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Double plays, bad pitching doom Mets

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The Mets ground into three double plays, and their young starter was shellacked.

MLB: New York Mets at Chicago Cubs Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

The Mets’ road woes continued in a 7-4 loss to the Cubs. Walter Lockett’s first start for the Mets went about as well as could be expected from someone with a 3.28 K/9 in Triple-A this season, and he didn’t make it out of the third inning. The rough start put the Mets in too much of a hole for their offense to recover from.

Lockett’s start actually began very well. In the first inning, he induced three ground balls, true to his scouting report. Lockett did one better in the second, striking out two as he set the first six Cubs down in order. Meanwhile, the Met offense was squandering offensive opportunities left and right; despite putting five men on base with two hits, a walk, an HBP, and an error, they could only push one run across, with two double plays short-circuiting chances in both the first and second.

In the third, Pete Alonso took matters into his own hands, removing the opportunity for more wasted baserunners. As Tyler Chatwood’s 1-1 fastball ran back towards the inner part of the plate, Alonso absolutely clobbered it, lining a 117 MPH laser beam that left the stadium as fast as any home run you’ll ever see. The impressive blast gave the Mets a 3-0 lead heading to the bottom of the third.

At this point, it all unraveled for Lockett. The only out he recorded in the inning was on a sacrifice bunt, as the Cubs strung together five hits and a walk, leading to six runs. Brooks Pounders relieved Lockett after Mickey Callaway had seen enough, and the big righthander managed to finally end the inning, but the Mets found themselves in a 6-3 hole.

In the fourth, it looked like the Mets might strike back immediately, but another double play once again erased a scoring threat. In the fifth, Adbert Alzolay, the Cubs’ top pitching prospect, relieved Tyler Chatwood, and he proceeded to shut down the Mets for the next four innings. The only baserunner the Mets managed came on a one out walk in the fifth, as Alzolay set down the next eleven Mets in order.

Despite the non-existent offense, the bullpen did their best to keep the Mets in it. Wilmer Font tossed three scoreless innings before Robert Gsellman took over in the eighth. Unfortunately, the good times ended there, as Javier Baez took a 3-2 curveball out over the center field fence to give the Cubs’ another insurance run. It’s another blow in what has been a rough season for Gsellman, one where he’s probably been overused and has often had some very odd pitch selection.

Stephen Nogosek got another chance in the eighth and looked better than his first outing, striking out one in a perfect inning. The Mets headed to the ninth down four, and finally got to Alzolay. Todd Frazier led off the inning with a solo home run, the 200th of his career, and Wilson Ramos followed that with a walk. That put the tying run on deck, and the Cubs went to their current closer in Steve Cishek (Craig Kimbrel is still in the minors). Cishek made short work of the Mets though, striking out two and inducing a ground out to close out the loss.

The Mets are now 35-40 on the season, and they sit 9.0 games back of the Braves in the NL East. At this point, the season has probably moved past the point of teetering on the brink, and is now in the process of falling into the abyss. The pitching remains poor almost across the board, the offense is inconsistent, and the total inability to win on the road is a major problem. Jason Vargas will take the mound opposite Yu Darvish tomorrow afternoon as the Mets look to turn around their road trip and keep their season going a little longer.

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Win Probability Added

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What’s WPA?

Big winners: Pete Alonso, +22.2% WPA; Wilson Ramos, +11.1% WPA
Big losers: Walter Lockett, -48.3% WPA; Robinson Cano, -15.0% WPA
Total pitcher WPA: -46.1% WPA
Total batter WPA: -3.9% WPA
Teh aw3s0mest play: Pete Alonso hits a two run bomb in the second, +15.3% WPA
Teh sux0rest play: Anthony Rizzo doubles to drive in two in the third, -17.9% WPA