Friday night was another of those awful nights for the Mets — a soul-crushing defeat, the type we have seen far too often this season. Blame the defense, the offense, the bullpen and Terry Collins for spoiling Jacob deGrom’s 27th birthday.
deGrom was cruising along through seven innings in Atlanta, allowing just two hits and clinging to a 1-0 lead when Andrelton Simmons led off the eighth with a double. Eury Perez’s sacrifice bunt went between third and the mound. deGrom fielded it and was ready to fire to third to get the lead runner. However, Ruben Tejada charged to field the ball, so third was vacant. deGrom had to settle for the out at first.
“In that particular bunt play, he did the right thing,” Collins said about Tejada, according to ESPN New York. “He’s got to go get the ball. We’re trying to get an out there. I’m not worried about anything else. If this guy bunts the ball too hard and Ruben doesn’t come after it, and if Jake doesn’t get it, we’ve got first and third. We’ve got a big situation. He did the right thing. We made the right play.”
I don’t know about that. But how about a wheel play, where the shortstop covers third? That basic strategy is apparently not in the Mets playbook.
In any case, deGrom got the next batter, Pedro Ciriaco, to hit a grounder to short. Wilmer Flores correctly looked Simmons back, but he looked too long and by the time he threw to first, the speedy Ciriaco beat the throw. Perhaps Flores was admiring Simmons, looking at a shortstop who actually knows how to play the position.
“I thought he was going on contact,” Flores said. “Just my mistake not knowing how fast the runner was. … I just took too long to throw to first. Obviously games like this, any mistake will cost you. It happened.”
The next mistake may have been the worst. Collins decided to pull deGrom from the game in favor of Sean Gilmartin. And Collins’ explanation for this is baffling.
“He’s at 97 pitches, 90 degrees out,” Collins said. “He hung the slider to Simmons. He got the ball up to Perez, even though he was bunting. I just thought it was time.”
Okay, so Collins thought deGrom was tiring. But then he added this:
“If he’d have got Ciriaco out, he would have stayed in to face the next guy. One out, I was looking for a strikeout.”
So Collins did not think deGrom was tiring, He only came out of the game because another player made a mistake. That makes no sense. Also, if you want a strikeout, wouldn’t you rather have deGrom on the mound than Gilmartin? Yes, that made for a lefty-lefty matchup against Jace Peterson, but I would take my chances with the young stud starter over the Rule-5 guy.
And of course Gilmartin allowed a two-run double to Peterson to lose the game.
It should also be noted that deGrom was only in this precarious situation because the offense could only muster one run and six hits against Matt Wisler, a fellow making his major league debut. But I guess Wisler is used to pitching to Triple-A lineups.
This is one of those loses that can really demoralize a team, not to mention deGrom. This cannot keep happening.