Metrospective 7/4/2024: Bombs A' Bursting, Leads A' Blowing (2024)

Metrospective 7/4/2024: Bombs A' Bursting, Leads A' Blowing (1)

In today’s newsletter: Some good and bad from Christian Scott in his return, a Carlos Mendoza decision goes wrong, and positive news from Kodai Senga’s rehab.

You Can’t Win Every Move

For all of the good he has done during this topsy-turvy Mets season, Carlos Mendoza had a rough game on Wednesday as the Mets lost 7-5 to the Nationals, blowing a 5-0 lead in rather ugly — yet familiar — fashion.

New York used a trio of home runs to jump on Washington rookie southpaw Mitchell Parker and Christian Scott, making his first start in the Majors in over a month, was sharp through his first five innings before it all fell apart in the 6th. Mendoza left him in a batters too long and was burned as Scott gave up a key three-run home run to Luis García Jr. Jake Diekman blew the lead in the 7th, Ty Adco*ck made it worse in the 8th and the Mets were blanked by the Nationals’ bullpen.

Flipping the script from the past few games, the Mets struck first as Tyrone Taylor gave them a 1-0 lead with a moonshot of a solo home run in the 3rd that hugged the left-field foul pole and, on review, was deemed fair. Taylor hasn’t hit for much of an average lately but has three longballs in his seven games after hitting just two in his first 59 games.

J.D. Martinez and Mark Vientos added two more runs in the 4th as Martinez — back in the lineup with new cleats after missing Tuesday’s game due to a sore ankle — doubled to left and Vientos drove him in with yet another massive home run to dead-center, this clocking in at 106 mph and 435 feet. Vientos keeps on raking, particularly when he goes to the middle and opposite fields and gets pitches up in the zone. Parker tried to sneak a 1-2 high fastball by him and got burned.

The home run parade continued in the 5th. Ben Gamel doubled for his first hit as a Met and the next batter, Francisco Lindor, punished a hanging curveball with his 15th homer of the season to make it a five-run game. It had all the trappings of an easy win especially because of how much the Mets beat up on the Nationals’ bullpen in the first two games of the series.

Alas, it wasn’t meant to be. Scott faltered a bit in the bottom of the 5th, walking García Jr. and giving up a single to Joey Meneses before Ildemaro Vargas perfectly placed a groundball single between first and second to score García Jr. The rookie righthander escaped more trouble thanks to a fortunate 5-5-3 double play started by Vientos. I thought that would be Scott’s last inning because he hadn’t pitched in eight days and was back in the Majors for the first time in awhile.

However, Mendoza brought him back out for the 6th and let him stay in even after Scott gave up back-to-back singles to James Wood and Jesse Winker. He also let him face García Jr. with two outs and runners on first and second even though Adam Ottavino was warmed up in the ‘pen. After missing away with a splitter on the first pitch, Scott grooved a sweeper right down the middle and García Jr. didn’t miss it, hammering a no-doubter to right that cut the deficit to 5-4. He and Scott both knew it was gone right away as Mendoza’s faith in his youngster turned out to be a little optimistic.

Ottavino finished the 6th and got the first two outs in the 7th before Mendoza made another tactical mistake in bringing Diekman to face the lefthanded CJ Abrams. Ottavino looked good and Diekman, who has really struggled over his past couple of outings, made his manager regret the move immediately.

The big issue for Diekman on Wednesday was putting hitters away. He got ahead 0-2 on Abrams only to walk him and then gave up the game-tying double to Lane Thomas after going up 1-2. The same thing happened against Wood, who ripped a single up the middle to push Washington ahead 6-5.

The Mets threatened in the 8th when Brandon Nimmo walked and stole second with two outs but Martinez struck out looking to strand New York’s only baserunner in the final 4 1/3 innings. Washington added an insurance run on García Jr.’s second dinger of the game, this off Adco*ck, and Kyle Finnegan tossed a 1-2-3 9th to close it out.

What To Note

  • The Mets bullpen is truly hanging by a thread and it wasn’t helped by Mendoza’s too-aggressive and then too-conservative moves late in this game. Pushing Scott for a 6th inning, and even leaving him in after allowing two baserunners, was just not smart because it was clear he was running out of gas in the prior frame. There’s showing faith in your impressive rookie and then there’s trying to force something that isn’t there; Mendoza did the latter.

  • Essentially, Mendoza could only choose betwen Diekman, Adco*ck, Houser, Ottavino and Reed Garrett last night. So, using Diekman is defensible but doing so when Ottavino was throwing strikes and getting outs for a change. Mendoza has thrived this season when going away from the “book” so to speak and instead using his intuition and eyes to tell him how to best approach a situation. He went away from that and paid the price.

  • Total opposite type of performance from the offense which was quiet against Washington’s starters on Monday and Tuesday before destroying the bullpen. On Wednesday, the Mets strafed Parker and then went quiet against the Nationals’ relievers. It’s nice to hit three home runs but with how bad their own bullpen has been, New York needed to put something together later in the game too.

  • Even though he wound up being charged for four runs in 5 2/3 innings, Scott was impressive in his return to the Majors. He mostly threw strikes and kept the hard contact to a minimum until the home run. Only two strikeouts, though, as he wasn’t missing many bats. He doesn’t need Ks to be successful so long as he is around the zone and keeping the ball down.

  • Trayce Thompson, who hit 16 home runs for Syracuse this season, has been released from his minor league deal with the Mets. It’s not an unexpected move as New York has a crowded outfild group at Triple-A and it was clear that Thompson wasn’t going to get a chance in the Majors. Now, he’ll hit the market in the hopes that another team wants to add a righty power bat as outfield depth.

  • Some good news from Wednesday: Kodai Senga’s first rehab start with Brooklyn was a big success. He tossed 2 2/3 innings and struck out six, with the only baserunner he allowed coming on a fielding error by his second baseman. He only threw 35 pitches so he still has a ways to go but it’s a very promising first step.

Looking Ahead

It’s breakfast baseball for the Mets and Nationals in Thursday’s July 4th series finale with first pitch at 11:05 a.m. in D.C. It’ll be cool for the Mets to be part of the Nationals’ annual early game in the nation’s capital on the nation’s birthday. Plus, a win would give New York a series victoy and get the Mets over .500 as they head to Pittsburgh.

José Quintana goes against Jake Irvin, who has given up two runs or fewer in seven of his last eight starts. Quintana is coming off a weird outing versus the Astros as he gave up just two runs but didn’t make it out of the 5th inning due to a high pitch count and non-existent control. He has been striking out more batters lately — 21 in his past three starts — which is a positive sign.

Both Harrison Bader (who sat on Wednesday) and Martinez are out of today’s lineup. The early start makes it tough to rush back guys who aren’t at 100 percent and, in Martinez’s case, playing it safe when he suited up a few hours ago is smart.

Lindor leads things off followed by Nimmo and Álvarez, back behind the plate and batting in the No. 3 spot. Pete Alonso is batting fourth, DJ Stewart is the DH, Vientos is at third, Gamel gets another start in right, Taylor stays in center and Jeff McNeil is back at second.

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Metrospective 7/4/2024: Bombs A' Bursting, Leads A' Blowing (2024)

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