Mets rally, avoid sweep to Pirates

The New York Mets haven’t looked great coming out of the All-Star break, losing two straight to the mediocre Pittsburgh Pirates. The two losses included a walk-off grand slam last night given up by Edwin Diaz. Their fortunes changed today.

The game seemed to be getting out of hand early, as Taijuan Walker surrendered 6 runs in the first inning. It was Walker’s worst outing of the season by far, allowing 6 runs, 4 hits and issuing 4 walks all in just 0.1 innings. However, an outstanding day from the bullpen gave the Mets a fighters chance.

The bullpen totaled 8.2 scoreless innings in today’s series finale. Contributions from Drew Smith, Miguel Castro, Aaron Loup, Jeurys Familia and Trevor May kept Pittsburgh off the board for the final 26 outs.

As for the offense, it was a much-needed performance as well. The Mets got on the board in the third inning on a Dominic Smith single and added three more in the fourth on Travis Blankenhorn’s first career home run.

Dom Smith stayed locked in and helped drive in Jeff McNeil on a double in the sixth to cut the lead to one. The big blast, however, didn’t come until the ninth.

Michael Conforto has been ice cold since returning to the field from injury. He couldn’t hit right-handers and couldn’t touch left-handers. Regardless, he had his best swing in a while with the game on the line today.

With a runner on first and Pirates closer Richard Rodriguez on the mound, he delivered. Conforto turned around a high, 94-MPH fastball to center field for the go-ahead, and future game-winning, two-run home run. As great as it was for the Mets, it was better for Michael Conforto to see a ball finally leave the yard, as it was just his fourth of the season.

The win was much-needed for the Mets, as their two-game skid to start the second half has made the division race much closer. This win brings the team to 48-42 on the season, with Philadelphia breathing down their neck.

The New York Mets will look to make it back-to-back wins tomorrow as they start a three-game series against the Reds in Cincinnati. While Cincinnati has announced all three starting pitchers for the series, the Mets have not. It will be interesting to see who is called upon to end the six-game road trip.

Tylor Megill impresses in MLB debut as Mets defeat Braves

The New York Mets defeated the Atlanta Braves Wednesday night, winning 7-3. The win pushes the team to 38-31 on the season, 4 games ahead of the Nationals for first place in the NL East.

Before the game, the activation of Michael Conforto off of the injured list earned some headlines, and rightfully so. The 28-year old outfielder is a key factor in the Mets’ playoff hopes. So, having him back, along with Jeff McNeil, is huge for the team.

Conforto and McNeil helped get the offense going early as the Mets scored 5 quick runs through the first two innings. McNeil drove in a run on a single and went 3-5 overall. Michael Conforto reasserted himself quickly, ripping a double down the right-field line in his first at-bat since May 16 and scoring two runs

Francisco Lindor had the big blow, blasting a two-run homer to extend the lead to five, his ninth of the year. That would be all the Mets needed, but not all they got.

However, along with Conforto and McNeil returning, the team endured some blows to the pitching staff. Robert Gsellman was moved to the 60-day IL, Marcus Stroman is day-to-day with hip discomfort and Joey Luchessi needs Tommy John surgery.

As a result, the Mets turned to Tylor Megill for his Major League debut.

Megill wasn’t overly dominant by any means, but pitched well enough for the Mets to earn the win against a division opponent. The 25-year old pitched 4.1 innings and struck out four while allowing two runs in his debut.

Other than the home run he gave up to Ender Inciarte in the fifth inning, he seemed in control for the most part.

Of course, the Mets victory didn’t come without some anxiety. Miguel Castro, who relieved Megill in the fifth, quickly loaded the bases, but he didn’t fold. Castro, who has had some great moments, and some not-so-great ones so far this season, escaped possibly detrimental damage in his short relief outing.

Behind him, Corey Oswalt pitched a fantastic 2.1 innings of relief and Edwin Diaz secured his second five-out save, 16th overall. The outing from the entire pitching staff was a great sight as injuries have begun to pile up even more.

The New York Mets will have their final off-day before the All-Star break tomorrow, followed by 17 straight days with a game. They will look to use this win to start a nice stretch over the next few weeks.

Marcus Stroman struggles, Mets lose again as injuries pile up

The New York Mets lost again Sunday, falling to the Tampa Bay Rays 7-1. The loss marks their third straight as they were swept in the series. The memory of their seven-game winning streak is now seemingly out the window.

The pitching was bad and the bats were non-existent throughout the series, getting outscored 22-8 overall. The issues on the mound, at least to this degree, came as somewhat of a surprise. As a team, the Mets were top-five in ERA and allowed the fewest home runs. Marcus Stroman gave up three today alone.

To make matters worse, the team was just 1-11 with runners in scoring position and had just 16 hits in the series, bringing their season average to .231.

While the woes shouldn’t be glossed over, they aren’t the major takeaway from today’s series finale. Instead, injuries have stolen the spotlight.

Michael Conforto and Jeff McNeil both left today’s game in the first inning due to hamstring tightness. Conforto’s is the right, McNeil’s is the left. Ironically enough, they both injured themselves running to first base.

McNeil, who left with the injury after beating out an infield single to lead off the game, had the only hit for the Mets until the sixth inning. In the sixth inning, the only bright spot of the day happened.

Patrick Mazeika, who came in as Jeff McNeil’s replacement, recorded his first MLB hit with his first home run. Although that was Mazeika’s first hit, it comes after he collected two walk-offs earlier this month.

If Jeff McNeil and Michael Conforto are forced to miss any time, they will join an already substantial list of important pieces the New York Mets are missing. They would join Noah Syndergaard, Carlos Carrasco, Brandon Nimmo, J.D. Davis, Albert Almora Jr., Luis Guillorme and Jacob DeGrom, although he should be back sooner rather than later.

While the injuries are today’s headlines, they aren’t the reason for the recent struggles, per se. The Mets will look to get back on track Monday night in Atlanta.

Mets, Steve Cohen excited for tonight’s season opener

Days after the team was supposed to open their season in Washington, the New York Mets are finally set to hit the field against the Phillies. The series in Philidephia will mark the beginning of a season in which the team has some fairly high expectations.

Newly acquired shortstop Francisco Lindor recently signed a 10-year, $341 million contract extension with the team, keeping him in town for the next decade. The Mets’ owner, Steve Cohen, spoke Monday during a video conference about the possible extension of Michael Conforto as well, among other players.

Cohen was more focused on the team’s goals and expectations for this season, however.

“I’m not going to predict a World Series out of the gate,” Cohen said. “But what I do think is we’re going to be really competitive. I do believe we’re going to make the playoffs, and then once you get into the playoffs, anything can happen, right?”

Fans are excited about this season, and Cohen’s choice of words certainly added to that.

“Everyone’s excited about the Mets this year,” he said. “The outpouring of people – friends, acquaintances and fans – has been extraordinary and they’re all excited. So, that gets me excited too.”

Along with being the first game of the season, the game will also mark Steve Cohen’s first as the owner of the Mets. He acknowledged that he, along with the players, is ready to go.

“I know the players are probably raring to go,” Cohen said. “I’m sure they’re pretty excited to get going… so, let’s get going already. I’m looking forward to tonight.”

MLB: California Could Be The Most Popular Hope for a 2020 Baseball Season

Today is May 4th, Star Wars Day. One year ago today, I was at Yankee Stadium. JA Happ was starting against the Twins and lost. It was the week where the Yankees tried to bring back Miguel Andujar, before agreeing he needed surgery to fix his torn labrum. As annoyed as I was that the Yankees lost, it was still enjoyable. It was CC Sabathia Jedi Bobblehead Day (mine is proudly displayed in my living room), they had Star Wars cosplayers all over the stadium, there was an R2D2 and a Sith alternate R2D2 behind home plate, a Star Wars character parade, and a nice Jumbotron tribute to then-recently deceased actor, Peter Mayhew (the original Chewbacca the Wookie).

Now, one year later (without Disney+, so no massive Star Wars marathon for me today), I’m anxiously waiting (like the rest of all sports fans) for ANY ANNOUNCEMENT about professional sports coming back in 2020. While the proposal for Arizona was logically sound based on all of the numbers present at the time, baseball fans were against seeing their teams play out a season in the sweltering summer of Arizona.

Logically, the only real popular choice left is California.

For Starters, More Professional Stadiums in California

Realistically, you need 15 stadiums if you’re going to follow the CDC’s guidelines of all games played in one state. California already has 5 MLB teams in state: the San Diego Padres, the Los Angeles Angels AND Dodgers, the San Francisco Giants, and the Oakland Athletics. You’d have 10 of the 30 teams playing in those 5 stadiums, no questions asked. You have colleges with esteemed, and nationally known athletic programs like UCLA, USC, and hundreds of more universities to play in. MLB has shared stadium space with NFL teams before, so playing where the 49ers, Chargers, and Rams play are also an option. And there are a good number of minor league baseball teams that play in California.

So while the league may be more spread out than many people would be comfortable with, California is known to be at least a little more temperate than Phoenix in August. Not to mention, you wouldn’t have the other 28 teams complaining about why only 2 teams get to play in the climate control of Chase Field during the peak summer weather in Phoenix.

Coronavirus Has to be Taken Into Effect, and California is Doing Very Well

According to Worldometers.com, California is performing admirably in the face of rising cases around the rest of the country, and the looming threat of a new wave coming in the fall. As of today, last updated at 12:09 PM EST, California has seen only 134 new cases of COVID 19, and 3 new deaths. These are the kind of numbers South Korea was seeing when they decided to push through with having a baseball season.

Now, using that same site, Arizona has seen no new cases, and no new deaths, making Arizona more logical. But, again, California would still be more popular.

California Is More Financially Viable To Have the Season

There is going to be a wide array of financial factors that go into having an MLB season of any length in this pandemic world we’re living in. Sequestering all the players, trainers, umpires, and essential personnel, tests, transportation, and housing for everyone is a shortlist. Of all the states in the country, California (while financially struggling like the rest of the country) is the strongest state financially to take on this burden.

If California were its own country, it would be the 5th strongest economy in the world! That means the state of California is ahead of India, the UK, France, Italy, Brazil, Canada and Russia in GDP. While it doesn’t justify completely why California should divert its spending from helping its citizens financially, it could give the Trump administration reason to give money to the state to ensure a baseball season can happen. Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell, has been talking to Commissioner Rob Manfred about starting up baseball soon. And with the trillions already approved to spend by the federal government during this pandemic, I feel like sending California extra cash to ensure a baseball season happens, as well as ensuring COVID-19 doesn’t spread any further, would find widespread bi-partisan approval in DC.

But It Won’t Solve Everything

For starters, everything would still be played on Pacific Time. I’m working for a company that’s been deemed essential. So me staying up every night to watch a 10 PM first pitch isn’t exactly viable for me. You still have the modified divisions to accommodate this crazy situation sports finds itself in. While San Diego to LA isn’t too bad of a commute (2 hours by car), we’re talking at LEAST 4 hours from LA to San Fransisco (we all know Oakland is in the same area so same rules apply). It would be VERY spread out traversing to all of the playing fields for a California 2020 season, leaving more room for infection. And with the projections from the Trump administration that there will be 3,000 deaths per day by June due to the Coronavirus, the need for consolidation, and minimal travel will be essential to pulling off a sports league this year.

I hope we find out something definitive soon. MLB has made it clear that they would want some kind of truncated Spring Training before a 2020 season begins. We’re running out of time for that to happen.