Mets’ slump continues amid Yoenis Cespedes fiasco

Like Yoenis Cespedes, the Mets’ bats have gone AWOL.

After exploding for 10 runs in the first six innings Friday night, the Mets have managed just one over the last 22 innings and have now lost five straight games following Sunday’s dismal 4-0 loss to the Braves in Atlanta.

As has been the case for most of this abbreviated season, the Mets imploded with runners in scoring position, managing just an infield single in 15 opportunities to fall to 3-7 a sixth of the way into this 60-game abbreviated season. Only Jacob deGrom stands in the way of an ugly four-game sweep at the hands of their rival.

Early in the game, the Mets announced Cespedes didn’t show up to the ballpark on Sunday and didn’t contact anyone from the team to explain his whereabouts. GM Brodie Van Wagenen told reporters following that game that Cespedes was opting out of the rest of the season due to coronavirus-related concerns.

Mets lose again as Yoenis Cespedes doesn't report to today's game.
Mets lose again as Yoenis Cespedes doesn’t report to today’s game.AP; Corey Sipkin

There is also uncertainty of what has happened to the offense that on paper looked so promising. The Mets actually outhit the Braves, 10-7, but continued to be inept in big spots. Pete Alonso, looking completely out of sorts – he’s struck out 15 times in 40 at-bats this season — failed three times with runners in scoring position and fanned three times. Robinson Cano and Tomas Nido each grounded into killer inning-ending double plays with multiple men on base.

There was one bright spot. In his second major league start, David Peterson pitched reasonably well, limiting the Braves to three runs across six innings while striking out eight. He allowed two runs in the third, in part due to a mental mistake by Jeff McNeil, and a solo homer to Johan Camargo in the fourth. In the third, with runners on second and third and nobody out, Adeiny Hechavarria grounded out to McNeil at third. McNeil instantly threw home instead of running toward the runner, which enabled Adam Duvall to return to the base safely. Peterson walked Ronald Acuna with the bases loaded to force in the game’s first run and Freddie Freeman grounded out to plate another.

The way the Mets were hitting when runners got on base, though, it didn’t matter how well Peterson pitched. Their issues coming up with the clutch reached comedic proportions, going hitless in their first 10 at bats with runners in scoring position. Even when Amed Rosario singled with J.D. Davis on second base in the sixth inning, it didn’t plate a run since Dansby Swanson kept the ball in the infield with a headlong dive. Predictably, Nido grounded into a 6-4-3 double play to end the threat.

The Mets put a runner on third base with less than two outs twice and failed to score on each occasion. They had the leadoff man on six times and couldn’t score. And now, just 10 days into this shortened season, they are flirting with danger.