MLB: Milwaukee Brewers at New York Mets

Game recap April 14: It had to happen at some point

Brewers 5, Mets 1, final

The unimaginable has happened, folks, as the New York Mets finally lost a baseball game. After Friday night’s thrilling 6-4 victory over the Brewers extended the winning streak to nine, the Mets sent Matt Harvey to the hill Saturday in search of number ten. Milwaukee sent out staff ace Chase Anderson, hoping to get back over .500 on the young season.

It was a cold April night in Flushing, 55 degrees and windy, but the Mets bats were somehow even colder. The Metropolitans couldn’t get anything going against Anderson, who held them hitless through four and two-thirds before an Amed Rosario infield single broke up the no-hitter. During the aforementioned nine consecutive wins, the Mets were scoring an average of exactly five runs per game. Saturday was a different story though, as the Mets could only muster three hits on the evening, all singles.

Harvey made his third start of the season for the Mets, producing an outing much more reminiscent of his second start than his first; he was tagged for four runs on eight hits Saturday, and the damage came via the long ball. After a clean first inning, Harvey gave up a leadoff double to Travis Shaw and walked Domingo Santana to start the second. Harvey got Eric Sogard to strike out swinging for the first out of the inning but ran into trouble against Jonathan Villar. Jose Lobaton called for a fastball away, a pitch Harvey executed, but Villar sliced it down the left field line for a three-run home run to open the scoring. It wasn’t a bad pitch by Harvey, but Villar squared it up, as Statcast had the ball with an exit velocity of 103 mph. Harvey looked shocked on the mound afterward, as what seemed to be a foul ball carried over the fence in fair territory, likely due to the high winds in Queens. The Brewers’ only other run off Harvey came on a 92 mph fastball right down the middle that Jett Bandy sent to the moon.

It was easy to be encouraged after Harvey’s first start of the season against Philadelphia, where he allowed only one hit and struck out five over five innings. His last two starts have resembled the 2017 Harvey though, as he’s given up four runs to both Washington and Milwaukee, forcing the Mets to the bullpen earlier than they would’ve liked. He failed to pitch into the sixth inning Saturday and has not been able to exceed five innings pitched for a Met record eleventh consecutive start.

Harvey’s second consecutive bad outing could have massive ramifications for his spot in the starting rotation. With free-agent acquisition Jason Vargas close to a return, Mickey Callaway and Sandy Alderson are going to have a big decision to make in the coming weeks. It’s been quite the fall from grace for the right-hander, who earned the moniker “The Dark Knight” and was once must-see TV every time he took the bump. Of course, I did say that Harvey would have an ERA below 3.70 this season (that’s not looking too good, but hey, it’s early.) If I had to guess, Callaway and Alderson are going to give Harvey one more turn in the rotation to show why he deserves to stay. That next turn is currently scheduled for the opening game of a four-game series against the second place Atlanta Braves next Thursday. Although I expect Harvey to get the start, it’s assuredly not out of the realm of possibility that someone else is throwing the first pitch.

On the other side of the diamond, Chase Anderson was terrific all night for Milwaukee, but Craig Counsell pulled a Don Mattingly and went to the bullpen with Anderson at only 87 pitches after six and a third. Rosario and Yoenis Cespedes got the only hits off Anderson, both singles, and neither was hit particularly hard. Counsell brought Jeremy Jeffress to secure the final two outs of the seventh, and Todd Frazier singled to right for the Mets’ only other hit of the evening.

With closer Corey Knebel on the DL, Milwaukee leads the majors in blown saves this season with an almost-hard-to-believe seven in only 15 games. Counsell turned to Josh Hader, a former top 100 prospect, for a two-inning save. The Mets had to be happy to see anyone besides Anderson, but Hader struck out the first five batters he faced and induced a fly out from Bruce to finish off the win.

In other Met news, Hansel Robles was up to his usual tricks, as he struck out Villar and Bandy before allowing a solo homer to Orlando Arcia to close the scoring. It’s unclear if Robles will see high leverage work moving forward, but Met fans are seemingly growing tired of his penchant for pointing at every single fly ball he gives up.

One positive that came from last night’s game was the return of Paul Sewald. It’s unclear why Sewald has been so seldom used to start the year, but he earned himself more work with his performance Saturday. Called on in relief of Harvey, he was terrific in only his third appearance of the season, facing the minimum in his three innings, striking out five and potentially passing The Pointing Guy on the bullpen totem pole. The successful outing was a big relief for the Mets bullpen, which has been extremely busy to start the season due to the rotation’s inability to pitch into the sixth inning.

The Mets will send out Noah Syndergaard (2-0, 3.94) against Jhoulys Chacin (0-1, 6.59) in today’s rubber game.

Photo credit: Adam Hunger – USA Today Sports

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