MLB: Miami Marlins at New York Mets

Game recap April 5: Never say die

I have to say, with Rafael Montero on the mound tonight, I did not have high expectations about this game. Coming into their Cinco de Mayo matchup, the Marlins held a 5-2 edge over the Mets in 2017, with the Amazins’ only real triumph being outlasting the Fish in a 16-inning marathon back in April. Last night, Terry and gang proved me wrong, demonstrated the resilience of a playoff club, and earned a comeback victory against the Marlins.

Starting Pitching Woes Continue

Rafael Montero was as advertised tonight: 3.2 innings pitched, five earned runs, and three walks on 90 pitches. Montero consistently struggled to find the strike zone and was tagged for seven hits when he did get it over the plate. Nevertheless, he was let off the hook thanks to a stellar effort from the Mets’ bullpen. With no other real options to replace him in the rotation, the Mets are going to have to endure a few more of these efforts, unless Montero can pull off some sort of Jekyll and Hyde type transformation.

No Cespedes, No Problem

For this team to post eight runs without Yoenis Cespedes in the lineup is an achievement unto itself. T.J. Rivera kicked things off with a home run in the first, and for a while it seemed like that would be all the Mets would squeeze out against Tom Koehler. Curtis Granderson launched a much needed two-run homer in the fourth to chip away at the deficit and, after the fifth inning, the bullpen collectively provided a much needed shut down effort to allow the team to fight back into the game. With Brad Ziegler on the mound in the seventh, the offense cashed in with five straight hits from Wilmer Flores, Jose Reyes, Rene Rivera, a pinch-hitting Asdrubal Cabrera, and Michael Conforto. T.J. Rivera added the sixth in a row with a game-tying two-run double and thanks to two walks from Kyle Barraclough, the Mets took the lead and didn’t look back.

Bullpen Fires On All Cylinders

With Montero struggling early on, the Marlins could smell blood in the water and very easily could have hit the Mets out of this game. Josh Smoker relieved Montero in the fourth and surrendered two more, but the combined effort of Fernando Salas, Hansel Robles, Jerry Blevins, Addison Reed, and Jeurys Familia shut the door over the final five innings en route to last night’s win. Blevins and Robles have easily been the most reliable horses on this staff to date and it’s a very positive sign to see Familia, Reed, and Salas start to round into form, given their recent struggles. With the starting pitching so depleted, it’s become a foregone conclusion that the bullpen will have to eat innings and battle over usage to keep the Mets afloat this summer.

Travis Who?

Prior to tonight’s game, Travis d’Arnaud was placed on the disabled list due to a bone bruise in his right wrist. The plan is for d’Arnaud to rest for a week before resuming baseball activities. With d’Arnaud out, Rene Rivera received the start Friday night and made the most of it, delivering two hits, including an RBI single during the Mets’ seventh inning rally. Granted he’s only had 46 at-bats, but Rivera is batting .304 on the season. While d’Arnaud was experiencing one of the better offensive stretches in his brief, injury-riddled career, Rivera is slowly proving that there is little to no drop-off with his bat in the lineup. Add in the fact that he has a stronger arm and you could certainly make the argument that Rene Rivera deserves an increased role this summer.

Painful To Watch Infield Defense

With Cabrera resting, Reyes received the start at shortstop and looked considerably more comfortable than he has been at third all season. Despite nagging leg injuries, Cabrera has expressed interest in remaining at shortstop after the organization floated the idea of flipping him with Reyes. Regardless, neither possess the Gold Glove prowess that they demonstrated in the early parts of their career, which brings up the question of an Amed Rosario promotion. His .386/.434./.505 slash line is definitely reflective of the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League, but his defensive skillset is undeniable and may land him in Flushing sooner rather than later.

The Crown

Friday night’s crown belongs to New York native and the pride of Lehman High School, T.J. Rivera, thanks to a solo homer, a two-run game-tying double, and solid play at first base. Over his last seven games, Rivera is batting .407 with six runs scored, six doubles, one homer, and four RBIs.

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