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Wheeler disappoints as Mets’ rally falls just short

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The Mets lost Michael Conforto and, eventually, the game.

New York Mets v Washington Nationals Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images

In what seems to be a yearly occurrence for the Mets, they lost a tough game against the Nationals and lost a couple players to injuries along the way. The Mets 7-6 loss against Washington this afternoon was especially disheartening in more ways than one.

The first stop of the highway of despair came quickly in the Nationals half of the first inning as Zack Wheeler had a rough time recording outs. After the Mets recorded three straight outs on offense, Washington took the opposite approach as their first three batters all reached base on singles. The third of the singles, off the bat of Anthony Rendon, brought Adam Eaton home from second and put the Nats on the board without making an out. Juan Soto then walked to load the bases, but thankfully Howie Kendrick followed him up with a run-scoring double play to inch Wheeler closer to an escape.

After that, things got worse before they got better as Gerardo Parra and Kurt Suzuki walloped a pair of doubles to widen the deficit to four runs. After loading the bases again, Wheeler was able to induce a ground ball from Anibal Sanchez to mercifully end the inning before any more damage could be done.

After back-to-back encouraging starts from Wheeler, this afternoon’s performance was especially disappointing. Only allowing four runs on fifteen hits combined over his past 14 innings worth of starts, Wheeler blew up to let 6 Nationals cross the plate and gave up 11 hits in only six innings.

As the Mets batted in the second inning, the first injury of the game took place as Anibal Sanchez felt something funky after walking Brandon Nimmo and departed the game soon after. As Eric Fedde came into the game, the Mets were set to face the weak Nationals bullpen for the next seven innings of the game.

That weak bullpen showed its flaws as the Mets immediately started pounding the ball in their half of the third. Zack Wheeler started things off with a single and Jeff McNeil joined the party by earning a single of his own. A fielder’s choice from Dominic Smith brought Robinson Cano to the plate with men at first and third. Cano proceeded to laser a ball to left-center which hopped over the wall for an automatic double and brought the Mets’ first run across the plate with Michael Conforto coming up. On the first pitch he saw, Conforto smoked Eric Fedde’s sinker into right field and evened things up at 4-4.

The rest of the third inning was rather unexciting outside of Jeff McNeil’s departure after the Nationals’ recorded the third out of the inning. As the Mets came out onto the field, Juan Lagares was sent to center field as Brandon Nimmo moved over to left in place of McNeil. After some worrying, his exit was attributed to some routine abdominal tightness.

From that point, things remained rather calm until the cursed bottom of the fifth inning. With one out, Howie Kendrick popped a ball towards the right field line between the second baseman and the right fielder. With both of them going for the ball, Michael Conforto introduced his face to Robinson Cano’s shoulder and went down like a sack of bricks. Staggering upon standing, Conforto was lifted from the game due to what would later be revealed to be a concussion of unknown severity. To make matters worse, Gerardo Parra almost instantly launched a ball over Keon Broxton’s head in right field to give the Nats a 6-4 advantage.

The sixth inning came and went, as did the top of the seventh, but things got spicy again whe the Nationals came to bat. After getting two quick outs, Daniel Zamora walked Gerardo Parra and was quickly pulled for Robert Gsellman. Things went downhill from there as Parra stole second base and then came home on Kurt Suzuki’s single. Gsellman then walked the bases loaded, which was suboptimal, but was able to get Adam Eaton to fly out to end the threat.

The next bit of action came in the form of the Mets’ attempted comeback against Sean Doolittle in the ninth. Todd Frazier came up as a pinch hitter with Brandon Nimmo on first and one out and laced a double to center field to put two men in scoring position for Wilson Ramos. Ramos kept the line moving with an RBI single, as did Juan Lagares immediately after him. Suddenly, the Mets were only down by one run and had two men on base. Dominic Smith lofted an infield fly, but Robinson Cano logged an infield hit to load the bases for Keon Broxton. If you think this has a happy ending, you haven’t been paying attention because Keon Broxton swung right through strike three to end the Mets’ rally and the game in one motion.

The Mets get a break in the form of the Miami Marlins as they head to South Beach with Jacob deGrom on the mound against Trevor Richards tomorrow night at 7:10.

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Win Probability Added

What’s WPA?

Big winners: Robinson Cano +19% WPA, Michael Conforto +17% WPA
Big losers: Zack Wheeler -35% WPA, Keon Broxton -29% WPA, Dominic Smith -23% WPA
Total pitcher WPA: -39% WPA
Total batter WPA: -11% WPA
Teh aw3s0mest play: Michael Conforto’s third inning home run, +19% WPA
Teh sux0rest play: Keon Broxton’s ninth inning strikeout, -23.2% WPA