The Mets entered Monday night with a 12-2 record, best in the National League and six games ahead of the preseason NL East favorite Nationals. And when they took a 6-1 lead on Washington in the first of a three-game series Monday, they appeared poised to extend that lead even further.
Well, the baseball gods simply could not allow that.
During an eighth inning that featured 12 batters and five(!!!) pitchers, the Mets forked over their comfortable lead on their way to a 7-6 loss that has to sting more than a typical April defeat.
You can find the full play-by-play of that disastrous eighth right here, but let’s briefly explore how a team can burn through five pitchers in a single innings.
- Jacob deGrom, who had cruised to that point, allowed singles to two of the first three batters of the eighth and was pulled after 103 pitches.
- In came Seth Lugo, who promptly walked Howie Kendrick on four pitches and was yanked with lefty Bryce Harper due up.
- Next up was lefty Jerry Blevins, whose purpose on the Mets roster is to retire players like Harper. In this case, however, he allowed a two-run single. That was it for him.
- Mets manager Mickey Callaway then turned to his set-up man A.J. Ramos, who had allowed one hit and no runs in 6 1/3 innings this season. He struck out the first batter he faced but then gave up a line-drive single and a run-scoring walk, before being lifted with the bases loaded in a 6-4 game.
- Callaway’s next call went to his closer, Jeurys Familia, who has already been summoned for multi-inning saves on several occasions this year. The first hitter he faced, Wilmer Difo, singled to right field to tie the game. Two batters later, Familia walked in a run and just like that the Mets trailed 7-6.
Tempting as it might be to blame Callaway, there’s not a whole lot to nitpick here. Maybe bringing in Lugo for a single batter was pointless, maybe the rookie skipper was more aggressive than he had to be in April, and maybe he could have gone to Familia earlier. But if even one of those Mets relievers (who as a group led the majors in bullpen ERA entering Monday) had gotten some outs, the manager would have looked like a genius. In the end, wins and losses typically come down to the dudes on the field.
Ultimately, this is just one game in April, and the Mets should still be thrilled with their start to the season. But given the opponent, the lead and the visceral disastrousness of the eighth inning, this loss presumably does not feel good.