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WASHINGTON – The 2019 Mets’ season all but ended Tuesday night, the result of a moment that not even years of #LOLMets happenings could have prepared the most cynical Mets fan for.
A six-run, ninth-inning lead is supposed to be automatic. Even the Bad News Bears could protect that large of an edge. Teams talk all the time of playing to the last out, but let’s be honest, it’s easy for a team down that many runs to pack it in.
Yet, the 2019 Mets became the first team in franchise history, per ESPN Stats & Info, to fail to protect such a large lead in the ninth inning or later.
Edwin Diaz, the supposed relief ace the Mets potentially sold their future for this past offseason, provided his most Metsian moment yet, surrendering a three-run, walk-off homer on a 100-mph fastball to catcher Kurt Suzuki that completed the Nationals’ seven-run inning and gave them an 11-10 victory.
Even Brandon Nimmo, perhaps the most upbeat player in Major League Baseball, couldn’t fathom that his team blew a 10-4 advantage.
"When I came in here, I didn't really know what happened, it just seemed like a bad dream,” Nimmo said after the Nationals’ largest ninth-inning rally in their history. “That's hard to do even in a Little League game. To come back from (six) runs down against guys throwing 99 mph, I don’t really have words for that.”
NO COMING BACK FROM THAT
Mets manager Mickey Callaway tried to preach positivity after the game, but there’s no sugarcoating this. The Mets are finished. Throw the damn towel, if you will. Put a fork in them. There’s no coming back from this crushing of a loss.
Sure, the Mets still have 24 games left, but they’re now five behind the Cubs for the second wild card, and have three others in front of them.
You simply can’t lose games when you have a 99.9 percent chance to win —according to ESPN — entering the bottom of the ninth inning. Those are games that have to be wins, especially now when a team is in a playoff push.
The Mets were just three outs a way from winning the first two games of this series, including conquering Max Scherzer on Tuesday, and having the chance to possibly sweep the Nationals to complete a 5-1 road trip
That would have been a heck of a way to head into a 10-game homestand.
Now, the Mets will have to try to shake off a horrific loss that most of them probably have never experienced before. Losses all count the same in the loss column, but certain ones sting more. This one qualifies as an all-timer.
It’s possible the Mets could miss the playoffs by one or two games, and any Mets fan will forever remember blowing a 10-4 lead in the ninth.
“This might be the toughest one of the season. We had it. Quick turnaround tomorrow,” infielder Jeff McNeil said. “We’ve got flush it. We got to win tomorrow.”
FROM SAVES LEADER TO A 5.65 ERA
As if the loss isn’t hard enough to digest, this game only further heightens concerns with Diaz and whether he’ll ever be a dominant closer ever again.
Perhaps it’s fitting that the season likely ended with him on the mound since a lot of the team’s failures can be tied to the acquisition of Diaz and Robinson Cano.
The Mets acquired Cano and Diaz in hope Diaz would be the Mets’ version of Mariano Rivera, and Cano would turn back the clock to his Yankee days. Neither has happened.
Cano has hampered by injuries and struggled when healthy, and Diaz has come much closer to resembling Armando Benitez. He now has blown six saves and owns a 5.65 ERA. He’s transformed from a feared reliever to a JAG (just a guy).
When the Mets acquired Diaz, they talked of him being the top reliever in the NL East, a fireballer who could change the division.
Well, he’s changed the division all right — only not the way the Mets wanted.
Diaz entered the game with the bases loaded and the Mets up, 10-6, and proceeded to allow a two-run double to Ryan Zimmerman and Suzuki’s blast.
“Let’s be honest, I don’t think we thought it was going to happen either,” said Zimmerman, who drove a 99-mph fastball the other way. “A lot of us been around baseball a long time. Once it starts going, the pressure shifts squarely on their shoulders because stuff like that is not supposed to happen.”
PLAYING OUT THE STRING
In some ways, Tuesday’s loss served as the perfect summarization of the second half of this Mets season.
After a 40-50 record in the first half, the Mets used a 27-10 run to start the second half and improve to 67-60, legitimizing their chances of making the postseason.
Then, the Braves then came to New York and swept them. Followed by the Cubs, who can hardly beat anyone on the road.
Tuesday served as the worst moment of all, the heartbreaker after all the good that had come.
Just like their 27-10 start, the Mets teased for eight and a half innings, scoring four runs off Scherzer and then adding six off the Nationals bullpen to make folks think they’re world beaters. That perhaps this team can make a run.
Then, came the bottom of the ninth, and like they often do, they let their fans down. All the good feelings and vibes exited this season with Suzuki’s towering shot.
It’s time to turn the lights out on the 2019 Mets, the team that challenged the NL East to “come get us” and then truly be gotten in the most epic of failures Tuesday night, a collapse that no other Mets team had produced.
“Everybody is pretty disappointed. We let one get away,” deGrom said. “Felt like we had it.”
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