Against the Braves’ potent lineup of youngsters and veterans, Syndergaard coughed up three runs on a season-high 10 hits over six innings. His command wavered early, when the Braves pounced on him for a 3-0 lead in the first inning.
“This loss is really just on me,” he said, citing a lack of feel for his pitches and the Braves’ aggressiveness.
The Mets’ lone run through the first eight innings came on a solo blast by left fielder Yoenis Cespedes, who returned to the lineup sooner than expected. He had exited Sunday’s game early after jamming his left hand sliding into third on a stolen base.
But after playing catch and hitting off a tee during Monday’s off-day in New York, Cespedes was cleared to play. He did not receive further tests, as first expected, beyond an initial X-ray, which showed no breaks.
Credit Mike Stobe/Getty Images
Cespedes showed no ill effects on Tuesday: The sixth-inning home run was one of his three hits on the night. He also threw out the Braves catcher Kurt Suzuki at home in the seventh inning. He was unavailable to speak with reporters after the game because of a family matter, a team spokesman said.
Before the game, Manager Mickey Callaway said he was thrilled with Cespedes’s overall play despite an early skid. Alderson said he was happy with the team’s play so far, while acknowledging there was room for improvement with slumping hitters and sputtering pitchers.
The Mets have been without their top two catchers since April 12, when Kevin Plawecki landed on the disabled list with a fracture in his left hand — the day after they learned that Travis d’Arnaud would need Tommy John surgery. D’Arnaud’s operation ended his season, while Plawecki was expected to miss three to four weeks.
Since then, their replacements Tomas Nido, a rookie, and Jose Lobaton, a light-hitting veteran, have hit a combined .164 with no home runs and four R.B.I. in 25 games. That level of production is tolerable if their defense is sound and the rest of the Mets lineup is hitting as it should.
Alderson said Nido and Lobaton had done a “nice job” defensively. He said he would be cautious about improving the Mets’ catching with an minor outside addition because any new catcher’s familiarity with the pitching staff would be lacking.
As far as a substantial catching addition, Alderson said he did not think that was available on the market. He made the case that even teams likely out of playoff contention still needed catchers.
“And there is a scarcity at that position,” he said.
Any potential Mets’ need will hinge on Plawecki’s return. He will likely need the full four weeks, if not more, to recover. The strength in his hand had not fully returned and some pain persisted, Alderson said.
As far as other injuries on the team, relief pitcher Anthony Swarzak, who signed a two year $14 million contract with the Mets this winter, was still recovering from a left oblique injury he suffered the first week of the season. The infirmity occurred near a rib, which, according to Alderson, has slowed his return.
Even without Swarzak, the Mets’ bullpen has performed solidly despite a few blown games during the second half of April. But there was little need for stout relief pitching on Tuesday once the Mets fell behind.
With two men after bloop singles in the bottom of the ninth inning, Amed Rosario failed on two slash bunt attempts before striking out. Then Wilmer Flores drove in a run with a groundout, and Jose Reyes flied out to left field to cap another defeat to the up-and-coming Braves.