On a day that the Mets parted ways with a moody Matt Harvey, another surgically repaired pitcher couldn’t find his rhythm on the mound.
Zack Wheeler struggled right out of the gate, gifting the Rockies five runs in the first on four base hits by Charlie Blackmon, Gerardo Parra, Nolan Arenado, and Daniel Castro. This was followed up by a sac fly from Carlos Gonzalez and a pair of doubles off the bats of Trevor Story and Ian Desmond.
“I think obviously there’s a trend there in the first inning,” Mets manager Mickey Callaway said. “I think we have to be proactive in getting ready to go out and compete from pitch one. I think you see a lower velocity, not as crisp of stuff. So he’s got to go out there close every inning. We don’t care how deep in the game he pitches. We want the most effective innings as possible. If it’s two innings, it’s two innings. If it’s seven, it’s seven.”
After Thursday’s demoralizing 11-0 loss to Atlanta that capped a three game sweep, Cleveland transplant Callaway’s early season dream looking team has turned into a New York nightmare.
With their fourth consecutive loss, the Mets are flailing in desperate need of a lifeline from two more solid starting pitchers, an effective catcher and contributions at the plate from their future franchise outfielder, Michael Conforto.
Consistent timely hitting has morphed into men left on base or hardly out of the batter’s box. Starting pitching ends early and on the rare occasions it doesn’t, the Mets are either out of the running, or the bullpen lets it slip away.
Friday night, they made a valiant effort at a comeback down 8-2 in the eighth. Todd Frazier’s two-run blast with Yoenis Cespedes on board ignited the crowd keeping the fans from an early Citi Field exit.
Wilmer Flores came off the bench in the bottom of the ninth belting a booming double to deep center and Ahmed Rosario’s single closed the gap 8-5. Wade Davis, the ex-Royals closer who tortured the Mets in the 2015 Fall Classic, did it again, but this time, he teased them before getting the final out.
Asdrubal Cabrera, the Met who continues to be money, launched an RBI triple off of Davis’ 94 MPH four-seam fastball. Jay Bruce walked and was quickly replaced by the speedier Jose Reyes. Frazier lined a clutch base hit to left center, scoring Cabrera, sending Reyes to third. The Rockies forgot about Frazier who then stole second.
Conforto, mired in a 0-for-12 slump, with three strikeouts on the night, missed a 2-2 89 MPH cutter, and with it, an opportunity to be mauled on the field by driving in the winning runs.
“It’s just a grind that it’s the beginning of the season,” Conforto said. “That being said, I don’t think I have 80 at-bats yet, so we’re not going into panic mode yet here. I think it’s something I can work through for sure.”
In the recent string of losses, however, Callaway sees positives.
“That’s the one thing throughout this real rough patch that we’re in — and it’s rough, it’s tough — the energy’s always been there,” he said. “You’ve got guys like (Frazier,) those veteran guys, those young guys. We’re not losing our energy, that’s for sure.”