Can we admit that the Rays are weird? They’re a weird team. They play in a hockey rink. No one comes to their games, with the possible exception of when the Mets are in town. (Or so it would seem.) Tonight’s GameThread at DRaysBay consisted essentially of a conversation between four people. Good for those guys for carrying the flag, but I think it only serves my point that their team and it’s trappings are just a little strange. Therefore, it was unsurprising that Saturday's contest in Tampa was a little topsy-turvy.
Simply put: tonight's game was billed as a duel between young studs from two of the finest rotations in baseball. It was most certainly not that, and sadly for the Mets, they ended up on the losing side.
Things started off well enough for the Amazins, as they jumped out to 3-0 lead thanks to Curtis Granderson’s leadoff homer and Lucas Duda’s two-run double off of Rays starter Nate Karns. It was all pretty exciting, even though Mets fans have—be still my heart—come to expect a decent offensive showing from their team.
However, the Mets struggles tonight came from the place you would least expect it: Noah Syndergaard. Thor, who had come off the biggest and best start of his young career last week, struggled mightily tonight. He allowed six hits in the first inning, including a two-run homer to 2008 All-Star and newfound Mets killer Grady Sizemore. Sean Gilmartin, stirrups blazing, was warming up in the bullpen before Syndergaard finally ended the first with Rays now on top 4-3.
Thankfully, Granderson came up in the second and homered again to knot the score at four, and it stayed that way for the next couple of innings. Thor labored through the second and third, but managed to escape both of them unscathed. Karns was just as bad, but the Mets failed to capitalize on the opportunities they had against him.
In the fourth, though, the Rays broke the tie against Syndergaard. With one out, John Jaso walked and stole second. Jaso then advanced to third on a wild pitch, and was driven in on an Evan Longoria single that made the score 5-4. Syndergaard got through the rest of the inning, but took a seat for the fifth. Though he struck out six, it was his most disappointing outing of the year, considering that the Rays have the lowest batting average in the American League.
Sean Gilmartin and Carlos Torres combined to throw four innings of scoreless relief after that, but it seemed as if the Mets offense could do nothing but strike out against the Rays bullpen. (Karns left after five innings.) After a Yoenis Cespedes single in the fifth, they failed to record a hit, and the Amazins struck out three times in the sixth, once in the seventh, thrice again in the eighth, and once more in the ninth for the sake of consistency. There was almost a strange case of déjà vu when Curtis Granderson hit a ground ball back to closer Brad Boxberger, but this time, Boxberger—barely—made the throw to get Grandy and got Daniel Murphy to pop out to Evan Longoria to end it.
SB Nation GameThreads
* Amazin' Avenue GameThread
* DRaysBay GameThread
Win Probability Added
Big winners: Curtis Granderson, +10.0% WPA; Sean Gilmartin, +8.0% WPA
Big losers: Noah Syndergaard, -39.0% WPA; Travis d'Arnaud, -18.0% WPA
Teh aw3s0mest play: Curtis Granderson homer, top of the first
Teh sux0rest play: Evan Longoria single, bottom of the fourth
Total pitcher WPA: -25.0% WPA
Total batter WPA: -25.0% WPA
GWRBI!: Evan Longoria