ROYALS 4, METS 3
The Mets opened up 2016 the exact same way the closed out 2015, getting buried by the Kansas City Royals amid a plethora of mistakes and bad decisions. A bobbled ball in the outfield by Yoenis Cespedes, a misplay in the outfield by Juan Lagares, questionable decision making by Terry Collins, and poor at bats did the Mets in on a night where they had to sit through an entire World Series celebration ceremony.
While it is only one game, and there are 161 more games to go in the season, Sunday's loss was disturbing. Disturbing from the vantage point that the Mets may have been exposed a bit as a team that needs more work on the fundamentals if this season is truly going to be a success.
This is not to take anything away from the Royals, who have built a reputation as a team that prays upon and cashes in on other teams mistakes. There is a reason why Kansas City has been to two straight World Series' and has a championship to boot.
Still this was a tough one to sit through for the Mets. And it started right away when Yoenis Cespedes bobbled a fly ball off the bat of Mike Moustakas in left field. A ball that Cespedes should have caught, he dropped leading everyone to have flashbacks to Game 1 of the World Series when he dropped a fly ball in center field that led to a Royals rally.
The Cespedes error wasn't the only mistake of the inning. Travis d'Arnaud had a pitch from Matt Harvey bounce off his glove, allowing Moustakas to get into scoring position. Of course the Royals made the Mets pay later in the frame when Met-killer, Eric Hosmer lined a base hit through the hole at short, driving in Moustakas to make it 1-0.
For Matt Harvey this was not his night, but it wasn't his fault the Mets lost. He made his pitches, kept his team in the game and threw strikes. The problem was the defense behind him was just putrid. Harvey kept it 1-0 and 2-0 for the longest time, before everything fell apart in the sixth inning.
In that frame, Harvey walked Lorenzo Cain to lead things off. Then, Hosmer put down a perfect bunt single to move Cain over to second. How the Mets allowed themselves to get duped on this, I'll never understand. After Harvey got Franklin Morales to ground into a double-play, he was almost out of the inning, were it not for Juan Lagares misplaying a fly ball off the bat of Alex Gordon. The ball bounced in and out of Lagares' glove, allowing a run to score to make it 3-0.
Harvey soon exited the game for Bartolo Colon, who proceeded to give up a run scoring single to Omar Infante. Why Mets manager Terry Collins decided to bring Colon into the game is a real head scratcher. While Colon didn't give up any runs on his own personal ledger, this was a spot for Collins to put faith in his bullpen and he didn't do it. Instead Collins went to his fifth starter, an obvious sign that there is something wrong with the Mets front end of the pen. Collins doesn't trust them and it was obvious on Sunday night.
Now trailing 4-0, the Mets finally woke up against Joakim Soria in the eighth. Lagares singled, Curtis Granderson singled, and Cespedes walked to load it up for Lucas Duda. Duda punched a single to left to score two runs and the Mets were in business, down 4-2. Neil Walker, who had a ho-hum evening at the dish, grounded into a fielder's choice for a RBI to make it 4-3.
The effort wasn't enough. With the tying and lead run on base, the Royals went to Luke Hochevar, who struck out Asdrubal Cabrera swinging on a pitch low in the zone. A bad at bat by the Mets in a crucial spot.
However, the biggest blown opportunity came in the ninth inning with runners on the corners and one out with David Wright at the plate. Wright fell behind 0-2 and decided to take a fastball down the middle for strike three. Wright didn't swing to defend inside and came away fooled by Wade Davis. Now it was up to Cespedes with an opportunity for some redemption; but, Cespedes ended up striking out on pitch way outside to end the game.
The Mets (0-1) didn't look good on Sunday. They were exposed. If the Mets are going to be a repeat National League/World Series contender they are going to have to clean up a lot over the course of the season. Sunday was just a start, but not a good one.