David Wright got hurt and now the world of the Mets is ending

Mets are embarrassing in home loss to Nats

Yesterday, the Mets lost to the Washington Nationals 4-0 and it was pretty horrible to say the least. New York knocked just three hits while striking out a whopping 15 times in the shutout loss. Nats phenom/ace/superhuman Stephen Strasburg recorded only nine of those strikeouts in his six innings of work, which means the Mets struck out six times in three innings against the Washington bullpen. That is gross, especially when you consider that the Mets first two batters of the game reached base (Tejada single, Murphy walk), but were stranded even after Strasburg blessed Queens with a one-out wild pitch.

Duda lined out to center before the wild pitch, so that did nothing to advance the runners. After the runners moved over, Davis was frozen by a nasty breaking ball for strike three and then Bay did what he always does and hit a grounder to shortstop. That was it for the day’s excitement.

On the other side of the ball, Johan Santana saw a run to cross in the 2nd by allowing two singles, a walk and then a wild pitch. He would pitch pretty brilliantly the rest of the way, however, and finished with eight Ks, three walks, and five hits allowed in five innings. The problem — besides that the one run allowed by Johan was all Washington would need — was that Santana burned through 99 pitches over those five innings and forced Terry Collins to replace him before Mets fans were ready to see him go.

The New York bullpen had apparently been waiting to blow up for days now, because they were intolerable. Manny Acosta walked three, then Ramon Ramirez walked two, then Jon Rauch got two outs on two pitches, then Miguel Batista and Tim Byrdak walked one each to finish off the “ballgame.” That’s seven walks in four innings for a bullpen that had been pretty decent for the first five games of the season.

Wright injury causes correlation/causation dilemma

Of course, because Wright had just been injured and because the Mets offense was so anemic, all the focus in the post-game press was on the lack of batting prowess. Anthony DiComo at Mets.com decided that Wright was the invisible hand that guided New York to triumph in its first four games.

So it was more than a .583 average, .647 on-base percentage and .833 slugging mark — et cetera, et cetera — that Wright delivered over the first four games. It was Wright’s mere presence that buoyed Murphy, that soothed Davis and Jason Bay, that accelerated the Mets toward a perfect record. Wright was the central gear that allowed everything else to tick.

Not only is it ridiculous to attribute other players’ success or failure to a different, separate player, but the Mets offense was not even very good while Wright was in the lineup. It was Wright’s very tangible RBI single that kept the Opening Day game from going on forever, and his solo home run in the second game provided half of the margin New York needed to beat Atlanta on that day. How did Ike Davis manage to get his first hit of the season without Wright there to “soothe” him? Maybe by having #5 right there on the bench to give him advice? Does Wright need to be in the lineup to affect his teammates? I have no idea.

After the game, Terry Collins said that Wright “feels a lot better today,” and that “My gut tells me that you’ll see him Friday.” However, if Collins is wrong and Wright heads to the disabled list, we’ll likely see Ronny Cedeño move over to second base so that Daniel Murphy can play third and mess up less double plays.

Tejada has just been really good so far

One guy who has been a pleasant surprise for the Mets in the early going is Ruben Tejada. After Andres Torres got hurt in the first game of the season, Tejada stepped into the lead-off spot and there was some talk that the ghost of former Mets shortstop and lead-off hitter Jose Reyes might pressure Tejada into performing miserably while batting first. Of course, like most talk of ghosts, this turned out to be complete hokum, and Tejada has started the season batting .333/.440/.524 with four strikeouts and four walks. There is also this sweet quote:

“Hitting eighth or lead-off, for me, is the same thing,” Tejada said. “You still have to try to get on base, work the count and try to help the team see how the pitcher is throwing. I have the same concentration and the same approach at the plate whether I’m eighth or first. I think that’s been the key. I feel the same, I’m just as calm as the lead-off hitter or the eighth.”

Tejada at his best is the anti-Reyes. He’s not flashy in the least, he doesn’t make dumb errors in the field, and he has a concentration on working the count. Of course, he also lacks Reyes’ gap power and ridiculous speed, but we will take the OBP and like it for now. Of course, there’s still the chance that this is not a breakout year for Tejada, but that would be because he’s a 22 years old major league player and not because Reyes is haunting him.

Jason Bay terribleness update

One more thing: Terry Collins said to Mike Francesa on WFAN that he might drop Jason Bay lower in the order if he does not improve his hitting sometime soon. Bay is hitting .158/.261/.211 this season, but if you’re going to move him down, another “requirement” would be better performance from Davis and Duda, who both have lower OBPs than Bay in the early going. I understand that Bay is being booed because he’s a veteran who is making way, way more money than Duda and Davis, but it’s also true that Bay isn’t the only Mets hitter who has had an awful first week.

The Mets are off today, but will start a three game series with the Phillies in Philadelphia on Friday night. R.A. Dickey will be pitching for the Mets and Cliff Lee is scheduled to start for the Phils. Hopefully it will be a low-scoring game, because if not, I fear the Phillies will have a lot of runs on the board. You can’t predict baseball, though!

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