Bradenton 8, St. Lucie 6
Domingo Tapia was deemed healthy enough to return from the disabled list to start Friday’s series opener against Bradenton. Unfortunately, it appeared his command lagged behind.
Making his first appearance since May 5 after suffering a burn on his non-throwing hand in a bizarre kitchen accident, Tapia (2-4) walked four of the eight batters he faced and hit another with a pitch while recording just one out during St. Lucie’s 8-6 loss in the first outing of a six-game homestand. The right-hander, who was placed on the 7-day DL on May 10th after the burn left him unable to wear a glove until earlier this week, was charged with six runs and two hits in his shortest start of the season.
Tapia, considered the No. 8 overall prospect by MMN, struggled mightily to locate the strike zone and allowed the first three Marauders hitters to reach base before collecting his first — and only — out of the game. He leaned heavily on his fastball during the 35-pitch performance but most of the offerings missed low; he clipped Benji Gonzalez, the No. 2 hitter, with a pitch on the ankle, prompting an early visit from pitching coach Phil Regan. Two of his walks came with the bases loaded, and the four total free passes matched his highest output from an abbreviated start at Palm Beach on April 11 when he also failed to complete an inning of work.
Still, Tapia was able to maintain his stellar velocity as his fastball, though wild, hovered consistently around the mid-90s and reached a high of 96 mph before he was mercifully replaced by reliever Estarlin Morel. The righty allowed one of the two runners he inherited to score as the six runs the Mets gave up represented the most they’ve permitted in the first inning this year. Tapia, who is now winless in his past four games after going 2-1 in his first four starts to open the season, saw his ERA jump from 2.23 to 3.86.
Third baseman Aderlin Rodriguez took over the team lead with his 37th RBI on a single in the third inning that plated shortstop Matt Reynolds and cut Bradenton’s advantage to 8-1. He is now sporting a five-game hitting streak. The 21-year-old also narrowly missed his 10th homer of the season after sending a drive to the left-field warning track in the fifth inning.
St. Lucie added four more runs in the eighth inning, including two on a double — the team’s only extra-base hit — by designated hitter Charley Thurber, and another in the ninth but ultimately fell to 13-7 at Tradition Field. Thurber, a native of Elmira, N.Y., has amassed five RBI over his past three games, however, he is still hitting just .188. Reynolds finished 2-for-2 with a pair of singles and three walks. He had walked only twice over his past nine games entering Friday.
The Mets continue their series against the Marauders on Saturday with Angel Cuan (4-1, 4.50 ERA) scheduled to take the hill against Eliecer Navarro (0-8, 3.78 ERA). Cuan, who paces all St. Lucie starters with four wins, held Bradenton scoreless over seven innings during his previous outing last Saturday. Rising Mets prospect Matthew Bowman is expected to make his fourth start with the club in the series finale Sunday.
Matt Reynolds: 2-for-2, 3 BB, 1 R
Aderlin Rodriguez: 3-for-5, 2 R, 1 RBI
Charley Thurber: 1-for-4, 1 BB, 1 2B, 2 RBI, 1 R
Travis Taijeron: 2-for-5, 1 RBI
Cam Maron: 1-for-4, 1 BB, 1 RBI, 1 R
Domingo Tapia: 0.1 IP, 2 H, 4 BB, 6 ER, 0 K
Estarlin Morel: 3.2 IP, 3 H, 1 BB, 2 ER, 0 K
Jim Fuller: 2.0 IP, 1 H, 0 BB, 0 ER, 3 K