A Losing Streak? -April 17, 2018-

After last night’s debacle, a nice win to get back on track tonight would have been great.

SPOILER ALERT: We didn’t win.

I’m going to do my best to just write up a nice little recap and not go off on a myriad of mini rants. No promises though.

Zack Wheeler got the start tonight, looking to build off his fantastic start last Wednesday against the Marlins.

About ten minutes after he threw his first pitch, the bases were loaded with 1 out. After allowing a leadoff double to Trea Turner, he induced a ground ball from Howie Kendrick, moving Turner to 3rd. Back-to-back walks were issued to Harper and Zimmerman, and Moises Sierra came to bat.

Wheeler got a double play, the inning was over, and most Met fans stepped away from their respective ledges. It just felt like any runs there would have put us down for the count with Gio Gonzalez on the mound, who is Sandy Koufax in the mid 1960s in Citi Field.

The Nationals did strike in the 3rd. Trea Turner singled then advanced to 3rd base on a Howie Kendrick single. Bryce Harper hit a sacrifice fly and the Mets were trailing 1-0.

In the 4th inning, Moises Sierra singled and then immediately stole 2nd base. More on that later. Michael Taylor walked and then Wilmer Difo singled, driving home Sierra. Pedro Severino, who I’m beginning to hate, drove home Taylor with a single and the Mets were losing 3-0.

To his credit, Wheeler retired the next 3 batters in order, limiting the damage. It should be said that not one ball was hit remotely hard. The Nationals were essentially sticking their bat out and dropping balls into the outfield. The runs still counted though.

In the bottom of the 5th, the Mets offense showed some signs of life. Zack Wheeler led off the inning with his second base hit of the night. Amed Rosario followed with a double and we were in business. Asdrubal Cabrera sent Wheeler home with a sacrifice fly, and Cespedes hit a ground ball to first that allowed Rosario to score. Wilmer Flores singled, but Todd Frazier grounded out, ending the rally.

Zack Wheeler made quick work of the Nationals in the bottom of the 6th and the Mets offense went back to work.

Jay Bruce who missed the two previous games, popped up to 2nd base to begin the inning. Juan Lagares followed with a single. More on Lagares later. Tomas Nido singled for his first hit of the season, and Lagares advanced to 3rd.

Ok. 1st and 3rd, 1 out. Down by a run. Pitcher spot due up. Conforto? Nimmo? Gonzalez?

Nope. Mickey Callaway decided to send up Jose Reyes to the plate. Biggest spot of the game. Down by a run after an atrocious loss the night before to our biggest Division rival. Facing a pitcher who absolutely owns us in our park. We finally put something together and he sends Jose Reyes to the plate.

Reyes worked the count to 2-1. He flailed wildly at a pitch a foot off the plate and then struck out on a check swing. His protegè, Amed Rosario, did his best to copy his mentor. He swung at a pitch that was at eye level and popped up to third, ending the inning. And for all intents and purposes, that ended the game too.

Jose Reyes? Was Brandon Nimmo sick? Isn’t he our best pinch hitter? Doesn’t he live for these moments? Instead, you send up the virus? Inexcusable.

The reality is, Frazier, Cabrera and Rosario are all going to need days off. Wilmer Flores is really only suited for first base, so who does that leave to fill in? Besides Reyes our whole bench is outfielders, aside from the aforementioned Flores. Reyes needs to go.

So, when the virus entered the game as a pinch hitter, that ended Zack Wheeler’s night. Let’s get into his performance.

Wheeler pitched 6 innings, allowing 3 earned runs on 7 hits and 3 walks. He also struck out 2 Nationals. Not a bad pitching line. He also had a lot of bad luck tonight. Out of those 7 hits maybe 2 or 3 were hit hard. Lot of bloop hits and a deflection. Not making excuses. He walked a batter in the 4th which didn’t help matters. All in all, I think he turned in a solid performance.

Robert Gsellman entered in the 7th inning and issued a walk to Trea Turner. Turner immediately stole 2nd because why wouldn’t he? They chose to pitch to Harper with the base open and it worked out. Ryan Zimmerman wound up doing the damage as he singled to bring home Turner.

In the 8th inning, Gsellman allowed a lead off hit to Michael Taylor. Taylor immediately stole 2nd because why the hell not? After a sacrifice bunt moved Taylor over to third, a Pedro Severino ground ball got the runner home. That made the score 5-2 and that wound up being the final score.

That 8th inning was a rough one for Amed Rosario. He dropped a good throw from Nido on Taylor’s steal attempt allowing him to slide in safely. Then with the infield drawn in, he was a little indecisive and seemed to freeze when a ball was hit to him, allowing Taylor to score the 5th run.

The Mets did get two men on base in both the 7th and 8th innings but were unable to capitalize. That was a recurring theme tonight. While we are on the topic of recurring themes…

Every time the Nationals stole a base tonight that runner came around to score. The Mets have allowed 20 out of 21 base runners to steal successfully. The only one who got caught was picked off by the pitcher. This is alarming. 

On the bright side, Juan Lagares had another great game. He had 2 hits and a walk and is hitting a cool .385 on the season. Love to see that.

The Mets left 11 men on base and were 0-9 with runners in scoring position.

Before the game there was a roster move. The Mets sent Hansel Robles back down to Las Vegas and called up Gerson Bautista. Bautista, who was acquired in the Addison Reed trade, opened eyes this spring with his sizzling fastball. That was on display tonight as he struck out Ryan Zimmerman for his first strikeout. He also allowed a hit and a walk but we will chalk that up to first game jitters.

This makes last night meltdown sting even more. We miss Scherzer, Strasburg, Murphy and Rendon and still lose the first 2 games of the series.

Steven Matz takes the ball tomorrow as we try and salvage the series. Tanner Roark will be pitching for the Nationals.