The New York Mets opened their six-game road trip with a win against the Washington Nationals to improve their record to 20-20. Whatever good vibes existed from that victory have quickly vanished, culminating in an embarrassing shutout loss to the Miami Marlins on Sunday. The defeat dropped the Mets a season-worst five games below .500.
Both starting pitchers were dealing, with Sandy Alcantara and Noah Syndergaard matching zeroes through the first five innings. Syndergaard primarily relied on his fastball and his changeup—as he did in his last start—and the Marlins couldn’t touch him early on. He was perfect through four innings and tossed just 38 pitches while striking out three batters. Neil Walker picked up Miami’s first hit to lead off the fifth, but he was quickly erased on a ground ball double play that was initiated by Syndergaard. After walking Miguel Rojas, the Mets’ right-hander retired Chad Wallach to escape the inning unharmed with 54 pitches.
Unfortunately, the Mets’ offense didn’t bother showing up for a second straight game. Alcantara barely broke a sweat as he retired the first 10 batters he faced before J.D. Davis picked up a one-out single in the fourth inning. With the Mets looking for their first run since Friday, Robinson Cano came up to the plate and grounded into an inning-ending double play. The ball barely traveled a few inches in front of home plate, and Cano never left the batter’s box. Cano appeared to argue with the umpire that the ball went foul, but all replays showed that the ball never touched Cano, and the ball was clearly fair.
Things unraveled in the sixth inning. Rosell Herrera—a late addition to the lineup after Jon Berti was scratched with an oblique strain—led off the sixth with a double in the gap to give the Marlins their first runner in scoring position on the afternoon. Alcantara came up and laid down a perfect bunt that dribbled in between Syndergaard and Davis, and Davis retrieved the ball far too late to throw out the opposing pitcher at first. With runners on the corners and nobody out, Curtis Granderson hit into a 4-6-3 double play to plate Miami’s first run of the afternoon.
As it turned out, it would be the only run they would need. Miami added an insurance run in the seventh when Rojas drove a sacrifice fly to medium center field to score Walker, who led off the inning with a double. Juan Lagares had a shot to throw out the former Met at home, but his throw came up well short and a little wide of home plate.
During the seventh, team trainers came out to examine Syndergaard, but he remained in the game to complete the inning. Despite tossing only 82 pitches, Thor was eventually removed after completing the frame. He gave up two runs on five hits over seven innings while striking out three batters and walking one. Syndergaard did more than enough to help his team win, but the offense didn’t help their starter out, and Syndergaard picked up his fourth loss of 2019.
On offense, the Mets got their second (and final) hit of the afternoon with one out in the seventh, as Davis floated a ball over the second baseman’s glove and into shallow right field. Once again, Cano came to the plate with a chance to redeem himself and help his team, but he again ended the threat by hitting into an inning-ending double play. Through seven innings, Alcantara had faced the minimum while needing to throw just 62 pitches.
New York put a mini-rally together in the eighth inning as they looked to finally break through against Miami’s starter. Pete Alonso walked on four consecutive pitches to lead off the inning, and it looked as if Alcantara’s pin-point control had finally begun to falter a bit. After striking out Brandon Nimmo looking on a change-up down the middle, Adeiny Hechavarria hit a comebacker that Alcantara inexplicably threw to Starlin Castro—who was not covering second base—instead of shortstop Rojas, who had gone to the bag. The Mets had a golden opportunity to capitalize on Miami’s mistake, but instead pinch-hitter Dominic Smith grounded into an inning-ending double play—the team’s third on the afternoon.
Seth Lugo replaced Syndergaard and saw his 12.1 inning scoreless streak come to an unceremonious end. After striking out Alcantara to open the inning, Granderson lined a home run that barely cleared the right field wall to give Miami an insurmountable three-run lead. The Mets came up with one final chance to put some runs up on the board, but they went quietly in a quick, nine-pitch ninth. Alcantara retired Jeff McNeil on a fly ball to left field to end the game and complete Miami’s first sweep since the 2017 season. The game was mercifully over in just under two hours.
It’s rare that a game produces no positives, but it’s certainly hard to find any silver linings from this loss. Besides Davis picking up two hits, the rest of the lineup did absolutely nothing for a second straight game. It was only the third time in franchise history—and first time since 1967—that the Mets lost two straight games while picking up two hits or fewer in each game. The Mets have now lost all 23 games this season where they’ve trailed after seven innings. The team’s recent offensive swoon has felt eerily similar to last year’s offensive disappearance, which also began in May.
The Mets will return to action tonight at Citi Field for a crucial four-game series against the Nationals, with a lot of speculation surrounding the job security of manager Mickey Callaway. With the team fading fast, it appears plausible that a change might be made soon in the interest of sparking the team. As of now, nothing has been announced, and no move appears imminent. With the team badly in need of a win, the team will call on either Drew Gagnon or Wilmer Font to take the mound against Nationals’ starter Patrick Corbin.
SB Nation GameThreads
Win Probability Added
Big winners: None
Big losers: Robinson Cano, -16.7% WPA, Dominic Smith, -14.2% WPA
Total pitcher WPA: 1.6% WPA
Total batter WPA: -51.6% WPA
Teh aw3s0mest play: Pete Alonso walks in the eighth, 6.5% WPA
Teh sux0rest play: Dominic Smith grounds into a double play in the eighth -14.2% WPA