The Home Run Derby came early for the Mets on Sunday, as the team allowed seven home runs which they had never previously done at The Polo Grounds, Shea Stadium or Citi Field.
The Dodgers were relentless and the offensive barrage wouldn’t stop as Los Angeles teed off against a Mets bullpen that has struggled so mightily all year.
Jason Vargas, the Mets lone offseason starter acquisition, was placed on the disabled list with a calf injury prior to Sunday’s game, so Jerry Blevins who had pitched in 533 major league games as a reliever, got his first start ever.
“[Chris] Flexen was an option to start and we decided with what we had and what we wanted to do today to get a win, it was best to take the approach we did today,” manager Mickey Callaway said.
The Dodgers greeted Blevins with back-to-back home runs to begin the game. Ultimately he settled down to retire the next six batters, and was replaced after two innings by Tim Peterson.
Peterson allowed a home run in his two innings of work, as did Chris Beck, who threw 2.1 innings.
He handed the ball over to Mets big offseason bullpen acquisition, Anthony Swarzak, who was lit up like a Christmas tree and tagged for three runs on six hits to inflate his ERA to 5.40 on the season.
“Going into the game, our goal was to get it to Swarzak and Jeurys Familia and we thought if we could get them a lead, we had a really good chance to win the game, and it just didn’t happen,” Callaway continued.
Familia pitched a scoreless ninth, but it wasn’t with a lead. The best he could do was keep the game tied at seven.
Drew Smith, the Mets newest reliever, gave them a scoreless 10th, but Chris Flexen who just flew in from Vegas when Vargas landed on the DL, came on in the 11th and served up a go-ahead home run to Mets killer Justin Turner.
“It was a frustrating day, that’s for sure,” Callaway concluded. “We just can’t sync up exactly what we’re trying to do every day. If we swing the bats, we give up seven homers. If we pitch and swing the bats good, our defense isn’t quite there. It’s kind of been the whole season, we’re not syncing up all the components we need to sync up to win some ballgames.”
With the 8-7 loss, the Mets dropped their sixth contest in a row, and slipped to 31-44 on the season. Their .413 winning percentage is second only to the Miami Marlins in the National League, a team that sold off all their pieces this winter and made no attempt to compete this year.
“Unfortunately, it’s been kind of the tale of the season far,” Mets catcher Kevin Plawecki said about the continuing Mets troubles. “We’ve been one swing — one pitch — away I feel like just about every game.”
The team will look to chip away at their losing record against a struggling Pirates team coming into Citi Field for the next three games. Hopefully, Callaway and the Mets will do their best to “sync up.”