Brodie Van Wagenen had better hope Citi Field can turn into a time machine.
Dial it to 2011, for instance, for Matt Kemp — though the Mets certainly would settle for 2018. And 2017 will work quite nicely for Ervin Santana and Aaron Altherr, who homered in his first game as a Met on Friday.
Those were Van Wagenen’s latest acquisitions as of Friday afternoon, a day when the Mets showed they still could use plenty of help, as they fell to the lowly Tigers, 9-8, despite hitting five home runs. Detroit had lost nine in a row before Friday night.
This time it was the pitching that proved shaky, as Noah Syndergaard regressed to early-season form and Drew Gagnon — used now in higher-leverage situation after Seth Lugo’s injury — gave up three runs in relief.
That negated the positive contributions by the Mets’ hodgepodge crew of replacements. Adeiny Hechavarria hit his first home run as a Met, a three-run shot, and Amed Rosario, Pete Alonso, Wilson Ramos and Altherr had solo home runs.
“A lot of mistakes,” Mickey Callaway said of his pitching. “A lot of our pitchers made a lot of mistakes today — heart of the plate, up, no break, just not getting the ball where they want to.”
Syndergaard allowed six runs and 10 hits in 5 1⁄3 innings, with a walk and nine strikeouts, and didn’t seem all that capable of missing many bats. It was a frustrating turn after his previous two strong starts — a problem “of throwing the ball where it shouldn’t be,” he said.
“I take full responsibility for this loss tonight,” he said. “I just didn’t get it done.”
Callaway hypothesized that Syndergaard might be having an issue with his mechanics, and Syndergaard said he thought his front side was flying open too early in his delivery.
The Tigers scored four runs in the first two innings, though the Mets got one back on Rosario’s homer in the third. They took a 5-4 lead in the fourth on Ramos’ RBI single and Hechavarria’s home run.
Miguel Cabrera tied it in the fifth with the 10th home run Syndergaard has allowed this year after giving up nine all of last season. It went back and forth for another inning, with Alonso hitting a solo homer to put the Mets ahead, Christin Stewart hitting a sacrifice fly to tie it for the Tigers, and Altherr homering in his first at-bat as a Met to give them a 7-6 lead.
Before being designated for assignment by the Giants, Altherr had been 1-for-30 this season. This was only his fourth at-bat all month, and at an exit velocity of 111.9 mph, it was the hardest-hit home run of his career.
Things unraveled on Gagnon in a hurry in the seventh, though. JaCoby Jones hit a two-out, two-run double and Brandon Dixon singled home a run to put the Tigers up 9-7. Ramos got the Mets to within a run with his homer in the eighth.
“I want to say it was a fun game to be a part of, but we came up on the losing end of it,” Alonso said.
In all, it was a feverish game to cap an even more feverish afternoon.
After signing Santana to a minor-league deal, the Mets snapped up outfielders Kemp and Altherr. Kemp, who will report to Port St. Lucie, is signed to a minor-league deal. He had a .290/.338/.481 slash line, 21 home runs and 85 RBIs in his All-Star season last year, but the 34-year-old’s season started off slowly — he hit .200 in 20 games with the Reds — before he broke his ribs in an outfield collision on April 23.
Altherr, too, hopes for a return to form.
“I haven’t really gotten consistent reps [but] I’ll be working a lot in the cage with Chili [Davis] and try to get back to where I was in 2017,” said Altherr, referring to the year he hit .272 with 19 home runs. “I’ll just do whatever I can, take advantage of whatever opportunity that I can get. Just happy to be here and hopefully I can get a shot and help this team win.”