There was the tiniest spark of optimism before the Mets took on the Giants Tuesday night at Citi Field. See, this night heralded the return of Francisco Lindor, who had been out for a month thanks to an oblique strain. It meant, too, that Lindor would be reunited with his old buddy, Javier Baez, whom he used to square off against in high school.
And to hear Luis Rojas talk about it before the game, all this was significant – pivotal, even. These two electric athletes were not only meant to play off each other, but to elevate everyone around them. They’re elite, and they’re leaders, and maybe, just maybe, this could be the key to reversing some of the Mets many recent misfortunes.
But then, you know, the game started.
And though there’s no doubt that Lindor’s return is important, and his chemistry with Baez could lead to good things in the future, it’s equally true that it wasn’t a magic bullet. No, the Mets still had to pitch (that didn’t go too well), and field (that wasn’t too hot, either), and hit (that…well, the less said the better).
The result was an 8-0 loss to the Giants in what has been a hellish stretch of 13 games against them and the Dodgers, both titans of the National League West. They fell to three games under .500, as dreams of returning to the top of the division continue to quickly diminish. They managed just five hits and only one extra-base hit, Tylor Megill’s double in the third, which was misplayed.
"We don’t have a lot of time," Lindor said. "Thirty-seven games (left). It’s time to go. It’s been time to go. We’ve got to find a way, find a way to compete, continue to grind and not make excuses. We’ve got to go out there and battle. We get paid to go out there and compete and do our best…I would love to say I have the answers why we’re struggling, why I’m struggling, but I don’t. We work hard, we grind, we compete day after day and we haven’t gotten the results we wanted and it’s showing right now. Early in the year we were in first place, now it’s showing. We’ve got to find a way. We’ve gotta figure this out."
Lindor went 0-for-4 in his return. As for the rest of the Mets, the problems started quickly and escalated precipitously.
Brandon Belt teed off on Megill with one out on the first, when he crushed a 1-and-1 slider 431 feet to straightaway center, giving the Giants the early 1-0 lead. The Giants quickly tacked on two more in the second on Mike Yastrzemski’s no doubter to right, this time off a 95-mph fastball toward the heart of the plate. It was his 20th homer.
Megill let up yet another homer to the hard-hitting Giants inthe fourth, LaMonte Wade Jr’s two-run shot to the apple in center, as they went up 5-0. Then Belt got in on the action again, hitting his 19th homer, another solo shot. It was the ninth time the Giants hit back-to-back homers this season, as they came into the game leading the league with 190 home runs. Buster Posey and Alex Dickerson then hit back-to-back singles, the latter popping off Pete Alonso’s glove, ending Megill’s night.
Trevor Williams, though, quickly let up an RBI single to Brandon Crawford as the Giants extended their lead.
Megill pitched 3 2/3 innings, allowing seven runs and 11 hits with no walks and five strikeouts in what was easily the worst performance of his short career. He had problems locating his offspeed pitches, he said, and often sailed his four-seamer – usually most effective high up in the zone – low. Three homers of the four homers he let up were off fastballs.
"They were ready to hit fastballs and made contact," Megill said. "Needless to say, they ran it up…I didn’t have command of my stuff and you get exposed [and then] they do what they do when you don’t have your stuff."
The Giants put runners on the corners with one out in the eighth, when Miguel Castro walked Darin Ruf and then allowed an infield single to Wade Jr. Ruf, though, broke for third, Alonso held onto the ball for too long and Patrick Mazeika didn’t properly apply the tag. Ruf then scored on Belt’s infield single.
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