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Mets end the first half with a whimper, letting one bad inning make the difference against the Nationals

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Anyone else really glad we get a break?

MLB: Washington Nationals at New York Mets Gregory Fisher-USA TODAY Sports

The All-Star break, though not the official mid-point of the season, is the time when baseball takes a breather, and gives us, the fans, time to assess the season thus far. It is only fitting then that today’s game was a perfect microcosm of the Mets’ season, 94 games in: solid starting pitching, no offense, pathetic bullpen work. They dropped the game to the Nationals 6-1, in a game that looked like it would be a nailbiter until the top of the seventh.

Corey Oswalt started for the Mets and, despite only going five innings, marked his third straight decent, if short, start. Over the course of five innings, Oswalt only allowed two hits, singles to Anthony Rendon and Matt Adams, while walking none and striking out one. Rendon scored on a fielder’s choice off the bat of Michael Taylor in the second inning, the only inning in which Oswalt allowed a baserunner.

The Mets scored their only run of the game in the second as well. Michael Conforto walked to start the inning, and was moved over to second on a Wilmer Flores ground out. Devin Mesoraco then singled to center, moving Conforto to third. He would score on a Jose Reyes ground out.

The Mets got their next chance to score in the fifth, when Reyes hit a one-out double, who then advanced to third on a wild pitch by Nationals’ starter Jeremy Hellickson. After an Amed Rosario strikeout, Dominic Smith then pinch hit for Oswalt, and was hit by a pitching, putting runners on the corners with two outs. Brandon Nimmo then flied out to center to end the inning.

Seth Lugo pitched the sixth for the Mets, and aside from a single to Hellickson, got through the inning with three fly balls, each hit, politely, to a different Met outfielder. Asdrubal Cabrera walked to start the bottom of the sixth, but was erased by an inning-ending double play.

The seventh was when the wheels came off for the Mets. Anthony Swarzak began the inning and walked the only two batters he faced, Juan Soto and Rendon. He was replaced by Tim Peterson, who gave up a single to Adams, which loaded the bases. Former Met/Met killer Daniel Murphy singled to right, driving in both Soto and Rendon, putting Washington ahead 3-1. Catcher Matt Wieters pushed the runners along with a sacrifice bunt, and then got pinch hitter Brian Goodwin to fly out.

Peterson was replaced by Jerry Blevins, who hit Wilmer Difo with a pitch to re-load the bases. Blevins then hit the next batter as well, plunking Adam Eaton and driving in Adams. Trea Turner then singled in both Murphy and Difo, putting the Nats up 6-1, the score that would stick for the rest of the game.

Jacob Rhame and Tyler Bashlor pitched scoreless frames for the Mets. The Mets threatened in the bottom of the ninth, with singles by Jose Bautista, Flores, and Reyes loading the bases. However, an Amed Rosario pop out wound end the Mets’ threat, as well as their half.

Blissfully, all Mets not named Jacob deGrom have off until Friday, when they travel to the Bronx to take on the Yankees.

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Win Probability Added

Mets vs Nationals WPA Chart, 7/15/18 Fangraphs.com

What’s WPA?

Big winners: Corey Oswalt, +15.7% WPA, Jose Reyes, +12.2% WPA
Big losers: Tim Peterson, -18.6% WPA, Anthony Swarzak, -14.8% WPA, Jerry Blevins, -13.4% WPA, Amed Rosario, -13.0% WPA, Brandon Nimmo, -10.2% WPA
Teh aw3s0mest play: Jose Reyes doubled to right, +5.7% WPA
Teh sux0rest play: Daniel Murphy drives in 2, -12.3% WPA
Total pitcher WPA: -23.3% WPA
Total batter WPA: -26.7% WPA
GWRBI!: Daniel Murphy