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Mickey Callaway defends decision not to pinch hit for Rene Rivera with Mets down two runs in sixth inning

Mets catcher Rene Rivera throws late to first

Mets catcher Rene Rivera throws late to first base after fielding a bunt off the bat of Colorado Rockies' Jeff Hoffman in the fifth inning of a baseball game Wednesday, Sept. 18, 2019, in Denver.  Credit: AP/David Zalubowski

DENVER — It wound up not mattering much in the Mets’ 7-4 win over the Rockies on Wednesday, but manager Mickey Callaway’s decision to let Rene Rivera bat in the sixth inning was curious enough that it is worth having him explain.

The Mets, down by two, had the bases loaded with two outs. Rivera, the third-string catcher in the game primarily to work with Noah Syndergaard, was due up. Callaway let him bat, and Rivera swung at what likely would have been ball four and grounded out to shortstop.

Why not pinch hit for Rivera with Wilson Ramos, a superior hitter who has had a huge second half, or any of the Mets’ other options?

 “The main thing,” Callaway said, was Syndergaard was still in the game. Syndergaard feels comfortable pitching to Rivera, and the Mets relented to Syndergaard’s preferences this time.

(It’s worth noting that Syndergaard was already at 90 pitches through five innings at the time of Rivera’s at-bat. He wound up getting two more outs, finishing with four runs allowed in 5 2/3 innings.)

Another factor: “Rivera is a good hitter,” Callaway said.

Rivera, 36, has a .221/.272/.352 slash line in 11 seasons, making him well below average relative to other major-league hitters. With Triple-A Syracuse this year, in an environment of inflated offense due to a different ball, he had a .254/.319/.501 slash line and 25 homers.

“We have faith that he’s going to get a big hit,” Callaway said. “And he was still going to be in there with Noah.”

Rivera’s out looked like the difference in the game until the Mets’ four-run ninth inning. The rally started with Ramos, pinch hitting for Rivera, drawing a walk.

Extra bases

Pete Alonso had multiple hits in all three games at Coors Field after his career-worst 0-for-21 drought extended into Monday. Among the items on his growing list of accomplishments: He tied the franchise record for extra-base hits in a season (80) and set the Mets rookie record for hits (148). His 113 RBIs are the third-highest total by a National League rookie. … Robert Gsellman (partially torn right lat) threw a bullpen session Tuesday. Callaway said he is due for another before facing batters.

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