New month, a new player, same old problems. Having a Triple-A team in Las Vegas, or approximately 2,250 miles from your big league club is just one of the things that burned the Mets in the Subway Series opener Monday night.
In what feels like a terminal condition, the Mets were playing with a 23 man roster as both Asdrubal Cabrera and Yoenis Cespedes active but unavailable. And it burned them, again.
After a DL-bound Cabrera limped out of Sunday’s game against the Rockies at approximately 2:10 pm, 29 hours before Monday’s series opener, the Mets recalled Matt Reynolds, who took a red eye to New York and arrived early Monday morning.
Next, Antonio Bastardo was traded close to the 4:00 pm deadline, the Mets had no one to replace him on the active roster and entered the game with only six available players in the bullpen, and their fifth starter on the hill. How bad did they want to unload Bastardo, huh?
In game, an early Ruggiano hamstring strain, a quick Logan Verrett exit after five innings, and a Steven Matz pinch-hit appearance where he walked and took third on a single, the Mets numbers were dwindling. Reynolds performed valiantly, giving the Mets a 5-3 lead with a powerful three run homer in the bottom of the sixth, but it was not enough. The Mets had a chance to extend the lead but the scoring position woes highlighted in depth Monday continued, as Neil Walker left the bases loaded in the bottom of the sixth.
The Mets entered the 8th inning ahead by two runs after a shutdown inning by Hansel Robles and were poised to hand the ball to the best set-up man in franchise history, statistically speaking, Addison Reed. Prior to Monday, Reed had been riding a career-high 16.1 scoreless inning streak during which he yielded only six hits while striking out 25 since June 25th. He has the third best ERA of any relief pitcher in baseball since being acquired by the New York Mets in August of 2015. Addison Reed, the man who, prior to Monday, held lefty hitters to a .186 average this season.
Instead, while playing with six men in the bullpen, Terry Collins chose to play matchup baseball in the 8th inning with his short bullpen and bring in their accomplished lefty specialist Jerry Blevins. Though solid, Blevins has not done as well against lefties as Reed this year, holding them to a .214 average. After a leadoff walk, then a strikeout, on came Addison Reed. The only knock on Reed during his tenure in orange and blue was his propensity to allow inherited runners to score last year. He has been strong in that category in 2016, but the bugaboo would rear its ugly head as he relinquished the lead and allowed the Yanks to tie it.
After pitching a shaky Jeurys Familia in the 9th in a tie game, the Mets entered bonus baseball with one relief pitcher available and no bench players left. After last man standing Seth Lugo allowed a go ahead run in the top of the 10th during an inning that necessitates its own post, the Mets were facing an uphill battle.
Notoriously slow James Loney led off the inning with a double but could not be lifted for a pinch runner given the bench status. There the Mets were, with a runner in scoring position and no outs. The struggles continued. Matt Reynolds was asked to bunt the tying run to third and did so successfully, despite the fact that Yankees closer Dellin Betances could have easily put him out at third if it weren’t for his yips. After Alejandro De Aza was hit by a pitch, the winning run was aboard. Rene Rivera grounded out with De Aza running and the Mets were down to their final out with the winning run in scoring position.
As discussed earlier, the Mets are the second worst baseball team in history with runners in scoring position and two outs (.172 AVG). The numbers would not improve last night, as Curtis Granderson struck out to end the game with the tying run ninety feet away.
Situational hitting would prove to be the difference once again on a day where the Yankees traded their best hitter, former Met Carlos Beltran. leaving them with a lineup full of vagabonds. The Mets went 1-for-7 with RISP and the Yankees went 3-11. The acquisition of Jay Bruce will hopefully alleviate the issue, by lengthening the lineup and bringing his .360 average in these situations to Flushing where it is hopefully not too late.