Mancuso: T.J. Is On The Way But the Mets Are Not

Tuesday night at Citi Field, Zach Greinke made a successful return to the mound for the Arizona Diamondbacks after missing six weeks with a strained left oblique. For the New York Mets it was the same situation of not getting the hits and scoring runs.

But there is some hope for an offense that won’t wake up, maybe not a complete solution for manager Terry Collins, as T.J. Rivera may bring some of that Bronx attitude to a sinking ship. He is the 26-year old who has waited for the call and was the leading hitter in the very friendly confines of the Pacific Coast League.

Yes. T.J. Rivera who may not fit into the entire plan. But what the heck the Mets had to give it a try and there is no telling how much longer Yoenis Cespedes will be out of the lineup as he nurses the bad quad down in Port St. Lucie, instead of playing golf.

As always, with the Mets nothing comes easy. And Greinke did not make it easy for a lineup that continues to struggle, though Steven Matz may be turning it around on the mound. His pitch count was high, the pitches were where he wanted them, most of the time, and he struck out nine.

This was the third in his last four outings that can be considered respectable, even though it took him 28 pitches to get out of the first inning.

However, a career and season high `120 pitches left it to a bullpen, one that has not helped the Mets cause in the hunt for that second NL wild card. So now T.J. Rivera comes to this sinking ship in Flushing, and there will be pressure on the Bronx native who was an all-city player at Lehman High School.

“It’s definitely frustrating but I think each of us individually has still got to go about and our business and do our work,” Matz said. “We can’t worry, this game’s over.”

What the rookie may have been saying is, there is reason to worry. The Mets are a sinking ship and not resembling that second half team of last season. Though they still hit the homerun ball, another one from their hottest hitter Neil Walke, his 20th with a two-run shot in the sixth inning.

But that’s it. They only hit the long ball, don’t run or take the extra base, and when the bullpen fails, as it did again with Hansel Robles, they are not going to win ballgames. They have not won two straight since July 6-7 and are 10-14 since the all-star break.

You hear hear the boos when Michael Conforto and Travis d’Arnaud continue their failures at the plate. Newcomer Jay Bruce, even in his new surroundings is not the difference maker, and he does not have Cespedes behind him in the lineup as was the plan.

Yes, it is different from a year ago, and losing to the Diamondbacks, cellar dwellers in the NL West, does not make them look any better. These six games with sub .500 teams, Arizona and San Diego can get some wins but there is a major issue.

And that issue is the Mets can’t beat the worse teams. And even with respectable pitching that does not resemble last season, they have this issue of not hitting and scoring runs. That, by all means is a difference maker.

What more can the manager say. He is getting beyond the frustration point and if the old and reliable, Bartolo Colon does not pitch well Wednesday night the offense needs to score runs and that may be asking too much.

Collins said about d’Arnaud, “It’s hard because he’s a guy who is a big part of our lineup. We’ve got to get him going. He’s far better than a .230 hitter.” And he said about Conforto and d’Arnaud, “We’ve got to get him and Michael going.”

“Last year in the World Series,” said Collins, “those guys hit five and six, or sixth and seventh for us. They were a big part of our offense. If we’re going to get anything, they’ve got to be a part of it.”

But at this rate, and with the Mets trailing the Miami Marlins by 2-½ games for the second wild card spot, there is no conception, nor should there be any mention of the World Series.

“Any team I’ve been on, especially the last three years, this is the time of year you have to get on a roll,”Neil Walker said. That experience came with the Pittsburgh Pirates, and there can’t be a comparison with this Mets team of 2016 as comprised.

Walker is batting .491 over his last 13-games with two doubles, a triple,with four home runs and 11 RBI and entered the game with the best batting average in the majors since July 27th. So, he is definitely not the culprit, but d’Arnaud not making contact and allowing five D-back stolen bases behind the plate, is a culprit.

A culprit as to why this Mets team may not be like the one of last year, or the teams that Walker was with in Pittsburgh,

It is a sinking ship, and a team two games over .500 at 57-55. Some say it’s a mirage getting back to October, and the arrival of T.J. Rivera with a Bronx state of mind can help, but that remains to be seen.

What needs to be seen is a compiled winning streak. And that my friends, as of right now seems to be a mirage with these New York Mets.

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About the Author

Rich Mancuso

Rich Mancuso is a regular contributor at NY Sports Day, covering countless New York Mets, Yankees, and MLB teams along with some of the greatest boxing matches over the years. He is an award winning sports journalist and previously worked for The Associated Press, New York Daily News, Gannett, and BoxingInsider.com, in a career that spans almost 40 years.

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