(Neil Miller/Sportsday Wire)
Here we are at the end of June and the frustrations are beginning to mount for New York Mets manager Terry Collins. Can you blame him for using a profanity after a 1-0 loss to the Chicago Cubs Tuesday night at Citi Field?
Once again, as it was so much in the month, his team failed to get the hits and produce runs. And it did not matter that Daniel Murphy was back in the lineup for the first time since June 5 after sitting out with a strain to his left quad.
So Collins is beginning to vent. And whether it was a slip or not, he responded to a post game question about losing to the Cubs, their seventh straight to Chicago since August 11, 2014, including four straight at Wrigley Field in mid May.
“I don’t give a s—if it’s the Cubs, if it’s New York City College, I don’t care.” Collins said. “We gotta win tomorrow’s game, that’s all I care about to get us going.”
Truth is, right now City College or any team can beat the Mets. You can get all this great pitching, but we all know that can only go so far if there is no offense. Through all of these struggles to get runs, Collins still has a team contending in the NL East and that is partly due to the early struggles of the Washington Nationals and a mediocre division.
However no matter how Collins says it, and the frustration is definitely evident, losing to the Cubs could be significant if the Mets are contending for a postseason slot in September, and that could be the NL wild card as Chicago now leads the Mets by two games in that race as July begins.
But there is more to be done if Collins and his team want to be a part of that postseason plan, and of course it begins with production at the plate. Starter Jonathon Niese, subject of trade rumors before the July 31 trading deadline, may have been auditioning for the Cubs who are potential trade partners with the Mets.
And the positive note again, on another dismal night at Citi Field, was the quality start from another Mets starter. Niese, 0-3 in his last three starts is now a hard luck pitcher with a 3-8 record and 3.90 ERA. He allowed four or fewer hits in a start for the first time since last May, but has not had a win in a career high nine straight outings and losing a career high tying six straight decisions.
To that, Niese said, “It’s tough to swallow, but you’ve gotta be professional about it and not worry about it and move on to the next game.” The attitude of Collins is also to move on to the next game. He says the guys are taking their swings before and after the game, and working hard.
“But they have to apply it,” Collins said about the hard work not leading to hits and runs. “I don’t know when’s the last time we got three hits in an inning. That’s certainly a concern. You look up again, nine strikeouts and we gotta do a better job of putting the ball in play and seeing if we can make things happen.”
Oh, Murphy did get one of the Mets’ hits, a double in the fifth inning and as has been the situation he could not score. Murphy, though was stranded at second base and Chicago starter Kyle Hendricks struck out six and allowed three hits in six innings.
“It’s a frustrating loss.” Murphy said. Three Cubs relievers followed and the seventh, eighth. and ninth innings, the same old pattern as the Mets went down in order.
Murphy was witness to what he missed most of the month, the lack of offense and good pitching. Yes, Collins is frustrated and that anguish is also showing in the Mets’ postgame clubhouse proceedings as the media tries to find answers.
But the problem is the Mets can’t seem to find solutions to this offensive implosion, and there is no immediate indication that help is coming to Queens anytime soon. Added to their issues is a continued no show of offense from the bat of Michael Cuddyer who left the game with a sore knee and is scheduled for an MRI.
Is time running out now that July is here? With half a season to play of course there is time to find a solution and that can begin as soon as Wednesday night.
As the manager said, “Good pitching, no hitting.” And he was saying that with authority.
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