This is just getting ridiculous. The Mets offense is simply unable to hit the ball as they fell to the Cubs on Saturday for a second straight game.
Jordany Valdespin made another dumb mistake that is sure to further anger the Mets hierarchy. Following a first inning single by Cody Ransom, Valdespin casually tossed the ball back to Jonathon Niese and it went over Niese’s head. Ransom went to second as Niese chased down the ball. No harm was done as Niese was able to strand Ransom, but it is just another demerit for Valdespin. Combine that with his 3-19 hitting since being given the starting job and this experiment will likely be coming an end very soon.
Niese walked the first two batters of the fourth, and it cost him. He recovered to get a strikeout and a ground out (with the runners advancing to second and third). He had opposing pitcher Scott Feldman up next with two outs, but Feldman singled to center to score two runs and give the Cubs a 2-0 lead. Darwin Barney singled and Niese walked Ransom to load the bases. Fortunately he was able to strike out Starlin Castro to end the inning and limit the damage.
Incidentally, the first batter Niese walked that inning, Anthony Rizzo, was nearly picked off of first. The throw beat him, but somehow he was able to get around the tag and get back to the base. The inning obviously would have been far different had Daniel Murphy been able to tag him.
The Mets didn’t get their first hit off of Feldman until the fourth, when Murphy led off with a double off the wall in left for his 20th two-bagger of the season. Murphy stole third, a risky maneuver with no outs. David Wright then doubled to deep right just out of the reach of a leaping Scott Hairston to make it a 2-1 game. Marlin Byrd struck out, Lucas Duda popped out and Justic Turner grounded out to leave Wright at second. This was a classic Mets inning — the only Mets hitters worth a damn combine for a run while the rest of the team is quietly retired.
Niese was lifted from the game with a runner on second and two outs in the sixth. LaTroy Hawkins came on to get the final out.
Niese persevered through 5.2 uneven innings. He only let up two runs, but he issued four walks and allowed six hits. He struck out five Cubs.
With one out in the seventh inning, Duda attempted to bunt for a base hit against the shift. It wasn’t a terrible idea considering he cannot hit to save his life, but the execution was poor; he bunted it right in front of the catcher. So add bunting to the list of things Lucas Duda can’t do.
After all of this hitting incompetence, the game was still close enough to give the Mets a chance to win the game late. The bullpen took care of that in the eighth. Scott Rice allowed two base runners and was lifted in favor of Brandon Lyon with one out. He allowed a single to load the bases, then walked a batter to force in a run to make it 3-1. Castro then hit a line drive ground rule double over a helpless Duda’s head to make it 5-1. After getting the second out, Rizzo was intentionally walked to load the bases again. Up stepped old friend Scott Hairston, who could have stuck it to his former team big-time. Instead he popped out to end the inning.
The Mets bats finally came alive in the bottom of the eighth. Juan Lagares, pinch hitter Kirk Nieuwenhuis and Valdespin all singled consecutively to plate a run to make it 5-2. Murphy grounded out for the second out, advancing the runners to second and third, but Wright struck out to end the inning.
A single, double and intentional walk loaded the bases with no outs in the ninth. Barney then hit a sinking liner to center. Lagares trapped the ball, but no one was quite sure whether it was caught or not. Amid much confusion among everyone (runners, fielders, umpires, managers) there was eventually a force out at second for the first out. Greg Burke got the final two outs.
The Mets got the tying run to the plate in the ninth. A single and an error put runners on first and second with one out. But pinch hitter John Buck and Lagares both flew out to end the game.
Mets lose 5-2. They have lost 10 of their last 12 games since that sweep of the Yankees and are now 15 games under .500.