Luis Rojas knew he had both a short bench and a short bullpen going into the finale of a 3 game set with the Padres in which the Mets took the first 2 games. And when he decided to lift starting pitcher Joey Lucchesi after the Mets took a 2-1 lead on a Jose Peraza 2 run homer he called on Jeurys Familia to bridge the game to Trevor May who was the only available closer with Edwin Diaz, Miquel Castro, Aaron Loup and Seth Lugo all unavailable on this day.
“This was a tough one”, said Luis Rojas after the game, “especially knowing that we had the lead against them and knowing that our bullpen has been pitching well we felt pretty good but it just flipped for us.”
A big part of that flip came when Familia lost his command giving up a bases loaded walk to tie the game as he looked to be out of gas in that 7th inning. At that point, Jacob Barnes entered the game serving up a grand slam homer to Fernando Tatis Jr. followed by a solo shot from Manny Machado to put this game out of reach.
The Mets played the Padres seven times in the past week winning four of those contests as these 2 teams appear to be very evenly matched with great pitching and some dynamic hitters on both rosters. But make no mistake about it–Fernando Tatis Jr, left a large imprint on the minds of the Mets. Rojas said, “He can beat you in so many ways with his bat, his legs , his arm and his smarts.”
The good news is the Mets got another solid start from Joey Lucchesi and that could help the Mets going into a 2 week stretch with 3 doubleheaders in that stretch as well as a 4 game series with the Cubs this week before that twin bill parade starts. Some of the injured players are in the middle of rehab stints which could give the Mets some relief in the near future. And as distressing as this loss was to endure, the Mets took a series from the Padres who had no answers for Met pitchers Jacob deGrom and Marcus Stroman or for Edwin Diaz which I think leaves them with a feeling that a playoff encounter with the Mets would be a tough series–maybe tougher than any potential post-season opponent.
My read on these 7 games is a potential NLCS between these 2 teams has the chance to be classic post-season baseball. We have a long way to go before that would occur. From the Padre perspective, they know Jacob deGrom is a steep almost impossible hill to climb while the Mets know the high octane Padre offense coupled with some strong arms pose a challenge as well. But the Mets won 4 of these seven games–including 4 out of the last five contests.
Next up for the Mets is a 4 game series versus a Cub team here at Citi the next four nights before heading to DC for 4 games in three days and then return home to battle the Braves and Phils for 10 games in 8 days. The Mets have climbed every obstacle so far this year holding the top spot in the NL East for over a month. This upcoming stretch is challenging but also a chance to put more distance between them and their NL East opponents.
And the Padres and Mets now part ways for the season knowing they could meet with EVERYTHING on the line in October. And we got a taste of how special an October matchup could be as this 7 game encounter in June illustrated for all of the baseball world to see.