Disastrous Joey Lucchesi inning dooms Mets in loss to Rays

The long ball was no substitute Saturday for the Mets’ lack of length in another area.

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — The long ball was no substitute Saturday for the Mets’ lack of length in another area.

Joey Lucchesi, the long man behind opener Drew Smith, imploded during a disastrous fourth inning from which the Mets never recovered in a second straight loss to the Rays, 12-5 at Tropicana Field.

The Mets, who blasted a season-high three homers, trailed by one run in the eighth before Jacob Barnes and Jeurys Familia combined to allow five hits and two walks, turning the game into a runaway.

The lefty Lucchesi lasted only 1 ²/₃ innings, beginning in the third, and allowed four earned runs on three hits and one walk as his ERA jumped to 9.19. It was a fourth ineffective performance in the last five from Lucchesi, who arrived last winter from the Padres in a three-team trade that also involved the Pirates.

“I have just got to keep trusting myself,” Lucchesi said. “I know personally I’m really good, but I am not showing it right now and I’ve just got to man up and get out on my own, get out of this rut. I know I can do it. I know there’s haters out there, but I am going to keep pushing myself and do the best I can next time out.”

Luis Rojas takes the ball from Mets pitcher Joey Lucchesi after a rough inning.

Until horses such as Noah Syndergaard and Carlos Carrasco return from the injured list — both are still weeks away — the Mets’ options are limited to fill the rotation. As it stands, the Mets are using a four-man set until Jacob deGrom returns from the IL, as soon as Friday.

The most obvious choice if the Mets decide to end the Lucchesi experiment is Jordan Yamamoto, from Triple-A Syracuse. The right-hander pitched behind an opener in the nightcap of a doubleheader in St. Louis on May 5 — he allowed one earned run over 2 ²/₃ innings — before returning to Syracuse.

“He’s definitely an option for our starting depth if we need it,” manager Luis Rojas said. “But right now we’re focused on what we have here.”

Rojas anticipates Lucchesi will get another opportunity.

“I know things connected for him in the four batters [Saturday]: walk, double, single, double,” Rojas said. “But the outing before this one, he took us into the sixth inning, throwing the ball really well. This was a different story today, but it was a sequence of four batters that kind of pushed him out of the game.”

Francisco Lindor gave his team a pulse with the Mets’ third homer of the game to pull them within 6-5 in the eighth, but it got ugly in the bottom of the inning. Barnes allowed two hits and a walk before Familia entered and allowed Yandy Diaz’s chopper, which bounced over the drawn-in Lindor for two runs. Joey Wendle followed with another chop double for two runs. Brett Phillips’ two-out double brought in another two runs.

Diaz walked leading off the fourth against Lucchesi, and Wendle’s double gave the Rays a rally. Manuel Margot delivered an RBI single for the inning’s first run before Willy Adames hit a hard grounder just left of second base that kept rolling, almost to the warning track. The two-run double tied it 4-4, and the Rays weren’t finished. Sean Reid-Foley replaced Lucchesi with two outs and promptly surrendered an RBI double to Austin Meadows. The Rays extended that lead to 6-4 on Randy Arozarena’s RBI single.

Smith gave the Mets two solid innings as the starter, surrendering just an unearned run.

“I took my normal reliever approach,” Smith said. “I didn’t treat it like a start.”

The Rays stole a run in the first when Diaz sprinted home from third on Tomas Nido’s throwing error trying to nail Wendle on an attempted steal of second.

Jose Peraza’s first homer in a Mets uniform — a three-run blast in the second against Shane McClanahan — built a 3-1 lead. Dominic Smith and James McCann both singled in the inning before Peraza, with two outs, cleared the left-field fence.

An inning later, Pete Alonso launched a solo homer in his homecoming weekend. Alonso, who grew up in Tampa and still resides in the area, leads the Mets in homers with six. The blast was his first in 16 games, ending his longest career drought.

This story originally appeared on: NyPost - Author:Mike Puma

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