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Mets Spring Training Recap: Mets beat Braves 3-1, lose to Marlins 8-7

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On the first split-squad day of the schedule, the Mets' pitching staff went all Jekyll-and-Hyde, looking great in a win over Atlanta, but featuring some blown auditions in a loss to the Marlins.

Brad Barr-USA TODAY Sports

Mets 3, Braves 1

Michael Conforto drove in all three runs and the pitchers turned in a strong performance, headlined by Jacob deGrom.

deGrom did not disappoint those who support him in academic discussions about nominal ‘hair ace’ of the staff, although consensus has him penciled in at #2 behind Jenrry Mejia. His voluminous and bushy wig definitely didn’t lose any ‘stuff’ over the offseason, and he’s even added a bottom-half beard to his arsenal.

He also picked up where he left off last year on the hill. The reigning Rookie of the Year mixed his pitches to excellent effect (Kelly Johnson was an unhappy statue on a nasty two-strike slider down and in) and topped out at 95 on the gun. He didn’t allow a ball out of the infield and only needed 19 pitches to get through his scheduled two innings. So the young stud known only to Sandy Alderson as  ‘Jason’ went back out for a third.

At this point, for the second straight game, the Mets were let down by their stockpile of pretend first basemen pretending to play first base. The first hit the Braves managed off deGrom was a hard grounder under John Mayberry’s glove with one out. After a hit-and-run single, we got a gorgeous glimpse of what could be the middle infield tandem of the future – Eric Young Jr. hit a not-especially-hard ball right to Dilson Herrera, who fed a slick backhanded flick to Wilmer Flores, who showed great footwork and launched a rocket to first base. The throw beat Young (no small task) but Mayberry showed poor technique on his stretch, leading to an embarrassing drop and the Braves’ only run of the game. The official scorer was evidently applying suntan lotion at the time, and charged an error to no one.

David Wright showed great leadership by modeling how to correctly end an inning, with a patented charge and barehanded pickup of a bunt attempt along with the requisite perfect throw to first. deGrom’s final line was 3 IP, 2 H, 1 ER, and 1 K.

Other performances of note:

  • OF Michael Conforto looked like a pro hitter, with a compact left-handed stroke that sprayed line drives to all fields, on his way to a 3-for-4 with the 3 RBI. His signature at-bat was against lefty Manny Banuelos, when he battled back from an 0-2 count to run it full at 3-2, then laced a double into the left-center gap to plate the deciding runs.
  • SS Wilmer Flores again showed great presence and discipline at the plate, seeing a total of 13 pitches in his three at-bats before putting the ball in play each time. He crushed a ground-rule double that would have likely been a homer if the wind wasn’t blowing in, reached on an error, and scored twice.
  • LHP Sean Gilmartin’s inning of work backs up the Mets’ decision to pick him up in the Rule 5 draft. The bullpen hopeful spotted four pitches well and had great run, with a fastball that reached 91, a high-70s slider with 10-to-4 movement, a high-70s changeup that ran away from righties, and a 71 MPH curve. His only mistake was a high fastball that Kelly Johnson belted for a triple.
  • OF Cesar Puello went 2-for-4 and showed a good approach at the plate. His two singles included an infield bleeder and a nice line drive the opposite way on a high-inside heater.
  • C Kevin Plawecki struggled with zone discipline, chasing a bunch of balls and looking bad on a few check swings. He also smacked a ball that would have been a homer on any non-wind-blown day, and finished 0-for-3 with a K.
  • RHP Matt Bowman mixed speeds and locations well (hard stuff was 85-89, off-speed was 73-77), pitching to contact and allowing three baserunners in two innings, none of whom scored.
  • RHP Zach Thornton sported a nearly sidearm delivery with a lot of run and sinking action in an efficient nine-pitch inning (7 strikes) where he allowed an infield single and struck out one.

Marlins 8, Mets 7

The Mets made a valiant comeback attempt, scoring four in the eighth inning, but were ultimately undone by a seventh-inning bullpen implosion that saw Jack Leathersich and Jon Velasquez combine to give up six runs, the lead, and the game.

  • LHP prize prospect Steven Matz started and hit the first batter he faced, but then settled down, allowing no other baserunners and striking out two in two innings.
  • The second man up, RHP Rafael Montero, immediately walked himself into trouble, surrendering two free passes that led to RBI hits by Giancarlo Stanton and Martin Prado. He got himself into trouble again in the fourth, managing only one out and giving up two singles before he had to be bailed out by everyone’s favorite pitcher that evidently no one wants, Dillon Gee.
  • Gee went for 2.2 innings, allowing only a single hit.
  • 1B Brandon Allen cracked a three-run homer to give the Mets a 3-2 lead in the sixth (inexpert spoiler attempt: it wouldn’t last). He also drew a walk and scored another run in five plate appearances.
  • Matt Reynolds got on base twice in four trips to the plate, singling and working a walk, while splitting time between shortstop and second base.
  • INF Daniel Muno went 2-for-3 with two runs scored, and is now 4-for-7 in early action.
  • Utilityman Eric Campbell played both third base and left field, and went 2-for-4 with an RBI and run scored.
  • The bottom of the seventh inning was an inescapable quagmire of shame and pain. There were three walks, two wild pitches, two stolen bases allowed (one featuring a wild throw by C Xorge Carrillo that brought home a run), and a single to the pitcher. When the dust settled, Leathersich’s ERA for the spring stood at the over-under for Lucas Duda ding-dongs for the year: 33.75. The LOOGY hopeful was charged with five earned runs while managing just one out. Velasquez’s line reads better at 0.2 IP, 2 H, 1 ER, 1 K, but he allowed two inherited runners to score and was the author of those wild pitches.
  • Carrillo did make up for his part in the meltdown with a clutch two-out, two-run single during the eighth inning rally that ultimately fell short when OF Jared King (0-for-3, 2 K) popped out, stranding two runners.

Nice job by MetsFan4Decades; her effort in the GameThread embiggens us all.

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