|Victor Caratini touching the plate on his sixth-inning home run, as Max Scherzer approaches the mind. Photo by Jason Schott.|
THAT IS THE METS' RECORD at the halfway point of the season after a 3-2 loss to the Milwaukee Brewers on Thursday night at Citi Field. They are nine games out of the final Wild Card spot, and 17 1/2 games out of first place in the National League East behind the Atlanta Braves.
Milwaukee took three out of four in this series, a somewhat fitting end to the first half of the season for the Mets, as they were swept in Milwaukee in the opening week in April, which exposed the expected contenders early that they may not be all they're cracked up to be.
Thursday night's game was emblematic of a lot of the Mets games this year, as they got a great start from Max Scherzer, but could not muster enough offense to back him up, and their bullpen coughed it up late.
Scherzer shut Milwaukee out over the opening five innings of the game, as he scattered four hits and a pair of walks, while striking out seven.
In that span, the Mets got him the lead against Milwaukee starter Adrian Houser, in the bottom of the third inning.
Third baseman Brett Baty, who was hitting in the nine-spot, came up with one out, and he crushed one into the Mets bullpen, and the lineup turned over to Brandon Nimmo, and he laced one the other way to left field, that just cleared the fence inside the foul pole for a homer.
It was Baty's fifth homer of the season, and Nimmo's 11th of the season, and third in the series.
This was just the second time this season that the Mets hit back-to-back home runs, with the first coming on April 7, their home opener. That also is fitting, in a sense, when you think of the frenzy that Citi Field was that day with hopes of a championship in the air, and on Wednesday, Owner Steve Cohen was talking about his team sneaking into a Wild Card spot.
Scherzer was still out there in the sixth, and Rowdy Tellez led off with a single before Brian Anderson struck out looking, which was followed by a lengthy discussion with home plate umpire Ron Kulpa. This had to be because it was the second time Anderson was reverse K'd (referring to how you score it), and he was not ejected, but in the future, maybe a ball should be called on the next hitter because it had to have thrown off Scherzer's rhythm.
Victor Caratini was up next, and he crushed one into the bullpen to tie the game at 2. It was his fourth homer of the season, and that gave him 14 RBI as well.
Scherzer then worked around a Blake Perkins to get out of the sixth, and since he was at 102 pitches, that ended his night.
The final line for the Mets' ace was: 6 innings pitched, 7 hits, 2 runs (earned), 2 walks, 9 strikeouts. He got the no-decision, so his record remains at 7-2, and his ERA was lowered a tad to 3.87.
The Mets turned to T.J. McFarland in the seventh, and he allowed a one-out single to Jesse Winker before he hit Willy Adames with a pitch in the foot before he exited.
In came Dominic Leone from the Mets' bullpen, and he gave up a single to Owen Miller to load the bases. Anderson followed with a shot to deep right field that Nimmo caught in front of the fence. Though Anderson narrowly missed a grand slam, it was good enough for a sacrifice fly to bring home Winker and put Milwaukee up, 3-2.
The Mets got two runners on in the seventh against Milwaukee reliever Hoby Milner, but they turned to Elvis Peguero, who got Starling Marte to bounce into a double play to end the frame.
Joel Payamps retired the Mets in order in the eighth, and Devin Williams came on for the ninth, and ran into trouble.
Mark Canha drew a one-out walk, followed by a single for Francisco Alvarez. Canha then stole third base, which was followed by Luis Guillorme grounding into a force out.
Nimmo then walked to load the bases for Marte, giving him a chance at redemption, but he struck out to end it.
This was a brutal night for Marte, as he went 1-for-5, with two strikeouts, to close out a brutal first half, in which he hit .253 with four home runs and 24 RBI.
"It's frustrating because, you know, there's a game there to be won," Mets Manager Buck Showalter said after the game. "Max pitched well, got some good things out of the bullpen to keep things close, got a couple of ground balls on swinging bunts, and we hit some balls hard that they caught, it's just we're kind of snakebit from that standpoint, it seems like. I keep hoping the worm's going to change, it's not just pure luck, don't get me going, it's just some hard-hit balls, you know, Starling had a base hit (in the fourth inning) that he hit well, you know, Williams is good, and when you've got a gut that his changeup is his out pitch, any overaggressiveness plays right into his hand."