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Mets go homer-happy but can't top Detroit

New York hits five home runs; Tigers pounce on Thor
May 25, 2019

NEW YORK -- Aaron Altherr called the Mets’ 9-8 loss to the Tigers on Friday “a crazy game” with “a lot of back and forth, a lot of home runs, a lot of momentum swings,” which seems as accurate a description as any.

NEW YORK -- Aaron Altherr called the Mets’ 9-8 loss to the Tigers on Friday “a crazy game” with “a lot of back and forth, a lot of home runs, a lot of momentum swings,” which seems as accurate a description as any.

That’s not to say it was a particularly unique game for the Mets, who have been through this sort of drill before. But Friday marked the fourth time in franchise history they have homered five times and lost.

Box score

Altherr, of course, is new here, slipping into a Mets uniform Friday for the first time. He wasted no time joining the madness, authoring one of the four most impactful moments of Friday’s loss. Here's a look at all four:

JaCoby Jones goes deep off Noah Syndergaard
Inning: Top second
Win expectancy before the play: 25.2 percent
Win expectancy after the play: 13.1 percent
Net: -12.1 percent

What’s wrong with Syndergaard? The Mets found themselves puzzling over that in the first inning, when their starting pitcher allowed the first three Tigers of the game to reach base, and the first two to score. The second was more of the same, when Syndergaard served up a leadoff single to Josh Harrison, then a two-run blast to Jones.

The Mets have offered few explanations for Syndergaard’s struggles, though perhaps the pitch to Jones -- a 96-mph, belt-high fastball -- needed none. Syndergaard has struggled to keep his mechanics consistent all season, and as such, has allowed more than a few balls to leak back over the plate. The result: a 4.93 ERA through 11 starts.

“Pitching’s really frigging annoying sometimes,” Syndergaard said. “It kind of reminds me of my golf swing a little bit. One day you go out there and you feel like you have it figured out, and you go out there the next day and … the results aren’t necessarily great.”

Adeiny Hechavarria joins the replace-Mets wrecking crew
Inning: Bottom fourth
Win expectancy before the play: 33.3 percent
Win expectancy after the play: 68.0 percent
Net: +34.7 percent

Wednesday, it was Rajai Davis. Thursday, it was Carlos Gomez. Friday, it was Hechavarria’s turn to hit a three-run homer. All three of those players are veterans who signed Minor League deals before this season. All three made it to the Majors this month, contributing in significant -- and eerily similar -- ways this week.

Not traditionally a home run hitter, Hechavarria entered the night with just 28 of them over an eight-year career. He made it 29 off Tigers starter Gregory Soto, who allowed an Amed Rosario solo shot an inning earlier.

Altherr join Mets history
Inning: Bottom sixth
Win expectancy before the play: 51.6 percent
Win expectancy after the play: 72.6 percent
Net: +21 percent

Altherr had read about Davis, who homered in his first Mets at-bat after taking an Uber from Allentown, Pa., on Thursday. So Altherr was well aware of the history when he jacked a solo shot off Buck Farmer in the sixth, giving the Mets a short-lived lead. Altherr became the 12th player in franchise history to homer in his first at-bat with the team, the third this season and the second this week. Robinson Cano also accomplished the feat on Opening Day.

“It feels really good,” Altherr said. “Obviously, it helped me confidence-wise, helped me feel better about myself, as well. Hopefully, I can continue to keep doing that, and help this team win.”

Drew Gagnon gives up the lead
Inning: Top seventh
Win expectancy before the play: 68.7 percent
Win expectancy after the play: 29.4 percent
Net: -39.3 percent

Coming into Friday, the Mets figured they would be without closer Edwin Diaz, who had pitched four times in the last six days. Among the candidates to replace him was Gagnon, a Minor League starter who had fired 8 2/3 consecutive scoreless innings since joining the Mets’ bullpen in April.

When asked what changed during his streak-snapping outing, Gagnon said simply: “leadoff walk.” That free pass preceded a John Hicks double, then a Jones two-run double -- on a changeup, Gagnon’s best pitch -- that put the Tigers on top for good. All told, Gagnon allowed three runs in the seventh.

“I thought the changeup was there. It was just that one pitch -- right in his barrel, chest-high, he pulled it down the line,” Gagnon said. “He did his job. He did what he was supposed to do.”

Anthony DiComo has covered the Mets for since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo, Instagram and Facebook.