baseball

The West Coast trip completes 40 wins as the second MLB team

ANAHEIM, Calif. – Closer Edwin Diaz emphasized the Mets’ 10-game West Coast trip with a five-out save to secure a 4-1 win over the Los Angeles Angels on Sunday night. But this is decidedly short in a series that speaks volumes about the chemistry and character of these National League-leading Mets.

On Friday night in the sixth inning, the Angels reliever Jame Barrea was called in and one-on-one, and he went on to hit Francisco Linder in three consecutive sliders. As Linder returned to the dugout, the first baseman leaned over for a few words before stepping onto the plate and pausing to intercept the next hitter, Pete Alonso.

“I told him what I saw. I thought he should have known about the ball,” Linder said. “Watching a video is one thing. Reading scouting reports is one thing. It’s another thing in real life and what’s happening at the moment.

It is not uncommon for players to share information and exchange observations. But it is rare to have such earnest conversations on the field in the heat of battle.

Lindor’s nuggets for Alonso didn’t turn gold. The Mets won 7-2 at the time, and put up a foul fly to Alonso Catcher, who collected five homers during a road trip and collected nine RBI. But at the end of their team’s 10-game, 11-day tour, with their team leading by five runs, it was easy for Linder to slow down.

Not so.

“That’s why this team is the best so far,” Linder said in a conversation the next day. “We communicate with each other. We help each other. We don’t just rely on the hitting coach. We rely on each other’s input.

To get to where the Mets hope to go, they need daily communication, training, every dose of input and output. The sophistication of the previous six-game winning streak – which elevated his NL East lead to 10.5 games as he was touring – was replaced by erosion and tears on the road.

Linder slammed his finger on the door of the hotel to start the tour, Alonso and outfielder Starling Marte were all afraid of injury. The Mets wound up 5-5 against the Dodgers, Padres and Angels, still good enough to return to New York with the second-best record in the majors, only a setback for the Yankees.

“It reiterates what I think and what I’ve thought since the spring,” manager Buck Showalter said. “We have a good group of people who care about the competition.”

At the same time, Atlanta became the White Hots, pushing the Braves’ winning streak to 11 games with Sunday’s 5-3 win over Pittsburgh. It was Atlanta’s longest series after 14-gamers in 2013 and the longest winning streak in the National League so far this year.

With the Mets advance to 5.5 games, they unpack on Monday and prepare for Milwaukee at City Field on Tuesday. The opening series of the upcoming homestand falls under the old baseball standard, which is not necessarily who you play, but when you play them. After leading NL Central for most of the year, the Brewers have been inexplicably cold for manager Craig Counsell, who has lost 10 of his previous 12 games.

Both Atlanta and Milwaukee routes are instructive: emphasizing the tide and flow extremes of the season. But those in the middle tilt things one way or another, and in the moments that Linder and Alonso share, the Mets often like their chances.

“Baria has a unique shape for his breaking ball,” Alonso said before continuing with Linder: “Basically, he was telling me the shape of the pitch, the behavior of the pitch. He was helping me put together a plan so I could run and run.

“Eighty percent of the war knows what the pitch does.”

Alonso explained that a hitter can watch all the videos he wants, but the angles are different than watching a particular pitch from a batter’s opponent. Although Alonso said he “mistook the ball” for the ball, he noted that the tips Linder gave him were excellent.

“That’s what we do here,” Showalter said of the exchange in the Linder-Alonso game. “We talk about passing the baton and that’s what you learn.”

Showalter said he liked the players of this team, personally, as much as any other team. He said that his good demeanor and selfless style stand out.

“And I think people don’t realize, because it’s under the radar, how good Eric Chavez is,” Showalter said of the team’s hitting coach. “That’s a good free agent signing, putting Chavez in here.”

Chavez, who played in the majors for 17 seasons and played four seasons with assistant hitting coach Jeremy Barnes in the minors and two independent balls, joined the Mets in January 2021 as director of player initiatives. Infielder Luis Gilorme said the best of both worlds were combined.

“Chevy played at the highest level and was the best in the game adjustments,” said Gilorme. “The knife knows what’s wrong, but Jeremy finds a way to correct the mistake. Jeremy is more technical. He mixes perfectly.”

Despite the Padres outscoring them 20-2, the Mets led the Majors on Sunday with hits (559), runs (316), batting average (.265), on-base percentage (.336) and RBI (301). , The last two games in San Diego. It was the Mets’ third series loss of the season, and the Mets haven’t lost three in a row. He was tested by dropping the first two games at Dodger Stadium two weekends ago but returned to split that four-game series.

And, hitters’ propensity to be vigilant on every pitch extends beyond “passing the baton” on the lineup. Taizuan Walker (six innings, one run) made his Sunday season’s best start after the Angels tagged for four hits in the first inning. Walker said it was left fielder Mark Canha, who quickly recognized that Walker was tipping his pitches.

So Walker, along with Canha, Chavez and pitching coach Jeremy Hefner at Dugout, discovered a few things and wound up “keeping my glove close to me” for the rest of their game. He closed out the Angels for the next five innings, leading their best split-finger fastball of the year.

This was part of an ongoing quest from Walker and the Mets. In the Road Trip Opener, Jeff McNeil noted the Dodgers spotted Walker’s grips when he was at second base and pitched. They cleaned it up, but the Mets lost, 2-0. Later in San Diego, Walker said, after a foul ball, Linder was returning to his position and he asked Shortstop, “What have you got for me here?” And Linder was quick with a suggestion: “Splitter, down. ‘”

Walker threw two in a row, the second producing a harmless pop fly.

“They know about everything,” Walker said of this particular team. “They don’t miss the pitch. Francisco, in particular, is very conscious.

And as the Mets push forward, they expect good things to happen on many fronts. Ace Jacob DeGrom threw his third bullpen session on Saturday and remains hopeful he will return during the All-Star break. Max Scherzer is getting closer too. Tyler Megill activated the rotation on Friday and rejoined.

In the short term, though, he was happy to be heading east, his longest trip of the season on the books.

“We’re here, what?” Showalter sarcastically said. “One month?”

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