It's the little things that kill a season, and the seventh inning last night felt like a microcosm of what is killing this team in 2017. I know, I know, it's the injuries too, but then it's the little things...
For instance, Travis d'Arnaud tied last night's game with a home run in the top of the seventh inning. Neil Ramirez then entered in relief for the Mets and began the bottom of the inning by walking Miami's leadoff batter, J.T. Realmuto. JT Riddle then followed with a single to give the Marlins runners on first and third with no one out.
In relief of Ramirez, Jerry Blevins was called on to face pinch hitter Ichiro Suzuki, who slapped a single on the ground to left field. Dee Gordon moved the runners up with a hit, and Giancarlo Stanton was intentionally walked to load the bases. Christian Yelich then hit a a 2-2 pitch up the middle to drive in two more runs and extend Miami's lead to 6-3, which would end up being the final score.
Jun 23, 2017; Ichiro Suzuki (51) bats in the seventh inning at Marlins Park. Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
Because of the injuries, Ramirez is on the roster and pitching in relief during a 3-3 game to start the seventh inning. He then walked the leadoff hitter, which, if a team intends to win games and crawl back in to a pennant race, is something it just can't do in a tie game. Then, Duda is unable to come up with a hard hit, short hop grounder to first, which, had he not been playing in front of the runner at first, he may have had a better chance at snagging and turning in to a bases-clearing double play. Instead, it ricocheted off his glove and resulted in runners at first and third and still no outs.
Then, as if the entire inning wasn't frustrating enough, Blevins lays a meatball over the plate to Ichiro, which he slaps toward the left of third baseman Flores, who (for whatever reason) broke toward his right. No matter how many times I watch this back, I can't imagine what he was thinking. It just makes no sense. It would make some sense if there was a runner on second, who faked running, and had Wilmer started to break for third before the ball was hit. But, that's not what happened. Instead, with no one on second, Flores was still and didn't lean toward third until after the ball was clearly hit on the ground toward his left. It's so bizarre...
The thing is, even if he played it right, and went left on contact, because Ichiro is a master at threading needles, I'm still not sure Wilmer would have gotten to it anyway, because he's hardly known for his range. And, since the runner on third was going on contact, even if Flores was able to deflect the ground ball, the lead run likely would have still scored.
Anyway, here's my point: A healthier team would hopefully have had a more disciplined, talented reliever available in the game -- instead of Ramirez -- avoiding the first mistake, which was the leadoff walk. And even if that batter had reached base to start the inning, a more aware and physically talented infield defense would almost certainly have made most of the plays in the field, or at the very least kept it a one-run game if not a tie game.
But, such is the 2017 Mets, everyone, and because they're decimated by injuries, playing guys out of position and putting defense and smart baseball last, they're losing very winnable games over and over again.
Matthew Cerrone (Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Contact) is lead writer of MetsBlog.com, which he created in 2003. He also hosts the MetsBlog Podcast, which you can subscribe to here. He recently left his position as Executive Editor and Dir. of Digital Content for SNY.TV to help sports brands build their own digital content businesses...