The Mets took a 5-4 loss in 14 innings last night, a grueling back-and-forth game rife with blown opportunities. Amid solid performances from Juan Lagares, Addison Reed, and Jon Niese, the Mets committed costly errors and were ineffective with runners in scoring position.
On Matt Harvey's first pitch of the night, shortstop Alcides Escobar lofted a fly ball that neither Michael Conforto nor Yoenis Cepedes looked particularly eager to call (with the two outfielders saying as much after the game), only for the ball to ricochet off Cespedes's leg and roll down the warning track for an inside-the-park home run. The decision not to start the game with Lagares manning center field is one that warranted criticism, especially with Conforto exiting the game via a double switch in just the sixth inning. Against a team that has struck out the fewest times in the major leagues, a strong defensive alignment will be imperative for the Mets going forward.
On the offensive end, David Wright would start a trend in the third inning: making an out with a runner in scoring position. The Mets stranded 17 baserunners on the night, whiffing 15 times and earning just three walks. Yoenis Cespedes went 1-for-6 in his World Series debut, while three men combined to occupy the team's DH slot, going 0-for-5 with three strikeouts. Despite making the flame-throwing Kelvin Herrera look human, the Mets couldn't touch 6-foot-10 journeyman Chris Young. Young, who had a modest 6.1 K/9 during the regular season, induced four strikeouts in three innings, allowing just one baserunner.
Further sinking the Mets in late innings was a series of Ned Yost-esque small-ball maneuvers. With the Mets searching for an insurance run in the ninth inning, David Wright followed one-out single with an ill-fated steal attempt off Salvador Perez, ending a potential threat. In the 11th inning, Wilmer Flores bunted over Juan Lagares to second base, a curious move, given on-deck batter Michael Cuddyer's struggles (Cuddyer entered the at-bat just one for his last 10 with six strikeouts).
Despite clean innings out of the bullpen from Addison Reed, Jon Niese, and Bartolo Colon (before, eventually, allowing a walk-off sacrifice fly), the Mets squandered several opportunities to draw first blood against Kansas City. Taking on Johnny Cueto after a historically bad postseason outing, the Mets will hope to even up the series tonight in Kansas City.