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Mets take five-run lead in first inning, blow it over the next eight

The Mets closed out their first half with their worst loss of the first half.

Pittsburgh Pirates v New York Mets Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images

After the Mets beat up the Pirates for 13 runs on Friday night, they got off to another rip-roaring start on Sunday that looked eerily similar to the offensive explosion they put together two nights earlier. Facing Pirates starter Chase De Jong, Brandon Nimmo doubled to lead off the first for the Mets. Francisco Lindor then followed by parking one out of sight into the Mets’ bullpen to put the Mets up 2-0.

But the Mets were only getting started there. Dom Smith then walked, and after a Pete Alonso strikeout, Jeff McNeil followed with a walk of his own. The set up two runners on for Michael Conforto, who sailed one straight into a little kid’s glove in the Big Apple seats. It was a three-run bomb and gave the Mets a 5-0 lead before De Jung had even recorded two outs.

De Jong would settle down from there, though, and get through the first. In fact, he didn’t allow anyone not named Lindor to reach for the rest of his outing. He got through the fifth inning and finished his day only allowing those five runs.

On the pitching side of things, the Mets had to piece together a bullpen game thanks to the rainout on Thursday forcing Jacob deGrom to be unavailable today on short rest. Aaron Loup opened the affair and pitched two scoreless to start things off. Loup capped off a surprisingly tremendous first half with his effort this afternoon, and we can only presume he enjoyed some brews this afternoon after opening this game.

Jerad Eickhoff took the ball from there as the “bulk guy” and got through the third and the fourth innings rather painlessly, but the fifth is where he started to pitch more like a recently-DFA’d pitcher with an ERA over five in Triple-A. He surrendered a solo shot to the powerful Rodolfo Castro, and then immediately served up another dinger to the much less powerful Michael Perez. Despite that, the Mets still tried to get him through the fifth, but he allowed another hit and a bunt single and that ended his day.

Luis Rojas went to Jeurys Familia to get out of the jam, which he did; he was able to strand the runners and keep the score at 5-2. That was until the sixth, when Familia stayed on for another inning and served up another two-run tater to Castro to cut the Mets lead to 5-4.

Suddenly, the Mets’ lead was not big enough and they needed more runs however they could get them. Unfortunately, they couldn’t. They could only muster one baserunner in the sixth on a Jeff McNeil hit-by-pitch.

Miguel Castro, who has been shaky ever since the sticky substances checks started, got the seventh to nurse a skinny one-run lead against the top of the Pirates’ order, but was able to navigate through the inning allowing only a hit.

The Mets still couldn’t push a run across, meaning they needed Castro to do the same thing he just did again for the 8th, with Trevor May and Seth Lugo both unavailable. This time, he couldn’t. He recorded the first out, but then walked the next hitter, and even though induced a perfect double play ball by Wilmer Difo, it found its way through the Mets’ shift. That set up first and third with only one out, and Rojas went to his bullpen again, this time bringing in his closer, Edwin Díaz, for a five out save.

Díaz didn’t look as great as he did Saturday, but struck out Michael Perez on a gift call on the outside corner, and then overpowered Ke’Bryan Hayes for the punch out. He escaped the jam, and Mets fans could exhale. For now.

The Mets came to bat in the ninth, desperately needing yet another insurance run, and got two singles by McNeil and Conforto in the frame, but neither Kevin Pillar nor James McCann could bring them home, and so it was still just a skinny 5-4 lead for Díaz in the top of the ninth against the top of the order.

Díaz got Adam Frazier, who had three hits in the game, to flyout for the first out, but then promptly surrendered a double to the light-hitting Kevin Newman. Bryan Reynolds grounded out, moving Newman to third, setting it up for the red-hot John Nogowski with two outs and the tying run on third.

Nogowski swung at the first pitch and laced it into center field to tie the game. It was Díaz’s second blown save of the season, and the comfortable 5-0 lead the Mets had once had was completely gone. It was also the biggest lead the Mets had blown all season so far.

Ben Gamel followed with another single into right, and then Wilmer Difo punched one down the third base line to score Nogowski and give the Pirates the stunning 6-5 lead.

Rojas had to pull Díaz and go to Drew Smith from there, who induced a groundout to get out of the inning.

In the bottom half of the ninth, the Mets had 9-1-2 due up, so they did have a chance. Guillorme led off with a single, but Nimmo followed by grounding into a rare double play. Lindor then popped out, ending the game.

This was an awful loss for the Mets, and a tough one to sit on for four days as they head into the All-Star break. Still, though, the Mets have to feel good about where they are right now. They are 47-40, and 3.5 games up in the weak NL East. There’s a lot of baseball left to be played, and the Mets will certainly do what they can to plug the holes on the roster the next few weeks. Lindor and McNeil look like they’ve righted themselves, Pete Alonso has found his power again, and Conforto has shown positive signs over the last few days as well. Given the injuries they’ve endured, they have to be pleased with their first half, and hopeful that the second half brings even better fortune. They’ll start it on Friday with three more against these Pirates.

Box scores

MLB.com
ESPN

*illar of the game

Neither -illar reached base today. Jonathan Villar went 0-for-3 and Kevin Pillar went 0-for-1 in a pinch hitting appearance.

*illar of the game: Nobody

Win Probability Added

Fangraphs

Fangraphs

What’s WPA?

Big Mets winner: Luis Guillorme, +15.9% WPA
Big Mets loser: Edwin Díaz -41.6%WPA
Mets pitchers: -53.4%WPA
Mets hitters: +3.4%WPA
Teh aw3s0mest play: Michael Conforto hits a three-run homer, +14.4% WPA
Teh sux0rest play: Wilmer Difo hits an RBI single in the ninth inning, -34.2% WPA

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