Up-and-down Mets fall to D-Backs, 5-3
NEW YORK — Back-to-back wins have happened before, although you wouldn’t know by watching the Mets.
The team has not produced a winning streak in 27 games after falling to the Diamondbacks, 5-3, on Tuesday night at Citi Field. The Mets (57-55) now have lost 11 straight games following a win, and Hansel Robles allowed three runs in the seventh to waste a fine outing by Steven Matz.
Tuesday’s loss started a string of nine straight games against losing teams, and manager Terry Collins said before the game this would be a “very important stretch” for the team. That stretch began poorly. The Mets were just seven outs away from their first back-to-back wins in more than a month when Robles surrendered the lead. The Mets led, 3-2, with two outs in the seventh with runners on second and third when Robles surrendered a two-run triple to light-hitting Michael Bourn.
Bourn is a lefty batter, but manager Terry Collins passed on using lefty specialist Jerry Blevins in that spot because Bourn has hit lefties better than righties this season. Paul Goldschmidt then followed with an RBI single off Robles for a 5-3 lead.
Robles’ rough night erased the good vibes that had permeated Citi Field after Neil Walker hit a two-run homer off Zack Greinke in the bottom of the sixth that gave the Mets a 3-2 lead. Walker is on a 26-for-53 hot streak, with four homers, 11 RBI and 10 runs in his last 13 games, and stroked the first pitch of his at-bat over the wall in right-center.
Walker gave the Mets the lead in the first inning by scoring on James Loney’s RBI groundout for a 1-0 advantage. He singled with one out.
The second baseman now has 20 homers, and is helping his cause to stay with the team beyond the season. Walker is a free agent-to-be but the team does not have a set replacement for next season after trading Dilson Herrera to the Reds to land slugger Jay Bruce at the trade deadline.
Walker turns 31 next month, and could be in line for a deal similar to the three-year, $37.5 million contract that ex-Met Daniel Murphy received from Washington this past off-season. The Mets also can offer Walker the one-year qualifying offer, but it seems a safe bet that Walker would decline it.
GM Sandy Alderson praised Walker on Tuesday for his performance this season, and said he expects to have conversations with Walker’s representatives about extending the partnership. Walker is open to it.
The Mets were in position to claim the game on Walker’s homer as Steven Matz gutted through six innings of two-run ball to throw more than 110 pitches for the first time in his career. Matz had only thrown more than 105 pitches in three of his 26 career regular-season stats entering the night.
The lefty had his swing-and-miss pitches Tuesday and it allowed him to tie his career-high with nine strikeouts, but homers once again burned him. He surrendered a homer to Brandon Drury in the second that tied the score at 1-all, and a go-ahead solo homer to Goldschmidt in the sixth. Matz has allowed 14 homers in 21 starts this season.
As Matz accumulated the strikeouts it pushed his pitch count, and limited him to six innings. He needed at least 20 pitches in four of his innings, and tossed 87 through four innings. The Diamondbacks threatened often against the rookie, but he held them 0-for-6 with runners in scoring position.