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Jeurys Familia’s meltdown in the eighth caps off another nightmare for the Mets bullpen

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The Mets lost two games in one day at the hands of the bullpen.

MLB: St. Louis Cardinals at New York Mets Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The day after Edwin Diaz blew a two-run lead in the ninth inning, he came back out and gave up a run in the tenth inning and the Mets lost Thursday’s suspended game to the Cardinals 5-4. The Mets then played their regularly scheduled game and lost that one as well—also thanks to another blown lead in the late innings—by a score of 9-5.

The Mets struck early against Daniel Ponce de Leon, who had trouble throwing strikes most of the evening. In the bottom of the first, he issued two straight two-out walks and then Todd Frazier laced a single to put the Mets on the board 1-0. Steven Matz responded with a quick 1-2-3 second, but the Cardinals tied the game in the third. Tommy Edman led off the inning with a double—his first major league hit. The Cardinals then played small ball, getting Edman home via a sacrifice bunt by Ponce de Leon and a sacrifice fly by Matt Carpenter.

Despite Ponce de Leon struggling with negotiating the strike zone, the Mets allowed him to settle in after that first inning. He threw 36 pitches in the first inning, but threw just 35 pitches over the next three frames to make it through four innings of work. Meanwhile, Steven Matz had a marathon top of the fifth that had him spend over 40 pitches. With one out, Matz issued a free pass to Dexter Fowler. However, he induced a double-play grounder—albeit a sharp one—from Edman that Todd Frazier usually converts. But this time, the ball nicked off the outside of Frazier’s glove and both runners were safe. This error proved to be immensely costly, as the pinch-hitter Jose Martinez then hit a home run that barely cleared the wall in right-center to put the Cardinals ahead 4-1.

It very much felt like a night where the Mets would go down meekly after that, but the offense battled back, as it has quite often this season. That battle began with Steven Matz’s redemption—a solo homer off Tyler Webb to lead off the fifth inning, which represented the fifth home run by a Mets pitcher this season. Despite his labor-intensive top of the fifth, Matz stayed in the game after his homer to pitch the sixth, but retired the Cardinals in order.

After Robert Gsellman contributed a scoreless seventh, the offense clawed back to take the lead in the bottom of the frame. Andrew Miller was tasked with protecting the Cardinals’ lead, but failed to record an out. He hit Carlos Gomez with a pitch to lead off the inning and then surrendered two straight singles to Jeff McNeil and Michael Conforto to load the bases. Ex-Met farmhand John Gant was then called upon to put out the fire and was very nearly successful, but the Cardinals committed their own costly error and the Mets capitalized. Pete Alonso hit a bouncer to Kolten Wong—newly in the game at second base—who threw the would-be double play ball errantly to second base, allowing Gomez to score. The Mets were then within a run, still with the bases loaded and nobody out. Gant got the next two outs—Dominic Smith on a strikeout and Frazier on force out at the plate. Smith struck out twice on the night and left five runners on base in one of the uglier games he has had during an otherwise good season for him at the plate. But with two outs, Wilson Ramos came up big with an RBI single that put the Mets in front 5-4.

But, the Mets once again saw the bullpen blow a late lead, as it has quite often this season. Ordinarily, with Gsellman having been double-switched into the game, it is likely Mickey Callaway would have tried to eke two innings out of him. However, Gsellman told Callaway his back was feeling stiff after the seventh. With Diaz having been used both the night before and earlier in the evening, Callaway had little choice but to turn to Jeurys Familia in the eighth. It went about as poorly as it could have gone. He gave up a home run on the second pitch he threw to Paul DeJong to even the game at 5-5. He then was able to retire the next two batters, but even those balls were hit rather hard. He then surrendered a double to Yadier Molina and a walk to Harrison Bader. Dexter Fowler then hammered the very first pitch he saw for a three-run homer to put the Cardinals ahead 8-5. With this performance, Familia’s ERA is now approaching 7.00 for the year.

Kolten Wong added to the damage with a solo home run in the top of the ninth off Hector Santiago, who was designated for assignment after the game. The ninth could have potentially been even worse, if not for a nice sliding grab by Michael Conforto on a shallow fly ball off the bat of Goldschmidt, on which he was able to double Carpenter off first base to end the inning. Meanwhile, the Cardinals pushed Gant to three innings of work. He tossed a scoreless eighth and ninth, working around a one-out hustle double by Alonso in the ninth inning. The effort earned him his sixth win of the year.

The Mets’ bullpen ERA now stands at 5.23, which is 27th in baseball.

The Mets attempt to salvage the series with Noah Syndergaard on the mound, facing off against Michael Wacha. Syndergaard looks to build on his one-hit performance against the Rockies in his most recent start.

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What’s WPA?

Big winners: Wilson Ramos, +33.6% WPA, Pete Alonso, +18.9% WPA, Jeff McNeil, +11.7% WPA, Steven Matz (hitting), +10.6% WPA
Big losers: Jeurys Familia, -70.3% WPA, Steven Matz (pitching), -23.8% WPA, Dominic Smith, -17.5% WPA, Juan Lagares, -10.6% WPA, Todd Frazier, -10.4% WPA
Total pitcher WPA: -92.7% WPA
Total batter WPA: +74.9% WPA
Teh aw3s0mest play: Wilson Ramos’ RBI single in the seventh, +42.3% WPA
Teh sux0rest play: Dexter Fowler’s go-ahead three-run homer off Jeurys Familia in the eighth, -44.6% WPA