The Mets had already scored once in the top of the first when Dom Smith singled off pitcher A.J. Cole’s glove. Yoenis Cespedes tried to turn on the jets to score the Mets’ second run. In another cruel twist for 2017, Cespedes immediately started limping. He hopped his way to home plate, but it didn’t matter: the second base umpire couldn’t jump over the baseball, so the play was dead. Cespedes left the game with a strained right hamstring on a play that didn’t matter.
You could say none of the Mets’ games really matter at this point, since there’s no way the team can make the playoffs. All we’d really hope for is avoiding injuries that could carry over into next season, like Michael Conforto’s shoulder injury. Cespedes has had issues with both legs, but it was his left hamstring that kept him out earlier this season. After the game, Sandy Alderson said the hamstring injuries are comparable in location and severity, so Cespedes is headed to the disabled list.
In some ways, Friday’s 4-2 win against the Nationals feels beside the point. The Nationals have such a big league in the division that they could afford to play a B lineup after arriving in Washington at 5 a.m. The Mets played all their healthy players and it still looked like a spring training game in August. Brandon Nimmo, Juan Lagares, and Matt Reynolds patrolled the outfield, batting 1-2-3. Asdrubal Cabrera hit cleanup.
Once Cespedes got hurt, he immediately limped to the dugout. You know it’s bad when he doesn’t talk his way in to staying in the game. Cole had allowed four of the first five runners to reach base, so he got to have a nice long chat with his catcher and pitching coach. From this point, Cole dominated the depleted Mets, allowing only three more baserunners while striking out seven.
Jacob deGrom probably knew he’d have to carry more of the load. Early on he was throwing 99 mph – more velocity than he’d shown at any other point this year. He went right after Washington’s less than intimidating lineup, with first pitch strikes to 21 of 29 batters. The Mets’ ace got two outs in the eighth with a 3-0 lead before giving up a double to Andrew Stevenson and an RBI single to Adrian Sanchez. Jerry Blevins came in to strike out Daniel Murphy as the potential tying run. In the top of the ninth, Nimmo singled with two outs, stole second and came around to score an insurance run on a Lagares single. Then Lagares caught Jose Lobaton napping, stealing two more bases but ending stranded at third.
Jeurys Familia came off the disabled list today, but Terry Collins called on newly established closer A.J. Ramos for the save. Ramos pitched like he doesn’t want to be the Mets closer next year. Adam Lind homered on the first pitch. Wilmer Difo doubled. Michael Taylor made the first out, but then Anthony Rendon and Matt Wieters pinch walked to load the bases. Howie Kendrick hit a sharp liner to right, but Nimmo was able to come up with a game-saving grab. Then Ramos finally got a bit of command, striking out Stevenson to end the game.
The Mets entered Friday’s game with only 11 position players on the 25 man roster. Familia took Conforto’s spot. Reynolds had to fill in for Cespedes since there was no outfielder on the bench. The only minor league outfielder on the 40-man roster is Wuilmer Becerra, a 22-year-old struggling in his second season at high-A ball. They will probably have to add someone to the roster.
With Seth Lugo and Tommy Milone scheduled to pitch two of the three games over the weekend, it’s understandable that the Mets may want to carry an extra pitcher. However, only having 11 bats is pushing it and 10 certainly doesn’t work. Let’s see if anyone can fly from Las Vegas to Washington for an early afternoon start.
Photo credit: Brad Mills – USA Today Sports