MLB: Oakland Athletics at New York Mets

Game recap July 23: Rafael Montero better, still not actually good


The West coast not-Mets


As someone who has had the privilege of covering the three of the last four Rafael Montero starts, I just…it’s wild. Coming into this start, he owned a 3.86 ERA since June 25 — when he rejoined the rotation — and has made some significant strides. Mostly, he has stopped walking batters and giving up home rund. That’s good, of course, because those often worked in tandem together.

You can say the shedding of that shtick is what has been behind the renewed performance, or you could look at the competition. Montero had faced the Giants, Phillies, Cardinals — not exactly teams known for dazzling performances at the plate. On Sunday, the righty continued that trend as he squared off against the Oakland Athletics. His performance wasn’t horrendous, but it was symmetrical.

Montero gave up a solo homer in the first inning, fourth inning, and seventh inning. After the initial home run, it was a constant game of two-steps forward, one-step back. That game lasted seven innings, of which neither Montero nor the Mets lasted until the 10th inning to see another inevitable Athletic solo home run. As far as his line goes, it could’ve been better — three earned runs, seven hits, one walk, four strikeouts. Had it not been for a Rene Rivera picking off Matt Chapman from third base with no outs in the top of the fifth, Montero would’ve surrendered more runs. Nevertheless, it was weird to see the Mets support Montero defensively after what happened his last time out.

So where does that leave us with Montero? He’s not good, that’s for sure. He has faced some pretty poor lineups during this stretch, so the real tests are ahead of him. With that said, maybe, juuuust maybe, he’s not awful either. This purgatory is where the Mets have stopped, dropped, and opened an entire suburban neighborhood in 2017. It should come as no surprise they sold another house.


There is really one thing the Mets have not ruined this season, and that is Michael Conforto. Despite their best efforts to turn him into a platooning bench player, Conforto has prevailed. In the third inning, the lefty blasted his 19th dinger of the year, and by the end of the game owned a .294/.408/.581 slash line in 319 plate appearances. Conforto is one of nine batters with an OPS greater than .980 in at least 300 plate appearances, and will likely get more playing time once the Mets move either Jay Bruce or Curtis Granderson (or both).

Hitting, on a team level, wasn’t fantastic on Sunday. Excluding the sixth inning, the Mets couldn’t get much of anything going. Conforto owned two of the Mets’ six hits, and Rafael Montero owned one. They scratched across two runs overall, which wouldn’t be enough at the end of the day. Most would look at this loss as what it is: a loss. I, however, have a different take. It was refreshing to watch a Sunday game where the Mets don’t get absolutely obliterated. I enjoy it. Please, Metropolitans, do this close game thing more often.


It was a pretty good game all around, but at the end of the day three solo home runs were enough to outscore the Mets. The real victory, though, is not on the field. The real victory is in our hearts, and the friends we make along the way. Also, the real victory is not getting demolished by 10+ runs by one of the worst teams in baseball. That is a Right And True Sunday Victory.


The Mets start a series against one of the other worst teams in baseball, the San Diego Padres. Jacob deGrom will face Clayton Richard in the first game of an 11-day west coast road trip that (cross your fingers) will hopefully be interrupted halfway through with the sale of some of the Mets’ current soon-to-be free agents. Let the instant rebuild begin!

Photo credit: Anthony Gruppuso – USA Today Sports

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