Every summer my Dad and I take a trip to some ballpark that we have never seen before to catch a few Mets games. This year, we decided to come out to Kansas City to check out Kauffman Stadium for the first time and hopefully watch the Mets take a series sweep.
The second we arrived, memories of 2015 slowly crept into our minds like a bad virus, as remnants of the championship that slipped through the Mets fingers were apparent throughout the ballpark. The worst of which was the Royals Hall-of-Fame, where we literally got to see the Commissioner’s Trophy and World Series rings from that year.
All was good though, because here the Mets sit in the thick of a Wild Card race, whereas the Royals are one of the worst teams in baseball. Then the games started, and it was tough to distinguish which team was the one playing for something.
Friday night, the Mets were utterly lifeless. They did not record a single extra-base hit, as an offense featuring Juan Lagares, Joe Panik, Tomas Nido and Ruben Tejada couldn’t muster much of a punch.
Noah Syndergaard was electric early on, but then clearly began to tire in the heat of a humid night, for which he later proclaimed to be, “Sweating like a greased pig.” Syndergaard still fought through the fatigue to deliver the Mets a quality six-inning start.
Brad Brach did not fare as well in the eighth inning, yielding a pair of hits and walking a batter before being pulled in favor of Edwin Diaz. You all know what happened from there. Diaz walked in a run, gave up a base hit that scored another, then allowed a bomb that was first called a grand slam. That home run was a soul-crusher and even when it was later ruled a foul ball, the feeling remained. Now Diaz worked his way out of it and the Mets made it interesting in the ninth, but overall it was simply a frustrating exercise that made us wish we never flew halfway across the country to watch this team.
Saturday was supposed to bring more promise. I mean how could you lose to the Royals twice? Not to mention the fact that the 7 Line Army showed up in a full force, making it feel like a home game for the Mets.
Then the game started, and it just felt like a continuation of the madness from the night before.
Jacob deGrom was great throughout, but when Pete Alonso booted a potential inning-ending double play in the fourth inning, the Royals took the early lead and even one run felt insurmountable. It wasn’t though, as Juan Lagares, Aaron Altherr and Joe Panik each singled in the fifth and the Mets tied the game.
While the Mets ultimately won, the Royals sure helped them get there. While you all watched Pete Alonso deliver a base hit that scored two runs in the seventh inning, what I saw was a blatant mistake by Royals second baseman Whit Merrifield.
Merrifield made a sliding stop on the ball that was hit up the middle and then due to the Altherr’s attempt to score from second base, he made an ill-advised throw home. When Merrifield stopped the ball, Alonso was only about halfway down the baseline. I didn’t even notice Altherr dashing to the plate, as my eyes were glued to what I expected to be a bang-bang play at first base. Had Merrifield thrown to first, the Mets probably don’t win that game.
New York scored another run in the eighth inning, as Lagares tripled home Luis Guillorme, putting the Mets up 4-1. Not to take anything away from Lagares, who had another great night going 3-for-4, but that could have easily been an F9. Royals right fielder Hunter Dozier got a terrible jump on the ball, taking his first step in before going back on it, as the ball sailed just over his glove and all the way to the wall.
This isn’t to begrudge the Mets for benefiting from a 44-79 team playing to their record, but their performance so far in Kansas City does not inspire much confidence as the Mets head into the very difficult homestand that lies ahead. They also have to take the last game of this series, as they cannot afford to lose another game to the Royals when they play nothing but playoff caliber teams over the next month.
Until the Mets get reinforcements off the IL, they need to find a way to play with a lot more energy if they are going to beat the likes of the Cleveland Indians, Atlanta Braves and the Chicago Cubs over the coming few weeks. The starting pitching can only take this team so far and expecting each one to deliver seven innings of shutout ball every night is pretty unreasonable.
Lagares and Panik have had their moments, but every night it seems like once the Mets get past the first five hitters in their lineup, they don’t have a prayer to score another run. If they can’t find a solution to their run production problem, this team is going to be on the outside looking in come October.