The New York Mets 2016 season got off to a rather inauspicious start with a 4-3 loss to the Kansas City Royals on Sunday night. In a lot of ways the defeat felt disturbingly familiar to the way the Mets lost four of five games to Kansas City in last Fall’s World Series, with the Royals taking full advantage of every Mets miscue. On Sunday, terrible defense, poor in-game management and bad at bats plagued the Mets, resulting in a defeat to their newest American League rival.
Who were the heroes and zeroes from Sunday night’s matchup? Lets dive in.
Michael Conforto: There weren’t many heroes on Sunday for the Mets, but Conforto was surely one of them. The second year player was 2-for-2 with two walks in the opener, including reaching on an infield single to give the Mets a chance in the eighth inning. In the seventh, he lined a double off the wall, nearly missing a home run, and ended up at third on a ground out by Asdrubal Cabrera. Unfortunately the Mets couldn’t bring him home.
Lucas Duda: While he went 1-for-4 in the opener, Duda had the biggest hit of the day for the Mets, when he dropped a dime for a two-run single to left field that cut the Kansas City lead to 4-2. His hit gave the Mets a huge lift, albeit briefly, after they had been shutout for seven innings.
Eric Hosmer Good thing for the Mets Hosmer doesn’t play in the National League East, because if he did, he would be this generation’s Chipper Jones. He just absolutely kills the Mets. On Sunday, Hosmer was 3-for-4 with an RBI. His RBI single to left in the first inning cashed in the games first run after another hideous error by Yoenis Cespedes. Hosmer later reached on a bunt single in the sixth that helped produce a run for the Royals.
Edinson Volquez Even though he was wearing the wrong baseball cap at the start of the game, it didn’t matter for Volquez who was very good in his opening start to 2016. He worked around three walks, and surrendered only two hits to the Mets over six innings of work to get the victory.
Luke Hochevar: Came into the eighth inning and struck out Asdrubal Cabrera with the tying and go-ahead runs on base with two out. It was huge.
Yoenis Cespedes: Cespedes put that $27 million contract to good use in the first inning when he dropped what should have been a sure fly out off the bat of Mike Moustakas. Cespedes’ approach to the baseball was nonchalant as he tried to snare it with one hand. As a result, the ball bounced out of his glove, allowing Moustakas to reach. This is the second time Cespedes cost the Mets and Matt Harvey dearly in a game in Kansas City. Google Game 1 of the World Series for evidence. Cespedes’ defense is going to be a concern all year long.
Terry Collins: In the sixth inning, after Kansas City scored another run to make it 3-0, he decides to take Harvey out of the game for Bartolo Colon. While, I understand Colon won’t start a game until next Sunday at the very least, the fact that Collins went to him this quickly in the first game of the season indicates that he really doesn’t trust the bullpen he brought north from Port St. Lucie. For the first game of the season, this was a terrible thing to get exposed for. Collins should have trusted his REAL bullpen.
In addition, why did he decide to pinch run Travis d’Arnaud with Eric Campbell who is not fleet of foot, and have Alejadro deAza, who owns 86 stolen bases in his career, hit in that spot in the ninth? Made no sense there.
Mets defense: Not all the blame can be pinned on Cespedes. In the sixth inning, Juan Lagares was playing too deep on Alex Gordon’s single to center, and ended up having the baseball fall out of his glove. As a result another run scored, giving the Royals a 3-0 lead. Even Travis d’Arnaud had a rough night behind the plate, allowing a ball to bounce off his glove in the first inning, and allowing a number of Royals hitters to run on him without a challenge.
Mets Offensive Woes: The Mets were 1-for-8 with RISP on Sunday. They didn’t muster much of a fight against Volquez, and when the offense finally started to flex its muscles it was too little too late. Cabrera’s strikeout on a ball low in the zone with the tying and lead runs on base was bad. However, David Wright’s taking of a 0-2 pitch on inside without protecting the plate, in the ninth inning, was unacceptable.
Matt Harvey: Can’t call Harvey really a zero in this game, but he wasn’t the hero either. He did his best, but was not helped out by his defense. Case in point had Cespedes caught a fly ball in left, Harvey could have gotten out of the first inning without a run scoring. The Royals’ two-run sixth inning wasn’t Harvey’s fault either. That blame belongs on Lagares.