Gut Reaction: Nationals 8 Mets 6 (4/16/18)

Y’know, one of the perks of a 12-2 start is that it all can’t be undone by one putrid inning. The Mets suffered one of those in what for the first time can be said this year is a “terrible loss.”

Jacob deGrom started against favorite Mets punching bag Jeremy Hellickson. deGrom was nothing short of masterful through seven-plus innings. He was touched for a run in the first as Bryce Harper did something few have ever seen before. On the first pitch he saw, he sawed the bat off at the handle. The barrel of the bat went down the first base line and the ball went 390 feet over the right field fence. A busted-bat homer. As has become custom this year, the Mets got the run back right away. With two out in the bottom of the first, Michael Conforto sent a ball to deep left that clanked off the glove of Matt Adams. Todd Frazier followed with squirrelly base hit through shortstop and the game was tied. The Mets grabbed the lead in the third, when Frazier doubled home Asdrubal Cabrera. They padded the lead in somewhat bizarre fashion in the sixth. With one out, Juan Lagares drew a walk. With Jose Lobaton at the plate, he took off for second and easily beat Matt Weiters’ throw. On ball four to Lobaton, Lagares stole third when Washington third baseman Wilmer Difo couldn’t handle the throw. deGrom immediately dropped down a safety squeeze bunt that was butchered by relief pitcher Matt Grace. Lagares scored, making it 3-1, with Lobaton crossing to third. deGrom was forced at second when shortstop Trea Turner made a great play on Amed Rosario’s grounder, turning a base hit into an RBI ground out. The Nationals were reeling and stumbling at this point. In the next inning, Brandon Nimmo hit his second triple in two days and Cabrera knocked him home with his fourth homer of the year, putting the Mets up 6-1. The fans in the stands were giddy, sing-songing Harper’s name. That turned out to be a big mistake.

deGrom had held the Nats down for seven innings, surrendering but three his, striking out 11 and walkinbg one. In the eighth, Moises Sierra singled up the middle. deGrom struck out Michael A. Taylor for his twelfth punch-out of the evening. Turner then battled an eight-pitch at bat for another base hit. That was it for deGrom, having thrown over a hundred mostly quality pitches. Seth Lugo came on and walked Howie Kendrick on four pitches to load the bases. Manager Mickey Callaway was out of the dugout instantly, waving in lefty Jerry Blevins to face the always dangerous Harper. On a 2-1 pitch, Harper pulled another single into right field, knocking home Sierra and Turner and cutting the once-insurmountable lead lead to 6-3. Callaway popped out of the dugout again and brought in AJ Ramos to face Ryan Zimmerman and Pedro Severino. He struck out Zimmerman on four pitches, but wasn’t so lucky with Severino, who singled to left, loading the bases again. Old friend Matt Reynolds pinch-hit in the pitcher’s spot and walked on four pitches, making the score a most uncomfortable 6-4. Callaway then decided to bring in closer Jeurys Familia to end the nonsense. He couldn’t. Difo greeted him with a single to right. Harper and Severino scored and the game was tied. Sierra was plunked on the backside and Familia was in a whole world of trouble with the bases loaded once again. Taylor drew a four-pitch walk and Washington had an improbable lead. Turner finally ended the mayhem with a flyout to Conforto in left.

The Mets had a shot in the eighth as two big hitters came off the bench, but Yoenis Cespedes and Jay Bruce could do nothing against Brandon Kintzler. Kendrick added a measure of insurance for Washington in the ninth, homering off Hansel Robles. The Mets exhausted their last opportunity in the ninth, when, with one out, Cabrera doubled — his fourth hit of the night. With Conforto up, representing the tying run, Cabrera tried to advance on a ball that got away from Severino. It didn’t get far enough away, though, as Severino gunned down Cabrera on a replay-upheld tag at third. Conforto popped up meekly, and that was that.

Go get ’em tomorrow. It’s Zack Wheeler vs. Gio Gonzalez at 7:10 from Citi Field

17 comments for “Gut Reaction: Nationals 8 Mets 6 (4/16/18)

  1. MattyMets
    April 17, 2018 at 7:36 am

    It’s been hard to second guess a manager who’s pushed all the right buttons, but maybe he overthought this one. Having struck him out 3 times, surely DeGrom could have faced Howie Kendrick for one more batter. Maybe he gets a double play and essentially the game. Maybe he gets him out, in which case first base is open to walk Harper and make the struggling Zimmerman an easy last out to end the inning. Lugo’s walk set it all in motion. You can’t walk the first batter you face out of the bullpen, especially with the team’s most dangerous hitter on deck.

    One positive is maybe now Callaway has learned for himself that Robles can’t be trusted.

    • Pete In Iowa
      April 17, 2018 at 9:45 am

      To make it even more perplexing Matt is the fact that Blevins was already up and warm to face Harper. What was the point of bringing in Lugo to face only one batter?
      No doubt deGrom should have pitched to Kendrick instead of Lugo. Additionally, I also noticed that with Harper batting, the infield was playing for a DP. With a 6-1 lead, his grounder would have been an easy out to a properly shifted infield. Why no shift in that spot, especially when Blevins is throwing slow curves and inside fastballs?

      • TexasGusCC
        April 17, 2018 at 7:01 pm

        I thought that too Pete.

  2. Pete from NJ
    April 17, 2018 at 7:52 am

    A bounce back win tonight might be more important than an ugly loss yesterday. I’m thinking momentum for both side here.

  3. April 17, 2018 at 8:58 am

    Perhaps it’s a good thing that there aren’t more comments here now. My guess is that in years past, that this game would have been taken as a sign of how the team couldn’t possibly compete. Now, it’s just a painful loss.

  4. April 17, 2018 at 9:08 am

    Sorry for the double post.

    One thing I think we should stop doing is automatically bringing in Jerry Blevins to face Bryce Harper. In 15 career PA, Harper has a .467 OBP and a .636 SLG. Not that I expect anyone else to have great numbers against Harper but I’m thinking you can leave whoever is in the game already to face him and avoid two pitching changes this way.

    • Pete In Iowa
      April 17, 2018 at 9:47 am

      As I stated above, Harper’s grounder against Blevins was an easy out if the infield was shifted, rather than playing for a double play with a 6-1 lead. I think a grounder to the right side against Harper is a very favorable outcome.

      • April 17, 2018 at 10:33 am

        An interesting take on the shift — it would be interesting to see how they would have played it with Harper at the bat but with, say, the score tied. Do they always play for the DP?

        But to me the key point is that prior to last night’s AB, Harper did not hit the ball on the ground in at least 12 of the 14 PA against Blevins. If you’re playing left on left percentages, why not batted ball percentages, too? It seems that the overwhelming outcome was not a ground ball.

        • Pete In Iowa
          April 17, 2018 at 10:52 am

          Not having any idea whether they always play for the DP or not, in my opinion, with a 6-1 lead getting a surer one out with the shift is far more important — and logical — than positioning for a DP.
          I think it’s a different story in a tied or closer game.

          • TexasGusCC
            April 17, 2018 at 7:03 pm

            Normally, in a DP spot to get out of the inning, they’re in DP formation. But, Brian is right, the pitch selection had the defense out of position.

  5. TexasGusCC
    April 17, 2018 at 9:39 am

    If this game is karma for all the breaks going their way the first two weeks, we’ll begrudgingly take it. But, Sherlock last year looked shaky as the third base coach and they put him back. We don’t know if it was a contract thing or an Alderson ego thing.

    I’m of the opinion that the Ramos trade was made so Boston couldn’t play with Alderson, and that was good, but he’s not a trustworthy reliever. His pitches have too much movement (a good thing) and aren’t easy to control (a bad thing).

    If the Mets want to have their best pitchers in the best spot, they need to either find a LOOGY and free Blevins to pitch more normally, or Callaway can go play back his press conference at his hire that said he doesn’t believe in LOOGYs and facing one just batter, but he wants pitchers that can get multiple batters out. Did he forget that, or does he think he doesn’t have any of those?

    All eyes will be on the Mets response today. They need to make a statement to the Nationals.

  6. Pete In Iowa
    April 17, 2018 at 9:57 am

    Yeah so, we got beat. It happens.
    The game was a stark reminder of how “today’s game” is played.
    Turner stealing second which did nothing but take the bat out of the hands of the team’s best hitter??
    Cabrera trying to go to third when his run means absolutely nothing??
    Bunting for a basehit (Difo) with two out and the pitcher on deck??
    It’s pretty shocking how little “inside baseball” these guys know these days. Well-coached high school players would know better!
    Pulling a dominating starter instead of facing a guy he has struck out three times, and made him look bad in the process?

    • TexasGusCC
      April 17, 2018 at 7:05 pm

      But, he was at 100 pitches. Isn’t there some law that says…

      I think Callaway overmanaged there.

  7. Chris F
    April 17, 2018 at 11:18 am

    Ill say this, Im less and less a fan of how the pen is running. I hate burning pitchers for 1 batter. Blevins use has been terrible.

    • Steevy
      April 17, 2018 at 11:50 am

      Agreed ,just because it has mostly worked and the team is winning does not make it right.I thought the matchup masturbation was going to end when TC was shown the door.It doesn’t help that Blevins has been about the worst LOOGY ever so far anyway.

    • Name
      April 17, 2018 at 4:35 pm

      Blevins has 10 G and 2.2 IP. he’s on pace for 100 G and 26 IP

      Callaway also uses the “Double burn” where he pinch hits for a position player but that person doesn’t play the position so the next inning someone else has to play the field. Effectively it burns up 2 bench players for 1 move, which really hurts on a 4 man bench, or if it’s early or if the game threatens to go extra innings.

      Example was when Bruce hit for Rosario and then Reyes took the field.

  8. James M O'Malley
    April 17, 2018 at 4:28 pm

    I’m still feeling ill from that inning.

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