Matt Albers hadn’t had a hit since 2007. In 34 official at-bats, the White Sox reliever had struck out 21 times. At 6-1, 225 pounds, he’ll never be the quickest athlete on the field and, as the sparse remnants of over 34,000 spectators learned on Wednesday, he won’t be teaching any Little Leaguers how to slide into second base any time soon.
So of course, as the game dragged on into the 13th inning, and the Mets and the White Sox scrounged for the winning run that would just not come, it was Albers’ bat, and his legs, that proved to be the deciding factor. That’s just how things have been going for the injury-riddled, offense-deficient Mets these days.
Albers stroked a leadoff double off Logan Verrett — a hit where he nearly bowled over second baseman Neil Walker once he realized he did not, in fact, know how to slide into a base — continued his tortoise-like crawl around the base paths on Verrett’s wild pitch, and then finally dealt the defining blow: He tagged up on Jose Abreu’s deep sacrifice fly to score the go-ahead run and give the White Sox a 2-1 win in 13 innings at Citi Field. Albers also got the win after two innings of one-hit relief.
“I was very surprised that he hit a ball that well,” said Verrett, almost bemused by the improbability. “[I was just trying to get him to] to put the ball in play anywhere because you saw his first couple hacks . . . he was backing out of the box.”
It was the latest indignity in a series of awful moments for the Mets. With three players injured, and Yoenis Cespedes resting (he pinch hit, and struck out), the Mets’ offense managed a whole lot of nothing despite four hours and 41 minutes full of ample opportunities. They walked 13 times and collected seven hits, but grounded into five double plays, left 14 men on base and never scored after the second inning.
The worst culprit was Michael Conforto, who went 0-for-6 with four strikeouts.
“We’re not driving anybody in,” Terry Collins said. “In baseball, you’ve got to pick each other up and you’ve got to have someone step up when somebody else hasn’t. We’ve been doing that for a lot but we didn’t get it done this homestand.”
All that means is that the Mets wasted another perfectly good — in this case, great — start from one of their pitchers. Jacob deGrom, looking more and more like his old self, allowed one run on five hits over seven innings. He walked two and struck out 10 in what was the 10th double-digit strikeout game of his career, and his first this season.
The Mets’ lone run came on Rene Rivera’s two-out single in the second that scored James Loney, who had led off with a walk against Miguel Gonzalez. The White Sox did not answer until the seventh, when Todd Frazier jumped on deGrom’s high changeup for his MLB-leading 17th home run.
The Mets ended their six-game homestand 2-4.
“It was just a strange game,” Walker said. “From start to finish, just weird. Pitcher hits a double in the 13th inning, [wild pitch] and then he scores a run. Just a strange game today. But you’ve got to put it in the rearview mirror.”
Somehow, it doesn’t feel like the Mets will be forgetting this one any time soon.