The Mets have done two things very well this year. 1) They never count themselves out, even in games when they are facing a daunting deficit, which has resulted in some impressive comebacks. And 2) they win series. Nine straight series, to be exact—with one split in there. These two factors have been the main things that have made the start to this season so promising.
Today, they demonstrated the first quality fairly effectively. Despite falling behind, the team showed the kind of fight that has been uncommon to see from them in recent years. Alas, they didn’t have quite enough to make for yet another dramatic victory. And as a result, that series winning streak has officially been snapped—even though they gave us a reminder of why they are a good enough team to hopefully start another one soon.
One other thing that the Mets have done well this year is pitch, but unfortunately, that quality was not on display at all today. Carlos Carrasco has been a wonderfully pleasant surprise for the Mets this year, but for most of today—namely from the third inning on—he looked more like the pitcher he was last year. He had been staked to an early lead thanks to a first inning solo homer off the bat of Francisco Lindor—his sixth of the year—and he retired the Mariners without much difficulty through the first two innings of work. But something went very wrong beginning in the third inning, as Seattle batters suddenly started squaring up on seemingly every pitch from him. After allowing runners on first and third on a double and a single to start the inning, Carrasco was able to get Cal Raleigh to ground into a double play to prevent the inning from getting away from him, but the runner on third did score to tie the game. Carrasco also then gave up yet another double before getting out of the inning, a bad omen suggesting that more damage would be done against him. And indeed, the fourth inning quickly showed this to be true, as four straight Mariners reached base to start the frame—single, single, walk, then two-run single to give Seattle the lead—followed by a sacrifice fly to make it 4-1. It was arguably as bad as Carrasco has looked all year, and it put the Mets in a hole.
It was a hole that they quickly dug themselves out of, however. Pete Alonso singled and Mark Canha walked to start the bottom of the fourth off, and J.D. Davis responded by placing a pitch perfectly down the right field line to score them both and make it all the way to third with a rare triple. Eduardo Escobar then walked to put runners on first and third with nobody out, and he was able to smartly advance to second on a Jeff McNeil flyout to left that was not quite deep enough to get the runner in from third. Tomás Nido then struck out for the second out, and Brandon Nimmo came up to the plate. On a 1-2 pitch, Nimmo socked the second two-run triple of the inning, smoking a ball down the right field line to make it 5-4 Mets.
Carrasco did not get any extra juice from that remarkable rally, unfortunately. He recorded the first out of the fifth before giving up yet another double, and Buck Showalter made the wise decision to give him the hook. In came Chasen Shreve, who also pitched yesterday and gave up a home run to Jesse Winker. Shreve initially redeemed himself by retiring J.P. Crawford and Winker to get out of the inning, but Showalter then made the very curious decision to send him back out there in the next inning. Predictably, the decision immediately came back to bite him, as Shreve gave up a game-tying homer to Julio Rodríguez. Another Mariner batter reached base against Shreve, and Showalter then turned to Drew Smith—fresh off his scoreless streak to start the season ended in his last outing. Alas, Smith was not able to start another streak today, as after retiring the first batter he gave up a two-run homer to Cal Raleigh—who, in case you were wondering, was rocking a 19 wRC+ coming into today’s game—to make it 7-5 Mariners. Smith would give up another single and a bullet to left field that was caught before coming out of the game, continuing the negative trend of Mets pitchers giving up hard contact to Seattle hitters.
The Mets offense, meanwhile, was in the process of being stymied by Mariners pitchers, as Robbie Ray rebounded from his rough fourth inning to retire seven straight Mets batters to make it through six innings of work. Showalter then turned to the second lefty in his bullpen, Joely Rodríguez, to try to get through some of the lefty hitters in the Seattle lineup in the seventh. Rodríguez too would be unable to keep the Mariners off the board, as he surrendered a ground-rule double to Winker and then followed that up by giving an opposite field single to Julio Rodríguez (no relation) to make it 8-5 Seattle. The New York J-Rod was able to recover enough to not only make it through the seventh, but also make it through the eighth with a couple of strikeouts. Still, it amounted to four runs off of Mets relievers in those 3.2 innings of work, which is certainly far from ideal. Though in happier news, one Mets reliever was then able to make it through a scoreless inning—newcomer Colin Holderman, making his major league debut in the ninth inning, who worked around a couple of singles and recorded his first major league strikeout to keep the game at 8-5 heading into the ninth.
Oh, you’re still wondering about what the Mets offense was doing all this time? Well, they were continuing to get shut out by Mariners pitchers, as Sergio Romo and Paul Sewald (who once again was very visibly happy to stick it to his former team) pitched two perfect innings to make it thirteen straight Mets batters retired since that fourth inning rally. Seattle closer Drew Steckenrider came on to try to close out the win, and he retired the leadoff batter to make it fourteen straight hitters retired. But then the Mets comeback magic started rearing its head, as Escobar finally got the offense off the schneid by hitting the third triple of the game for the Amazins. McNeil followed that up with a single to right field to drive in the run to make it 8-6. Yesterday’s hero Patrick Mazeika (who replaced Nido as a pinch-hitter earlier in the game) came up and kept the rally going with a hard-hit ball up the middle that Crawford couldn’t quite handle, putting the tying run on base. That brought up the top of the order, and Nimmo came through with his second clutch hit of the game with a double to left field which scored McNeil and put the tying run on third and the winning run on second. Suddenly, a dramatic come-from-behind win and yet another series victory was so close that everyone—especially the rabid fans at Citi Field—could taste it.
Scott Servais wisely chose to yank his struggling closer and brought in Diego Castillo—a good pitcher who has nevertheless struggled to the tune of a 9.28 ERA thus far this season—in to try to salvage the game for Seattle. Starling Marte came up just needing a long fly ball to tie the game—really just needing any kind of contact to at least give them a chance—but couldn’t deliver, striking out swining to record the second out. Servais then made the decision to walk Lindor to load the bases and take his chances with Alonso, a decision which very easily could have backfired, as a walk would then tie the game. And indeed, Alonso did work a 3-2 count to maximize the intense drama in the building. And alas, here is where the comeback magic came just short, as Castillo threw 3-2 slider outside the zone that Alonso tried but failed to check his swing on, resulting in a strikeout to end the game.
As such, the series winning streak comes to a close. But nevertheless, the Mets did provide yet another demonstration of their resolve and determination to fight until the bitter end. The team is not perfect, and they will need to continue to hope that their pitching depth holds and that some of their struggling hitters find themselves. But they will go into this week’s series against the Cardinals still feeling good about the direction they are heading in.
Win Probability Added
Big Mets winner: Brandon Nimmo, +54.5% WPA
Big Mets loser: Carlos Carrasco, -33.1% WPA
Mets pitchers: -73.3% WPA
Mets hitters: 23.3% WPA
Teh aw3s0mest play: Brandon Nimmo RBI double in the ninth, +34.3% WPA
Teh sux0rest play: Cal Raleigh two-run homer in the sixth, -31.9% WPA