The Fightin’ Amed Rosario’s
WHAT HAPPENED, A MATTER OF TIME:
If you want an accurate recap of how the Mets hit, don’t look at Clay Buchholz’s line. The righty missed most of last season with an injury, but found a start with the Arizona Diamondbacks on Sunday. Welcome back to The Show, here’s a hot offense and a duel with Noah Syndergaard. It seemed like the perfect opportunity for the Mets to complete a home sweep against a first-place team. On paper, the Mets had already scored six runs.
But the point of everything is that nothing makes sense. Through five innings, the Mets weren’t just being shutout; Buchholz had allowed only one hit! How was he doing it? Well, that question strikes at the heart of all that is weird and good in baseball.
He wasn’t blowing guys away with offerings like “a low-90’s fastball” or “a 73-mph curveball.” He wasn’t filling up the zone, throwing strikes a rather pedestrian 63 percent of the time. He wasn’t even really generating weak contact, as the Mets were blistering baseballs. The easiest answer as to how this happened is that Buchholz was just, sort of, there. And that, every now and then, the baseball gods decide to play a quick one on us fans who think we know it all. Buchholz was throwing baseballs to a glove, and letting the cards fall as they may.
Surely when Amed Rosario stepped to the plate to lead off the sixth, Buchholz thought to himself, ‘Hey, this worked for five innings. Why wouldn’t it work for a six?’ But he, and everyone in attendance, would be wrong. In a true act of poetic justice, Amed Rosario led off the sixth with a nearly 400-foot home run — bringing a swift conclusion to Buchholz’s outing. What a truly weird game this is.
WHAT HAPPENED, SYNDERGAARD AND A STRONG BULLPEN:
In contrast to Clay Buchholz, Noah Syndergaard pitched much better than his line suggests. There was a lot to like about it. Had the Diamondback’s lineup not featured Jarrod Dyson, Syndergaard would’ve faced little-to-no resistance. Dyson accounted for three of the Diamondbacks’ six hits, and scored their only run in the top of the second inning. He was, for the most part, the only hitter who appeared to give Syndergaard fits during every trip to the plate.
The only other obstacle Syndergaard faced on Sunday afternoon came from a high early pitch count. Going into the fifth inning with 73 pitches to your name isn’t ideal, but the Mets’ ace was able to overcome. Syndergaard needed just 26 pitches to work the fifth, sixth and seventh — ending the day around the 100-pitch mark. Sure, his seven strikeouts and one walk were nice, but this is something we’ve waited to see Syndergaard do all season. It was good enough for his second-longest outing of the year.
Looking past outcomes, Syndergaard’s stuff looked great. His slider was sharp, getting five whiffs on seven swings, and his changeup was solid. This was also the first time all year we had seen Syndergaard touch 101 mph, according to Brooks Baseball. Syndergaard’s fastball sat in the high 90s all day, and up until his final pitches — touching 99 mph to Ketel Marte. Even when you consider how hefty the DBacks have struggled at the plate, Syndergaard featured a lot of positives that serve as a warning sign for opposing hitters. Thor is getting hot.
To finish the game, the Mets called upon Jerry Blevins to face David Peralta. Blevins, who returned after a short leave for the birth of his son, managed to strike out the only batter he was tasked to face. From there, Robert Gsellman slammed the door to record his first career save. With the five-out save, the righty lowered his season ERA to 2.76 and has now struck out 28 hitters in 29.1 innings. It is rather apparent that Gsellman, as well as teammate Seth Lugo, have benefited from a move out of the rotation.
Overall, the Mets bullpen was lights out against the Arizona Diamondbacks. For the three-game series, the bullpen worked nine innings and struck out 14 batters — allowing no runs, no walks and two hits. Sure, the Diamondbacks strikeout at one of the highest rates in all of baseball, but it is exciting to see the group pitching this well.
WHAT HAPPENED, THEN CAME THE SEVENTH:
When Jorge De La Rosa came into the game, he had already been given the rulebook. Just throw the ball to the glove, it should be fine today. It worked for Clay Buchholz! For two-thirds of an inning, this was largely true. He was able to set down Adrian Gonzalez on strikes, then Luis Guillorme on a bad drag bunt. Things were going great. With Tomas Nido due up, De La Rosa probably thought a clean slate was in the bag. As easy as they come.
Even as he watched the light-hitting catcher barely squeak one through into centerfield, he probably thought things would be fine. ‘It’s just one out,’ De La Rosa reasoned, ‘it’ll be fine.’ Well, that’s where he was wrong. He forgot that he broke the 14th unwritten rule: Don’t let Tomas Nido get a hit. The baseball gods, furious at this transgression, sent Asdrubal Cabrera to the plate with murderous intentions. Even after Cabrera deposited a baseball 400 feet away from home plate, retribution was not yet achieved. Though it seemed, to the casual onlooker, like Amed Rosario was coming to the plate with just the slimmest chance of realizing a two-homer day, it had already been decided. When everything was said and done, the Mets left the seventh inning with an unreachable 4-1 lead.
Thusly, it is canon that bad things happen once you surrender a hit to Nido.
WHAT HAPPENED, YESTERDAY:
Noah Syndergaard pitched well, the bullpen continued to do the same and Asdrubal Cabrera has achieved prophet status. All completely normal things to happen during the final game of the Mets first home sweep since 2016.
WHAT HAPPENS, TODAY:
The Mets welcome the Miami Marlins to town as they wrap up an 11-game homestand. Jason Vargas will get the start against Elieser Hernandez, as he looks to turn his early season woes around. The Mets sit in third place with a 23-19 record, just 3.5 games back of the Atlanta Braves.
Photo credit: Andy Marlin – USA Today Sports