For the third straight game, the Mets scored at least five runs. When the offense comes alive and scores at least four runs, the Mets had won nine of 10 games entering play on Monday. However, that wasn’t the case in their 6-5 loss to the Cardinals at Busch Stadium.
The top of the second inning had potential to be a big one for the Mets. Pete Alonso doubled, Kevin Pillar got to second base on a throw after singling to center field and Cardinals starting pitcher Adam Wainwright intentionally walked Jonathan Villar. A hit-by-pitch and a walk put the Mets ahead for the first time, 2-1.
With two outs, Francisco Lindor stepped into the batter's box. Lindor struck out swinging and left the bases loaded. With runners in scoring position, Lindor has a career batting average (2015-2020) of .253. So far this season, he is batting .063 with RISP.
Manager Luis Rojas hasn’t spoken about moving Lindor out of the two-hole in the batting order, where he’s spent 21 games, though after striking out twice in Monday’s loss it’s clear that he hasn’t thrived so far in that spot.
“The last few days, with runners in scoring position, he hasn't delivered,” said Rojas. “But think of it this way, where moving him to leadoff or to third, I mean, there's not a lot of spots where you can drop in, because of what he can bring to a lineup. Being early May still, I think we trust that this kid is gonna turn around. He's done it in the past.”
Lindor is hitless in his last 24 plate appearances. If this stretch came from a different player who didn’t have Lindor’s status or contract, it is reasonable to wonder how his playing time would be affected.
“I think his presence, what he brings to the ballpark every day, all the guys energize from it, guys have gotten better because of him,” said Rojas. “You know, this guy's not starting only because of his bat, he's just starting because of all the other things that he does. Do we think his bat is going to come along? Yeah, I think his bat is gonna come along.”
The 0-for-21 hitless streak is the second longest of his career -- the longest was in 2016 with the Indians when he endured an 0-for-27 stretch.
Acting general manager Zack Scott, in a Zoom press conference after the dismissal of hitting coach Chili Davis and assistant hitting coach Tom Slater, said that when players slump, he needs to make sure that the best support system is in place.
“The assessment was, [the hitting staff] needed to be better, we need to be providing these guys more support, a higher level of support,” said Scott of the personnel change. “It's not that [Lindor] wasn’t getting any support. They obviously work. But it's just an effort to improve how we go about things to take it to the next level.”
Lindor’s attitude and demeanor around the clubhouse hasn’t changed throughout his slump, which is encouraging to both other players and his skipper. Rojas believes the biggest change his $341 million shortstop needs to make is learning to adjust in real time.
“He just couldn't adjust, and I think he has the ability to adjust to that pitch,” said Rojas. “So, it’s not having the trust, right? But that's when you can think ‘OK, now it's mental, it's just not trusting what they're doing with him as well.’ That's what's left to do. I mean, if we're going to win, he's got to be right in the middle of it.”