Following a big series win over the Marlins this past weekend, the New York Mets continued their season against the defending world champion Washington Nationals. After two bad games, the Mets were lucky to escape with a split. With the exception of Monday, Met pitching looked sharp giving up just ten runs over the last three games. The series split puts the Mets just two games under .500 through one-third of the season. The Mets sit three games back of the first-place Marlins, who will play their thirteenth game on Friday. They also are currently in the eighth seed in the National League (subject to change after the completion of the Brewers game on Thursday). The Mets are seven games into a stretch where they are set to play 17 games in 17 days.
The Mets were blown out in game one, due in large part to a horrible start from Steven Matz. The Nationals got on the board in the second inning thanks to an Asdrubal Cabrera home run. That trend continued with the Nats adding four in the third inning coming on two two-run home runs. The Nats kept the bats hot scoring seven in the fifth inning. Steven Matz’s final line was an ugly one, as he gave up eight runs in just 4 ⅓ innings. The next two men out of the bullpen gave up eight runs combined in just 2 ⅔ innings. Down 14-0, the Mets had fallen way short, losing by a final of 16-4.
So how do you follow up your most embarrassing loss of the season? Well, in typical Mets fashion they lose the next game…by a score of 2-1. Mets starter Rick Porcello recorded a second consecutive good start going six innings and allowing just two runs. He gave up eight hits and struck out five while walking nobody. The Mets’ main problem of the night was their inability to hit with runners in scoring position. Met batters got zero hits in four official at-bats with runners in scoring position. Luis Guillorme led off the bottom of the 7th with a double and did not move from that spot. For the Mets to lose a blowout and a heart breaker seems almost impossible to come back from.
Of course, in typical Mets fashion, they just have to draw us back in after two soul-crushing losses.
A three-run first inning by the Nationals surely had many Mets fans expecting another game like Monday night. After trailing by three, they stormed back scoring four runs in the bottom of the first. The bullpen behind Rob Gsellman was strong, going seven innings allowing three runs. The Nationals were keeping close into the sixth inning, being down 5-3 and making it 5-4 on a Juan Soto home run. In the bottom of the sixth, however, the Mets broke out the bats. A leadoff walk followed by a bunt single produced first and second with nobody out. After a JD Davis strikeout and a Jeff McNeil fly out, Michael Conforto came through with a two-out two-run double to extend the lead to 7-4. Back to back home runs by Pete Alonso and Dom Smith extended it to 10-4.
The Mets added another in the bottom of the eighth, their season-high 11th run of the game. They would go on to win the game, an 11-6 final score. The game was a good bounce back for the team, as they used situational hitting to score a majority of their runs. Nine out of the 11 Met runs came with two outs. The contrast between the 2-1 loss and 11-6 win showed the looming inconsistency of the Mets. The inability to hit in the clutch is what cost the Mets in Tuesday’s game, while situational hitting is what won them Wednesday’s matchup.
Thursday’s series conclusion was all Mets all day. Starting pitcher David Peterson pitched well enough to earn his third career win. The game began with Peterson loading the bases with nobody out and escaping the jam while allowing just one run to score. Peterson would retire nine in a row at one point and 12 out of 13, taking a no-hitter into the fifth inning. He would leave after just 74 pitches going five innings, allowing just the one unearned run, and giving up one hit. As good as Peterson was, today was Tomás Nido day. With the game locked in a 1-1 tie in the fourth, Nido hit a two-run homer to give the Mets a 3-1 lead. Nido wouldn’t stop there, hitting a two-out grand slam in the fifth inning. The Mets had blown it open right there.
A sixth-inning home run by Juan Soto would pull the Nats to 7-2. Soto was scorching hot in the series, hitting four home runs over the four games. Alonso would deliver the final blow, a two-out single to center to make the score 8-2 Mets. The Mets first baseman had been red hot over his last nine games, hitting .333 over that stretch with two homers and eight RBI. The Polar Bear, as he’s been nicknamed, has boosted his average from .167 to .240 in that span. Another scoreless inning from Edwin Diaz has lowered his ERA to 2.16 for the year and Brad Brach put on the finishing touches in the 8-2 victory.
The inconsistencies of the ball club showed throughout the series, from losing two bad games to dominating the last two. In order for the Mets to make the playoffs, they need to be getting runners in from scoring position. They have been leaving more runners on base than any other team and are under league average for getting runners home with less than two outs.
So where do the Mets go from here? The Mets begin a three-game weekend series in Philadelphia on Friday. They will send out their ace Jacob DeGrom to begin the series. The Phillies are currently in last place in the NL East with a 5-9 record. Their starting pitching has been immaculate, but they have been let down by their bullpen. A sweep would push the Mets over .500 for the first time since the fifth game of the season when they were 3-2. While that is the best case for the Mets, a two out of three series victory will serve just as well. For the Mets, consistency is key, and taking advantage of the Phillies bullpen with timely hitting could swing the series in their favor.
STANDING: 3rd NL East