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Sixth inning slip-ups sink Sunshine Superman as Mets fall to Marlins

The Mets failed to pick up a much-needed with with their ace on the mound.

MLB: Miami Marlins at New York Mets Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports

The Mets needed a win on Monday to wipe away the bad taste left after the team suffered three excruciating losses in a matter of just over 30 hours on Saturday and Sunday. New York had Jacob deGrom on the hill in a day game, which he has excelled in to the tune of a 1.84 career ERA, and they were facing a Marlins team that was traveling up from a home series to play at Citi Field before traveling back to Miami, something Don Mattingly expressed frustration about over the weekend. With all that, the Mets were right where they wanted to be, but they did not get the result they desperately needed.

Things looked good early on. Making his fourth straight start against the Marlins, deGrom looked like his typical dominant self. While he relied heavily on his fastball in his last start at Citi Field against Miami, a seven inning, 14-strikeout performance, he had his slider working in this one as he fanned five of the first eight batters he faced. At times, he looked downright unhittable, although Miami finally had its first baserunner with nine-hitter Lewis Brinson legged out an infield single while sliding head-first into first base. Following a walk to Corey Dickerson, deGrom fanned Garrett Cooper to end the threat, although Cooper would get his revenge three innings later.

Offensively, the Mets went down quietly in the first two, but Marlins rookie Trevor Rogers lost the strike zone to start the third, which gave New York its first legitimate scoring opportunity. The inning began when Amed Rosario, after 157 consecutive plate appearances without a walk, drew his first walk of the 2020 season on four consecutive pitches, which elicited a sarcastic round of applause from his teammates in the dugout.

Brandon Nimmo followed with a walk of his own—Nimmo, unlike Rosario, is no stranger to walks—which gave the Mets two on with nobody out. Jeff McNeil, who has been mired in a slump as of late, scorched a double past the diving Lewin Diaz to put New York on the board. Pete Alonso followed with a fly ball into shallow left field that was caught by Miguel Rojas in foul territory, but Nimmo inexplicably did not tag on the play. Dominic Smith made it a moot point with a deep fly ball that drove home Nimmo. The Mets gave their ace a two-run lead, and with the way he was pitching it looked like they could cruise to an easy victory.

deGrom walked around a leadoff walk in the fourth and a leadoff single in the fifth, but he ran into trouble immediately the following inning. Cooper stepped to the plate to lead off the sixth and deposited a 1-1 slider well into the Citi Field stands, reaching the tarp in the second deck to draw Miami to within one run. On the next play, Matt Joyce hit a grounder to first that Alonso booted for an error, which opened the floodgates for Miami.

After a Brian Anderson strikeout, Diaz tied the game with a double into right-center on a 1-2 pitch. Jon Berti pinch hit for Jonathan Villar, who would be on his way to the Blue Jays before this game was over, and lined out for the second out of the inning. Just when it looked like Jake might escape with the game still knotted at two apiece, Rojas singled on an 0-2 pitch to put Miami ahead. With deGrom again finding himself one strike away from ending the inning, Jorge Alfaro doubled to give the Marlins a two-run lead. Jake, visibly frustrated and disgusted on the mound, got to two strikes on each of the three Marlins batters but couldn’t put them away. He managed to finish the inning, and even lowered his ERA with one earned over six, but it hardly made the ace feel good about his outing.

The Mets cut the lead to one when Robinson Cano led off the sixth against Alex Vesia, who relieved Rogers after his solid five-inning performance, by depositing a pitch into the left-center field stands. However, that was as close as New York would get in this one. After Hunter Strickland, who returned to replace the optioned Drew Smith, pitched a scoreless seventh, Anderson led off the eighth against Brad Brach with another monstrous home run to give Miami a two-run cushion. The Mets went quietly in the eighth and couldn’t capitalize on an Andres Gimenez leadoff single in the ninth, as they went down 5-3. The Mets, whose struggles with runners in scoring position have been well publicized, went 2-for-10 in the game. They ended their season series against Miami with six wins against four losses.

The calendar turns to September tomorrow, and the sliding Mets have 25 games to turn this around and make a push for the playoffs. The club currently finds itself with the fourth-worst winning percentage in the National League. Unrelated to the game, the Mets made three trades ahead of the 4:00pm deadline, bringing back Tom’s River native Todd Frazier along with catcher Robinson Chirinos from the Rangers and reliever Miguel Castro from the Orioles. It remains to be seen whether these trades will help the Mets save their season, but time is ticking away. The Mets travel to Baltimore to face the Orioles for a two-game set starting tomorrow night. No word yet on whom they will send out to pitch.

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What’s WPA?

Big Mets winner: Robinson Cano, +14.3% WPA
Big Mets loser: Jacob deGrom, -29.1% WPA
Mets pitchers: -31.6% WPA
Mets hitters: -18.4% WPA
Teh aw3s0mest play: Jeff McNeil run-scoring double in the third inning, 14.5% WPA
Teh sux0rest play: Miguel Rojas run-scoring single in the sixth inning, -17.7% WPA