The Mets, with their ups and downs this season, put themselves in a position where they basically needed to win nearly every game these last two weeks of the year in order to have a chance at the second wild card spot. So when they face a Reds team that is 10 games under .500 and playing out the string, losing a game like they did yesterday deals a huge blow to their season, especially when Zack Wheeler twirls a gem like he did.
Wheeler actually got off to a rocky start in the first inning, but it wasn’t all his fault. A leadoff single to start the frame and a walk to Joey Votto set the table for the Reds, but the next batter, Eugenio Suarez, hit a double play ball to Todd Frazier. It was big hop, but it bounced off his chest and deflected away from him, and no play could be made. The bases were then loaded for Aristides Aquino, who tapped a ball up the third base line. Frazier, thinking it was foul, paused for a second and then delivered a late throw to first base, allowing the run to score and not recording an out on the play. It was probably a foul ball based on the replay, but Frazier assumed the call would go his way and it didn’t.
Wheeler settled down, though, allowing only one more run to cross in the inning on a bloop single. He was locked in from there, not allowing another run to cross the rest of the way. Overall he allowed two runs (one earned) over seven innings, striking six and walking one. With that start, Wheeler’s ERA has now dipped below four for the first time all season.
With Wheeler tossing zeroes, the Mets were able to claw their way back from the two-run deficit. In the third inning, a Todd Frazier single and an Amed Rosario double set up a Wheeler RBI groundout to close the gap to 2-1. Rosario was still on third with only one out, but Anthony DeScalafani struck out Brandon Nimmo and Jeff McNeil to strand Rosario at third.
The Mets again had something cooking in the fifth. A Michael Conforto walk, a Frazier single, and a fielding error by Joey Votto on a sac bunt attempt set the Mets up with the bases loaded and only one out. Nimmo came up and was immediately hit by the pitch to score the run and tie the game. The Mets still had the bases loaded with only one out, but McNeil and Pete Alonso both feebly struck out to end the threat.
That was basically it for the Mets’ offense in this one. After that inning, no Mets hitter reached base for the remainder of the game. With Wheeler out after seven, the bullpen came on in the 8th with the task of keeping the game tied. Justin Wilson was the first man out. He struck out Tucker Barnhart leading off, but a walk to Jose Iglesias and a single by Jose Peraza put him in a dicey spot. That’s when Mickey Callaway went to Seth Lugo to get them out of the jam.
Lugo struck out his first batter, but the next batter was familiar foe Christian Colón. Mets fans will remember Colón for getting the game-winning hit in the 12th inning of Game 5 of the 2015 World Series for the Royals. This time, Colón, pinch-hitting for the pitcher, ripped an RBI single up the middle to plate Iglesias from second. It was Colón’s first big league hit since June 2017, and he may have once again effectively ended the Mets’ season.
Lugo got out of the inning when Peraza was thrown trying to score when the throw to third got away from Frazier on the Colón single. The Mets went down hopelessly against Raisel Iglesias in the 9th, and that sealed it.
With the Brewers beating the hapless Pirates last night, the Mets have now fallen 4.5 games back of the second wild card spot with 8 games to play. Their elimination number is down to 4. With the loss, the Mets now need to pull off a miracle to even get to a Game 163 scenario.
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Win Probability Added
Big winners: Zack Wheeler, +20.3% WPA
Big losers: Jeff McNeil, -18.9 WPA, Seth Lugo, -16.7% WPA, Pete Alonso, -16.0% WPA, Robinson Cano, -15.0% WPA
Total pitcher WPA: -2.8%
Total batter WPA: -47.2%
Teh aw3s0mest play: Brandon Nimmo gets hit by a pitch to score a run, +12.6% WPA
Teh sux0rest play: Christian Colon hits an RBI single in the 8th, +24.9% WPA