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Mets outmatched, lose to Giants in series opener

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This West Coast road trip did not get off to the best of starts.

MLB: New York Mets at San Francisco Giants John Hefti-USA TODAY Sports

The major league season is long and filled with difficult moments which forces one to ask themselves a lot of questions about the choices they’ve made in life. Questions like “Why did I ever start rooting for this team? Why am I staying up late to watch them play against the best team in the National League on the West Coast? Why did I volunteer to write the recap for this game when I have just one more week until summer vacation ends and I have to go back to work and I should really be doing more enjoyable things with my time while I still can?”

What, is that last one just me? Err, well, anyway, you know what the deal is: the Mets stunk up the joint once again, lost to the Giants 7-5, and have now lost four straight and fallen further behind in the NL East standings. Read on for an overview of the fun, I guess.

Rich Hill started for the Mets. Coming into the game, he’d had a 5.00 ERA in four appearances with the team, so he has not exactly been what one could reasonably describe as “good.” But hey, let’s give credit where it’s due: for three innings tonight, he looked pretty good! Save for a Brandon Crawford single in the second, he retired all of the predominantly righty hitters in the lineup with impressive efficiency. Of course, with Hill you always know that he’s not going to be able to get too deep into the game before things start to blow-up for him, but at least at the beginning of this game things were looking solid for him.

The same, alas, could not be said for the Mets offense. Those pesky hitting with runners in scoring position issues that have dogged the team all season were particularly prevalent in their weekend series against the Dodgers, and those problems continued early on in this game. They got a total of six runners on-base in the first four innings and got runners on second in three of those innings. In each case, however, the team failed to score. Despite facing a Cy Young contender, Kevin Gausman looked hittable on this evening, and the Mets were making him work a decent amount. But in the early going, they were unable to take advantage, as has been par for course.

As for Hill—well, that aforementioned inevitable blow-up came about abruptly and earlier than one would have hoped for. After retiring the first batter in the bottom of the fourth inning, the subsequent sequence of events was as follows: double by Buster Posey. Single by Darin Ruf which makes it 1-0 (after which Ruf somehow got thrown out at first due to stepping on Pete Alonso’s foot instead of the bag). Single by Evan Longoria. Single by Brandon Crawford. And single by Wilmer Flores to score Longoria and make it 2-0. In case you weren’t keeping count at home, that is five (5) consecutive hits given up. That would end the night for Hill, as the veteran pitcher who was acquired to provide stability to the Mets rotation (and who, let us remember, was the only major league starting pitcher acquired by the team before the deadline) once again failed to provide much stability.

Miguel Castro came on to replace him and got the final out of the inning. The Mets’ bats came back up and finally did some damage against Gausman. Brandon Nimmo got things started by beating out a ball hit into the shift for a single, and then Michael Conforto followed with a walk. Alonso then came up and did two things that no Met hitter had done in quite a while: 1) get a hit with runners in scoring position, and 2) hit a triple. Indeed, Alonso smoked a ball that went in-between the two outfielder in the right-center gap and lumbered all the way to third as both Nimmo and Conforto scored to make it a tie ball game. The demonstration of speed soon paid off even further, as Dominic Smith followed with a sac fly to give them a brief but glorious lead in the game. The next two hitters lined out sharply to end the inning, and Gausman’s night was over after that. All told, the most encouraging thing one can take away from this game is that the bats did put up a relatively impressive showing against a dominant pitcher.

This brief and glorious lead was not long for this world, unfortunately. After recording the first out of the inning, Castor gave up a double off the wall in right to pinch-hitter Alex Dickerson, and former future Met Kris Bryant quickly followed with a two-run homer to give the Giants the lead once more. Castro struck the next two batters out, but the damage was done, and it made for a disappointing outing for a reliever who has done remarkably well in recent times.

The Mets’ RISP problems returned with a vengeance in the sixth inning, as they were unable to score against new pitcher Jay Jackson despite getting two singles (one on a perfect bunt by James McCann) to lead off the frame. Jeurys Familia and Aaron Loup combined for a scoreless bottom of the inning (despite two singles against the former), but the Mets went down 1-2-3 against Tony Watson in the seventh to keep the score at 4-3. Alas, it would not remain that way for long—Trevor May came on to pitch for the Mets in the bottom of the frame, and it was very quickly clear that he did not have it going for him on this evening. Pinch-hitter Brandon Belt led off with a solo homer, and then Kris Bryant (who, again, the Mets perhaps should have considered acquiring!) hit his second bomb of the night, and just like that the Giants had added on two runs. May then retired the next two batters, but he unfortunately was not done giving up runs just yet, as he subsequently gave up a walk to Longoria and then an RBI triple to right field off the bat of Crawford (his fourth hit in as many at-bats). That left the score at 7-3, a deficit that sure seemed insurmountable.

The Mets at least made some small effort to strike back in the eighth. J.D. Davis led off against new pitcher Tyler Rogers with his third hit of the game, and then Jonathan Villar socked a two-run homer to right field to make it a two-run ballgame. McCann subsequently struck out, but then pinch hitter extraordinaire Brandon Drury hit a single to give Nimmo and Conforto a chance to tie the game with one swing of the bat—or failing that, to extend the rally. They both failed on both accounts, unfortunately, with Nimmo striking out and Conforto grounding out to shortstop.

The rest of the game, save for a fan running onto the field for a brief delay, was wholly uneventful. Seth Lugo came on for the bottom of the eighth and retired the side in order. Jake McGee came on for the top of the ninth and did the same to put the game away. After losing three games to the Dodgers, they’ve now lost the first game of the series to the Giants. If one didn’t know any better, one would get the impression that those two teams are legitimately talented playoff contenders and the Mets are not, but hey, I’m just some schmuck who’s up at two o’clock in the morning writing about a crappy baseball game I just watched.

*illar of the game

Villar got two hits, including his 14th homer of the season. Kevin Pillar didn’t play. You do the math.

Box scores

ESPN
MLB

Win Probability Added

Fangraphs.com

What’s WPA?

Big Mets winner: Pete Alonso, 19.1% WPA
Big Mets loser: Miguel Castro, -23.1% WPA
Mets pitchers: -43.2% WPA
Mets hitters: -6.8% WPA
Teh aw3s0mest play: Pete Alonso two-run triple in the fifth, +26.6% WPA
Teh sux0rest play: Kris Bryant two-run homer in the fifth, -25.9% WPA

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