NATIONALS 3 / METS 1
The Mets staggering offense couldn't get off the ground against the Nationals on Saturday at Citi Field, as Washington glided to a 3-1 win to send the Mets to 8-10 and 4.5 games out of first place. Perhaps it was fitting that this Saturday afternoon was played in the rain, because the Mets have had their heads in the clouds for well over a week, and now it's catching up to them.
One can blame the injuries, and there are plenty of them to go around. Here is the list in case you forgot: Lucas Duda - hyperextended left elbow; Wilmer Flores - knee injury; Travis d'Arnaud - wrist; Asdrubal Cabrera - hamstring; Yoenis Cespedes - hamstring; and Jacob deGrom - stiff neck.
But, even with that deGrom toughed out the neck problem to pitch against Gio Gonzalez on Saturday, and Cabrera toughed out his leg injury to play the entire game on Saturday as well. In short there are no excuses -- this team has the depth to overcome this, but they just aren't clicking as a team right now. It's as simple as that.
The Mets were hitless against Gonzalez until a sixth inning single by Juan Lagares, an inning which featured the Mets lone run of the entire day. When the Mets did have opportunities to do something against Gonzalez, their approach was listless and helpless.
Take that sixth inning today as an example. With Jose Reyes and Lagares on base, Michael Conforto struck out swinging on a changeup low and away. After Cabrera singled to center to score Reyes, both Jay Bruce and Neil Walker swung and missed on strike three to cost the Mets any chance of at least tying this game.
It was pathetic.
Worse of all was the fact that the Mets went quietly into the evening with little fight in the final innings. It took Gonzalez and reliever Blake Treinen only six pitches to get out of the seventh inning against New York. Nats reliever Enny Romero needed only 10 pitches to get through the eighth inning. Romero would return for the ninth and proceeded to strike out Cabrera swinging, and jammed Jay Bruce to a lazy fly to left, before Koda Glover closed the show down against a pinch hitting d'Arnaud.
The Mets managed only two hits and were 1-for-5 with runners in scoring position.
As for deGrom, he was good, but not good enough. He got himself into too many deep counts, and wound up walking six batters -- the most free passes his has issued in a game in his entire career. The previous high for walks deGrom issued in a game was five against Pittsburgh back in 2014.
Even with the control issues, and likely the stiff neck hindering him a bit, deGrom was able to strike out 10 batters and got a career high 27 swing and misses from the Nats. It wasn't pretty but, deGrom did his job. Unfortunately the Mets didn't help him.
What is most frustrating for New York is that this now marks the seventh loss in the last eight games for the Amazin's, who now dip to two games under .500 at 8-10. They are 4.5 games out of first place, tied with the Phillies who are 7-9 after their win over Atlanta on Saturday. This team is also 4-7 at home, and is hitting a poultry .218 as a team this year.
Yes it is early, it's only April 22, but the Mets are quickly putting themselves in a deep hole that they may struggle to get out of, because the warning signs are so stark. Not to mention all 10 of these losses are against teams in the NL East. If the Mets fancy themselves a contender, they are blowing their best opportunity to get off to a fast start in the division.
If the Mets want to save some face, they have to win on Sunday night. They will need their bats to find a way against Max Scherzer -- one of the games best, and hope that Zach Wheeler continues to improve on the hill. If they don't and fall to 5.5 games out before welcoming in the Braves next week, the Mets could be on their way to a dark and gloomy finish to the month of April.