Scout’s Take: West Coast Story

Time for an opinion piece for the “State of the Union in Queens.”

After beating up on a weak Washington Nationals team and then a Tiger group that looked like kittens, the Mets then headed West to face a real big boy team. On Monday they blew a lead for hard luck ace Jacob deGrom. After five good innings, 115 pitches and a three to two lead, he watched his bullpen give up six runs in the next inning. Then, they did a repeat on Wednesday in the land of honey with one of the worst losses in recent memory for them.

It started out very well as they pounded Dodgers starter, 24-year old Walker Buehler for five runs over five innings, then adding three more runs off of a beleaguered Dodger bullpen. The boys from the East hit four homers, two by Peter Alonso, who is making it look easy for a rookie. Amed Rosario and
Dominic Smith went back to back in the seventh to give the Mets an 8-3 lead. Add a decent outing by Noah Syndergaard, who threw 116 pitches over six innings, leaving with a five run lead and this looked like it was going to be a laugher. But wait a minute. I have to keep reminding myself that the juiced up baseball being used over the past few years makes laughers into fools.

It used to be that a 3 run lead was not safe, now it’s a five or seven run lead that can be caught up to faster than it takes someone to blow their horn when the light turns green. Robert Gsellman gave up a run in the bottom of the seventh to make it a four run lead. Then when Jeurys Familia came in to pitch the eighth, you could feel the rumbling of an earthquake beginning when he gave up a towering blast to Corey Seager that ended up over the wall and under the speakers in center field, now closing it to a three run lead.

Ok, we all know what happened next in the ninth inning. It wasn’t pretty. The Dodgers pounded Mets closer Edwin Díaz with two home runs followed by two doubles and a sacrifice fly to win the game. And just like that, a great effort by the entire team went into the “Los Angeles River.”

Why did manager Mickey Callaway pull Alonso who had three hits, two of which were home runs with four RBI’s and three runs scored for “defensive” reasons in the seventh? Probably because he was still thinking he was playing the Nationals and Tigers. The Dodgers are a fastball hitting team and they saw nothing but regular 96 mph fastballs after dealing with Syndergaard’s 98-100 mph heaters and 92 mph sliders. It was a disaster just waiting to happen.

Most of the night the Mets dugout was up and engaged on the rail. Lead by a happy joking Smith and Robinson Cano. There was plenty to laugh about starting with Dodger first baseman Matt Beaty’s failed attempt at a foul ball that landed him on top of a plate of “Dodger Dogs” and nachos, soiling his pants, however all of that changed quickly in the ninth. The Mets put on their own version of a comedy skit on “Seinfeld Night”, with their version of Abbott and Costello when they tried to figure out who was on first and what was on second while setting up a five man infield with the bases loaded and none out in a walk-off situation.

If the Mets expect to catch the Phillies and Braves and take the Eastern Division this year, they need to be able to close these games out. To me they are lacking a good veteran leader. Smith as engaging as he can be, is not that guy yet. They need a Carlos Beltrán type of veteran in that dugout to show them how to win.

Hopefully when they return home Tuesday, the earthquake of a disaster they suffered on the West Coast will make them angry and hungry to show New York that they can win. They’ve showed us that they have the talent to compete, they just need to believe it themselves.

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