The inability to score runs and getting runners in from scoring position once again led to more futility for the New York Mets at Citi Field Friday evening. In losing their third consecutive game and second in a row to the Colorado Rockies 6-1, the Mets continued to be a team that has scored the fewest runs in the majors since the all-star break.
Yes, this is a very familiar theme of last year and almost at the same juncture. Then. there were talented players in the clubhouse, but that inability to score runs that had them last in baseball.
Now, with days from the trading deadline, GM Sandy Alderson may have limited options as was not the situation at the trading deadline at the end of last July. Yoenis Cespedes became the difference, as was Kelly Johnson and Juan Uribe. And there was Michael Conforto who is in this mix again of trying to find himself at the plate.
Friday night another loss to the Rockies. The Mets are supposed to handle this team with a good offense but mediocre pitching. The manager, Terry Collins wants his team to move on and had a team meeting.
But these experienced hitters, as the manager says this team has, are not producing ,and with 60 games remaining and the first place Nationals not losing, the chances for repeating as NL east champions dwindles as does the wild card.
Collins has the same approach as last year, very similar to the time his team went into this same situation last year. Sounds familiar?
“First of all,” he said, “we have a good team. We’re going through a rough time right now. We haven’t hit hit with runners in scoring position. Everybody knows it. We’ve got to quit rubbing it in our faces every day. We’ve got to lighten it up a little bit.”
He said, there were many more games to play, that the Mets were not done and in the hunt. Yeah, but the way things are going, and if the Rockies win the next two and the Nationals, Marlins, and Cardinals keep winning, the task gets that more difficult going into the dog days of August.
And, there is no indication that a bat or two is on the way. Names such as Jay Bruce are rumors about possible reinforcement, though not the impact player that Cespedes brought to Citi Field at the trading deadline last year.
“We need to loosen up a little bit all the way around,” said Collins. “I’m a little tired of seeing long faces. We need to lighten it up, have some fun and get back to the way we can play the game.”
Collins is not at fault for a team that was obviously built around the home run ball. James Loney accounted for the lone Mets run, his sixth of the year in the second inning as the Mets continued their home run barrage at home, their 28th in their last 16 games at Citi Field.
And for the first time, and in a long time, this team had a message of bringing some light to a losing clubhouse. Music was blaring but not many players available to talk about the latest loss and futility to score runs.
“This is not the time of year to panic,” said Neil Walker. “The outside expectation is that we have to win every series. This is tough baseball.”
Walker, who wasn’t around last year made mention that the Pirates teams he played for went through similar futility the past three years in their chase for a wild card and it happened in the crucial months of July and August.
“So the thing you can’t do is panic,” he said.
And, yes the Mets have sustained crucial injuries that may be a contributing factor to this failure of scoring runs. Cespedes is hurting and playing with an injured quad, Jose Reyes may be put on the disabled list with a strain, Lucas Duda is still a month or more away from returning from a lower back stress fracture, David Wright is gone for the season, as is pitcher Matt Harvey.
And, Juan Lagares was placed on the DL with a bad thumb that requires surgery that will probably put the outfielder on the shelf for six weeks.
Collins may not have the answers. His team was hitless in eight at bats with runners in scoring position and at a major league low .202 trying to get runners home. A team that depends on pitching, as the Mets were also built to do, does need the reinforcements because the futility to score runs needs more than a clubhouse of good players to lighten up.
But this time, Alderson and his staff have their backs against the wall. The impact player won’t be available, that is, unless he wants to part with a starting pitcher or reach down to the minor league system and trade away more of the future that will be able to score runs in a year or so.
“We’re in each game,” said Collins about the latest loss and futility to score. “Let us get ready for tomorrow night and and get it going. We’ve still got good players, we’ve still got good pitching. We’ve just got to quit worrying about all the bad things and start thinking about some of the good things.”
And getting ready for tomorrow may be the good thing. Mike Piazza, the new Mets Hall of Famer will have his number 31 retired prior to the game Saturday night. Perhaps, Piazza will give these Mets that incentive.
If not, and if Alderson can’t find some reinforcements the futility could lead to an unexpected disappointment for these New York Mets and real soon.