By Lenn Robbins
What made this loss so gut retching, was that for the first eight and one-half innings Tuesday night, Mets looked like a playoff team.
They had roughed up Nationals ace Max Scherzer for four runs. Joe Panik hit his first home run as a Met, only the 13th home run allowed by Scherzer this season.
The Mets had, wait for it, given Jacob deGrom run support. deGrom wasn’t Cy Young good in the Mets playoff-ending, soul-sucking 11-10 loss to the Nationals, but he gave the Mets seven innings of eight-hit ball and left with his team up 4-2.
By the bottom of the ninth that lead had swelled to 10-4. How safe is 10-4 going into the bottom of the ninth? According to ESPN stats, it was 274-0 safe. Not once had a team leading by six, with three outs to get, lost.
So safe that I opted to watch an episode of the terrific series “Manhunter,” with my wife. We had just shut the lights when my 14-year-old son Harry did what he has never done before.
He crashed open the bedroom door. Don’t worry, not much goes on in there.
Anyhow, he always knocks. The kids always knock. But this clearly was not a knockable moment. This was a Mets hope-ending execution unlike anything he’d ever seen. Even Mets manager Mickey Callaway couldn’t repeat his mantra that this team can do something special.
“We had a six-run lead,’’ Mets manager Mickey Callaway told reporters. “Major league pitchers have to be able to hold that.’’
When Kurt Suzuki crushed an Edwin Diaz sacrificial offering over the fence for a three-run walk-off home that gave the Mets one of the most gruesome losses in franchise history, fans had a second of stunned disbelief. Then a second of anger. Then this:
Only the Mets.
It was as if this team had discovered time travel and made its way back to 1962 when “Only the Mets,” became a refrain, said over and over again with a chuckle that hid the disbelief over another Mets debacle.
Of course, when something so colossally wrong occurs, it seems heartless to report more bad news, but hey, “Major league pitchers have to be able to hold that.’’ The Brewers, Cubs, Diamondbacks, Phillies – all ahead of the Mets in the Wild Card race – all won.
The Mets are five back, but that’s just a number. It rightfully sounds so much better than 11-10 or 274-0.
Leave it to a former Met to explain what a loss like this really means,
“If it doesn’t put the last nail in the coffin, it’s awfully close,” SNY analyst Ron Darling said on-air. “Someone’s hammering away.”
The Mets will never again play a game this season in which a lead feels safe. Fans will never hit the sack contently. This is a nightmare that will haunt the final 24 games of the season.
There won’t be a 25th game.
“It’s going to be a tough one to digest tonight, but you have to do it,” Callaway told reporters. “We have digested several.”
None like this. Never like this.