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Mets lose heartbreaker late, and that might be all

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The Mets’ bullpen failed once again, blowing a critical game against the Dodgers.

MLB: Los Angeles Dodgers at New York Mets Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

Zack Wheeler started last night’s game strong, retiring the first six men to face him and nine of the first ten. That opened up the door for the Mets’ offense, who struck first in the second. A one-out walk by Robinson Cano followed by a single from J.D. Davis put two men on base for Brandon Nimmo, who ripped a ball that stayed just fair down the right field line for a two-run triple. The Mets had an early lead.

For the most part, Wheeler made that lead stand up. The Dodgers got the leadoff man on in the fourth, but only managed a single run on a soft groundout and another single. Joc Pederson led off the top of the sixth with a double, but Wheeler struck out the next three to hold the Dodgers at bay again. Finally, Corey Seager led off with a single in the seventh, and a bloop single two batters later put the tying run in scoring position, but Wheeler once again bore down and got two more strikeouts to end the threat.

All told, the Dodgers got the lead off man on in four of the first seven innings, but Wheeler blew them away with nine strikeouts to preserve a one-run lead. The right-hander finished one of the most impressive outings of his career after seven innings, allowing six hits and walking none to go with his nine punchouts. That’s about as much as could be asked of any pitcher facing one of the best offenses in baseball.

The Met offense, meanwhile, couldn’t do anything else against the Dodgers’ equally impressive pitching staff. Walker Buehler was nearly perfect in his five innings of work, save for his three-batter hickup in the second. Pedro Baez put the Mets down in order in the sixth inning, and when the Mets finally put a threat together against Dustin May in the seventh, Brandon Nimmo and Amed Rosario struck out swinging to strand two runners on base.

Predictably, the missed opportunities came back to bite the Mets the second the bullpen got involved. Justin Wilson took over in the eighth inning and was a mess - three batters in, after a walk, a balk, a strikeout, a wild pitch, and a rocket double off the right field wall, the Dodgers had tied the game at two. Wilson finished his outing with an intentional walk and a strikeout and Seth Lugo got the final out of the inning with one pitch, but the lead was gone.

Kenly Jansen took over for the Dodgers and set the Mets down in order, and the Dodger offense went right back to beating up on the Met bullpen. All the contact Lugo gave up was hard, and a double from Kike Hernandez followed by a single from Jedd Gyorko gave the Dodgers a 3-2 lead. The Mets managed only a two-out walk in the bottom of the ninth, and that was all she wrote.

The loss very well might be one of the final nails in the coffin for the Mets’ season. They now find themselves four games back of both the Cubs and Brewers with only thirteen games to play. That’s essentially no time in baseball terms, and the odds look incredibly grim. With their season on the line, the Mets travel to Colorado for a three-game set with the Rockies starting tonight.

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What’s WPA?

Big winners: Zack Wheeler, +31.4% WPA; Brandon Nimmo, +16.4% WPA
Big losers: Justin Wilson, -25.9% WPA; Seth Lugo, -24.1% WPA; Michael Conforto, -14.2% WPA; Wilson Ramos, -11.3% WPA
Total pitcher WPA: -18.7% WPA
Total batter WPA: -31.3% WPA
Teh aw3s0mest play: Brandon Nimmo’s two-RBI triple in the second, -21.4% WPA
Teh sux0rest play: Jedd Gyorko’s RBI single in the ninth, -36.6% WPA