As someone who hadn’t watched the 2016 Reds before this series, I assumed they were a bad baseball team because they lacked talent. The matchup between hitters and pitchers is so individualistic that the whole is usually close to the sum of the parts (plus or minus luck). Players get years of professional instruction before making the majors.
Nothing prepared me for watching Reds’ right fielder Scott Schebler get thrown out stealing second base in the second inning because he forgot to slide. Jose Reyes scored on a short wild pitch in the third as Reds’ ace Anthony DiScalfani didn’t cover home. By the bottom of the third inning, Keith Hernandez said it’s time for the Reds to start sending players home for the day. A few batters later, Cincinnati leadoff hitter Jose Peraza tried to steal home after Noah Syndergaard picked off Eugenio Suarez. Asdrubal Cabrera read the play and threw him out.
Baserunning mistakes bailed Syndergaard out on one of his worst starts of the season. The Mets ace walked a season-high four batters and could only get through five innings, allowing six hits along with the walks. But the Reds kept running their way out of opportunities. Base stealers had been 45-51 against Syndergaard but the Reds went 0-3 with two incredibly stupid plays. Bad teams don’t just lack talent; they also make dumb mistakes like forgetting to slide that cause them to play below their talent level.
It was a bizarro Syndergaard outing, but the Mets’ offense did exactly what we would expect them to do. Reyes drove the first pitch out of the ballpark. Curtis Granderson continued his hot streak with a deep home run to center, giving the Mets a 3-0 lead in the sixth. Wilmer Flores came in for Kelly Johnson to pinch hit against a left hander and delivered a two-run homer to make it 5-0 in the eighth. But the Mets started 0-for-9 with runners in scoring position and left 10 men on base.
It looked like the Mets were going to roll to another sweep of Cincinnati when Gabriel Ynoa took the mound in the top of the eighth. Three batters later, Ynoa left the mound and Addison Reed had to come in with the bases loaded and no outs. Reed could only get two of the first three hitters out. That meant he had to face Peraza, who is hitting over .400 since the All Star break. Peraza drove a pitch off the wall in left center, just missing a game-tying home run. Reed struck out Suarez to end the threat. Yoenis Cespedes tacked on an insurance run in the ninth to give the Mets their only hit with runners in scoring position, and Jeurys Familia closed the door.
Terry Collins’ lineup juggling paid off again yesterday. Granderson started in right field and went 2-5 with a homer. Alejandro De Aza got a start at center and reached base three times in five appearances. James Loney went 2-for-3 before being pinch hit for in the ninth to avoid a lefty-lefty matchup. Collins showed he is comfortable using Flores at first and T.J. Rivera at second to close out a game, which may mean less Loney down the stretch.
The Mets have won 14 straight games against the Reds. The franchise record for most wins against an opponent is 15 over the Pirates in 1986-87.
Jose Reyes became the first player this season with a home run and a steal in back to back games.
The Mets finally get a day off after playing 16 straight days (and 29 of their last 30). Then it’s their last series in Turner Field before the Braves move to their taxpayer-funded park in the suburbs.
Photo credit: David Kohl – USA Today Sports