The Mets were bound to lose a game eventually, and lose a game they did on Sunday afternoon as they hosted the Nationals in the finale of a three-game series. Jacob deGrom threw a lot of pitches early and went just five innings, the Mets’ bullpen combined to give up four runs, and for the first time in those three game, the Mets’ offense couldn’t complete a comeback.
deGrom’s worst inning was, by far, the first. After loading the bases with one out on a couple of hits and a walk, he struck out Matt Adams. Then all hell broke loose. Asdrubal Cabrera hit a grounder to Pete Alonso’s right, and Alonso fielded it. But that’s where the good news ended. Alonso threw the ball to the bag, but the combination of the location of the throw and a stutter-step by deGrom as he got close to first base resulted in the ball getting away from deGrom.
Two runs scored, and when the ball was recovered and thrown to Wilson Ramos, covering home plate with a healthy distance between Juan Soto and the plate, Ramos had it pop out of his glove, leaving him empty-handed as he tagged Soto, who scored. That gave the Nationals a 3-0 lead.
The Mets tied the game in the bottom of the second in exciting fashion. Specifically, Joe Panik drove in a run with a single, leaving runners on first and second with two outs and deGrom coming up. And deGrom placed perfect bunt single between Nationals pitcher Anibal Sanchez and third baseman Anthony Rendon and beat out Rendon’s throw for a single. And that allowed Jeff McNeil to hit a double along the right field line and plate two runners to tie things up.
Neither team scored again until the seventh, but deGrom’s high pitch count in the early innings ended his day after five innings pitched. And although Luis Avilan and Brad Brach, making his Mets debut, combined for a scoreless sixth, things didn’t go as well in the seventh.
Robert Gsellman came on and got one out before allowing back-to-back singles, which spurred Mickey Callaway to bring in Justin Wilson to take his place. Wilson walked Soto to load the bases, struck out Matt Adams, and—hey, this is all sounding kind of familiar—gave up two runs when Asdrubal Cabrera doubled to the right field corner. The only differences this time around were that Cabrera smoked a double that didn’t require any errors by Mets fielders to score runs and that Soto injured his right leg as he was held by his third base coach, allowing the Mets to get him out.
With that, the Nationals led 5-3, and the only run the Mets scored the rest of the way came on a sac fly by Michael Conforto in the bottom of the seventh. Edwin Diaz served up a two-run home run to Victor Robles in the top of the ninth to give the Nationals some breathing room, and Sean Doolittle had a rare good outing against the Mets in a 1-2-3 bottom of the ninth to end the game.
It was a somewhat disappointing finish to an otherwise excellent weekend at Citi Field that made the place look and feel like these were playoff games. That alone is a good reminder of what all of this can be like—for the players, the fans, and the team—when it’s playing at a high level.
Here’s hoping that continues to be the case over the next several weeks.
SB Nation GameThreads
Win Probability Added
Big winners: Jeff McNeil, +32.4% WPA
Big losers: Justin Wilson -18.6% WPA, Todd Frazier, -17.8% WPA, Michael Conforto, -14.7% WPA, J.D. Davis, -14.7% WPA, Robert Gsellman, -12.9% WPA, Edwin Diaz, -11.2% WPA
Total pitcher WPA: -38.7% WPA
Total batter WPA: -11.3% WPA
Teh aw3s0mest play: Jeff McNeil hits a game-tying double in the second, +21.5% WPA
Teh sux0rest play: Asdrubal Cabrera gives the Nationals the lead with a two-run double in the seventh, -27.6% WPA