Flushing, NY- Francisco Lindor returned to the Mets lineup at Citi Field Tuesday night batting third at shortstop and for the first time in six weeks after sustaining a right oblique strain. And Javier Baez was in the lineup starting at second base in the cleanup spot.
Two childhood friends and teammates representing Puerto Rico in the World Baseball Classic were on the same team again, and it is hoped the Mets would get an added boost to their anemic offense with their presence.
But Lindor and Baez did not have an auspicious debut before the home crowd. The first place Giants, a team with the best record in baseball and leading in home runs, also made things more miserable for the Mets scoring early.
Four home runs off Mets starter Tylor Megill and the Giants increased their MLB HR lead to 191, as 51.9 percent of their runs came with the home run ball.
Unfortunately, though, the Mets did not hit a home run. They were shutout 8-0 and that anticipated duo of Lindor and Baez in the lineup had no impact as the Mets, 14-24 since the All-Star break, continued to struggle.
“The energy is going to be sky-high, I think, with those two in there just talking the whole game, moving guys around, and then just keeping everybody on their toes,” manager Luis Rojas said prior to the game
“His energy, his bat, his defense ,everything he brings to help the team win games.” Rojas said about Lindor. “It’s been hard to be out there without his presence.”
Acting GM Zack Scott was also enthused to have Lindor and Baez on the field together and he echoed what Rojas said.
“They’re both good players with good careers. Both good defenders bring a lot to the team and impact a game in many ways. Very good to get them back. They’re exciting players, with a lot of energy and fun to watch.”
But Lindor and Baez were not fun to watch Tuesday night. Lindor opted to skip a rehab assignment and said he felt strong after an 0-for-4 night at the plate and leaving three on base. HIs first at bat went for a long out to the warning track, and a ball just went foul in the fourth that could have been a home run
The Mets lost for the ninth time in 11 games and managed five hits. They have two more games against the Giants that will end this 13-game gauntlet that also included the Dodgers and have them sliding away from the first place Braves.
“Love to say, I have the answers why we’re struggling, why I’m struggling,” Lindor said. “We need to find a way. We just not having the results we want. I felt good. I felt I had good swings. I was moving good on defense.”
Scott attempted to explain why the Mets continue to chase pitches as they struggle with situational hitting. The Mets sit 29th in baseball in that all important factor of runs scored.
“Situational hitting often fluctuates with an individual player and compared to 2020, we struggled with runners in scoring position,” he said. “Chasing pitches, there’s real baseball reasons why this happens. “
Baez was no factor at the plate. He went hitless, 0-for-3, and In the second inning was completely fooled when swinging at a changeup miles away, though eventually worked out a walk off Giants starter and winning pitcher Sammy Long.
But the overall consensus is the Mets need to win ball games if they want to be a factor in a quest to chase the Braves and bypass the Phillies in the NL East, also needing production from Lindor and Baez.
Tuesday night it was the Giants winning another ballgame. Four home runs and former Met Wilmer Flores getting an extra base hit to go along with 15 hits off Megill and the bullpen
Rojas said his team got some good hacks but the chasing continued. He said this was not a step back after his team managed to get a win on the road Sunday against the Dodgers that completed a 2-5 trip that included the Giants.
But as Lindor said, “We don’t have a lot of time. It’s time to go. It’s been time to go. We’ve got to find a way.”
And to find that way is for Lindor and Baez to have an impact.
Rich Mancuso: Twitter@Ring786 Facebook.com/Rich Mancuso
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