Takeaways from the Mets 3-1 loss to the Nationals on Saturday…
The Mets lost for the fourth time in a row on Saturday afternoon, dropping a 3-1 contest to the Nationals at Citi Field. Here are my takeaways from the loss…
An old fashioned pitchers duel, ruined for the Mets by their defense.
This certainly wasn’t billed to be an offensive showcase in Flushing this afternoon thanks to the rain, cold and win inside Citi Field, and it turned out to be just that between the once dueling rivals.
There were a total of eight baserunners through the first six innings of this game between both clubs, as both Noah Syndergaard and Gio Gonzalez threw brilliantly all afternoon.
But in the seventh inning, Clint Robinson took Syndergaard deep, sending one into the Pepsi Porch to give Washington a 1-0 lead. That spoiled what really was a phenomenal outing for Syndergaard, who dominated the Nationals until that point.
Meanwhile, the Mets couldn’t generate an ounce of offense once again on Saturday afternoon, until the seventh inning when Juan Lagares singled in Lucas Duda with two outs to bail Syndergaard out.
But the Mets were unable to turn a routine double play in the eighth inning when Daniel Murphy bobbled a groundball and Ruben Tejada threw wide of the bag at first, prolonging the inning for Bryce Harper, who took Addison Reed deep for a two-run home run to sink the Mets to their fourth straight uninspiring loss.
It’s hard to not be excited for Syndergaard in the playoffs. He was dominant outside of the home run he allowed to Robinson in the seventh, banging out ten strikeouts and really looking like a thinker out on the mound. He was often pitching backwards, starting with breaking balls and ending with fastballs. In fact, he recorded at least two strikeouts looking on fastballs which suggests he had the Nationals hitters completely lost.
He made one mistake on the day, and in a pitcher’s duel like this, typically one mistake does a pitcher in. And unfortunately, that’s what happened.
But that should not take away from what Syndergaard has shown since coming back from his skipped start. He looks fresh, his arm is alive and his stuff is electric once again. But the most important thing is he looks refreshed mentally, making outstanding decisions with his pitch selection and in-game strategy, much like he looked from May through July.
What’s more, he pitched deep into the game and saved the bullpen ahead of the second game of this doubleheader, which could prove significant tonight.
But overall, he had an outstanding rookie year for the Mets, and it looks as though he will be the real deal for this franchise for many years to come.
The Mets have absolutely no life to their offense right now, and with just two games left in the season ahead of the playoffs, that’s a significant concern.
They’re just not having very good at-bats right now. The sequences are quick, they’re whiffing at a lot of pitches both in and out of the zone, and flat out not hitting as a result.
They had that big chance in the third inning against Gonzalez, and yes the Nationals got help from Matt den Dekker who made an outstanding catch to rob Daniel Murphy of extra bases. But Juan Lagares struck out and Michael Cuddyer grounded out weakly to end that threat.
The Mets etched a run out of the Nationals bullpen in the seventh inning which bailed out Syndergaard, but it seemed as though they were pulling teeth just to get that run across.
It’s going to have to change, especially when they get opportunities for a big inning in the playoffs, much like they had in the third inning on Saturday afternoon. Their situational hitting needs to improve, as does their two-out hitting.
Otherwise, they could be in-line for a quick exit from the playoffs next week.
The Mets middle infield defense has been a topic of discussion all year long. For the last two months anyway, it had been pretty good which was one of the underrated reasons for the Mets success during that time.
But those troubles came back to haunt the Mets again on Saturday, specifically in the eighth inning when Murphy and Tejada could not turn a game-critical double play to prolong the inning for the likely-MVP in Harper.
Collins could have walked Harper and taken his chances and gone after Jayson Werth, but first base was occupied and it would’ve been unconventional, at best. Unfortunately, the Mets got sunk by their defense, which served as a stark reminder as to how important that middle defense is, and how badly it can kill the Mets next week in the playoffs.
Other notes from Saturday:
With their run in the seventh, the Mets snapped a 23-inning scoreless streak, but have scored just one run in their last 26 innings.
Travis d’Arnaud doubled and struck out three times – he’s just 6-for-his-last-45 at the plate.
The runs Reed allowed in the eighth inning were the first he’s allowed as a Met this season.
The Mets are 16-17 at Citi Field since the All-Star break, and have lost 13 of their last 19 home games as well.
Jon Niese made his third relief appearances this week, and allowed a single and a walk in a scoreless ninth inning.