T.J. Rivera of the Bronx is On the Way But the Mets Are Not

T.J. Rivera of the Bronx is on the way but the Mets are on the way out

Rich Mancuso/Sports Editor

Tuesday night at Citi Field, Zach Greinke made a successful return to the mound for the Arizona Diamondbacks after missing six weeks with a strained left oblique. For the New York Mets it was the same situation of not getting the hits and scoring runs. And into this maelstrom, comes recent Pacific Coast League call up, T.J. Rivera (but more on him later).


As always, with the Mets nothing comes easy. And Greinke did not make it easy for a lineup that continues to struggle, though Steven Matz may be turning it around on the mound. His pitch count was high, the pitches were where he wanted them –most of the time– and he struck out nine.

This was the third in his last four outings that can be considered respectable, even though it took him 28 pitches to get out of the first inning.

However, after a career and season high 120 pitches he left his fate to a bullpen that has not helped the Mets cause in the hunt for that second NL wild card.

“It’s definitely frustrating but I think each of us individually has still got to go about and our business and do our work,” Matz said. “We can’t worry, this game’s over.”

What the rookie may have been saying is, there is reason to worry.  The Mets are a sinking ship and not resembling that second half team of last season. Though they still hit the homerun ball, another one from their hottest hitter Neil Walker, his 20th with a two-run shot in the sixth inning.

But that’s it. They only hit the long ball, don’t run or take the extra base, and when the bullpen fails, as it did again with Hansel Robles, they are not going to win ballgames. They have not won two straight since July 6-7 and are 10-14 since the all-star break.

You hear the boos when Michael Conforto and Travis d’Arnaud continue their failures at the plate.  Newcomer Jay Bruce, even in his new surroundings is not the difference maker, and he does not have Cespedes behind him in the lineup as was the plan.

Yes, it is different from a year ago, and losing to the Diamondbacks, cellar dwellers in the NL West, does not make them look any better. These six games with sub .500 teams, Arizona and San Diego can get some wins but there is a major issue.

And that issue is the Mets can’t beat the worse teams. And even with respectable pitching that does not resemble last season, they have this issue of not hitting and scoring runs. That, by all means is a difference maker.

What more can the manager say.  He is getting beyond the frustration point and if the old and reliable, Bartolo Colon does not pitch well Wednesday night the offense needs to score runs and that may be asking too much.

Collins said about d’Arnaud,: “It’s hard because he’s a guy who is a big part of our lineup. We’ve got to get him going. He’s far better than a .230 hitter.” And he said about Conforto and d’Arnaud, “We’ve got to get him and Michael going.”

“Last year in the World Series, “ said Collins, “those guys hit five and six, or sixth and seventh for us. They were a big part of our offense. If we’re going to get anything, they’ve got to be a part of it.”

But at this rate, and with the Mets trailing the Miami Marlins by 2-½ games for the second wild card spot, there is no conception, nor should there be any mention of the World Series.

“Any team I’ve been on, especially the last three years, this is the time of year you have to get on a roll,”Neil Walker said. That experience came with the Pittsburgh Pirates, and there can’t be a comparison with this Mets team of 2016 as comprised.

Walker is batting .491 over his last 13-games with two doubles, a triple,with four home runs and 11 RBI and entered the game with the best batting average in  the majors since July 27th.  So, he is definitely not the culprit, but d’Arnaud not making contact and allowing five D-back stolen bases behind the plate, is a culprit.

A culprit as to why this Mets team may not be like the one of last year, or the teams that Walker was with in Pittsburgh.

TJ Rivera_NY MetsBut there is some hope for an offense whose bats won’t wake up — maybe not a complete solution for manager Terry Collins — as T.J. Rivera may bring some of that Bronx attitude to a sinking ship. He is the 26-year old who has waited for the call and was the leading hitter in the very friendly confines of the Pacific Coast League.

So now T.J. Rivera comes to this sinking ship in Flushing, and there will be pressure on the Bronx native who was an all-city player at Lehman High School.

T.J. Rivera may not fit into the entire plan but what the heck the Mets had to give it a try and there is no telling how much longer Yoenis Cespedes will be out of the lineup as he nurses his bad quad down in Port St. Lucie, instead of playing golf.

The Mets are listing — they’re two games over .500 at 57-55. Some say it’ll take a miracle to get into the October postseason. It remains to be seen if the arrival of T.J. Rivera (and his Bronx state of mind) can help.

What needs to be seen is a long winning streak. And that my friends, as of right now, seems to be a mirage with these New York Mets. But who says miracles don’t happen?

Comment Rich Mancuso: Ring786@aol.com  Twitter@Ring786  Facebook.com/Rich Mancuso

Print Friendly, PDF & Email