Despite the lack of formal record-keeping during Summer Camp, little doubt existed as to the identity of the Mets’ hottest hitter. Dominic Smith homered multiple times in live game action, routinely smoking the ball to straightaway center field. All the while, he knew he was ultimately ticketed for the bench.
What Smith may not have realized was the extent to which he would stay confined there early this season. Manager Luis Rojas declined to use him as a pinch-hitter in a key spot during the Mets’ 4-2 loss to the Red Sox on Thursday at Citi Field, and Smith has now played in just three of their seven games despite logging at least one RBI in each of those appearances.
“We’re looking definitely for that spot where we can get Dom more games,” Rojas said afterward. “He definitely deserves it.”
Certainly, Rojas would like to avoid further results like Thursday. Trailing by a run in the eighth, the Mets rallied when Matt Barnes hit Pete Alonso with a pitch and J.D. Davis singled him to third. The next batter, Michael Conforto, struck out, much as he did in a key ninth-inning spot the night before.
"There's no excuse," Michael Conforto says of his key late-inning strikeouts the past two nights. pic.twitter.com/skUiuXJ4s7
— Anthony DiComo (@AnthonyDiComo) July 31, 2020
A Yoenis Céspedes walk then loaded the bases for rookie Andrés Giménez, who grounded out to end the inning and the Mets’ best threat to tie.
Rojas’ reasoning for sticking with Giménez was two-fold. Earlier in the game, the Mets burned multiple infielders when Robinson Canó pinch-hit for Brian Dozier, singled, then returned to the bench as Giménez pinch-ran for him. Doing effectively the same thing in the eighth inning would have forced Rojas to bring Luis Guillorme into the game on defense, leaving the Mets with no middle infielders left on their bench.