Saturday, June 28, 2014

Mets Score Early & Let The Bullpen Loose As Bucs Go Down 5-3

Well, sometimes those sim games ain't worth much as prep work; Gerrit Cole had a rough welcome back to the hill. A ground ball knock, bloop single, double over the bag, wild pitch and another single brought in three Met runs and put a big smile on Jon Niese's face. The grin turned to a grimace when he threw away Jordy's tapper with one out, allowing Mercer to reach second, ruled a single and error. But Niese retired Cutch and Gaby routinely to quietly end the frame.

With an out in the second, Eric Young walked after being in an 0-2 hole. He stole second and Curtis Granderson, after falling behind 1-2, also walked. Ruben Tejada K'ed, but the runners were going and pulled off the double steal. It cost when Daniel Murphy lined a back door slider into center to chase two more Mets home. Lucas Duda grounded into the shift to end it, but Gerrit's at 57 pitches already, not exactly ideal for a guy that missed three weeks because of dead arm. The Bucs went down without a peep.

The Mets and Bucs exchanged hits in the third with no scoring; the Met hit was an Anthony Recker fly that Josh lost in the sun; it almost crowned him coming down. In the fourth, Young singled and stole second, and an out later, Tejada walked. That got the Buc bullpen up for the first time, but Cole worked out of it.

Cutch opened with a two-bagger to right and moved to third on Josh's one-out infield knock. The Kid walked on four pitches to juice the sacks. Pedro wasn't chasing, and he drew a five pitch free pass. Chris Stewart figured what the heck, and he walked on five pitches. Starling Marte, bad finger and all, grabbed a stick; Cole's day was done after 93 pitches. Niese found the zone against him and caught him looking, though the last strike was a gift call. Polanco went down fishing, so the Bucs got a couple but left a pond full of ducks; a hit or even a fly ball would have made it very interesting. As is, they still have a pulse.

Stolmy Pimentel came in for the fifth, though Jeanmar Gomez had been loosening first. He gave up a single and stolen base to Eric Campbell but otherwise had an uneventful frame. The Bucs got one back with some two out lightning. Gaby doubled to right. Josh just missed repeating that scenario with a ball that landed just foul, but singled on a ball the third baseman Campbell smothered. The Kid lined one into center, and it was 5-3. Pedro bounced out to short for the second time; unfortunate for him that the Mets don't shift much. The Bucs have stranded five runners in the last two frames.

Stolmy tossed a 1-2-3 sixth, and the Bucs went down in order, too. After two outs in the seventh, Campbell sat on a 3-2 heater and got it, doubling to left center. An intention walk brought up Recker. The count went full on him, and he sat on a fastball. Surprise - he got the slider instead and swung through it to end the frame. Jeurys Familia came on for the Mets. After a pair of routine outs, he held his breath when Ike lined one to straight center. But Terry Collins already had it covered; defensive sub Juan Lagares ran it down at the wall.

Probably should have started Pimentel; he struck out the side in the eighth, has four whiffs in a row and seven over four frames. Familia worked another clean inning. Ernesto Frieri made his debut. Jordy ranged deep into the hole and made a jump-pass to first to rob Tejada, followed by a routine fly to left and then a leaping snow-cone catch by Polanco of Lucas Duda's liner to right. Frieri kept the ball down and his 93-94 velocity was there, but he didn't show much movement on the heater; maybe that's the root of his recent problems.

Jennrys Mejia, even after working a pair of frames yesterday, came on to close it out. He did, with only Stew hitting a ball out of the infield. The final 13 Bucs went down (they saw just 31 pitches), and the Mets took the match 5-3.

Cole was way off. He was spraying his fastball and couldn't get his breaking stuff over. Maybe the Bucs should be a little more forceful in making their guys rehab for a game or two instead of just throwing them back in the fire. Three at-bats sealed the deal - Murphy's two out, two run single in the second was key. The other two were Marte and Polanco's back-to-back whiffs with the bases jammed in the fourth.

But Stolmy was a silver lining; he was firing the ball at 94-97, even touching 98 once, and showed a nice slider. He may only be on the back burner to start, but they got 73 pitches out of him today. He'll be on the list of depth candidates if needed for later in the year and a likely rotation contender in 2015, although some still project him as a back end reliever.

Tomorrow afternoon's hurlers will be Bartolo Colon and Edinson Volquez.
  • The Mets had one steal in the past two weeks. They had four in four innings against Cole/Stewart and added a fifth later. It wasn't all on the pitchers; Stew's throws were all high.
  • Ex-Bucs: The Phillies outrighted INF Ronny Cedeno.

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