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Chances squandered and an anticlimactic let down in Buffalo

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As ‘on’ as the Mets were last night, they were just as frustrating tonight.

MLB: New York Mets at Toronto Blue Jays Gregory Fisher-USA TODAY Sports

After an offensive barrage like last night’s 18-1 victory, it seemed likely that the Mets would come down to Earth for tonight’s matchup against the Blue Jays. And, unfortunately, that’s exactly what happened. Despite decent pitching, the team lacked all semblance of timely hitting in their 3-2 loss to in Buffalo.

For the first few innings, Seth Lugo and Robbie Ray matched zeros, with neither giving up a baserunner until third inning. Ray labored through much of his start and seemed rather hittable, but the Mets made very little solid contact off of him. And when hard contact was made, it was not when men were on base. The Mets went 1-11 with runners in scoring position, a chilling reminder of their similar issues that plagued them throughout the season.

The fourth inning was a wild one for both teams. Michael Conforto led off the inning with a double, but was stranded on second base when Pete Alonso struck out and Dominic Smith grounded out. However, Jake Marisnick pulled a double over the third base bag to score Conforto and put the Mets on the board.

The bottom of the fourth was also led off with a double to left field, this time by the returning Bo Bichette. The next batter, Travis Shaw, hit a double to center which, initially, scored Bichette. However, the play was reviewed due to the ball getting caught under the padding on the outfield wall. Ruled a ground rule double, Bichette was sent back to third. However, he scored on a Randal Grichuk infield single one batter later.

When Vladimir Guerrero Jr. hit a slow ground ball in almost the same spot as Grichuk’s, Lugo picked it up and, realizing it was his only play, raced to third base, sliding to beat Shaw at third. The Jays challenged the call, but the call was confirmed. Lugo wound up stranding Grichuk and Guerrero, allowing only the one run.

The third challenge in as many half innings happened when Jeff McNeil appeared to be hit on the hand with the ball, but was ruled to be a foul ball off the (non) nub of McNeil’s bat. The Mets stranded Amed Rosario, who hit a frozen rope to the opposite field for a double.

The bottom of the fifth saw Lugo clearly run out of gas, walking catcher Alejandro Kirk in his big league debut and then giving up back to back singles to former Met Joe Panik and Hall of Fame scion Cavan Biggio. Bichette hit a soft, check-swing fly ball which Dominic Smith, perhaps foolishly, caught on a fly, instead of letting drop to induce a double play. Shaw then hit a long fly ball, which drove in Kirk to put the Jays up, 2-1.

Brandon Nimmo entered the game in the top of the sixth, after Marisnick left the game with hamstring tightness. Despite looking absolutely spent in the fifth inning, Lugo started the sixth, and was promptly greeted by a long double by Bichette. After a ground out moved Bichette to third, Lugo was pulled for Chasen Shreve. On Shreve’s first pitch, frequent Met punching bag Jonathan Villar hit a slow ground ball through the drawn in infield to bring in the third run. A Kirk single - his first in the majors - and a Biggio walk chased Shreve from the game, and Miguel Castro came in with the bases loaded and two outs. One pitch led to a Bichette fly out, and the Mets escaped what could’ve been a disastrous inning with just one run.

Singles by Wilson Ramos and Amed Rosario started Julian Merryweather’s second inning of relief. A near double play and a botched double play led to Ramos coming around to score, bringing the Mets within one run.

Castro struck out the side in the seventh and Jeurys Familia fought through trouble for a scoreless eighth to give the Mets a shot to come back from one run down in the top of the ninth.

The ninth inning was a series of wasted opportunities, almost to a comical degree. Nimmo led off the inning with a hard fought walk, and then was erased on a double play grounder hit by Ramos, whose speed continues to inspire. Amed Rosario then struck out, but due to a dropped ball by Kirk, wound up on first base, an absurd bit of luck with the red hot McNeil coming up.

However, Rosario was picked off first, a missed call at first, eventually overturned when the umpires consulted the bunker in Chelsea for the sixth time this game. Before this, Rosario looked excellent tonight, going three for four and making a few nice plays in the field. But a mistake like this is likely not a good thing for a player whose playing time has already diminished considerably.

While this was not a total mess of a game, the Mets had plenty of opportunities to cash in some extra runs, but failed to do so time and time again. The Mets can rebound to win the series tomorrow behind the arm of David Peterson, though they will have their work cut out for them against Hyun Jin Ryu.

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Win Probability Added

WPA Chart for Mets vs Blue Jays, 9/12/20 Fangraphs.com

What’s WPA?

Big winner: Amed Rosario, +17.1% WPA

Big loser: Wilson Ramos, -22.4% WPA

Total pitcher WPA: +2.5% WPA

Total batter WPA: -52.5% WPA

Teh aw3s0mest play: Jake Marisnick’s run-scoring double, +15.3% WPA

Teh sux0rest play: Travis Shaw’s ground rule double, -13.1% WPA