MLB: New York Mets at Pittsburgh Pirates

Game recap May 26: Hometown hero(es; national nobodies)


That Padres series sure was brutal, but let’s sit back and eat some member berries for a minute about when something similar that happened in 2015. For those of you who don’t ‘member, Jeurys Familia was one out away from recording a save when rain stopped the game. He came back out after an hour-long delay only to give up a go-ahead three run home run to Justin Upton. The Mets went on to lose that game, dropping the final two games of the series against a bad Padres team, seemingly sending their playoff hopes into the dumpster. Instead, they acquired Yoenis Cespedes the next day and went on one of the most memorable runs in club history. Do you ‘member? Oh I ‘member.

Suffice it to say that I am not nearly as optimistic that things will have as pleasant a turnaround this time, with the Mets heading into Pittsburgh. Jacob deGrom got the start after being pushed back due to weather reasons – an explanation that every Met fan on the planet assumed was just hiding an injury. Opposing him was mediocre right-handed pitcher Chad Kuhl. With their ace on the mound and their usual cavalcade of left-handed bats, this looked like a good matchup on paper.

Game Recap

After the Mets stranded Jay Bruce at second in the top half of the first, deGrom immediately found himself in some hot water in the bottom half. Josh Harrison singled and Josh Bell walked with one out, moving up to second and third on a ground out by Gregory Polanco. deGrom managed to escape the jam by striking out third baseman David Freese, keeping the game scoreless and evading the only real tight spot he’d have all night.

With the game still scoreless, the Mets offense got to work against Kuhl. Lucas Duda led off the top of the second with a double, scoring two batters later on a single from Curtis Granderson. In the third, Jose Reyes reached on a wild pitch strikeout before Neil Walker yanked a two-run home run to right field to stretch the lead to 3-0. And after a quiet fourth, the Mets got two more off Kuhl, with Reyes tripling and scoring on a sac fly and Walker launching his second home run of the game. The Mets chased Kuhl after only 4.1 innings.

The Mets weren’t done either, as they added some insurance against the Pirate bullpen in the sixth. Michael Conforto and Bruce both walked against Johnny Barbato (an 80 grade Pirate name), setting the table for Walker once again. The Pittsburgh native came through with an RBI single, and Duda followed with a two run double to give the Mets an 8-1 lead.

A seven-run cushion was more than enough for deGrom, who looked dominant the whole night. He allowed a home run to Gregory Polanco in the fourth, but otherwise stymied the Pirate offense over 8.1 innings. He struck out 10, walked one, and allowed six hits, providing a much needed rest for a beleaguered Met bullpen and assuring fans (for the moment) that there’s no hidden injury to worry about.

Of course, the night would not be complete without some highly questionable bullpen usage from Terry Collins (I feel like I copy/paste this sentence into every recap at this point). With a seven-run lead in the eighth, Collins inexplicably had Jerry Blevins (26 appearances, leading the league) warming up. Then, after pushing deGrom into the ninth at 111 pitches, Collins went to Fernando Salas (24 appearances, tied for fifth most in the league) to get the final two outs of the game. With the top arms in the Met bullpen so overused, this was the perfect night to throw Neil Ramirez out there and ride out the huge lead. Instead, two of those overused arm got a little more stressed.

The win puts the Mets at 20-26, still well out of reach of the division or any wild card spot.

Thoughts from the Game

After a couple of rough starts where his control disappeared, deGrom has been stellar over his last two outings. The finger issue that bothered him at the tail end of his last start also seems to have been a total non-issue last night. He remains the final remnant of the Mets potentially record-breaking rotation this season, but he’s doing his best to carry the load with his rotation mates down.

Other Mets News

The Mets sent Rafael Montero back to Triple-A and called up Tyler Pill. The 26-year-old pitched to a 1.96 ERA in Las Vegas, but posted an uninspiring 4.50 K/9 rate. It’s worth noting that Pill ran a K/9 over 7 across two levels in 2016 in a much larger sample size, but his stuff is simple uninspiring. Jeffrey Paternostro probably put it best, simply saying “It’s Tyler Pill.” That being said, it’d be tough to be any worse than Rafael Montero has been in the majors and the Mets are desperate for starter depth, so here we are.

In more uplifting news, Yoenis Cespedes started a rehab assignment with St. Lucie, going 0-2 with a walk and playing six innings in left field. The Mets offense has been surprisingly productive sans Cespedes, but any additional firepower would be welcome as a method of covering for the putrid pitching staff the Mets are running out on a daily basis. We all just need to hope that someone in the Mets front office smacks Terry until he promises to leave Conforto in the lineup.

Photo credit: Charles LeClaire – USA Today Sports

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