In case you’ve been living under a rock for the past 24 hours, the New York Mets had an ugly loss last night. Leading the Washington Nationals 6-1 with one out in the eighth inning, the Mets’ previously dominant bullpen coughed it up in horrendous fashion. Seth Lugo, Jerry Blevins, A.J. Ramos, and Jeurys Familia combined to give up six runs in the frame, allowing the Nationals to steal a win in a game the Mets were dominating (partial credit also goes to Hansel Robles, who came on for the ninth and served up a gopher ball to Howie Kendrick that would prove to be a big insurance run).
Manager Mickey Callaway looked a bit shell shocked after the game, which makes sense since prior to the eighth inning yesterday every move he made worked out. Taking out Jacob deGrom after he put two men on made sense, because deGrom was clearly tiring and had worked full counts to the previous two hitters. Lugo’s four pitch walk to Kendrick was bad, but Callaway correctly went to Blevins for a match up with Bryce Harper. Harper delivered a broken bat single that scored two runs, which is hard to fault Blevins for. The real blame for the loss falls on the next two men in, Ramos and Familia. Ramos got one out, but in between he loaded the bases and somehow walked Matt Reynolds (yes, that Matt Reynolds who used to play left field for the Mets on occasion) on four pitches. Familia was somehow worse than Ramos, giving up a two run single and hitting a batter before walking in the go ahead run.
The meltdown was horrifying to watch, and #MetsTwitter promptly exploded as it was unfolding. While the loss was certainly ugly, we can’t forget that it is only April 17th. The Mets are still 12-3 and have a five game lead (more importantly, six in the loss column) over the 8-9 Nationals. Perhaps there is still some trauma for Mets’ fans to work through after years of disappointing losses, but it is tough to overreact after one bad loss. Every team will have a few of those over the course of a 162 season, and even the Mets will (gulp) have a few losing streaks along the way. The true worth of a game like this is in seeing how a team bounces back from it.
The Mets can get right back on the horse tonight when they continue their series with Washington. Even though the Nationals won last night, they still are down Adam Eaton and Daniel Murphy (both on the disabled list with injuries) while Anthony Rendon is still banged up. That should make the task easier for Zack Wheeler, who has struggled mightily against Washington (2-7 with a 4.84 ERA in 10 starts) in his career but is coming off a dominant 2018 debut against the Marlins. The key for the Mets is to take advantage of the Nationals’ injuries and slow start to the season to pick up another win or two in the series, ensuring they hit the road trip in a position of strength. The worst thing would be to let this loss fester and build into a skid, but even if it does the Mets still have plenty of games to overcome one.