Worth noting: The Mets have proven they have a formidable lineup at times, belting 259 extra-base hits through their first 100 games this season. The other times, well, not so much. During the final two games of its eight-game road trip, the St. Lucie offense came to a screeching halt and managed just six hits combined last Saturday and Sunday at Lakeland.
The Mets avoided being no-hit for the first time this season on Sunday thanks to a single by third baseman Robbie Shields to lead off the eighth inning — their only hit of the game. The day before, St. Lucie mustered only five hits — just one for extra bases — in a 13-1 shelling, which matched its worst loss of the season. The Mets also struck out a collective 14 times in those two games.
Surging in the batter’s box: Infielder Rylan Sandoval. Hidden in the lost weekend that saw St. Lucie get out-scored 16-1 by Lakeland, was the return of Sandoval from Triple-A Las Vegas. The 25-year-old was promoted to the Pacific Coast League club in late May and hit a respectable .314 with a .369 on-base percentage in 36 games. He finished 1-for-7 with a triple and a run scored in his first three games back in Class A, starting a game at short and first base. In his first stint with the Mets this season, Sandoval posted a .273 average with seven extra-base hits and 14 RBI.
Surging on the mound: Starter Hansel Robles. After spending the entire month of June on the disabled list, Robles appears to have rediscovered his footing in the rotation. The right-hander worked 5.2 innings for the second consecutive start in a no-decision against the Flying Tigers last Friday. It’s a significant sign because he had not pitched more than five innings in back-to-back outings since late April. Robles limited Lakeland to just four hits in his shutout performance and fanned at least four batters for the third time in four starts since returning from the DL. Matthew Bowman earns honorable mention for his five-hit scoreless outing in the second game of the doubleheader last Friday. He is now 6-2 on the season, and has permitted just three earned runs over his past three outings (18 innings).
Number to remember: 2. Playing eight consecutive games on the road is torture enough for a minor-league club as bus rides can extend for hours in between stops. It’s even worse when the road trip contains a doubleheader. But the Mets have faced that unfortunate prospect on a regular basis this season and were forced to play two doubleheaders in a span of four days last week due to inclement weather — one at Daytona and one at Lakeland. St. Lucie split the twinbill with the Cubs on July 23 before sweeping both games against the Flying Tigers last Friday.
During the sweep of Lakeland, the team’s only wins during the four-game series, outfielder Dustin Lawley continued to pace the offense and went 3-for-8 with a double and two RBI. His ground-rule double in the seventh inning during the opener was his 29th of the season and capped the scoring in the 5-1 victory. Rehabbing outfielder Cory Vaughn also had three hits for the Mets.