By: Felix G. Perez

Mets Resilient in Labor Day Action

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The Labor Day matchup between the Mets and Nationals marks the biggest meeting between the teams — at least in the eyes of Mets fans. The Mets opened the series with a four-game lead in the division after dropping two of three games against the Marlins.

Nationals had all three of their studs lined up for the series: Scherzer, Zimmerman, and Strasburg. Mets would throw Jon Niese out for game one, followed by Harvey and deGrom. If the Mets want to show the Nationals and the rest of the MLB that they are a legitimate threat, they needed to take this series. With the Nationals being at home and having their studs lined up for the series, the matchup favored the Nationals.

Mets opened the game exactly how fans hoped they would: homers by both Michael Conforto (6) and Kelly Johnson (13) in the second and another by Yoenis Cespedes (31) in the fourth.

Niese worked himself out a jam in the third, but the fourth inning is when Niese’s almost predictable implosion began. Niese surrendered back-to-back singles to Zimmerman and Escobar, Niese walked the following batter, Ian Desmond, leaving the Nationals with the bases loaded and zero outs. After a visit to the mound, Terry Collins opted to not begin any activity in the bullpen, and leave Niese in to work out of a jam. The worst-case scenario proceeded: Niese gives up a grand-slam HR to the following batter, Wilson Ramos AKA “The Met Killer.”

In his last four starts Jon Niese has 19.2 IP, 30 H, 23 ER, 12 BB, 11 K, 10.53ERA. Terry Collins decided, yet again, to not begin activity in the bullpen which left most fans and experts, scratching their head. If not earlier in the inning, then definitely at this point in the game, it was expected that relief would soon enter the game. Niese is a pitcher that usually gets himself in bad situations and rarely works himself out of them. The Nationals would add another run in the inning before Niese would be taken out of the game and replaced by Carlos Torres.

After the diabolical bottom of the fourth, the last thing the Mets could afford to do was go 1-2-3 in the fifth. But opposite of the Mets in the first half of the season, the Mets responded with back-to-back doubles by Ruben Tejada and Curtis Granderson, scoring Tejada and cutting the Nationals lead to 1. The resiliency of this team is on for the world to see.

Carlos Torres had to exit the game with an injury, after he chased a softly hit roundball towards first base and he fielded the ball and tossed the ball to first. Torres limped back to the mound and exited the game. It was later reported that Carlos Torres suffered a strained left calf.

Yoenis Cespedes opened the sixth inning with a double. Cespedes would then advance to third on a balk. Travis d’Arnaud would hit a routine fly-ball to left field, but Jason Werth, had to slide to make the catch, which would allow the speedy Cespedes to score from third and tie the game a five runs.

In the top of the seventh, Ruben Tejada reached base on a FC, Granderson walked and Wright singled scoring Flores and putting the Mets up by one. The scoring would continue with a sacrifice fly by Daniel Murphy, scoring Granderson and Yoenis Cespedes doubled to right field scoring David Wright.

The Mets bullpen would be key for the Mets down the stretch before the ninth inning, retiring ten Nationals batter in a row. Hansel Robles entered the game in the seventh inning, faced six batters and retired all six while striking out four.

Yoenis Cespedes, the offensive MVP in the game, doubled twice and homered in the game.

Jeurys Familia entered the game in the ninth and recorded his 37th save of the season. Mets lead over the Nationals is up to five games now with two more games at Washington.

Matt Harvey will take the mound tomorrow. With some of the chatter surrounding Matt Harvey, it will be nice to see Harvey get back to pitching and concentrate on helping this team get into the postseason. If Harvey wants some of that chatter to go away, a piece on the Players Tribune will help, but a win tomorrow should shut the proverbial door on all of that talk. With the Mets taking the opener of the series, it removes a small amount of pressure from Matt Harvey. Considering Harvey’s innings limit, this could be Harvey’s last start for a while.

Mets magic number is down to 21.

Personal Thoughts:

Before the All-Star break, a Mets team that would have had five runs put up on them in one inning, wouldn’t have come back from it. The team responded to the Nationals, seemingly the only way this team knows how to: by scoring runs. The resiliency of this team in evident and crystal clear. They know that they are never really out of a game. One hit and one AB at a time, this Mets team knows it can bounce back against anyone.

Yoenis Cespedes continues to make his presence known. Cespedes toying at second base in the sixth, caused Max Scherzer to balk allowing Cespedes to reach third. On the fly ball that scored Cespedes, hit by d’Arnaud, a player with normal speed would not be able to make it home safely. Yoenis Cespedes has 24 extra-base hits and 31 RBI’s as a Met.

The bullpen was nothing short of phenomenal.  Erik Goeddel, Dario Alvarez and Hansel Robles entered the game and retired all ten batters that they faced. Familia came in for the ninth and closed the curtain on this game.

Terry Collins’ minor mental mistakes continue. TC isn’t the story of this game, but leaving Jon Niese in the game for as long as he did could have really cost the Mets. Luckily, the Mets came back to win the game, therefore, the microscope on TC’s decision to leave Niese in the game will not be magnified. But simply, put, once Niese had the bases loaded with zero outs, TC should have at least got a reliever going in the pen. After Niese gives up the grand slam, there is no question Wilson Ramos should have been the last batter Niese faced. Niese has the tendency to give up big-run innings and we are all too familiar with them.

I root for TC but these are some mistakes that can’t happen and should be addressed.

All in all, another great day for the New York Mets. The game was back-and-forth and every thing the Nationals threw at the Mets, the team responded well. Mets have another game tomorrow against the Nationals, which marks the next most important game of the season. Mets are 20-21 on the road since July 1st.

About Felix G. Perez

Felix Perez has been a Mets fan since 1998. His favorite player is Mike Piazza.

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