WASHINGTON – It’s hard to make any conclusions after four games. That’s only 2.5 percent of 162 regular season games, so please read the next sentence that comes to mind. The Mets are one of the best teams in Major League Baseball.
On Sunday afternoon, they had a chance to become the first MLB team to reach four wins. With a home run by shortstop Francisco Lindor and a go-ahead single by outfielder Mark Canha, the Mets led the Nationals with a run in the fourth inning. But after a few miscues on the mound by Mets relief pitchers and on the field by first baseman Pete Alonso, they lost, 4-2, to rebuild Washington at Nationals Park for their first loss of the season.
National 4, Mets 2 | Box Score | Play-by-Play
“It’s nice to win the first series of the year, but dropping this is a late kind of smell, especially for me,” Alonso said. “I don’t want to do that. I don’t want to go out there and leave anyone alone, especially when there is no one in the locker room. After not making the game there, I left the team. ”
No one wants to lose, and losses are inevitable during the six -month regular season. But with the season series opening, there are encouraging signs for Mets fans that the team may be battling for the first postseason spot since 2016.
First, the starting rotation is strong. With ace Jacob deGrom, a two -time National League Cy Young Award winner, possibly out for several months due to a right shoulder injury, the Mets will need the remaining starting rotation to bring the heavier load. Through four games, the starting staff has a 1.59 ERA
On opening day, Tylor Megill, making his 19th career start, filled in for deGrom and fired five scoreless innings. The next day, star pitcher Max Scherzer made his Mets debut and made a strong outing despite the remnants of a minor hamstring injury. On Saturday, Chris Bassitt, a 2021 All-Star acquired from Oakland Athletics in a trade in March, also made his Mets debut and threw six pointless innings with eight strikeouts.
“I don’t know who you are. I will follow you, ”Bassitt said previously, referring to Shohei Ohtani and Mike Trout of the Angels, who were formerly most valuable players and two of baseball’s best hitters. “I deal with Ohtani very hard. I face Trout. I don’t care the name on the back of your jersey, I’ll go. ”
Right-hander Carlos Carrasco, in his second season as a Met, followed on Sunday. After surgery to remove the bone fragment from his elbow in October and said during spring training that he seemed to have a new elbow, Carrasco backed up his words. He only allowed one run in five and two-thirds of innings and said afterwards that a healthy elbow allowed him to use all of his pitches more consistently and effectively than ever before. His lone stain: The nationals pointed to Nelson Cruz’s first-inning blast, the 450th home run of his career.
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“Carlos is in a different place now than he used to be,” Mets Manager Buck Showalter said, and added afterwards, “It’s good to see him get off to a good start to the season because we can use him.”
Second, the Mets ’offense-and versatility on the field-has improved so far with the help of newcomers like infielder Eduardo Escobar, and outfielders Starling Marte and Canha. Escobar was 3 for 11 and played a good defense at third base. Mars was 3-for 14 but he managed to drive four runs. And Canha, who collected three hits on Sunday, played every outfield position and 7 of 10.
One of the Mets ’weaknesses last year was their offense. They were 27th in runs earned per game (3.93), 20th in batting average (.239), 23rd in on-base plus slugging (.706) and 25th in home run (176).
“The guys we brought in mixed well,” Jeff McNeil, a second baseman and outfielder, said.
Bassitt said people should expect talent with a big payroll (the Mets ’franchise-record mark of $ 286 million only tracks the Los Angeles Dodgers for the highest in MLB). But he praised the Mets ’approach, especially on the plate.
“There’s a lot of guys, a lot of teams, it’s all or nothing,” he said. “This team isn’t like that. We can hit a few homers. Just grind until you break up. And that’s the mentality we’ve been preaching since Day 1. We have a pitching staff to keep it going until that happens. . ”
It didn’t happen with the Mets on Sunday. Erick Fedde, the Nationals ’starting pitcher, surrendered two runs in five innings, and then four relievers combined to allow just two hits.
And in the eighth inning, the Mets ’pitching and defense faltered. Since a work dispute led to an abbreviated spring training session, Showalter was cautious, trying not to overtax his bullpen early. So instead of the team’s best assistants defending a 2-1 lead, he turned to left-hander Chasen Shreve and right-hander Trevor Williams, who teamed up to allow the three runs. (The Mets’ closest friend, Edwin Diaz, is on the mourning list after the death of his grandfather.)
The Nationals tied the score when they pulled in a safety squeeze, with rookie Lucius Fox bunting and Dee Strange-Gordon safely returning home. Alonso said he tried his best in a difficult game. Showalter pointed to the cold weather but Strange-Gordon said it was possible Alonso would have been gone if Alonso had even gotten the ball out of his glove cleaner to throw home after hitting the bunt.
Two games later, Alonso’s wide throw to second base prevented the Mets from making an inning-ending double play. Two batters after that, Cruz gave the Nationals a 4-2 lead with two run singles.
Next up for the Mets are three games against the Philadelphia Phillies, one of the division rivals expected to clash with them and Atlanta, the reigning World Series champion, for the top spot in the NL East.
“This team is very good – the position players, the starting pitchers, everything,” Carrasco said Sunday. “That’s why we show there that we’re very good. The important thing is to stay healthy and keep playing well.”