All you had to do was check the Amazin' Avenue gamethread to confirm that consensus had this one down as a loss ahead of time. For once, the masses were right, but the 7-1 loss to Washington didn't go as the naysayers may have expected. Yes, Eric Campbell did fail with runners in scoring position (but so did everyone else)—and even when Campbell did get the hit that could have plated a run, third-base coach Tim Teufel stopped Asdrubal Cabrera instead of letting him score easily. Granted, those things could have been predicted but ultimately had no impact on the outcome. Instead, it was 11 walks from the pitching staff who have issued the fewest walks in the game that helped tilt the scales in a head-to-head matchup with their chief division rival, with first-place standing on the line.
Bartolo Colon, Antonio Bastardo, Logan Verrett, and Jim Henderson were all culpable on Wednesday night. They combined to make like Voltron with busted rocket boosters—walking everywhere, and looking mighty uncomfortable and awkward all the while.
Although starter Colon didn't make it out of the fifth inning, he didn't get hit all that hard—perhaps partly because he uncharacteristically had such a hard time finding the strike zone. Colon walked more batters on Wednesday (five) than he had in his eight appearances to date (only four walks coming in). Perhaps he was distracted by news of his legal proceedings making headlines earlier in the day.
Even though Colon left after a two-run hit that gave the Nats a 3-1 one lead, there was still some hope at that point. The Mets weren't hitting Gio Gonzalez, yet they were still in the game. They just needed another swing or two like the one that produced Yoenis Cespedes's solo bomb in the fourth—and the crowd's roar after that blast seemed expectant of more. And those Mets were really catching that ball: ersatz first baseman Campbell made nice diving stabs going each way in the third and fourth innings, Neil Walker made a sliding play look easier than it was in the sixth, and Juan Lagares made a catch in the seventh that would have made the 1954 World Series version of Willie Mays proud.
But it was the seventh where the game got away, as the bullpen that has been so good so far this year faltered. Bastardo started by hitting Ben Revere in the hand. Jayson Werth then rocked a double, leaving two ducks on the pond for Bryce Harper. Mets fans everywhere fist-pumped in delight as Harper struck out, were reasonably pleased by damage averted when Lagares' fabulous catch limited Daniel Murphy to a sac fly, stared blankly after a full-count walk to a struggling Ryan Zimmerman, and called their sponsor after Verrett came on only to walk a run home.
Still, the Mets had a shot—and the perfect opportunity presented itself when they loaded the bases with just one out in the seventh. This got Gio Gonzalez out of the game, but give the oft-maligned Dusty Baker credit: he thought two steps ahead, bringing in lefty Felipe Rivero in with the knowledge that Terry Collins would likely pinch-hit with Michael Conforto a batter later. This came to pass, as Kevin Plawecki hit a feeble nubber in front of home which resulted in a force-out at home, and Conforto then chased a slider low and away and meekly tapped out to first to end the Mets' most significant threat of the evening.
Henderson then gave up two more runs in the ninth, but it really didn't matter. The Mets didn't look good. David Wright did not look good (three strikeouts, missed a makable diving play that brought in the first run of the game). Several ancillary members of the bullpen did not look good. Nobody with a bat looked good, really.
But it's May. And if Matt Harvey can best Stephen Strasburg today, we're likely to forget yesterday's news.
SB Nation GameThreads
Win Probability Added
Big winners: Yoenis Cespedes, +16.3% WPA
Big losers: Bartolo Colon, -21.4% WPA; Kevin Plawecki, -10% WPA
Teh aw3s0mest play: Yoenis Cespedes' fourth-inning solo homer, +14.7% WPA
Teh sux0rest play: Anthony Rendon's two-run single in the fifth, -24.6% WPA
Total pitcher WPA: -27.8% WPA
Total batter WPA: -22.2% WPA
GWRBI!: Anthony Rendon