The timing of today’s New York Mets – Colorado Rockies game was apt. Played at lunchtime, this game was a lot like the meal itself. At the beginning, it was light and easy, stress-free without great substance. But then it was left out in the sun for three hours, and things started to sour and spoil. Unfortunately for the Mets, the confluence of events that led to the 2-1 loss to Colorado was made up of things far too familiar for their liking.
Jacob deGrom came into Thursday’s game holding a spectacular 15-3 record in day game starts with a 1.63 ERA, and his performance wouldn’t waver from this line. As a day-game bonus for deGrom, the Rockies played a night game in Baltimore yesterday and didn’t arrive in New York until about 2 a.m. this morning.
Starting off the game working a low strike zone, he retired the first five batters of Colorado’s potent top of the offensive lineup while showing off his full arsenal of pitches. Of the six batters deGrom allowed to reach base, only one got past first, and this came with two outs. He flashed power as well as finesse, hitting 96 in the first inning and working his change-up to great effect; the four-seamer, however, was the star, with 78% of them going for strikes and inducing whiffs on 24.4% of them. After cresting with 17 pitches thrown in the third and fourth innings, deGrom became more efficient as the game went on, and at 97 pitches in the seventh it wouldn’t have been unreasonable to trot him out for another batter or two given the right situation. But he was in line for the win, and little suggested that the Rockies’ offense was to showcase their scoring abilities against the Mets’ staff. This held true until the most crucial time.
In the ninth inning, Jeurys Familia entered the game with a 1-0 lead, looking to reverse the one-game trend of blown saves that he started yesterday. This recap is about Familia’s inability to save the lead, yes, but I’d be remiss to not lay blame for the Mets’ offense not giving him ample cushion when the opportunity provided itself. Enter the seventh inning.
Until the seventh, the lone run scored in the game was by James Loney, coming home after a Rene Rivera double. Rivera notched three hits in the game, going 8-19 in his last five games cumulative. He entered hot and continued to be. Neil Walker, as well, had three hits, but his hits never came with runners on base. Instead, when the Mets had runners in scoring position, they were predictably bad.
Over the course of the game, they had a 1-9 line with 0 RBIs with runners in scoring position, but the plate appearances prior to the seventh could’ve been forgiven had they converted a gimme opportunity. The scene: Rivera singled, Alejandro de Aza doubled (Rivera to third), and deGrom was up next. Understandably, deGrom was switched out for Yoenis Cespedes, who was sitting the game out thanks to a quad injury. Even more understandably, the Rockies wanted none of Cespedes, walking him in four pitches (though rookie catcher Tony Wolters initially didn’t get the message that they were to walk Cespedes in four pitches and squatted down as if to catch normally). Cespedes was switched out for pinch runner Steven Matz, and, with the bases loaded and no outs, the requisite insurance runs seemed inevitable.
Then the wheels fell off.
Jake McGee, who loaded the bases on six pitches, saw Scott Oberg substitute in for him. Kelly Johnson was first up and hit into a fielder’s choice that saw Rivera forced out at home. The sweat beginning to form on all the Mets fans’ brows was palpable. Curtis Granderson was up—surely he could deliver a run or three! Nope. Strikeout. Wilmer Flores, the inning’s last hope, then came up and promptly flied out to center. The threat was vanquished and the Rockies remained in striking distance. Skip to the top of the ninth.
A comedy of errors (called and not) were to befall the Mets. Trevor Story singled and stole second, with Rivera’s throw rolling past second base into the outfield. Then David Dahl walked, and Daniel Descalso was up. Descalso showed bunt and went down 0-2 before dribbling a bunt so close to the foul line that Rivera expected it to go foul. It didn’t. All three men were safe. But after a Wolters strikeout, a bit of the sweat seemed to evaporate. Familia’s got this. Familia’s…got this? Cristhian Adames came up and grounded to James Loney, who bobbled the ball when trying to turn two to end the game. As a result, all men were, once again, safe. That Familia would follow this up with a wild pitch to give the Rockies the lead was all but inevitable at this point.
The Mets should have won this game. Their offense should have given them an insurmountable lead, their defense should have made the clutch plays to keep baserunners from scoring, and Familia should have never allowed the bases to get crowded in the first place. The bright spot is that unlike his last start, we got Good Jacob deGrom. Now it remains to be seen if the rest of the team can properly sync up with their star pitchers.
Photo credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports