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Mets fail to put together a big inning in loss to Royals

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The Mets struggled offensively and the bullpen put the game further out of reach late.

New York Mets v Kansas City Royals Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images

The Mets suffered a frustrating 4-1 loss to the Royals in the opening game of their three-game series in Kansas City. Noah Syndergaard was not as sharp as he had been in his other starts since the All-Star break, but he was still able to battle the humidity to give the Mets six solid innings of work and keep them in the game.

Given the Mets’ propensity for scoring runs in the first inning, it seemed like they might be starting things out right when Amed Rosario laced the very first pitch he saw into the outfield for a single. He then advanced to second on a wild pitch from Royals starter Mike Montgomery that sailed right over the catcher’s head and went to the backstop, putting a runner in scoring position with nobody out. However, the Mets failed to capitalize. J.D. Davis and Pete Alonso were both retired on ground balls and after he hit Michael Conforto with a pitch, Montgomery got Todd Frazier to fly out to end the threat.

The Mets put two men on with one out in the second, thanks to a base hit by Joe Panik and a walk to Tomas Nido. Then Ruben Tejada flew out to shallow right field and Panik misread the fly ball, thinking it was going to drop for a hit. But it did not and Panik was doubled off second base to end the inning.

The Mets did finally break through in the third inning, but still missed out on an opportunity to put up a crooked number. With one out, J.D. Davis singled. Then Pete Alonso hit a grounder that should have been a double play to end the inning, but Whit Merrifield was unable to handle the throw and dropped the ball. Davis was called out initially, but upon a lengthy replay review, that call was overturned. However, Davis had taken third on the play and was sent back to second base. That base turned out to not matter, as Michael Conforto followed with a single to make the score 1-0 Mets. However, Todd Frazier then promptly grounded into a double play to end the rally with the Mets only having put up one run.

Meanwhile, it was a tale of two different sets of innings for Syndergaard, who needed just 43 pitches to get through the first four innings, but then needed 47 pitches to get through the fifth and sixth innings. The Royals took the lead off Syndergaard in the fifth. With one out, Ryan O’Hearn grounded a seeing-eye single through the shift. The catcher Meibrys Viloria then doubled to score O’Hearn and tie the game at one. Nicky Lopez followed with yet another double to give the Royals the lead. Syndergaard retired the next two batters to limit the damage, but the Mets’ bats continued to look listless against Montgomery.

Syndergaard got himself into and out of trouble in the sixth to keep the game close. He gave up a double and a walk to lead off the inning, but then retired the next three batters in a row—two of them via the strikeout. Both starting pitchers were done after six innings and the game remained a one-run contest.

Jake Newberry and Justin Wilson each delivered a 1-2-3 seventh inning. Both teams had opportunities to score in the eighth, but the Mets were unable to scratch out a run and the Royals added three insurance runs to put the game out of reach. With one out, J.D. Davis hit a slow roller up the third base line off Scott Barlow and was able to beat it out for an infield hit, but came up limping slightly and was removed for a pinch runner for what turned out to be cramping in his calf. Barlow was able to get a huge out by inducing a fly out from Alonso and then the lefty Tim Hill retired Conforto on a bouncer to third to end the inning.

The Mets bullpen did not fare as well in the bottom of the frame. Brad Brach, who had been solid in the early going as a Met, loaded the bases with nobody out, thanks to two straight singles and a walk. Mickey Callaway knew he needed a strikeout, so he turned to Edwin Diaz to get it. Instead, Diaz walked in a run and then gave up a single to plate another run and stretch the Royals’ lead to 4-1. The bases were still loaded when Ryan O’Hearn sent a Diaz slider sailing toward the foul pole in right field. It was ruled a grand slam on the field, but was found to be just foul upon replay review. Diaz bounced back to strike O’Hearn out and get Viloria to ground into a double play, but the damage had been done.

The Mets mounted a two-out rally against Royals closer Ian Kennedy in the ninth, but were unable to score. Frazier led off the inning with a seeing eye single. Then, Juan Lagares—who continues to look good in the field, but has returned to his usual haplessness at the plate—struck out swinging and Joe Panik grounded into a force out at second. But Wilson Ramos then singled as a pinch hitter and Luis Guillorme walked to load the bases for the red hot Amed Rosario. Unfortunately, Rosario grounded into a force out at second to cap off an irksome loss to a struggling team.

The Mets will try to redeem themselves with their ace on the mound, as Jacob deGrom faces off against his almost namesake Jakob Junis in game two of this three-game set in Kansas City.

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What’s WPA?

Big winners: None
Big losers: Todd Frazier -17.3% WPA, Juan Lagares, -13.7% WPA, Ruben Tejada, -11.6% WPA
Total pitcher WPA: -1.6% WPA
Total batter WPA: -48.4% WPA
Teh aw3s0mest play: Michael Conforto’s base hit that put the Mets on the board, +13.2% WPA
Teh sux0rest play: Meibrys Viloria’s game-tying double off Noah Syndergaard in the fifth inning, -21.2% WPA