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Earl Weaver once said that momentum is only as good as the next day s starter. The New York Mets version of that old adage might be that momentum is only as good as your next reliever.
After Jacob deGrom provided a rare bit of starting pitching stability with six solid innings for the Mets on Sunday, the New York bullpen gradually coughed up what had been a 7 1 lead. Milwaukee s Manny Pina finished off the Brewers rally with a three run homer off Addison Reed in the eighth, and Corey Knebel nailed down a 11 9 Milwaukee win with a perfect ninth.
We had some fresh arms in the bullpen, and you figure that those guys had three days rest, they could come in and get us some outs, said Mets manager Terry Collins, who said he s as frustrated as he has been all season. Bases on balls killed us.
It has been a long, eight day week for the Mets, as the Beatles might put it. It has been a drama fit for Broadway. It started with Matt Harvey s no show and subsequent suspension. Then Jeurys Familia underwent surgery to repair a blood clot in his pitching arm. Then, to cap it, New York was bludgeoned by the red hot Brewers offense for 29 runs during a three game sweep at Miller Park.
Let me tell you something, Collins said. You get up in the morning around here and you just don t know what you re going to face.
There are almost too many narrative threads to weave into a coherent tale, but let s start where everything is supposed to start for the Mets starting pitching. If ever a team needed a quality start from a pitcher, the Mets needed one from deGrom on Sunday. They didn t get that in the statistical sense, but they did get some much needed competence. DeGrom gave up four runs, too many to qualify for a quality start http://www.metsfanaticsjersey.com/david-wright-jersey-c-20.html, but given what the Mets have been getting from their rotation of late, it should have been enough.
That s mostly because of the help deGrom got from the Mets offense, led by Michael Conforto s huge game. Conforto, batting in the three hole in place of a resting Jay Bruce, had three extra base hits, including his ninth homer. He also drew a walk and matched a career high by scoring four runs. The last Met to score that many runs in a game was Yoenis Cespedes on Aug. 21, 2015, per baseball reference.com.
Conforto just missed the 11th cycle in Mets history, falling a single shy when he popped out to end the eighth. Conforto now sports a 1.116 OPS on the season. The Mets have needed every bit of that production and did on Sunday, too. It just wasn t enough.
The bad numbers have been piling up for the injury ravaged Mets rotation. New York entered the game with baseball s worst starter ERA 5.13 . In May, that number was a startlingly bad 7.55. Noah Syndergaard, Steven Matz and Seth Lugo are all on the disabled list. Matt Harvey, Zack Wheeler and Robert Gsellman are scrambling to recover past effectiveness.
That left it up to deGrom to do what aces are supposed to do slam the door on a burgeoning slump. While deGrom was in the game, his outing was mostly stress free not a term much associated lately with the Mets. Before that, deGrom pounded the zone with often electric stuff, reaching as high as 98 mph on a third inning whiff of Eric Thames. He threw strikes on 71 percent of his pitches, the second best mark by a New York starter this season behind Syndergaard s 73.6 percent on April 20. DeGrom s one mistake was a hanging sixth inning slider that he left up in the zone, resulting in a two run homer for Keon Broxton.
It s frustrating, deGrom said. We got a big lead on them and blew it. You never want that to happen.
Well, actually, deGrom s other mistake was leaving the game to the Mets overwrought bullpen, which now lacks Familia at the back of it. DeGrom departed after giving up a lead off single to Domingo Santana in the seventh. Jerry Blevins and Fernando Salas then failed to retire any of the first four batters they faced as Milwaukee closed the gap to two runs and had the tying runs in scoring position before Salas recovered to get Pina, Jett Bandy and Broxton.
It didn t get any better in the eighth. Salas walked a batter. Josh Edgin hit Thames, the only batter he faced. That left it to Reed to get a five out save in his first chance since Familia went on the disabled list. He entered with the bases loaded, and immediately gave up a two run single to Hernan Perez to trim the lead to one.
This is the big leagues, Collins said. [The relievers] are down there. That s their jobs, to come in and get outs. When you call upon them, they ve got to come in and do the job. Or eventually you ve got to try to find somebody else. Today was a day when we didn t get an out when we needed an out.
After Reed struck out Jesus Aguilar http://www.metsfanaticsjersey.com/michael-conforto-jersey-c-22.html, Pina put the Brewers over the top with a blast to left. According to ESPN Stats Information http://www.metsfanaticsjersey.com/yoenis-cespedes-jersey-c-21.html, the Brewers had lost 197 straight games in which they trailed by five or more runs in the seventh inning or later.
It s frustrating Rene Rivera Jersey, but that s baseball, Reed said. Stuff is going to happen. I ve gone through a lot worse times than this. This is nothing. Unfortunately, we couldn t get this last game before we go to Arizona. There s nothing we can do. There s still a long way [to go].
DeGrom didn t offer dominance Sunday, but he did offer competence, and that s a beginning. Meanwhile, the composite starter ERA for the rest of the pitchers on the Mets active roster stands at 5.84. Momentum? That will be up to Wheeler, who takes the hill for New York on Monday in Arizona.
A new city and a new week. Mercifully.
We have a clubhouse full of veterans, Collins said. They have all been through a game like this. They have all been through a series like this before. You ve got to rise out of the ashes and get back on the horse.
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