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Mets & Padres Got Desperate, With Nothing Left to Lose

Mets & Padres

The Mets & Padres opened a series against each other to cap off the first half of the season as two of the hottest teams in baseball, just as the pundits projected before the season began.

The Mets won their fifth game in a row in Arizona, matching their season high. The Mets’ win streak was matched for the longest in the majors as the summer’s last three days before the All-Star break came on Friday.

Mets & Padres

Following a day off on Thursday, the Padres charged into the weekend after sweeping the Los Angeles Angels in three games. Both sides were swinging with recklessness and surging in momentum as Yu Darvish lined up against Justin Verlander for a fascinating start to a weekend of baseball in San Diego – Friday’s attendance of 42,712 was the Padres’ 37th sellout this season.

“They’re just another team in our way,” remarked Pete Alonso, the Mets’ lone All-Star this season, calmly as the series began Friday.

And the Padres proved it on the first night of a three-game series, losing 7-5 in 10 innings to the Mets, who extended their winning streak to six games. It is now the longest in the majors — Cincinnati lost in Milwaukee on Friday — and the club’s second-best streak to begin the month of July, behind a 10-0 start in 1991.

“We need to go on a streak,” Verlander said following Friday’s victory. “Some games are like yesterday’s, while others are like today — some things go your way.”

“It seems like a lot of things haven’t been going our way, so it’s nice to see”

Ha-Seong Kim’s response to being thrown out trying to stretch a double into a triple with one out in the seventh inning of a 3-3 game demonstrated the high-stakes tension. Angry at his error, he kicked a water cooler in the dugout, injuring his big right toe, and his status was labeled as day-to-day by the Padres. Kim has been batting leadoff and is one of San Diego’s finest players, so his absence would be devastating. He is second in the National League among position players, behind Atlanta’s Ronald Acua Jr., with 4 wins above replacement, and he leads all major leaguers in defensive WAR.

In many respects, the opening of the series felt like the teams were taking up where they left off last October, when deafening noise, kaleidoscope colors, and taut tension characterized a remarkable three-game wild-card series swept by the Padres at Citi Field.

Both clubs’ prospects appeared to be boundless at the moment.

Perhaps not so much.

Instead, these star-studded clubs with exorbitant payrolls and unrealistic expectations remain mirror versions of each other. The visuals, however, are distorted as though by a fun-house mirror.

Despite their recent hot streaks, the Mets and Padres have almost little to show for their combined payrolls of more than $500 million for the 2023 season. According to Spotrac, the Mets’ overall payroll is anticipated to be more than $340 million, while the Padres’ payroll is estimated to be more than $240 million. Despite all of that money, each team entered the weekend at 41-46, 6.5 games behind the Philadelphia Phillies for the National League’s third wild-card slot.

During the sweep of Arizona, shortstop Francisco Lindor symbolized the Mets’ desperation to salvage their season. He was so sick that he almost missed Wednesday’s game, and he only recovered after receiving IV fluids for dehydration. He then went 5 for 5 with two triples and a home run in the Mets’ 9-0 victory over the first-place Diamondbacks on Thursday.

Hello, optimism; goodbye, virus.

“We’re going to make something out of it,” Lindor said following the game. “The question now is how far we’re willing to go.”

The Padres’ desperation was palpable the night before. The Mets & Padres just returned from a 1-5 road trip through Pittsburgh and Cincinnati, which Manager Bob Melvin described as a “miserable trip.” They have a chance to complete their first series sweep of the season with two wins against the Angels. Josh Hader, San Diego’s All-Star closer, had pitched on Monday and Tuesday and has not pitched on three consecutive days since 2021. After his years in Milwaukee, he was wary of overuse and turned down an opportunity to do it in San Francisco last month.

Hader came in with the Padres leading 5-3 in the ninth inning on Wednesday.

“He’s got a sense of where we are as a team,” Melvin said afterward. “So he wanted to have the ball tonight in a save situation.”

These are desperate times.

“It was the right situation, and I was able to make it happen,” Hader told reporters on Friday. “It all boils down to staying healthy.” In the long run, if I can’t provide for the team later on due to injuries, it’s pointless.”

The Padres’ rotation led the National League with 39 quality starts through Thursday, they entered the series with the objective of extending their modest winning streak into a season-high four consecutive wins.

Putting together a winning streak has been difficult because of their.219 batting average with runners in scoring position, which was the lowest in the majors entering Friday’s game. A lineup that included sluggers Manny Machado, Juan Soto, Xander Bogaerts, and Fernando Tatis Jr. was facing awful clubs such as Oakland (29th,.229), Kansas City (28th,.233), and Detroit (27th,.236).

Through Thursday, the Padres’.194 batting average in “late/close” situations (defined by Baseball-Reference as “any plate appearance from the seventh inning. on in which the batting team is either in a tie game, ahead by one run, or has the potential tying run on deck”) ranked 29th in the majors.

Given those figures, it’s not surprising that the Padres were 1-36 when trailing after seven innings. They are not the Cardiac Kids.

San Diego released struggling designated hitter Nelson Cruz on Tuesday, designating him for assignment as the team continues to look for the right mix. There was no reason to keep him and Matt Carpenter on the bench to pinch hit, even though one bat right and the other left.

It was hardly the type of move expected from a team that raced to the N.L. Championship Series before falling to Philadelphia last October. And it demonstrated how much the Padres would have to adjust if they were to return to contention.

“We’ve got to come out every day and play like it’s our last one,” Bogaerts said.

The Mets & Padres have been such enigmas this summer that each team’s owner delivered a mini-State of the Union address just four days apart.

Steven A. Cohen publicly supported Manager Buck Showalter and General Manager Billy Eppler on June 28 at Citi Field. He reiterated his intention to appoint a president of baseball operations. The worst-kept secret in the game, of course, is that David Stearns, the former president of the Brewers, is expected to assume that post when his contract with Milwaukee expires.

The Padres’ owner, Peter Seidler, expressed his support for A.J. Preller, the team’s head of baseball operations, in an interview with The San Diego Union-Tribune on July 1. Seidler, like Cohen, stated that he valued “stability.” “I’m for excellence,” he added. And A.J. represents brilliance to me.”

Machado, like Seidler, adopted a positive, long-term perspective when speaking on Friday.

“It makes everything more special when you struggle,” Machado explained. “You look back, like, I went through all of this, and, damn, look how positive things turned out.”

Now, what are probably the game’s two most disappointing sides have what could be their final chance to sweep away the gloom by extending the brief rays of sunshine they caught in early July. The trade deadline is August 1, and Eppler and Preller must decide quickly whether to be buyers or sellers.

After finishing 7-19 in June, the Mets had 17 hits and 32 total bases on Thursday night. The Mets put together a well-rounded series against a sneaky talented squad. Arizona, according to manager Buck Showalter, is as athletic as anyone the Mets have faced this season.

The Mets starting pitching had a 1.80 E.R.A. during their six-game winning run. Carlos Carrasco had his best game of the season on Thursday, while Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer are back in the rotation following injuries. in Scherzer’s case, a 10-game suspension for violating the league’s restriction on the use of foreign substances on a baseball.

Despite a shaky start in San Diego, where he allowed two earned runs and walked three batters in six innings, Verlander has now worked six or more innings in seven of his 12 appearances this season.

“Every day is its own entity, and we just want to be able to build off of solid performances,” Alonso said on his first day in San Diego, ahead of Monday’s Home Run Derby in Seattle. “You can’t think about the future too much.” You only want to concentrate on winning now.”

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Amelia Jhon

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