It was not another rookie pitcher that handed the Mets a third straight loss

Rich Mancuso

It is not a matter now of how many hits the New York Mets get in a game. The question is how to get runners home that are in scoring position. That was a recurring issue Wednesday night at Citi Field in a 4-3 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers, despite compiling 13 hits

And despite giving up three home runs to the power hitting Dodgers, rookie right-hander Jacob deGrom, in his second career start, should not be blamed for the Mets third straight loss and sixth in their last seven games.  

You can’t win games stranding runners in scoring position, going 0-5 with the bases loaded in two straight losses to the Dodgers. That is enough said, or for that matter doing that facing any team. Tuesday night New York came up short four times with bases loaded.  Simply put the anemic hitting has New York with a 5-14 record this month, a .263 winning percentage and that is a franchise record.

Sitting last in the National league east does not make it any easier for the manager Terry Collins.

“We got a lot of hits, a lot of situations again we were unable to come up with a big hit,” Collins said.  “I wish I had the answer for it. We talk a lot about big chances, big opportunities. We didn’t get a hit, had some big chances. We just need somebody to break loose. It’s difficult to say. Tonight we put the ball in play… just didn’t hit any holes.”

It does not make deGrom look ineffective. He limited the Dodgers to four hits in six innings. The bullpen gave up one more hit. There was a miscue on the infield that gave the Dodgers their needed insurance run in the eighth inning. A routine double-play that should have ended the inning had everyone making excuses.

With one out, Dodgers’ Hanley Ramirez hit the comebacker to Jeurys Familia with runners at the corners. The play should have gone to Daniel Murphy at second. But Wilmer Flores was also at the base, and Familia took his time making the throw.

The hesitant throw, said Familia, was due to the confusion of his middle infielders. That allowed Ramirez to beat the throw at first and that run was the difference. Murphy said the second base umpire impeded the play.

“Murph had the coverage. He knows who’s covering,” said Collins obviously concerned more about his team not coming up with the big hit, and not blaming this latest loss on that play. Collins is not the type of manager to criticize his players in front of the media. But a team that is struggling at the plate, and overall getting quality pitching, will need to find some answers before the entire season slips away before the mid- point

Tuesday night the other rookie, Rafael Montero, in his second start, struggled and gave up five runs in 4.1 innings. The Mets had wasted opportunities and could not help the youngster. deGrom (0-2) was also a victim, though in a week or so he may be the one who stays when Dillon Gee comes off the disabled list.

They say you never have enough good pitching. The Mets have the arms that will eventually get them to the top, though with the lack of run support both Montero and deGrom have quickly learned the hard luck of being a big league pitcher, especially the way this Mets team is composed.  So, the first two games of this series can’t be attributed to the youngsters who have tried to fill a void.

If anything, the fan base at Citi Field have seen a bright side for the future as Matt Harvey also continues to make his comeback from Tommy John surgery.

“DeGrom is going to be pretty good… impressive kid, commented Collins. “Outside the home run balls that hurt him, he changed speeds, used the breaking ball effectively. He knows how to reach back.  He is able to make pitches when he has to. He has the poise on the mound and knows he has to make the next out.”

It means, the youngster knows when to make the pitches when he has to, more so after succumbing to the home run ball. Collins alluded to a mistake, a breaking ball to Ramirez in the sixth inning that went over the left field wall off a 2-2 pitch, one that followed a slider on a 2-0 pitch to Yasiel Puig to left.

 He followed striking out Adrian Gonzalez looking and getting Matt Kemp to ground out, third to first.    

The Mets did get three hits apiece from David Wright, Wilmer Flores and Juan Lagares. That put men on base, but once again they could not come home when it was needed. So, you can’t put all the blame on deGrom.

This may come down to the Mets not having what we thought all along, the proper pump in their lineup and Curtis Granderson does not help matters with one hit, stranding three on base swinging in the third inning. That went along with the night before when the Mets once again left them loaded in two situations.

Chris Young, the other disappointment in the lineup, also continues to struggle. He stranded two runners at second and third ending an inning on the swing and a miss. Young, the night before got one hit and came into the game 6-for-44 over his last 13 games.

But Collins may have some help in the lineup. Eric Campbell will get another start at first, or in the outfield where he has limited experience. He hits left-handers well, something the Mets continue to struggle with, and he belted his first career home run in the sixth inning over the wall in left field.   

He offers that needed pump.  “The way he’s playing you have to find a place to put him,” said Collins.  And the way his team is not hitting in situations, perhaps deGrom, Montero or the rest of the pitching staff will welcome that hopeful punch in the lineup.

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