MLB: Colorado Rockies at New York Mets

Game Recap July 30: At least there was Mike Piazza

What Happened, in Two Sentences

The Mets finally retired Mike Piazza’s No. 31. Then fans sat through the rain to watch a depleted 2016 squad lose 7-2 to the Rockies.

Piazza’s No. 31 Retired

Through their first 54 seasons, the Mets had retired more numbers for former managers than players. Yesterday, they put Mike Piazza next to Tom Seaver. Former teammates Al Leiter, Edgardo Alfonso and Cliff Floyd welcomed Piazza – a nod to other players who may get inducted to the Mets’ larger Hall of Fame. After his emotional speech last week in Cooperstown, Piazza started by saying, “With all due respect to Tom Hanks, there is crying in baseball.” It was a more festive atmosphere too. When Piazza said he’d be watching the Mets every day on TV, Howie Rose asked if he was listening on the radio too. Piazza interrupted his speech to say yes, one of several times he had fun with people in the ceremony or the fans. At the end, he pointed to his retired No. 31 in the left field corner and said, “I’ll always be here with you guys – just give a peek to Ol’ Mikey.” Then he threw the first pitch from home plate to Leiter, who was standing on the pitcher’s mound.

Mets Manufacture Early Runs

In the bottom of the first, Neil Walker singled to center and stole second with two outs. Rockies starter Jorge De La Rosa jammed Wilmer Flores with a fastball, but Flores was able to muscle a broken bat single to left for the Mets first run. Flores tried to manufacture another run, breaking for second when De La Rosa threw an 0-2 pitch in the dirt, but was thrown out by a large margin. Cabrera and d’Arnaud got on to lead off the second. Then new Met Justin Ruggiano learned what it is like to be a Met hitter with runners in scoring position, swinging over a 3-2 changeup. Kelly Johnson started at first and drove in the Mets second run on a ground ball past DJ LaMahieu. Bartolo Colon struck out and Curtis Granderson grounded up the middle, but with the shift Trevor Story was perfectly positioned to end the Mets threat.

Colon Struggles on Short Rest

The Mets were a pitcher short after Tuesday’s doubleheader. Sean Gilmartin, the most likely callup for a spot start, is on the disabled list with a sore shoulder. Seth Lugo hadn’t pitched in a week and was a starter for most of his minor league career. However, the Mets decided to start Colon and have Lugo piggyback in case Colon couldn’t go six innings. Colon hadn’t thrown on short rest in 11 years, and based on last night’s performance, he probably will never do it again. Though he did start out by striking out three of the first four batters. Instead of fooling batters with his low tailing fastball, Colon was throwing harder and elevated his fastball past Charlie Blackmon and Carlos Gonzalez.

The Rockies started making adjustments in the fourth, as Colon couldn’t get his fastball down. Nolan Arenado singled and then Gonzalez doubled to the wall. Story grounded to shortstop but Cabrera threw wide. Johnson isn’t a natural first baseman, so he couldn’t block the ball from going to the wall. However, he recovered quickly and threw out Story advancing to second when his hand slipped off a wet base. Rookie David Dahl homered to right to give the Rockies a lead they would not relinquish.

Colorado tacked on two more in the fifth, as Colon couldn’t regain his command. Terry Collins turned to Lugo to pitch the next three innings, and it’s not clear whether Lugo should have started. He had a 1-2-3 sixth, then gave up two runs in the seventh before another 1-2-3 eighth. Neither Mets pitcher was able to consistently throw strike one. In the end, maybe starting Colon was the better choice because Lugo can come on in relief, but you couldn’t ask Colon to piggyback if Lugo struggles against a strong lineup.

Mets Offense Collapses

The Mets squandered an opportunity to tie it up in the bottom of the fourth. Ruggiano singled past a diving Story with one out. Story threw his glove in the air and was taken out of the game with a bruised thumb, likely due to his slide (X-rays were negative, but ask Juan Lagares how that might turn out). Johnson singled past Mark Reynolds. Colon squared to bunt but, Ruggiano tried to steal third on the second pitch. Arenado kept his arm high and initially missed the runner, but Ruggiano slid past the base and was called out.

The Mets didn’t get another hit. Yoenis Cespedes grimaced after swinging in the fifth and was taken out for precautionary reasons. Ruggiano slipped and let a ball get past him on the wet grass in the top of the inning. After the game, Collins said the Mets need Cespedes’ bat too much to put him on the DL. Wilmer Flores hit a ball over the wall to lead off the ninth, but he was called out on replay due to fan interference. The umpires concluded Dahl would have made the catch, although it looked like he took a bad angle and would have missed the ball. Collins asked if the play should be a double and was ejected for arguing a review.

More on Ruggiano

Mets fans may remember Ruggiano from when he started for the Marlins in 2013. The 34 year old was hitting .226/.321/.427 in Triple-A Round Rock before being released by the Texas Rangers earlier this week. He hits better against right handers and has experience in center field, two things the Mets lost with Lagares’ getting thumb surgery. Last year, Ruggiano moved to the NL in August and hit .291/.350/.618 in a strict platoon for the Dodgers. It was only 60 plate appearances, but the Mets seem to be hoping lightning strikes twice.

Other Notes

  • Jose Reyes was placed on the 15 day DL, following the Mets tradition of playing a man short for a few days and then putting the player on the DL. Matt Harvey was moved to the 60 day DL.
  • In his career, Mike Piazza went 6-15 against Bartolo Colon with a HR, 2 doubles and 2 strikeouts.
  • The Mets were charged with three errors, while the Rockies infield misplayed several balls that went for hits. Both teams seemed equally affected by the wet conditions.

What’s Next

The Mets send Noah Syndergaard to the mound to try and salvage one game of the season series against Colorado (they’re currently 0-6) after sweeping the season series last year.

Photo credit: Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports

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