If you’re a Mets fan, a 1-0 loss to the Reds will either fill your heart with hope or plunge you deeper into growing anxiety about the standings. This is the beauty of the Rorschach test. It’s not what you see, it’s what you perceive.
so what she did Take away from the crazy setback at Great American Ball Park? Could the flawless Max Scherzer despite his 48-day stay still be on the hit list? Or that the Mets closed out for the fourth time this season and allowed Atlanta to slip into 2.5 games for the top spot?
In either case, the ranking does not lie. Nor the schedule. Next week’s triple-game series with the Braves not only looms large as the season’s most important metric, their long tentacles are coming into September, if not October.
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This is why Scherzer’s successful return from a stubborn slasher strain was so vital to the organization’s mental health. The right-hander wasn’t only good against Cincinnati, he was another mundane. Scherzer not only threw six rounds, he made an 11-penalty statement for the Reds And the Mets about who’s back in charge.
Add Jacob deGrom to his calculus – and it looks like he’ll be ready right after the All-Stars break – and the Mets will have survived the darkest stretch of the season. They held the top spot with the best players, finished in June with a winning record for the first time since 2012 and found some hidden gems along the way, like Taijuan Walker.
However, Buck Showalter is the latest person to stray from one-dimensional optimism. His assessment of Tuesday’s work went deeper than just celebrating Scherzer’s health. When Buck said, “We have to score more points, obviously” he was talking about the macro. The view from 30,000 feet is a flashing red light.
Let’s ask it simply: How is a powerful attack stopped by the worst team in the big leagues? The Reds are the National League equalizers for the best, hopelessly out of the race, lousy at home, useful only to the extent that they are rivals to the contenders.
This was the table maker’s gift once the Mets finished an impressive two-game streak against the Astros. They were tutored by Justin Verlander last Thursday at Citi, but, no shame in that. The Yankees couldn’t touch him either. But the Mets have been given a chance to bounce back against the Rangers, Reds and Marlins as preparation for the street fight awaited in Atlanta next week.
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But instead of rolling on the Reds, the Mets hit a 24-year-old locomotive named Nick Ludlow, who not only matched Scherzer’s zero-to-zero but threw the same power (94.4 mph average fast to 94.6 mph for Scherzer) and scored the same The number of swings and notifications (15).
Not bad for a novice left-winger, having only made his fourth start in the Major League. Ludlow revealed the weaknesses of the Mets squad, notably not seeing the runners in the scoring position. They were 0 versus 8 on Tuesday and .167 over the past two weeks.
Showalter praised the 6-6 Ludlow for its unconventional, asymmetrical delivery, low three-quarter lever armhole and his “young Chris Seal” way of steering. This is a recipe for trouble even for elite hitters. But the Mets are built to overcome these obstacles, if we can even describe the Reds as an important roadblock.
Keep in mind: They lost 11 of the last 12 in the Great American game. No National League team has been this easy to win at home. However, the Mets hit 10 times. Francisco Lindor and Pete Alonso combined to go 0-for-8 with a four-k.
Well, maybe we’re over-focusing on one game. So let’s talk about the macro. The Mets need to score more runs, Showalter said. Even with a .500-plus record in June, the team’s hitting average dropped as dramatically (.278 to .232) as did the OPS (.770 to .670). In the last 30 days, the Mets have finished thirteenth in the NL in the races.
It’s up to GM Billy Ebler to work his magic between now and the trading deadline. Let’s see how much Steve Cohen is willing to spend to upgrade the roster. And it’s not just crime that needs help.
The bulls never looked thinner than they did on Tuesday. Showalter was forced to use Seth Logo for the second night in a row, apparently because Adam Ottavino was unavailable. Lugo went into a goalless match in the ninth inning and immediately blew it up, allowing the first three players he encountered to reach base (one by deliberate walking).
Mike Mostaskas’ sacrifice ended that sacrifice, and you don’t know, the Reds celebrated as if their season had been saved. It was actually a party for their self-esteem, but we wouldn’t envy the back slaps on the field and the loud slaps. They won a match started by Scherzer – which means a lot.
The Ace Mets have taken it all in stride, captaining the club as is. When Scherzer said, “We were playing great baseball,” he was the one staring from 30,000 feet away. The first half was generally good. The Mets are still number one, have the second best record in the NL and will reshape their best 1-2 baseball punch sooner rather than later.
Scherzer and deGrom, back in the day, is the franchise’s dream. This is a great way for Showalter and his players to watch the Rorschach Test.
Either you talk about losing to the last-place team or imagine better days ahead. Guess which door the Mets chose.
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Bob Klapisch can be reached at [email protected].