A bad eighth inning led to three Washington runs, leading the Nationals to a 4-2 win, which was the Mets’ first loss of the season.
Before we get to the eighth, we need to talk about the sixth inning. Buck Showalter went to his bullpen with two outs and nobody on base, taking out Carlos Carrasco, who was simply cruising. Showalter played the matchup game, bringing in lefty Chasen Shreve to face Juan Soto. Shreve retired Soto to end the inning.
In a bit of a surprise, Showalter left Shreve in for the seventh. He got out of the inning with an assist from Josh Bell, who for some strange reason decided to steal second base. Tomas Nido’s throw was to the wrong side of the bag, but Bell was still out by a large margin.
Then, in a move straight out of the Terry Collins playbook, Showalter had Shreve stay in the game to start the eighth inning because a non-descript lefty batter was leading off for the Nationals. It’s one thing to play matchups with a fresh reliever to face Soto. It’s another matter entirely to have a lefty reliever stay in for a third partial inning because the batter hits from the left side.
Shreve gave up a base hit and was promptly removed from the game.
Then the defense let the Mets down. More specifically, two poor throws by Pete Alonso played an instrumental role in the Nats scoring three runs. Alonso weakly underhanded a ball to the plate, allowing the first run of the inning to score, which tied the game. Then Alonso threw weakly to second base on a potential double play ball. The weak throw was bad enough. But it was also wide of the bag, too, which kept the Mets from getting even one out on the play. After Soto hit into a force play with the runner out at the plate, Nelson Cruz, who homered in the first inning, broke the tie with a two-run single.
Carrasco was terrific in the game. While he allowed the first-inning run, he finished by retiring the last 15 batters he faced. He had a good fastball but ended up throwing twice as many off-speed pitches, which allowed him to keep batters off balance all game long. Carrasco fanned five, gave up two hits and did not walk a batter. It was exactly what the Mets hoped to get from him.
Both Mets runs scored in the fourth inning. Francisco Lindor led off with a homer and later in the inning Mark Canha drove home Eduardo Escobar with a single. It was the Mets’ only hit with runners in scoring position, as the team was 1-8 in that key statistic.