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Pirates rally late off a shaky Familia to topple to Mets in the ninth inning

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Life is pain.

MLB: Pittsburgh Pirates at New York Mets Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Despite a wonderful starting pitching performance, a stymied opposition, and some early offense, the Mets dropped the series finale to the Pirates, 5-3. This one stung, folks.

LOSE, 5-3

Zack Wheeler started for the Mets tonight, and looked about as good as he has all season. The first batter of the game, Austin Meadows, hit a slow ground ball that glanced off of Wheeler’s glove for an infield hit. A strikeout to Josh Bell and a fly out from Josh Harrison put two outs in the board. Another single to Colin Moran put two on, but Wheeler got out of it with an Elias Diaz ground out.

Asdrubal Cabrera got the Mets’ offense going against Pirates’ starter Ivan Nova with a two-out double in the first, but he was stranded at second when last night’s hero, Wilmer Flores, flew out to right field. Neither team put a base runner on for an inning and a half after Cabrera’s double.

In the bottom of the third, Amed Rosario was hit by a pitch to lead off the inning. A nice sacrifice bunt by Wheeler moved Rosario into scoring position. After a Brandon Nimmo fly out, Jose Bautista drove Rosario home with a double to right field. Cabrera then singled to left, plating Bautista, putting the Mets up 2-0.

Wheeler continued to be in control all night, striking out seven and giving up only four hits over his first six innings, while walking only one. Unlike his seven prior starts at home this season, the Mets managed to score some runs behind him and he managed to silence his opponents, putting him in position to get the coveted, but silly, pitcher win.

In the bottom of the sixth, Flores continued his productive week, driving a ball into the left field stands for a solo home run, putting the Mets up 3-0. Wheeler’s night ended in the next inning by inducing a double play ball from Jordy Mercer, and at 105 pitches and seven scoreless innings, he more than did his job tonight. The bullpen, however, did not.

Robert Gsellman started the eighth for the Mets, and gave up a lead off double to Starling Marte, who then stole third and scored on a Meadows sacrifice fly. After a Bell single, that was it for Gsellman. Tim Peterson replaced him, and retired Harrison and Moran to escape more trouble.

After a scoreless bottom of the eight, Jeurys Familia entered the game for the save. But to get a save, you need to record three outs. Familia recorded none.

Diaz led off the ninth with a single, and was followed up directly by a Corey Dickerson hit, moving Diaz to third. A Gregory Polanco single later, and it was a one-run game, 3-2 Mets. But a walk to Jordy Mercer, still without recording an out, meant curtains for Familia.

Anthony Swarzak was next up, and on the first pitch he threw, David Freese dumped a single in front of Bautista, scoring two, and putting the Pirates up 4-3. After a Meadows strikeout, Bell hit a sacrifice fly, scoring Mercer for the final run of the game.

The Mets, the wind thoroughly out of their sails, went quietly in the bottom of the ninth. In a season full of tough losses, this was one of the toughest so far. Even that sentence seems overused at this point, but when such a good start is wasted, especially after the offense showed early signs of life, this one feels particularly bleak.

The Mets have tomorrow off before beginning a series in Miami on Friday. One can only hope the change of scenery will help this ailing team.

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Win Probability Added

Mets vs Pirates WPA Chart, 6/27/18 Fangraphs.com

hat’s WPA?

Big winners: Zack Wheeler, +36.8% WPA, Asdrubal Cabrera, +10.9% WPA
Big losers: Jeurys Familia, -57.2% WPA, Anthony Swarzak, -27.5% WPA, Brandon Nimmo, -10.6% WPA
Teh aw3s0mest play: Jose Bautista’s run-scoring double in the third inning, +12.5% WPA
Teh sux0rest play: David Freese’s game-winning single, -28.9% WPA
Total pitcher WPA: -47.2% WPA
Total batter WPA: -2.8% WPA
GWRBI!: David Freese