One game in, and the return of Carlos Beltran has not improved the lineup.
In Beltran's return to Major League action, the Mets were shut out by Tim Lincecum and the Giants, 2-0.
It was the second time in three games (in a span of six days) that the Mets couldn't manage a run.
And you can't really blame Beltran.
To be fair, I suppose, you can't really blame the Mets. They ran into a dominant pitcher. Lincecum pitched a complete game shutout, and the Mets could only muster six hits and a walk against him on the night. It was, by far, the best I've seen him pitch against them.
The Mets couldn't even capitalize after Lincecum spent most of the bottom of the eighth running the bases.
And, actually, if you're going to blame anyone for the loss, that bottom of the eighth is where you turn. Elmer Dessens started the inning (R.A. Dickey pitched a great game, giving up just a run in seven innings, but was lifted for a pinch hitter in the top of the inning), and gave up a leadoff single to Lincecum. Aaron Rowand followed with an infield hit, and the ensuing bunt erased Lincecum on a force at third. This is where the Mets lost the game, though - Pedro Feliciano was brought in, threw four pitches, and walked Aubrey Huff to load the bases. Next, a ground ball to first on which a run scores, then Bobby Parnell got the inning-ending double play.
The Mets went 1-2-3 in the ninth, but maybe they don't if Feliciano gets a ground ball...anything...instead of giving up that walk. A 2-run deficit going into the bottom of the ninth against a guy like Lincecum is huge compared to a 1-run deficit. The 1-run lead, from the Mets point of view, is the batter is the tying run. The 2-run lead seems insurmountable because you just can't get a baserunner to get that tying run to the plate.
The walk is the type of little thing the Mets need to stop doing to stay in contention in the second half. The deck is stacked against them right now:
They struggle on the road. Naturally, they're opening the second half with their longest road trip in three years - a west coast swing, no less. A chance to build momentum on said road trip is stifled by the 2-time defending Cy Young Award winner. At the same time, the Braves won, and the division deficit is 5 games. And Carlos Beltran is back, but Jose Reyes is injured.
The Mets need a win early in this road trip to set a positive tone the rest of the way.
Scoring a run would be a nice start.