The Mets (21-27) fell to the Diamondbacks (20-31) by a score of 2-1 in the first game of Sunday’s doubleheader at Citi Field.
Rafael Montero got the start for the Mets and was solid, giving up 1 run on 2 hits and 3 walks in 6 innings, striking out 10.
The Diamondbacks got to Montero early in the game, when Chris Owings hit one over the left field wall to give Arizona a 1-0 lead in the top of the first.
The Mets answered back in their first turn at the plate. Juan Lagares looped a soft single into left and Daniel Murphy snuck one through the hole at short to for a base hit to set the table for David Wright. David grounded one into left to score Lagares and tie up the game, but the Mets squandered an opportunity to take the lead as Curtis Granderson struck out, Chris Young popped out, and Lucas Duda grounded out to get Bronson Arroyo out of the jam.
The Mets threatened again in the bottom of the second, when Ruben Tejada was hit by a pitch and Juan Centeno hit one just out of Paul Goldschmidt‘s reach to put runners on 1st and 2nd with no outs. Rafael Montero came up to bunt the runners over, but didn’t push the ball far enough and catcher Miguel Montero was able to pounce on it and throw Tejada out at 3rd. The next hitter, Lagares, grounded into a double-play and once again, the Mets had missed out on a big chance to do some damage.
Montero got himself into a bit of a jam in the 3rd, walking Owings with 2 outs and then giving up a single to Goldschmidt, but got Miguel Montero to ground out to Murphy to end the threat.
The Mets got some more runners on base in the bottom of the 3rd, when Wright singled and Granderson was hit by a pitch to put runners back on 1st and 2nd, but Chris Young grounded into a double-play and New York was turned side for the third time.
After Montero struck out the side in the top of the 4th, Ruben Tejada hit a sharp grounder that Hill could not get in front of, but Centeno grounded into yet another double-play and the teams headed into the 5th with the score still tied at 1.
After Montero got through the 5th inning with his pitch count up over 100, the Mets finally went down 1-2-3 in the bottom half. Terry sent Montero back out there for the top of the 6th and the rookie did not disappoint, retiring the side in order and finishing his outing with 113 pitches.
The Mets tried to give Montero a chance to get a win in the bottom of the 6th, putting 2 runners on when Wright reached on an error and Granderson walked, but Chris Young grounded into a double-play and Duda hit a routine fly ball to left to end the inning.
Jeurys Familia came in to replace Montero and pitch the 7th inning, and got off to a rough start when Eric Chavez led off with a double. However, Familia got AJ Pollock to ground out and then fanned Alfredo Marte and pinch-hitter Cody Ross to leave Chavez stranded.
The Diamondbacks brought in an old friend, Oliver Perez, to pitch the bottom of the 7th. Perez got Tejada to fly out to left-center, struck out Centeno, hit pinch-hitter Eric Campbell, and then struck out Lagares to get out of the inning while boos rained down on him from the Citi Field crowd.
Josh Edgin came in to face the lefty Gerardo Parra leading off the top of the 8th and got him to ground out to short before being pulled for Jose Valverde. Valverde got Owings to fly out, but then ran into trouble as he gave up a double to Goldschmidt, walked Miguel Montero intentionally, walked Hill by accident, and then fell behind 3-1 on Chavez. However, Valverde got out of the jam, getting Chavez to fly out to Lagares to end the inning.
Perez came back out for the bottom of the 8th and gave up a leadoff single to Murphy before walking Wright. Granderson then hit a sharp liner to right, but right at Parra, who made the catch for the first out as Murphy tagged up and moved to third. Kirk Gibson brought in Evan Marshall to replace Ollie, and Terry brought in Bobby Abreu to hit for CY. Abreu walked, bringing Lucas Duda to the plate with the bases loaded and 1 out. I’m sure you can guess what happened next… Duda hit into a double-play to end the inning.
Jenrry Mejia came in to pitch the top of the 9th for the Mets and got himself into trouble by giving up a leadoff double to Pollock. Pollock moved to third on a sac bunt and Martin Prado struck out to bring Parra to the plate with 2 outs and the go-ahead run on 3rd. Mejia intentionally walked Parra to get to the right-handed Owings. Owings grounded one towards the hole on the left side, but David Wright made a nice play to spear it with his glove and whip a throw to Murphy at 2nd to end the inning… and Murphy flat-out dropped the ball. Pollock scored to give the Diamondbacks a 2-1 lead. Mejia got Goldschmidt to pop out to end the inning, and the Mets came up for their last licks in the bottom of the 9th.
The Mets had the bottom of the order up against closer Addison Reed, and Ruben Tejada got things started by striking out. Juan Centeno singled into left field to put the tying run on base, and Terry Collins interestingly chose not to bring in Eric Young to pinch-run for Centeno. Wilmer Flores came in to hit for the pitcher and hit the 2nd pitch of the at-bat into left for a base-hit, putting runners on 1st and 2nd. At this point, Collins brought in a pinch runner for Centeno, but it was Anthony Recker, not EY. Juan Lagares struck out, and Daniel Murphy came to the plate with a chance to redeem himself. Murphy hit a blooper into left that looked like it might fall, but Ender Inciarte made a nice running grab to deny Murphy and end the ballgame.
The Mets love making life miserable for us. This game was some of their finest work. They had runners on base and in scoring position in nearly every inning, and only managed 1 run. There were dropped foul balls, dropped throws, untimely double-plays, puzzling decisions, an Ollie Perez sighting, and, in the end, there was an agonizing loss.
Montero was good, but inefficient. Like Wheeler yesterday, Rafael ran up his pitch count by falling behind on hitters and by wasting pitches whenever he got ahead. He did a good job of fighting to get through 6 innings, but if these pitchers keep chasing strikeouts instead of just “outs”, they won’t be able to go deep in ballgames and reach the next level. Still, this was a pretty promising performance from the rookie.
Duda and CY are struggling right now, and it doesn’t help that, with Wright and Grandy hot, there seem to be 2 or 3 runners on base every time they come to the plate. CY missed a 3-run homer by about 8 feet down the left-field line, but in the end, being “close” doesn’t really help much.
Taking a look at the outfield today, I’m not sure why EY didn’t get to pinch run in the 9th. Ironic, isn’t it? Lagares looks like he would be a bit better off if he stood a bit closer to the plate. Chris Young would be a bit better off if he got his “outs made per at-bat” average back under 1.5. Grandy has been hitting the ball hard of late, and it seems like he’s really turned a corner. I don’t think it’s any coincidence that as Granderson has heated up, so has the guy who he is supposed to protect in the lineup: David Wright.
Speaking of The Captain, he is red-hot, and he’s looked good in the field as well. It’s a shame Murphy couldn’t reel that throw in…
The bullpen was pretty solid today. Edgin has looked like a different pitcher since he got called up, Valverde got through his inning even though he didn’t make it very relaxing, Familia got out of his mess, and Mejia would have escaped from his jam unscathed had it not been for Murphy’s error. Right now, the problem is the bats…
Let’s try to forget this game ever happened. We will speak nothing of this game.
Up Next: The Mets will try to salvage the final game of their series with Arizona. Daisuke Matsuzaka (1-0, 2.14 ERA) will face off against Zeke Spruill (0-0, 0.00 ERA in 3.1 innings pitched). Both pitchers are making their first starts of the season. The game starts in like 10 minutes, guys. Get back to your TV Sets.