The Mets’ trip to Tampa was unpleasant on several fronts: they lost all three games in their series against the Rays —and received concerning health news regarding Jeff McNeil,Michael Conforto, and Brandon Nimmo, in addition to the rash of already-existing medical issues they’re dealing with.
Marcus Stroman had an uncharacteristically shaky outing, surrendering three long-balls, and McNeil and Conforto both left the game after trying to run out ground balls in the first. The 7-1 loss obscured the lone bright spot of the day: the legendary Patrick Mazeika got his first Major League hit, a majestic home-run to right-field off Diego Castillo.
In a game where the Mets mustered just two hits, while also allowing seven runs, it’s hard to pinpoint one pivotal moment — but the game turned very ominous when Conforto pulled up limp after grounding into a double-play in the first, with cameras catching him angrily throwing his helmet in the dugout, as he walked off into the tunnel. Conforto would be replaced in right-field by new call-up Jake Hager, who had never played the position in his professional career.
The Mets once again made opposing pitchers look like Cy Young candidates, this time appearing baffled against the Rays’ Josh Fleming, who looked sharp in his ninth Major League start. They would muster just one hit (the Mazeika home-run) over four innings against the Tampa Bay bullpen, failing to connect against relievers like Ryan Thompson and Collin McHugh.
How bad is the Mets’ injury situation? Due to medical issues with Nimmo, Conforto, McNeil(who plays outfield when needed), and JD Davis (who kind-of plays in a pinch), the Mets were forced to put Hager, an infielder playing his second big-league game, in right-field to replace Conforto. Meanwhile, Mazeika became the DH when McNeil went down.
While Stroman was able to give the team decent length, going six innings without his best stuff, he fell victim to the long ball yesterday, with three of the six hits he allowed leaving the yard. Perpetuating the legend that he cannot perform in non-save situations, Edwin Diaz surrendered two runs in a mostly meaningless eighth inning appearance.
The Mets head to Atlanta to take on their NL East rivals, who currently sit at 19-21, good enough for third-place in a division no one seems to want to win. They are currently without outfielder Ronald Acuña, Jr., but just took two of three from the Brewers at home, after getting swept in three games in Toronto earlier in the week. Yesterday, they suffered a heart-breaking 10-9 loss, after a late-inning nine-run rally fell just short.
he Mets will send the so-far steady RHP Taijuan Walker(3-1, 2.20 ERA) to the mound against LHP Max Fried (1-1, 6.55 ERA). Fried has battled injuries this season, but looked strong in his last two outings after problems with command in the early going. Walker ranks seventh in baseball in opponents’ batting average (.170) and 11th in ERA (2.20).