The Mets hit, pitched and fielded poorly Sunday night. That adds up to a loss — a humiliating one at that — no matter the length of the season.
It is just easier to paper over it and move on when the schedule is 162 games. At 60 games, losing two of three to the Braves represents 5 percent of the schedule. But what else?
The Mets must hope not much. Because what there was to like — Jacob deGrom and Steven Matz pitching, Michael Conforto and Brandon Nimmo hitting, the work of their best setup relievers — was overshadowed by the worrisome and worse.
Are they going to endure regression from Pete Alonso and J.D. Davis (a combined 2-for-21) over the weekend, with Alonso reaching beyond the fringes of the infield just once in a 1-for-11, five-strikeout three-gamer?
Are they going to receive nothing near the primes from Robinson Cano and Yoenis Cespedes (a combined 3-for-19). Cespedes had a dramatic homer in Friday’s season-opening win and was 1-for-9 with five strikeouts otherwise.
Are they going to continue to shoehorn Davis in left and Nimmo in center and try to outhit what they don’t catch? On Sunday night, Nimmo did not snare a ball in center that Jake Marisnick probably would have and Davis did not grab one in left that Nimmo likely does.
Are they going to suffer through more homer-doused closer failure from Edwin Diaz, who was one strike away Saturday from assuring the Mets a winning first weekend? The Mets were outscored 18-2 from when Diaz entered the ninth inning until Sunday night’s game mercifully concluded.
Are they going to be able to conjure enough starting pitching beyond deGrom and — let’s assume this guy has ascended — Matz to make even an expanded eight-team NL playoff field? This is the most pressing issue after Rick Porcello was rocked in his Mets debut and Corey Oswalt looked more like he was auditioning to be a batting practice pitcher than Marcus Stroman’s fill-in.
Porcello and Oswalt were the main piñatas as the Mets allowed 11 extra-base hits (tied for third most in franchise history) in a 14-1 Braves rout so discouraging it could make a cardboard cutout fan cover its eyes.
“This is baseball,” Porcello said, trying to quickly wash away the blowout. “We have 57 more games.”
Now, that is different. Usually three down means 159 to go. Not this year. Which explains why even the normally find-the-rainbow-in-any-storm Luis Rojas talked about the urgency for the offense to collectively assemble a better effort after managing five runs in 28 innings.
“We are chasing and that is leading to not impacting the ball hard and consistently,” the Mets manager said.
Run scoring is imperative now that the Mets no longer are a team built around its rotation. Matt Harvey imploded, Zack Wheeler departed and Noah Syndergaard needed Tommy John surgery. Stroman (calf) is going to miss at least a few starts. Suddenly, the Mets are deGrom and Matz and pray for bats. Which is why the Mets need a solid Porcello.
In 2019, 61 pitchers qualified for the ERA title and Porcello’s 5.52 was the worst. The Mets signed him believing his sturdiness backed by a strong offense and pen would be a boon. He has 11 more starts to validate that.
“It’s been a dream of mine since I was a kid [to pitch for the Mets],” Porcello said. “That makes it very disappointing today. … It was a terrible performance.”
Porcello was harmed by his defense. Still, with no command of his changeup, Porcello was tattooed by the Braves, who went 7-for-12 with three doubles and three walks. The veteran righty never produced an out in the third inning and was charged with seven runs (six earned). Oswalt followed and seven of the 20 batters he faced hit the ball more than 100 mph and seven crashed an extra-base hit, including three homers.
The Mets now have four straight against Porcello’s old team. The Red Sox have bigger rotation problems than the Mets, but still possess a strong offense even without Mookie Betts. Michael Wacha, the other Met rotation addition from the offseason, goes Monday in Fenway and the Mets have not yet announced Tuesday. Rojas keeps publicly tabling it, perhaps hoping Tom Seaver walks in or Stroman limps by. It now won’t be Oswalt. It could be Erasmo Ramirez.
It will all feel better if Wacha does what Porcello couldn’t in his Mets debut, and Alonso, Davis, Cano and Cespedes awaken against that poor Boston rotation. This, after all, was just one weekend. But one weekend in a 60-game season.
Just 57 to go.
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