Two teams played in two different locations in the Northeast on Tuesday night, both attempting to better their chances of winning this tight NL East race.
One team played like they want the title. The other played like they aren’t ready for it yet.
The Mets entered the day with just a 1.0 game lead over the Atlanta Braves in the NL East and opened a two-game series against the lowly Miami Marlins at Citi Field. What could go wrong?
Carlos Carrasco’s start went all wrong and the bats went cold against Pablo Lopez. The Mets lost 6-4 while the Braves overcame an early two-run deficit in Washington to stomp on the Nationals 8-2.
The Mets (97-58) have spent all but two days of the season leading the NL East, but their own loss and Atlanta’s win have them tied for first place.
The Mets’ best chance for a comeback came in the fourth inning when Pete Alonso, the co-NL Player of the Week last week, launched a three-run shot off of Lopez (10-10) to cut a 4-0 deficit to just one run. It briefly helped make up for a brutal four-run showing by Carrasco (15-7), but the Marlins (64-90) came back to score two more off of Trevor Williams in the fifth.
After singling with two outs in the eighth, Jeff McNeil scored on a strange series of events. Incredibly, Marlins pitcher Richard Bleier issued three straight balks to hand the Mets a run. Marlins manager Don Mattingly was ejected after a heated discussion with the umpires and Bleier had to be held back after a groundout by Alonso ended the inning.
Alonso’s earlier contribution was noteworthy given that it was his 40th home run of the season. He became the first player in Mets history to have multiple 40-home run seasons (2019 and 2022) and continued to increase his single-season team RBI record, which now stands at 31.
The Polar Bear has been incredibly impactful for the Mets in recent weeks, with five home runs and 16 RBI over his last seven games. But Alonso couldn’t undo the damage from Carrasco’s three innings all on his own.
Carrasco pitched himself into trouble right away, hitting the second batter of the game, Miguel Rojas, and allowing back-to-back singles to load the bases with one out. A fly ball by Bryan De La Cruz scored Rojas and Brian Anderson later scored on a wild pitch.
The second inning wasn’t much better with two singles and an error by Eduardo Escobar and the inefficiency carried right over into the third when Bleday, who came into the game hitting just .168, squeaked a two-run homer over the right field fence. The long ball wasn’t especially long, traveling only 339 feet, but it was just long enough to give the Fish a 4-0 lead.
Lopez allowed only the home run in six innings of work, striking out five and walking none. He didn’t allow a baserunner until the fourth inning when Brandon Nimmo sliced a leadoff single up the middle.
Williams gave up two earned on three hits in two innings. David Peterson and Tylor Megill fared much better out of the bullpen, with Peterson tossing two scoreless innings. Closer Edwin Diaz, who wasn’t needed all weekend, pitched a scoreless ninth.
Dylan Floro recorded the save for the Marlins, his eighth of the season.
The Mets will soon have to make postseason roster decisions and these outings by Carrasco and Williams weren’t particularly encouraging. It was a must-win game for the Mets and possibly even for Carrasco, and all involved faltered. The pressure to win Wednesday has suddenly increased.