s been pitching so well, and we know that our rotation is one of our strengths. Just an off night for one of our starters.”
Syndergaard’s night ended after three innings, allowing a career-worst 10 runs (nine earned) on nine hits. It was the first time in his career that he allowed three home runs in a start.
In this, the Mets’ magical mystery second half tour of the season, even when it rains, really pours, the Mets are winning games. This team seems like a juggernaut now, that even nature can’t stop.
In a rain-shortened game, the Mets finished their sweep of a very solid Cleveland Indians team, riding Noah Syndergaard and the bullpen to a 2-0 win. The game was called in the bottom of the eighth inning with the Mets up at bat, after a second rain delay.
Tonight, both starting pitchers, Aaron Civale and Syndergaard, were mowing down the opposing lineups through the first three innings without allowing a base runner. The way they were throwing, you sensed we were going to have a tight, well-played game by two good teams fighting to make the playoffs.
In the bottom of the fourth, Civale cracked. Joe Panik, proving to be a very good mid-season pickup by the Mets, hit a line drive single to right field. After Pete Alonso flied out, Michael Conforto sent a long fly ball down the left field line that landed just inside the chalk, bouncing into the stands for a ground-rule double.
Wilson Ramos followed with an opposite-field double, a hard-hit line drive down the line. Both Panik and Conforto came in, and Syndergaard had his lead.
Syndergaard retired the first 16 hitters, allowing only two hits over six dominant innings before the heavy storm interrupted him. The Mets starter continued his perfect game mastery until the sixth when, with one out, Tyler Naquin broke up the no-no with a soft-liner to centerfield that fell just short of Mets centerfielder Juan Lagares’ glove, with a short hop scoop.
“You see him good a lot, but tonight was really good,” Mets manager Mickey Callaway said.
The Citi Field crowd, which is getting used to watching solid baseball, gave Syndergaard a long ovation for his 5 1/3 perfect innings.
After Naquin’s hit, Francisco Lindor lined another single and all of a sudden, Syndergaard had to bare down against Indians leadoff hitter, Greg Allen. On a 3-2 count, Allen slapped a hard grounder to Alonso’s backhand. He dove for it, knocked it down, and threw a bullet to Syndergaard, covering first to nip Allen by a half-step. The best part of the sequence? As Allen was slamming his helmet to the ground, Alonso and Syndergaard were chest bumping each other. It’s not an act you see often on a baseball field but these Mets seem to be enjoying the heck out of being in a race for the post-season.
With the win, the Mets climbed to within 1 1/2 games of the second wild card spot, and within three games of the Nationals for the first wild card (and home field advantage for the “play-in” game).
They certainly are not shrinking from the pressure of these games, this Mets mixture of young and veteran players making up Brodie Van Waggenen’s roster. On the contrary, in fact, as their 26-10 record, best in the game since the All-Star break, would indicate.
You have to give New York Mets manager Mickey Callaway, a ton of credit. He understands his public role as chief cheerleader for his players, no matter how much his bullpen may blow late game leads or his fielders continue their alarming level of defensive miscues.
The Mets won last night’s game over the Cardinals, 8-7. That’s the good news. The real news? They were leading in the seventh inning, 8-3, with Noah Syndergaard on the mound. He wasn’t particularly sharp all night but he had enough moxie and stuff to get outs when he had to.
As has been Callaway’s wont over the past month or so, with a faltering bullpen and a starting five that no longer needs to be babied with limited pitch counts, he sent Syndergaard out to pitch the seventh inning, with the starter having thrown 102 pitches through six.
Syndergaard (5-4) reached for his right hamstring after throwing one pitch. Callaway and an athletic trainer came out to check on the right-hander, who walked off the field with a bit of a limp.
“It was on that one pitch,” Callaway said, adding Syndergaard will be re-evaluated Sunday morning. “That deep in the game, if he feels anything, you get him out with a five-run lead.”
But, these are the Mets, who either grossly overrated its bullpen coming into this season or, those pitchers out there have all gone off the rails at the same time. The bullpen, coming into Saturday, held a 6.69 ERA in the last 30 days, 8.33 in the past two weeks. You can’t get much worse than that, especially when that unit has blown 16 saves this season, by far, the worst in the game.
When Syndergaard walked off the mound with a five-run lead, one sensed five runs wasn’t nearly enough of a lead to secure a win for the Mets against the scrappy, base-stealing Cardinals, who stole six bases against Mets pitching last night.
Enter Robert Gsellman, one of the Jekyll and Hydes of the Mets bullpen. Gsellman throws 95-97 but unfortunately doesn’t always know where the pitch is going. Often times, it ends up straight over the plate where major league hitters can tattoo it. Predictably, like clockwork, St. Louis scored three times with Gsellman being Gsellman, before the inning ended on a line-drive double play.
With a beleaguered bullpen having so much trouble closing games for the New York Mets lately, it was left to second baseman Jeff McNeil to take it upon himself to save this one, and save Edwin Diaz’ bacon at the same time.
Seth Lugo came on in the eighth inning, loading the bases but somehow, he struck out three in the inning, finally fanning Matt Carpenter with the bases loaded to end the inning.
Then, it was Diaz time. The Mets biggest acquisition of the off-season, Diaz appears to be fragile, an attribute for a closer that doesn’t lead to happy endings. The 24-year old gave up a two-out RBI single to Yadier Molina in the ninth, and Kolten Wong lofted a pop fly toward the right field line.
McNeil sprinted a long way in pursuit and converged with outfielder Michael Conforto, yet neither could make the catch. Conforto tumbled to the turf, but McNeil stayed on his feet and quickly grabbed the ball as it trickled away. He zipped a one-hop throw right to catcher Wilson Ramos that easily nailed Jack Flaherty, the Cardinals pitcher who was pinch-running for the slow-footed Molina.
“Mike goes in there sliding, I go in there leaping. I think once the ball hit the ground, I knew they were going to send him,” McNeil said. “Pick it up and I kind of got lucky; I was behind the ball, so I got some oomph on the throw.”
Flaherty looked back at the ball while running and stumbled coming around third.
“You see Flaherty chugging the bases and I thought he was going to score,” Cards’ starter Michael Wacha said. “The guy made a heck of a throw from right field — right on the money. So I mean, you’ve just got to tip your cap at some point and go get `em tomorrow. But it was a crazy ending, that’s for sure.”
A fired-up McNeil pumped his right arm and the Mets celebrated after a narrow escape. Diaz got his 15th save in 18 attempts.
“That was just a whirlwind of emotions,” rookie slugger Pete Alonso said.
Alonso smashed a mammoth three-run homer off the facing of the third deck in a five-run first inning against Michael Wacha (4-3). J.D. Davis homered and had four hits, finishing a triple short of the cycle. And this time, New York’s relievers finally held on — barely — after blowing late leads in the first two games of the series.
“Third time’s a charm and there was never a doubt,” Callaway said, chuckling. “A win’s a win and it was a great play by Jeff. Heads-up play to get it in and get it home. Great throw.”
“It was pretty nerve-wracking,” Davis said.
Added Callaway: “It’s not easy for us right now. But tonight is a step in the right direction, no matter how it happened. We held the lead and hopefully we can build off of that.”
Mickey can’t say this, as chief of cheerleading but, until the Mets get the collective fragile psyches of its bullpen into a healthier place, there won’t be enough runs in a game to build off of.
Setting the tone – Mets hierarchy is deciding to let “Big Four” starters lead the way this season by going “old school” with higher pitch counts and more innings per outing for the foreseeable future.
By Scott Mandel
Noah Syndergaard became a dominant pitcher again at Citi Field today, as he allowed just one hit to the potent Colorado Rockies lineup as the Mets won the rubber game of this weekend series, 6-1.
Todd Frazier, the well-traveled, veteran third baseman, led the Mets, driving in four runs with a home run and a double.
But, make no mistake about it. If this Mets team has any designs on competing for a championship, it’s going to come down to what has historically been the strength and the legacy of this franchise, namely, its starting pitching.
Some organizations have always been known by how many power-hitting bashers they produce, seemingly from year to year. Other organizations are better known for developing great pitching or, speedy, athletic, heady players.
Any success the Mets, in their 57-year history, have enjoyed, has always been predicated on their pitching staff, particularly its young, talented, fireballing starting pitchers.
Boppers? No, it’s never been the Mets “thing.” But, arms? Those have been a thing of beauty in the Amazin’s legacy.
This is the franchise of Tom Seaver, Jerry Koosman, Nolan Ryan, Jon Matlack, Dwight Gooden, and for a brief, shining moment, Matt Harvey. Those were the guys this franchise historically depended on to win championships, or get them into contention to grab the brass ring.
The current Mets possess four talented starters in Syndergaard, Jacob deGrom, Zack Wheeler, and Steven Matz, along with surprising fifth starter, Jason Vargas, who pitched a complete game shutout on Wednesday. The first four all throw the ball very hard, very consistently. Each of them can sprinkle in curve balls or changeups, but, by and large, these guys are bringing 95 mph plus heat to every start, forcing opposing hitters to cheat a little with their swings to catch up to the velo.
When these guys are “on,” they are dominant major league pitchers. It’s Callaway’s job to put them in dominant mode, and he believes it starts now with confidence-building. They have been told their success will dictate how this Mets season goes. That they, all in their primes right now, are the Core Four of the Mets.
But, up to this point, these pitchers have been mostly babied by this current Mets regime, for fear of developing the types of arm injuries that could derail a career, as what happened to Matt Harvey.
But, if you listen to Mets manager Mickey Callaway now, those days are over. Partially because of a bullpen that has been wildly inconsistent and unreliable, especially when holding leads in the late innings, and
partially, because somebody in the Mets hierarchy seems to have awakened recently and asked itself the question, “where and who is the strength of this team and how can we win a championship, today?”
The answer seems to have come to Callaway and his pitching coach, Dave Eiland, over the last four games, after the bullpen lost leads on the Mets recent road trip to the West coast.
Today, Syndergaard (4-4) struck out seven and walked two to pick up his first win in five starts, dating back to May 14. He was sharp from the get-go, working his 97-99 mph velocity to both sides of the plate. The Rockies didn’t look comfortable, as Syndergaard allowed just one hit in his tidy, 98-pitch outing, a Nolan Arenado single to right, just past the reach of Mets second baseman, Adeiny Hechavarria.
“He was on,” said Rockies outfielder, David Dahl. “His fastball is 98, 99 with movement. We were late on that and then we try to kind of cheat to it or get to it and he throws the changeup or the curveball,” Dahl said. “He had everything working.”
New York has homered in 16 straight home games, setting a club record.
All very nice when the Mets’ offense holds up its end of the bargain but make no mistake, this up and down Mets season will evolve into a memorable one if the Big Four succeeds at old school baseball and does what is now expected of them.
If New York Mets manager, Mickey Callaway is fired before this season comes to an end, many of us might point to tonight’s loss at Citi Field to the San Francisco Giants, as the beginning of the end of his tenure at the helm.
Returning home from a 2-5 west coast road trip which made clear the biggest weakness of this team is found in its collapsing bullpen, Callaway spoke before tonight’s game about the importance of re-enforcing the starting pitching as the strength and core of this roster, and the one segment of this team that needs to be counted if the Mets are to have a successful, playoff-bound season.
Callaway said tonight it was going to fall on the shoulders of Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Zack Wheeler, and Steven Matz to lead this team to the promised land, much like past Mets pitching staffs had done, despite spotty lineups and lots of weaknesses throughout the rosters, such as in 1973 when names like Seaver, Koosman, Gentry, and Matlack led the Mets to the World Series despite a modicum of mediocrity throughout that lineup.
The problem is, Callaway isn’t managing as if the strength of this team is in its four starters, as he claimed earlier. He has played it cautious over the past few games with his ace, deGrom and tonight, with Syndergaard, who was removed by Callaway in the seventh inning with a 3-2 lead, having retired 10 of the past 12 hitters, just one out away from closing out that seventh.
Instead of focusing on the supposed core of this team, one of whom is Noah Syndergaard, Callaway managed as if he didn’t trust Syndergaard to retire that third out, the Giants’ righthanded hitting Evan Longoria, who was carrying around a .223 batting average.
Callaway brought in Seth Lugo, recently off the injured list, to pitch to the diminished Longoria as Syndergaard made no effort on the field to hide his anger at Callaway’s call to the bullpen.
With a man on first, Lugo proceeded to give up the lead, and with it, the Mets crumbled late in a game, once again, and suffered a crushing 9-3 loss after taking a lead into the the late innings.
A few hours later, Noah Syndergaard was on an excellent roll and the Mets manager was removing him from the game, the latest evidence that even nearly 1 ¹/₂ years into the job, Callaway still has trouble making decisions under stress. You know who agrees with that assessment?
Because after what turned into a 9-3, 10-inning loss, Callaway first gathered his players to express in Syndergaard’s word “remorse” about the decision while taking responsibility for the loss and then publicly conceding, “I’d like to have that [decision] back.”
That might be true about the Wilpons and Brodie Van Wagenen when it comes to their choice to stick with Callaway as manager. Three days after removing Jacob deGrom over the ace’s objections and going to a sketchy bullpen that would end up blowing the game, Callaway did the same Tuesday with Syndergaard with the same results. This is the Robinson-Cano-not-running-out-balls-twice of managing. Once, you are not crazy about it, but the second time reaches inexcusable.
Coming off of two losses to the Brewers at home in this three-game series, the Mets were reeling a bit as their two aces, Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard, each got ripped by the Milwaukee lineup in their starts on Friday and Saturday nights.
Having dropped to a .500 record (13-13), the Mets needed a win. Badly.
Today’s starting pitcher, Steven Matz, was coming off a start that was easily the worst of his career. Against Philadelphia on April 16th, Matz never retired one hitter, allowing eight runs (six earned) in the first inning before Mets manager, Mickey Callaway mercifully came out to get him.
Matz needed a win, ideally, or, at least to pitch a whale of a game. Badly.
Today was redemption day for the Mets. Mission accomplished on both objectives.
Going a season-high seven innings, Matz tamed the Brewers’ hot bats — they had scored 18 runs on 28 hits over the first two games of the series — and the Mets continued an early-season trend of scoring in the late innings, leading to a 5-2 victory at Citi Field Sunday afternoon.
“[Matz] was awesome today,” first baseman Pete Alonso said after the Mets snapped a three-game losing streak and improved to 3-3 on their 10-game homestand. “He gave up a home run, but he was damn-near perfect.”
“If you look up there, it’s amazing he has an ERA that he does when he got no outs in a start and gave up that many runs,” manager Mickey Callaway said, referring to Matz’ last outing against the Phillies. “He’s pitched tremendously aside from that one start where he didn’t record an out.”
The Brewers started Gio Gonzalez today. Yes, that Gio Gonzalez of Washington Nationals fame who had been without a team this season until the Yankees signed him to a minor league deal with short-term limitations. The Yanks had to commit to bringing him up to the major leagues by April 20th or Gonzalez could choose to become a free agent again. His outings were spotty at Triple-A Scranton so the Yankees opted not to sign him for the big club.
Gonzalez was hoping to join the Mets, but instead re-joined a Brewers club he spent a couple of months with down the stretch last year.
Today, he started out extremely hittable as Mets hitters weren’t fooled by his soft tosses. Gonzalez, though, settled down enough to give the Brewers five pretty good innings, allowing only two runs while spacing six hits.
The Mets hope they don’t regret their decision not to sign the 33-year old lefty to a one-year deal to provide depth in their starting ranks, which has been shaky, so far. Gonzalez loves pitching in Citi Field, having entered today’s game with a career mark of 11-2, along with a gaudy 1.75 ERA against Mets lineups over his 12-year career.
“The Mets were huge, they were great,” Gonzalez said Saturday. “They were definitely in there. I think they had such a great rotation, a great group of guys, it was a tough decision. The Brewers came in and met my expectations, met my needs. Either way, it was a win-win for me.”
A Ben Gamel two-base error led to pinch-hitter J.D. Davis’ go-ahead single in the seventh, and backup catcher Tomas Nido, recalled earlier in the day from Triple-A Syracuse after Travis d’Arnaud was designated for assignment, stroked a two-run double in the eighth.
Working ahead and mixing his pitches well, Matz (3-1) was even better. The defensively challenged Mets, entering the day last in the National League with 22 errors, supported him in the field, turning a pair of double plays to end innings. But with two outs and a runner on in the seventh, Matz hung a 2-1 slider and Moustakas parked it, ruining the shutout. Matz snapped at the new ball he received, and proceeded to retire Hernan Perez to finish his afternoon.
“He did all those things we’ve been talking about: Getting ahead, controlling the count, executing his pitchers. He was tremendous,” Callaway said. “He just went out there and made pitch after pitch. He deserved to go seven, he deserved to get the win. He got both of those.”