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Lack of timely hitting hurts Mets in loss to Red Sox

Mets' Michael Conforto reacts after he strikes out

Mets' Michael Conforto reacts after he strikes out swinging against the Boston Red Sox during the eighth inning at Citi Field on Thursday, July 30, 2020. Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

Two of the Mets’ biggest problems — Edwin Diaz and a lack of timely hitting — combined for one ugly loss Thursday night.

The Mets dropped another to the Red Sox, 4-2, to settle for a split of the four-game home-and-home series, a major missed opportunity after they swept the Boston half and returned to Queens with their best starters lined up.

The story here again was the offense: 1-for-10 with runners in scoring position and nine men left on base, making them 4-for-24 RISP with 20 stranded the past two games.

“Sometimes in those big moments you can get a little big, you can get away from your plan,” said Michael Conforto, who for a second night in a row struck out with a runner on third and less than two outs. “You just gotta be better.”

 

Manager Luis Rojas said: “It’s anxiety once again. We’re just getting a little anxious in those situations. Good at-bats to create them, but once we get there we haven’t been able to deliver those big hits to really score the runs we should be scoring.”

The pitching matchup was a wash. Steven Matz allowed three runs, all on a pair of homers from Christian Vazquez, in 5 1/3 innings. Boston’s Martin Perez lasted 5 2/3 frames and allowed two runs, both on a bases-loaded single from Jeff McNeil.

That made it a battle of the bullpens, and Boston was better — barely.

In the seventh, Andres Gimenez swiped second — the first steal of his major-league career — with no outs, but he did not advance.

In the eighth, as Red Sox setup man Matthew Barnes slogged through a scoreless 37-pitch inning, Pete Alonso reached third with one out. But the Mets left the bases loaded when Gimenez grounded out to first.

Rojas could have used Dominic Smith as a pinch hitter in place of Gimenez in the eighth (then used Luis Guillorme, the last infielder available, to play second base).

“We talked a little bit about it,” Rojas said. “We were going with Gimmy there. We trusted that he could deliver for us.”

Smith, tied for the team lead with five RBIs, has taken seven at-bats in the first week of the season. Rojas blamed that in part on the Mets facing mostly lefthanded starters and said he is looking to get Smith more action soon.

“He’s ready to go — always in the dugout, always has a helmet and a bat in his hand, ready to hit,” Rojas said. “We’re looking definitely for that spot where we can get Dom more games. He definitely deserves it.”

And then there was Diaz. Entering with the Mets down by one in the ninth inning, Diaz provided the Red Sox with an insurance run by throwing 35 pitches, recording one out and hitting Jose Peraza — with the 10th pitch of the at-bat — to force in a run.

He exited with the bases loaded, but Paul Sewald retired the next two batters to save Diaz’s outing from looking worse.

Unlike last weekend, when Diaz blew a save on what the Mets considered a good pitch, this was a “different Diaz,” Rojas said.

He couldn’t control his pitches, then he couldn’t control his emotions.

“He’s gotta control his emotions,” Rojas said. “Those are some of the things that we’re definitely going to talk about.”

Is Rojas still comfortable using Diaz in high-leverage situations?

“We need to talk,” Rojas said. "We need to work. That’s something we’re going to do as a staff. … We liked what we saw in the two camps and what we saw earlier in the season. Tonight was definitely different.”

New York Sports