NEW YORK — The rain had simply begun to fall within the eighth inning at Citi Field on Monday when the Mets loaded the bases with no outs, down by 4 runs. At that time, if their historical past of late comebacks was any indication, the Mets had the Cubs proper the place they wished them.
Quickly, although, the rally dimmed, as New York made two fast outs. A left-handed pitcher, Brandon Hughes, was on the mound. In the dugout, supervisor Buck Showalter confronted a selection: Darin Ruf or Mark Vientos.
If ever there was a scenario for the rookie Vientos, this was it. Called up over the weekend as a result of accidents elsewhere on the roster, Vientos carried promise as a brand new supply of offense. His summer time at Triple-A Syracuse had been memorable, with 24 homers and an .877 OPS over 101 video games. More than that, Ruf was 0-for-September, mired in a 1-for-34 stretch relationship properly into the earlier month.
Despite all these figures, Showalter selected Ruf, who lined out softly to shallow proper. The inning ended, and Vientos went unused for the remainder of the Mets’ 5-2 loss to the Cubs, which shaved their National League East lead again to a single recreation.
“I do not know,” Ruf mentioned when requested concerning the root of his struggles. “I’m simply making an attempt to have good at-bats. Sometimes, you want somewhat luck. Sometimes, you want some gentle contact to fall. You actually want onerous contact to search out holes. When the 2 do not line up, you will get on somewhat stretch the place you make extra outs than you need.”
Afterward, Showalter referred a number of occasions to Ruf’s common acumen against left-handed hitters, whom he has hit at a .273/.369/.530 lifetime clip. That’s why the Mets acquired Ruf because the right-handed portion of the Trade Deadline haul, together with lefty platoon hitters Daniel Vogelbach and Tyler Naquin. The hope was that these three might fairly approximate the manufacturing of a star-level participant, with Vogelbach and Ruf beginning most nights at designated hitter.
It simply hasn’t labored out that method. Following sizzling begins to their Mets careers, Vogelbach and Ruf have cooled significantly for a workforce that got here into Monday sporting the bottom collective DH OPS (.285) of any NL membership in September. Vogelbach hasn’t homered since Aug. 22, and he not too long ago went by an 0-for-14 skid on the plate. Ruf owns just one hit over the past calendar month.
Put all of it collectively, and it turned straightforward to make a “why not?” argument for pinch-hitting Vientos against Hughes with the bases loaded within the eighth.
Showalter, who supplied little public reward of Vientos earlier than his promotion, was extra within the reverse argument.
“Ruf’s been actual good in that scenario over his profession,” Showalter mentioned. “Much more observe report than a number of the different folks.”
Whether a special determination would have resulted in a special result’s unattainable to know for a workforce that did little to assist beginning pitcher Chris Bassitt, who “simply wasn’t hitting spots” in his second-shortest outing of the season. Outside of James McCann’s RBI single within the fourth and Francisco Lindor’s solo homer with the sport largely in hand for the guests within the ninth, the Mets could not muster a lot off Cubs starter Javier Assad or a trio of relievers.
Over the approaching days, the query could change into why the Mets promoted Vientos within the first place in the event that they did not plan to play him. With Eduardo Escobar driving a 10-game hitting streak and Starling Marte ultimately due again from the injured record, the Mets aren’t more likely to carry Vientos on their roster ceaselessly. So far, they’ve used him as soon as in three video games. If that development continues, they might finally return him to the Minors with out actually realizing whether or not he is able to hit at this stage — not if his alternatives are sporadic whereas Ruf’s keep constant.
“There have not been many higher [than Ruf],” Showalter mentioned. “We maintain ready. We suppose that Darin’s been actually good in that spot for his profession. It hasn’t been there for him currently.”