When the season officially ends on September 29, there will be plenty of time to sort out all the unacceptable losses that had a hand in the New York Mets missing the playoffs for a third consecutive year. You can reference any of the losses against the Philadelphia Phillies in June, or the three losses against the San Francisco Giants in July, or the 14 inning loss to the Atlanta Braves or any of the three losses at home against the Chicago Cubs last week. But in the end, it is likely that this specific loss to the Washington Nationals will be cited as the one that drove the final nail into the 2019 Mets’ proverbial coffin.
In a game that began as a marquee pitching matchup between 2018 NL Cy Young Award winner Jacob deGrom and runner up Max Scherzer, it turned into the story of two bad bullpens. Unfortunately for the Mets, it turned out their bullpen was just a little bit worse than the Nationals’ pen. After putting up a six spot in the top of the ninth, Washington responded by dropping seven runs on three Mets’ relievers. Words truly fail to capture the magnitude of awfulness that we all witnessed in that game.
Things began innocently enough with the Mets going down 1-2-3 in the first. The Nationals struck first with a first inning run that came courtesy of a Juan Soto single, which drove in Asdrubal Cabrera. From there, deGrom settled in and shut out the Nationals over the next four innings, even though he wasn’t quite dominant. He did his best work in the third after Trea Turner and Cabrera reached with no outs. On two pitches, he got Anthony Rendon to ground into a double play before Soto lined out to center to end the inning.
The Mets finally got to Scherzer in the fourth after he cruised through the order the first time around. Pete Alonso kicked things off with an opposite-field single on the first pitch of the inning, and Michael Conforto followed suit with another first-pitch single through the hole between first and second. Alonso’s hit extended his on-base streak to 29, which set a new rookie record. Wilson Ramos came to the plate and continued the first pitch trend by roping a double into left field to tie the game. In the process, he extended his hitting streak to 26, which tied David Wright for the second-longest such streak in franchise history. He now sits just four games behind Moises Alou’s mark.
After Ramos, Brandon Nimmo drove in the go-ahead run with a sacrifice fly to center field. Joe Panik came up next and hit an improbable home run over the right field wall for his first long ball in a Mets’ uniform. Just like that, New York turned a one-run deficit into a four-run lead against one of the best pitchers in the National League.
After both teams put up a scoreless fifth, the Nationals creeped closer and cut the Mets’ lead to two. Soto was hit on the arm by a pitch and, despite appearing to be in excruciating pain, remained in the game. After a Matt Adams single, Kurt Suzuki hit a deep fly ball to center field that was beyond Nimmo’s reach and went for a run-scoring single. Unfortunately, turned out only to be the second most annoying Suzuki hit on the evening, but more on that later. The Mets lucked out when Adams didn’t get beyond second, and deGrom recovered with a Gerardo Parra double play to extinguish Washington’s threat.
The Mets got a little bit of breathing room—or so everybody thought—in the eighth with a Jeff McNeil solo home run to extend the lead to three. Mickey Callaway decided to leave deGrom in to begin the eighth, and he served up a two-run home run to Juan Soto to cut the lead down to one. Callaway, sensing he had gotten all he could out of deGrom, went to Lugo, who quickly retired the next three batters.
That led to the ninth inning, which turned out to be one of the most wild and unfortunate 45-minute stretches perhaps in the franchise’s long and often torturous existence. The Mets gave themselves what seemed to be all the cushion they would need by dropping five runs on a trip of Nationals’ relievers. Nimmo led off with a solo home run, and Panik followed him with a single. Todd Frazier walked, but new pitcher Daniel Hudson got Luis Guillorme out. Tomas Nido then hit what seemed to be an easy double play, but Matt Adams inexplicably forgot how many outs there were and only went for the one out at first.
The play at the time seemed fortuitous, but Adams turning two perhaps would’ve resulted in Lugo remaining in the game and closing out a 6-4 Mets win. Instead, McNeil drove in two with a single and Alonso hit his 44th home run of the year to make it 10-4. Conforto flew out to end the inning, but the team seemed to be well on their way to a fourth win in five games on this road trip.
Callaway made the decision to pull Lugo with a big lead and entrust Paul Sewald with a six-run lead. It was a decision that seemed easy at the time but would come to blow up in the manager’s face. Victor Robles kicked off the ninth innocently enough with a single before Howie Kendrick flew out. Turner then doubled to make it 10-5, and Cabrera singled to put runners on the corners with one out. Rendon followed with a single, which made it a four-run game and chased Sewald from the contest.
Luis Avilan came in to get the lefty Soto out and failed miserably by allowing a single to load the bases. With Ryan Zimmerman coming up to pinch hit, Callaway called upon Edwin Diaz to finish the game. As he has unfortunately done many times this season, Diaz was unable to seal the deal, and it only took him two batters this time around. Zimmerman greeted him rudely with a two-run double that put the tying runs in scoring position. Suzuki, who drove in Washington’s second run of the game, had his biggest hit of the season with a walk off three-run home run to cap off a gut-wrenching defeat. Prior to tonight, the Mets had played 806 games in which they took a six run lead or more into the ninth and, prior to tonight, they’d won them all.
With the Cubs winning, the Mets fell to five games back in the Wild Card while losing another game to the Brewers and the Phillies. The Mets will do all they can to dust themselves off and play a game tomorrow afternoon, as they turn to Zack Wheeler to stop the bleeding. The Nationals will counter with right-hander Anibal Sanchez in a game that will be broadcast for all to see on Youtube.
SB Nation GameThreads
Win Probability Added
Big winners: Seth Lugo, 14.2%, Joe Panik, 13.5%, Wilson Ramos, 12.3%
Big losers: Edwin Diaz, -89.4%, Mets fans
Total pitcher WPA: -88.1% WPA
Total batter WPA: 38.1% WPA
Teh aw3s0mest play: Wilson Ramos double in the fourth, 17.1% WPA
Teh sux0rest play: Kurt Suzuki three-run home run, -71.1% WPA