Friday, May 5, 2023

Mets Shut Out Rockies On Night, Buck Says, They Got “A reminder of what we’re missing”


Kodai Senga pitching to Harold Castro in the second inning on Friday night. Photo by Jason Schott.

The Mets, led by six strong innings from starting pitcher Kodai Senga, shut out the Colorado Rockies, 1-0, on Friday night at Citi Field to open their three-game weekend series. This broke a three-game losing streak for the Mets as they improved to 17-16, and they are in second place in the National League East.

Brandon Nimmo provided all the offense the Mets would need, as he hit a solo home run in the fourth inning. That was Nimmo's third home run and 14th RBI of the season, and he also flashed some leather, as he dove to grab a liner from Ezequiel Tobar to open the next inning, the top of the fifth. 

This was kind of redemption for Nimmo, who took a lot of flak for getting thrown out trying to steal second base in the ninth inning of the Mets' 2-0 loss in Detroit on Thursday afternoon, which capped a three-game sweep for the Tigers. 

Brandon Nimmo (left) approaching Starling Marte after his home run in the fourth inning. Photo by Jason Schott.

Senga had perhaps his best start as a Met, as he threw six shutout innings, and allowed just two hits and four walks, with four strikeouts, to improve to 4-1 on the season, and lower his ERA (earned run average) to 3.38, from 4.15 entering the night.

Colorado starter Antonio Senzatela nearly matched him in his season debut, as he allowed just one run (the Nimmo HR) on three hits and a walk, with three strikeouts.

After Senga left, Drew Smith pitched a scoreless seventh, as he worked around a single and struck out two.

David Robertson, who usually closes, pitched the eighth in this one, as Colorado had the heart of their order coming up. He walked Jurickson Profar to open the frame before getting Kris Bryant and C.J. Cron to both fly out to right field. 

Then, with Elias Diaz up, Mets catcher Tomas Nido flinged one to first base to try to pickoff Profar, and it went up the right field line, allowing Profar to take second base.

Diaz eventually walked, which gave Colorado two runners on and two out. Ryan McMahon then hit one in the hole between first and second base that hit Brenton Doyle, who pinch-ran did Cron, which was an automatic out to end the inning. That was a major break for the Mets, as that likely would have been a hit.

Adam Ottavino, who also serves as the Mets closer when needed came on for the ninth, and the inning opened with Randal Grichuk singling to right field. He then stole second base and was bunted over to third by Harold Castro. 

Then, Mike Moustakas came up to bat for Tovar, and he struck out, and Charlie Blackmon flew out to right field to end the game. Ottavino earned his fourth save of the season. Couple that with Robertson's six, and the tandem has notched 10 saves in the first five weeks of the season.

DIAZ HONORED: Mets closer Edwin Diaz received his 2022 National League Reliever of the Year Award ahead of Friday night's game.   

Mets Manager Buck Showalter said, in his pregame press conference on Friday, of Diaz receiving this honor, “Pretty cool, and we’re gonna see him walk out there, I think.” (For the record, Buck was right, as Diaz appeared in uniform to receive the award on the warning track, and watched the game from the dugout)

“What a great recognition,” Showalter continued. “You think about all the great relievers in baseball, and anybody who got to watch that last year, it’s a reminder of what we’re missing, you know, along with some other people, but we’ll get them back at some point. It’ll be revealed to us when at some point, meantime, the season goes on.”

Diaz had 32 saves, with 118 strikeouts in 62 innings, and a 1.31 ERA, in the 2022 season. He will miss most, if not all, of this season because he tore the right patellar tendon in his right knee in a freak accident at the World Baseball Classic celebrating his Puerto Rico team's win on March 15. 

Showalter was then asked how Diaz’s recovery is going, and he said, with an aside about the ceremony, “He’s doing good, doing really good. He’s got that good face and he’s back to normal hair; I don’t know if that’s good or bad. We were talking about who is going to be out there with him - I’m not; it’s his moment, let him choose. I would love to see the bullpen catchers out there with him, as much as they catch him, but it’s up to him.” 

Diaz did appear with the bullpen catchers Dave Racanello and Eric Langill, and pitching coach Jeremy Hefner presented Diaz with the award. Diaz’s wife and children were with him as well.

Showalter said of how the Mets bullpen has done without Diaz, and he said, “I mean, we’re not ever going to be at the level Edwin allowed us to be at, at times last year, but we still had to pitch the sixth sometimes, the seventh, the eighth, we had to have a quality start. I will tell you, I was thinking of it today, everybody wants to dwell on what you don’t have, but I think about the job that Robbie’s (David Robertson) done for us since the season started, and where we’d be without him, and the job that he’s done, and I try to dwell on that some, but we hoped that was going to be in the seventh or eighth, even though it is on a given night, but as a whole, all things considered, I would’ve taken it.” 

David Robertson pitching against Colorado's Elias Diaz in the eighth inning on Friday night. Photo by Jason Schott.

Roberson, whom the Mets signed as a free agent this offseason after he had a strong season with the Cubs and Phillies, has appeared in 13 games (through Friday), and he has six saves, with 18 strikeouts in 14 1/3 innings pitched, with a WHIP (walks+hits per innings pitched) of 0.91, which is a bit under his career average of 1.15. 

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