BUFFALO — Mathematically they are still alive, but the Mets’ slimming playoff chances were realistically left at the bottom of Lake Erie on Sunday with this latest clunker.
Thirteen games remain, but does anybody believe this inconsistent group can win 10 of them to perhaps sneak into the National League’s eight-team postseason field?
A lineup that last week reached full potential, churning out runs in bushels, sputtered for a second straight day against a left-handed starting pitcher. And then there was the kind of bullpen meltdown that has become all too commonplace for this team, turning it messy in a 7-3 loss to the Blue Jays at Sahlen Field.
Even the eternally optimistic Todd Frazier was pragmatic in assessing the Mets’ chances.
“You have got to get in front of three or four teams and it’s not fun to know that even if we do win you might not gain a game,” Frazier said. “That’s the toughest part, knowing that we have to win and that other pieces of the puzzle have to fall into place.”
Though the Mets were only three games behind the Giants in the loss column for the NL’s second wild-card berth entering Sunday night, the Rockies and Brewers were ahead of them.
The Mets (21-26) will continue this road trip on Tuesday in Philadelphia against a Phillies team fighting to claim the automatic playoff berth attached to a second-place finish in the division.
Brad Brach’s sixth-inning meltdown cost the Mets any chance of winning this series. The veteran reliever entered with the Blue Jays ahead 2-1 and proceeded to walk the bases loaded before he was removed. Jared Hughes then walked Jonathan Villar to force in a run before Santiago Espinal delivered the knockout punch with a three-run double.
“I just couldn’t keep the ball on the plate and wasn’t getting swings early in the count,” Brach said. “I just pretty much stunk. You can’t have outings like that, especially when we need a game like today.”
Hyun Jin Ryu handled he Mets, allowing one earned run on eight hits and two walks over six innings with seven strikeouts. It came a night after another veteran left-hander, Robbie Ray, frustrated the Mets by allowing one run over six innings. The Mets fell to 6-13 against lefty starters this season. They are 15-13 against right-handed starters.
David Peterson survived five innings, allowing two earned runs on three hits and two walks. The rookie left-hander was coming off his first ugly start of the season, a no-decision against the Phillies in which he allowed five runs over two innings.
Peterson surrendered a two-run homer in the second to Lourdes Gurriel Jr. that gave the Blue Jays a 2-1 lead. Though Peterson finished the fifth at only 81 pitches, manager Luis Rojas opted for Brach.
“His pitch limit was 90 pitches and third time through the middle of the order, we felt real good about Brach coming in who matches up real good against lefties,” Rojas said.
Dominic Smith’s RBI single in the first gave the Mets their first run, but the opportunity for a big inning stalled as Frazier got caught between third base and the plate and was thrown out retreating.
“Those types of events happening are just going to challenge you, especially at this point in the season,” Rojas said. “We have 13 games to go and we have got to clean it up.”
The Mets finish with series against the Phillies, Braves, Rays and Nationals. Of those teams, only the Nationals are removed from the playoff hunt.
“We have so much talent here and it’s just a matter of stringing two games together and two can turn into three and three can turn into five real quick,” Brach said. “We’re all giving our best. It’s just we need all three or four phases of the game to get going. Today, obviously, I let the team down with that performance, but I think it’s just been one thing after another.”
New York Post
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