Mets unable to win four-game sweep of national championships
WASHINGTON — Buck Showalter accomplished what he called Sunday morning “my big goal today,” but it came at a cost to the Mets.
The Nationals won, 4-2, after rallying for three runs in the eighth inning against left-hander Chasen Shreve and right-hander Trevor Williams, the last members of the Mets opening-day roster to appear in a match.
Showalter really wanted to get them into action in the series finale, and he did so by using them to try to bridge the gap between starter Carlos Carrasco and a future closer to being named one day when the bullpen relievers lacked several of the highly leveraged relievers, including Edwin Diaz (mourning list).
Nelson Cruz got the two-run single with two outs in the bottom of the eighth. The Mets suffered their first loss of the season, missing their chance for a four-game sweep.
“I can’t let them go four, five, six, seven days without using them,” Showalter said of Shreve, who threw 22 pitches in the sixth, seventh and eighth, and Williams, a bullpen neophyte. who was set up as a long reliever during spring training. “No, they pitched well. The two. I know it’s a results-driven business, but you look at the kind of balls they gave up and the job that Chasen did – and really Trevor – really satisfied.
Did the circumstances of a one-point match cause Showalter to reconsider their plan?
“And go to whom? he said. “Some guys weren’t available today. I don’t know if unavailable is the word. I wasn’t going to use them. We’re too early in the season to throw guys three days out of four.
Showalter declined to name relievers he wanted to stay away from. His preference three times in four days would have ruled out Seth Lugo and Adam Ottavino.
Trevor May, who warmed up but did not enter the seventh, said he was available. Lugo said he was available if the Mets had a lead. Ottavino said there was “no reason to be” unavailable so early in the season.
The decisive rally was not pretty, and it included at least one play error by first baseman Pete Alonso.
Yadiel Hernandez opened with a single against Shreve. Maikel Franco’s single against Williams moved pinch runner Dee Strange-Gordon to third overall.
Lucius Fox, making his major league debut, tied it at 2 when he brought in Strange-Gordon with a tight bunt lined up by Alonso, whose sneaky pitch to home plate was too slow.
Showalter and Alonso had different views on this streak.
“He had a little trouble getting it out of his glove,” Showalter said. “He’s probably out if [Alonso] own fate. . . Pete will play this more times than not.
Alonso, explaining that he didn’t throw over because it would have been too fast over too short a distance, said: “I thought everything was clean, or at least it was clean. Dee Gordon is one of the fastest players in the league. He took a good break on it. Bang bang game. Sometimes, even if it’s well defended, you have to take your hat off to the baserunner.
After Victor Robles lined up a bunt to Williams for an out, the ball found Alonso the next two plays.
Cesar Hernandez ground a fly ball in the direction of Alonso, but his throw to second base for a forced out attempt was wide, pulling shortstop Francisco Lindor from the bag and loading the bases.
“I just missed the throw. I don’t know why,” Alonso said. “My feet were fixed. I lined up the ball on the ground cleanly. There was no urgency. There was no need to rush. I felt like I was calm, cool, and collected. I just missed a pitch. As a result, this put the team in a very bad hole.
Alonso redeemed himself somewhat by gently fielding Juan Soto’s grounder and throwing home for an out, keeping the score tied. But Cruz followed with a two-run single to give the Nationals the lead.
“Being a major league pitcher, you have to have this mindset of, So what? Next pitch,” Williams said. capable when asked to have a high leverage spot.
Carrasco held Washington to one of 5 points 2⁄3 innings in his season debut, only giving Cruz the solo homer. His opponent, Erick Fedde, allowed two runs in five innings, becoming the Nationals’ first pitcher in four games to last that long. Both runs came in the fourth, when Lindor hit a home run and Mark Canha’s RBI single drove in Eduardo Escobar (two-out double).
The Mets had two and none in the seventh, but Sean Doolittle took out Brandon Nimmo and Robinson Cano to escape the jam.
“We had opportunities that we didn’t take,” Showalter said.
The Mets still managed to go 3-1 in their season opener.
“It’s nice to win the first series of the year,” Alonso said, “but to drop this one late, it stinks.”