The Mets showed fight Friday night, but when it was all said and done the end result was the same as it’s been all week: walking off the field following a loss.
New York’s weekend series with the Rockies could not have possibly begun any worse, with Zack Wheeler placing the Mets in an immediate deep hole before they even came to bat. Wheeler surrendered singles to the first three Colorado hitters he faced, as Charlie Blackmon, Gerardo Parra and Nolan Arenado teamed up to plate a run before the road team even made an out. Carlos Gonzalez followed with a sacrifice fly to left field to plate a second run, but the Rockies were far from done. Trevor Story ripped a double down the left field line to score Arenado, before Ian Desmond lofted a fly ball into no man’s land in shallow right, a play that put two more Colorado runners in scoring position. Light hitting Daniel Castro took full advantage, poking a seeing eye single to give the Rockies a 5-0 early lead, and suck out whatever energy was left in the Citi Field crowd.
The opening frame embodied a concerning trend that has held Wheeler back in 2018, a year during which he has, for the most part, been okay. In five starts he’s allowed eight first inning runs, equating to a 14.40 ERA. In the 22 other innings Wheeler has pitched this season, he’s allowed a total of 10 earned runs, amounting to a respectable 4.09 ERA. New York will have to figure out what is causing this stark difference moving forward — maybe something as drastic simulating an inning pre-game in the bullpen and then sitting him down for a while before doing it again. All options should be on the table, because as well as he may settle into these games, putting your team in an huge hole before they ever come to bat is never acceptable.
On this night, the Amazins delivered a little bit of a counter punch in their half of the first, as Brandon Nimmo, in the lineup in right field while pushing Jay Bruce to first base, opened the inning with a single and later scored on an Asdrubal Cabrera two-run homer. Colorado was able to swing some momentum back to their dugout just minutes later, however, as Blackmon left off the second inning with a home run of his own to extend the road squad’s lead to 6-2. That score held throughout the middle innings as both Wheeler and Rockies’ starter German Marquez settled into nice grooves as the game moved along. Finally, in the sixth inning, Colorado catcher Tony Wolters crushed his first long ball in two years to reestablish the Rockies’ five-run advantage, and they would extend the lead to six on a Desmond RBI single an inning later.
Trailing 8-2 in the eighth, the Mets did not go quietly, though. Yoenis Cespedes drew a leadoff walk from Rockies’ lefty Chris Rusin and scored two batters later on a bomb of two-run blast by Todd Frazier. Mets relief ace Seth Lugo was able to stem the tide through three scoreless innings, finishing his night with a strikeout of Desmond to finish the Colorado ninthth, and get the Mets to the plate down four in their final at-bat. Things got interesting shortly thereafter.
Batting for Lugo, Wilmer Flores led off with a long pinch-hit double to straight away center field. Amed Rosario then singled him in, encouragingly the young shortstop’s second hit of the contest. Rockies’ manager Bud Black had seen enough from Jake McGee right there, and he immediately summoned closer Wade Davis from the bullpen. The veteran got Nimmo to pop out to third for the inning’s first out, but Cabrera then narrowly missed a homer in the right center field gap, settling for a run-scoring triple that cut the deficit to just two at 8-6. After Davis struck out Cespedes in an epic at-bat, Bruce drew a walk to put the tying runs both on base for Frazier.
The Mets’ new third baseman entered the game hitting .500 lifetime against Davis and he showed why, lining a screaming base hit into left to score Cabrera and send the tying run flying to third. In a heads up play, Frazier then stole second base to put New York just one base hit away from a dramatic come from behind victory. It was not in the cards, however, as Michael Conforto disappointingly struck out to the end the game, the fourth time he’d been punched out on the night.
The Mets will hope to put an end to their four-game losing streak and even their series with the Rockies tonight, when Steven Matz opposes Colorado righty Chad Bettis.
Photo credit: Wendell Cruz – USA Today Sports