Baseball is weird. On a night that Clayton Kershaw, the de facto best pitcher in baseball, was staked to a 7-0 lead, we saw a below average team claw their way back into a game that they had no business clawing back into. Unfortunately, the Mets still came up empty, dropping 10-6 to the Los Angeles Dodgers. This was their fourth loss in five games and things are starting to look bleak for the Amazins’. Here’s how it shook out:
Not the Clayton Kershaw We’re Used To
I was dreading the fact that I had to recap last night’s game. Why you ask? Because in addition to running well into the late hours of the night (as all West Coast games do), the Mets had to face Clayton Kershaw. The same Clayton Kershaw who’s been dominating Major League hitters for almost a decade. You can imagine the tire fire that this game seemed like when Kershaw was staked to a seven-run lead after the second inning. But the events of Monday’s game unfolded in a peculiar way. In the third inning, Jose Reyes homered off Kershaw. In the fourth, Jay Bruce went yard. And in the fifth, Gavin Cecchini launched a hanging curveball over the fence for the first big fly of his Major League career. Beating up on the best pitcher in baseball is a rare occurrence, even rarer for a depleted team like the Mets. The Amazins’ would go on to knock Kershaw out of the game after Reyes homered for a second time in the seventh. Monday marked the first time in Kershaw’s career in which he allowed four home runs in a game and the first time he’s allowed six earned runs since May 2014. Last word about Kershaw: he’s surrendered 17 home runs in ’17, a new career high for the left-hander which is even more mind blowing when you realize he’s only had 15 starts this season.
Cody Bellinger is Good. Like Really Good.
If you didn’t know who Cody Bellinger was before last night, well now you do. The 21-year-old left-handed first baseman smacked two home runs in a 3-5 effort with four RBIs. Bellinger has hit 21 home runs in his first 51 Major League games, a feat that had never been accomplished in that timespan. Bellinger is a second generation Major Leaguer, the son of Clay Bellinger, a utility player who spent a brief time in the Majors with the Yankees and Angels.
Jose Reyes, Slugger?
Jose Reyes has been pretty tough to watch all season. A sub .200 batting average, coupled with terrible defense has made us long for the Jose Reyes of old, the man who graced the confines of Shea Stadium with speed, defense, and a batting title. Last night we saw a glimpse of what Reyes may still be capable of. The switch-hitter launched two right-handed home runs off the best pitcher in the world, inching his batting average ever so close to the Mendoza line (.198). Reyes even had a chance to tie the game after he came to the plate with the bases loaded in the top of the eighth, but went down swinging chasing a high fastball. An interesting thing to note about Reyes in 2017: according to Statcast, in 257 plate appearances Jose Reyes has three “barrels”. Two of which came off of Clayton Kershaw and Max Scherzer.
Welcome to The Show Gavo
Well, he’s not Amed Rosario, but I still think we will come to find that Gavin Cecchini is a very talented baseball player. With Asdrubal Cabrera on the mend, the 23-year-old was called up from Triple-A Las Vegas to provide depth in the infield. Cecchini received his first start of 2017 tonight at second base and certainly made the most of it. In the fifth inning, Cecchini crushed a hanging Clayton Kershaw curveball into the Dodger Stadium bleachers for a two-run homer. The shot was the first of Cecchini’s career and hopefully the first of many. Cecchini joins Hector Gomez and Darnell McDonald as the only players to hit their first career home runs off of Clayton Kershaw.
It’s almost becoming a weekly habit for me to rave about the serendipitous circumstances that allowed Jay Bruce to become such a crucial part of this ball club. I mean, the front office literally tried to dump him for a reliever. In retrospect, that was rash. In the fourth inning, Bruce hit his 19th home run of the year, maintaining a steady hold on the club lead. Keep in mind this was off Kershaw who is not only the best pitcher on planet Earth, but held a lefty-lefty advantage over Bruce. If last year proved to be a fluke and not the norm, an outfield of Cespedes, Conforto, and Bruce seems like a pretty formidable offensive unit. Sandy Alderson should make a concerted effort to bring back to the soon-to-be free agent this winter.
Wheels Falls Off The Wagon
On June 13 against the Chicago Cubs, Zack Wheeler posted his worst start of 2017, surrendering eight runs on six hits in 1.2 innings. Well, call him consistent, because he followed up his worst start with his second worst start of 2017. Against the Dodgers on Monday night, Wheeler dropped seven runs on eight hits, lasting only two innings. The Mets may have been better off if Wheeler just didn’t show up to the game. It’s a shame as two weeks ago it seemed that he had finally begun to put things together after his two-year absence and was developing into a solid Major League pitcher. Now, who knows? No member of this pitching staff is immune to struggles or controversy at this point.
Scoop the Bullpen
Man, this bullpen is a real piece of work. On a night where the Mets pull off what could be considered by some as a miracle, rallying back from a 7-0 lead against Clayton Kershaw, the bullpen managed to screw it up. Rafael Montero relieved Zack Wheeler in the third and gave up one run in 3.2 innings, which is actually a pretty good outing for Montero given his usual struggles. But Fernando Salas added to the deficit after giving up two runs in the seventh. All in all, the bullpen allowed nine hits and three walks, numbers that simply cannot happen if you expect to beat a competitive team like the Dodgers.
Conforto, Flores, Rivera, Nowhere To Be Found
Michael Conforto, Wilmer Flores, and T.J. Rivera were a combined 0-13 in last night’s game. Rivera landed himself a golden sombrero before being robbed on a nice diving catch by Dodgers left fielder Chris Taylor to end the game.
The Mets are back at it against the Dodgers tonight at 10:10 p.m. EST, with Robert Gsellman facing off against Brandon McCarthy.
Photo credit: Richard Mackson – USA Today Sports