MLB: New York Mets at San Diego Padres

Game recap July 27: An inauspicious start

Thursday was a bittersweet day for Mets fans as we said goodbye to Lucas Duda, a player who spent 10 years within the Mets organization, eight of which were in the big leagues. And while we all had probably come to terms with the eventual reality that the Mets would ship Duda off, I personally am said to see him go. Duda was as much a Met as any that came before him and I only have good to things to say of him, while wishing him the best of luck with the Rays.

Nevertheless, life goes on and the team played their first game in the post-Lucas Duda era. Unfortunately, it did not go as planned as the Mets dropped their second in a row to the basement-dwelling San Diego Padres by a score of 7-5. A poor Major League debut from Chris Flexen and an offense that didn’t wake up quickly enough were the recipe for last night’s disaster. Here’s how it shook out:

Not Flexen On The Haters

Ravaged by injuries and desperate for depth, the Mets called on 23-year-old Chris Flexen to start last night in San Diego. Flexen was the first player to debut straight from Double-A Binghamton since Michael Conforto did so in 2015. He also joined prestigious company thanks to the first batter he faced, but not in the way he would have liked.  After surrendering a home run to Manuel Margot, Flexen joined Jon Niese and Steven Matz as the only Mets pitchers to give up a homer to the first batter they faced in the majors. Flexen’s night didn’t get any easier and he struggled to the tune of four walks, four runs (three earned), and five hits in only three innings pitched. Flexen took Thursday’s events in stride, calling his debut a “dream” despite the rough outing, but his future in the Mets rotation depends on everyone else.

Don’t Trade Jay

Jay Bruce continued to buoy the Met offense, driving in three runs, two of which came on a two-run home run in the seventh. The blast was Bruce’s 26th of the year, inching him up to 70 RBIs on the season. Bruce is on path to reach 42 home runs and 113 runs, which would set new career highs for the 30-year-old outfielder. I have repeatedly emphasized how important of a piece Jay Bruce could be to the 2018 Mets and he keeps giving Sandy Alderson more cause to extend him. If competing in 2018 is truly the goal, then trading Bruce at the deadline would be a cataclysmic mistake. Pairing Bruce with Yoenis Cespedes in this lineup gives the Mets the formidable and powerful 3-4 they need to contend for a championship. Here’s to hoping Sandy and the braintrust makes the right choice.

Our All-Star Continues To Shine

For those worried about an impeding Michael Conforto slump following the All-Star break, you can put those fears to rest. Conforto continued to solidify his reputation as a reliable, Major League-caliber hitter last night after a two-for-five performance. To open the game, Conforto sliced a ground-rule double down the left field line, followed by a single to right in the fifth. He can bat for average, he can hit to all fields, he can hit for power, and he plays a heck of an outfield. The Mets have a star in the making in Conforto and I personally look forward to watching him play in the orange and blue for the next 10 years. Yes, there are more ideal fits in center field. But at the cost of having Bruce and Cespedes in the lineup, I can live with Conforto patrolling center.

Where is Dom Smith?

The departure of Lucas Duda to the Tampa Bay Rays opens up the first base slot for Mets prospect Dom Smith, currently residing in Triple-A Las Vegas. You had to figure that in the wake of the Duda trade, some sort of promotion news would break about Smith. Instead, Sandy Alderson confirmed that there are no immediate plans to promote the 22-year-old. This feels a bit peculiar as the Mets are very much out of the Wild Card race and have openly acknowledged their willingness to sell assets and focus on 2018. There are multiple roster moves coming Friday, including Neil Walker and Brandon Nimmo expected to join the team in Seattle, but as for Smith, I guess we’ll have to continue to wait and see.

Back-End Bullpen Success

When Chris Flexen was removed after the third, Tyler Pill came in to relieve him. Pill faced similar struggles, surrendering three runs, two walks, and two hits in two innings. In what seemed like a game that would be an utterly hopeless performance on the mound, the back-end of the bullpen rallied together to toss three perfect innings to end the game. Josh Edgin, Fernando Salas, and Erik Goeddel pitched a shutdown sixth-seventh-eighth which did allow the Mets to creep back into this game. Unfortunately, the damage had already been done and the effort turned out to be in vain. Any success this ball club receives out of this scrap heap of relievers should be praised, especially if any of them are going to fit into next season’s plans.

The Dads Go Yard

Manuel Margot launched a leadoff home run off Flexen over the left field fence to open the game and Dusty Coleman would later launch a three-run bomb over the right-center field fence off Tyler Pill in the fifth. Said bomb would, in fact, go on to be the difference in the game. The Padres are essentially fielding a team of young, on the rise Triple-A players due to their lack of depth, so its always nice to see the prospects flash their potential.

What’s Next?

The Mets open up a three game set against the Seattle Mariners at Safeco Field. Rafael Montero faces Ariel Miranda with a start time of 10:10 p.m.

Photo credit: Jake Roth – USA Today Sports

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