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Victor Caratini and the Cubs effectively end the Mets’ playoff hopes

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Victor Caratini joins the Mets hall of hatred as his two homers bury the Amazin’s.

Chicago Cubs v New York Mets Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

After sweeping the Indians to start a nine-game homestand, the Mets officially dropped all six of their next six games, culminating with their 4-1 loss to the Cubs on Thursday night. What looked to be another traditional Jacob deGrom start quickly turned into a trainwreck as the seventh inning got underway.

Before the roof caved in, this was a fairly even game as Jon Lester and deGrom spent most of the game trading zeroes...and a pair of ones. While he finished the night going seven innings and allowing four runs on five hits and striking out four, deGrom pitched much better than his line would indicate.

In the first inning, it actually looked as if things might go right for the Mets. Jacob deGrom had little issue setting down the first three Cubs he faced to give the Mets their first shot at Jon Lester. Amed Rosario struck out and Jeff McNeil grounded out, but J.D. Davis stood in the way of Lester’s perfect inning as he sent the first pitch he swung at up and over the apple in center field to give the Mets a 1-0 lead.

Immediately following Davis’ homer, Pete Alonso drew a walk and Wilson Ramos extending his hitting streak to 22 games with a single into right field to bring up Michael Conforto with a chance to pad the lead. Regrettably, Conforto lined out to left field and the Mets were forced to settle for one run against Lester and the Cubs.

Without wasting much time, the Cubs evened the game up as the second batter of the second inning, Victor Caratini, lofted a ball to the Coca Cola Corner in right that Michael Conforto came within 20 feet of snagging as he leaped at the wall. Again, in the bottom half of the inning the Mets found themselves with two outs on the board and two men on the bases, this time with Jeff McNeil manning the lumber. Following the same pattern as before, McNeil lined out and the Mets came up empty again with two men on.

As the Cubs stepped up and were sent down by deGrom again, the Mets put men on first and second base for the third consecutive inning to start the game. Now you may be wondering: did the Mets capitalize this time? Well my friend, they absolutely didn’t as Todd Frazier completed the trifecta by flying out to center field and sending the Mets back into the dugout empty handed.

Lester and deGrom continued their duel as they traded perfect frames in both the fourth and fifth innings before their tandem dominance was erased by Michael Conforto’s single against Lester in the bottom of the sixth. But have no fear, Todd Frazier struck out and Conforto was thrown out trying to steal second base to end the inning with nothing to show for it, again.

The seventh inning was the point of no return in which everything that could’ve gone wrong for the Mets did. After striking out Nicholas Castellanos to start the inning, deGrom coaxed a ground ball from Kris Bryant, but it was deflected off the glove of a sprinting Amed Rosario and resulted in a single. Javier Baez came up next and sent a relatively softly-struck ball up the middle between the shortstop and second baseman to put a pair on base with one out for Victor Caratini. Of course, ensuring heartbreak, Caratini sent his second homer of the night over the wall in right field to give the Cubs the 4-1 lead that they never surrendered. Addison Russell did manage to single and steal second, but deGrom got Tony Kemp and Jonathan Lucroy out in order to end the inning without any further damage done.

The Cubs removed Jon Lester from the game in favor of Tyler Chatwood, but it made little difference as he retired all three Mets he faced in the seventh inning while Brandon Kintzler retired three of the four batters he faced in the bottom of the eighth.

Seth Lugo and Jeurys Familia did their best to keep the game close by pitching a pair of shutout innings to bring the Mets up in the bottom of the ninth with a three-run deficit to overcome. I wish I could tell you that the Mets fought the good fight, and the Cubs let them be. I wish I could tell you that, but Major League Baseball is no fairy-tale world.

As the Mets went down in order against Craig Kimbrel in the ninth, they found themselves five games back of the Cubs in the National League Wild Card hunt with barely a month of baseball left to play. With their postseason dreams all but dead, the Mets kick off a series in Philadelphia tomorrow night as Zack Wheeler takes the mound against Aaron Nola at 7:05.

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What’s WPA?

Big winners: Nobody
Big losers: Jacob deGrom -18.6% WPA, Todd Frazier -12.0% WPA, Jeff McNeil -10.8% WPA
Total pitcher WPA: -17.0% WPA
Total batter WPA: -33.0% WPA
Teh aw3s0mest play: J.D. Davis’ first inning home run, +11.6% WPA
Teh sux0rest play: Victor Caratini’s seventh inning home run, -34.4% WPA