Boy did the Mets need that one. Entering last night, the team was in a pretty noticeable tailspin, dropping all six games of last week’s homestand. On Monday, they resembled the explosive team we had the privilege of watching during the first few weeks of the season. New York rebounded in Cincinnati, defeating the Reds 7-6 and snapping their six-game losing streak. The Amazins’ received contributions from all across their lineup on a night where the absence of Jacob deGrom loomed over their effort. Here’s how it shook out:
The Belfast Blur
After hyperextending his elbow last Wednesday, many feared that Jacob deGrom would have to miss an extended period of time (no pun intended). Instead, the Mets announced that the injury was not serious and he would, in fact, start today against the Reds. But wait, then they ended up backtracking on this sentiment and placed deGrom on the disabled list retroactive to May 3. With a potential bullpen game behind Seth Lugo on the table, the Mets opted to call up P.J. Conlon from Triple-A to make his major league debut.
Conlon toeing the rubber was, in fact, far more significant than just his first major league game: the former University of San Diego standout would became the first Irish-born player to appear in a major league game since 1945. Conlon was born in Belfast, Ireland and relocated to California with his family at the age of 2.
The 24-year-old left-hander did not have the picture-perfect MLB debut that every pitcher dreams but battled nevertheless. After tossing two scoreless innings, Conlon surrendered his first major league hit in third — a home run off the bat of Billy Hamilton. He would run into more trouble in the fourth, giving up three doubles and a walk that would eventually spell his exit from tonight’s contest.
Even when you consider that he was facing the lowly Reds, Conlon did demonstrate an ability to locate his pitches and induce non-threatening fly balls. The Belfast Blur (patent pending) did not light up the radar gun, sitting in the mid- to high-80s), but still fooled hitters enough to get through. With a little more experience, he could potentially fine-tune his crafty abilities and contribute to a Mets rotation that is desperately looking for starting pitching help right now.
Bats Bats Bats
It’s important to note that entering last night’s game Michael Conforto, Jay Bruce and Amed Rosario were all visibly slumping. Our editor-in-chief, Kate Feldman, put it best when she tweeted, “Honestly god bless Cincinnati.” It’s important to use games against lower tier to find a rhythm offensively and that’s just what this trio did. Conforto led off the game with an opposite-field home run and finished 2-for-5. Bruce launched a two-run homer in the third (second all-time in home runs at Great American Ball Park behind Joey Votto), as well as grabbing another base hit and two walks. Rosario launched two doubles, one of which was only a few feet away from being his first home run of the 2018 season. He also recorded a sacrifice fly in the second. Yoenis Cespedes remains on a tear, smacking two more doubles. Even automatic out Jose Lobaton got involved in the action, lacing a double in the second.
Gonzo Goes Yatzo (Twice)
But the salt and pepper shaker for Monday night’s game belongs to Adrian Gonzalez. Under tremendous scrutiny about his age and slipping play, A-Gon silenced all the haters, at least for a night, with a 3-for-4 performance. After knocking a single in the second, Gonzalez launched homers into the cheap seats in the third and fifth innings. Before he stepped in the box Monday, Gonzalez already had six home runs off of Reds’ starter and Christian Bale look-alike Homer Bailey; his third-inning blast would be his seventh. There has a been a lot of talk about whether Gonzalez should remain the everyday first baseman going forward. With Jay Bruce’s ability to play first, Brandon Nimmo’s hot bat and Peter Alonso tearing up Double-A, it almost felt like Gonzalez’s days were numbered. If he can continue to produce at this current rate, he should be safe to buy a good amount of time in the major leagues.
Bullpen Wraps It Up
After Conlon departed in the fourth, Paul Sewald replaced him and labored through 1.2 innings. After surrendering three hits and two runs, Robert Gsellman was called upon to follow him in the sixth. Gsellman would also allow a run, making it a one-run game, but Jeurys Familia shut the door on a surprisingly clean inning in the ninth. Gsellman would record the victory and now sits at 4-0 on the season.
The Mets are back at it again tonight in Cincinnati at 7:10. Jason Vargas (*gulp*) will attempt to rebound from two awful starts as he faces Reds right-hander Luis Castillo.
Photo credit: David Kohl – USA Today Sports