How the Mets respond from losing tonight will send a greater message to the Nationals than their 12-2 record going into the game, which includes a sweep in Washington the first week in April. The here-to-fore excellent Mets’ bullpen coughed up a five-run, eighth-inning lead – and in the process kicked away a brilliant outing from Jacob deGrom – in a potentially defining moment for both teams.
Will the Nationals build off their 8-6 victory and this climb their way back to the top of the NL East? Or, will the Mets revert to the form most expected of them heading into this season?
Or, can they brush this off and keep showing their early-season resiliency?
“It’s one inning — it wasn’t even a game,” manager Mickey Callaway said of the crazy eighth in which five Mets’ relievers faced 12 Washington hitters and gave up six runs. “We outplayed them for the rest of the game. We just have to realize it was one bad inning, we didn’t get the job done. We’ll learn from it and make sure it doesn’t throw us into some kind of tailspin because we’re a real good team and we’ve been showing that.”
That Callaway would even the acknowledge the possibility of one game exploding into a slide shows an understanding of recent Mets’ history.
DeGrom cruised into the eighth, but quickly gave up hits to two of the first three hitters he faced. Callaway went to Seth Lugo, who walked the only hitter he faced to load the bases. Enter Jerry Blevins to face Bryce Harper, who greeted him with a two-run single.
AJ Ramos came in and gave up a single and bases-loaded walk to former Met Matt Reynolds. Then say hello to Jeurys Familia, who gave up a two-run single and another bases-loaded walk. Callaway might expect one or two relievers to have problems, but not the entire bullpen.
“It’s a rare thing. It shouldn’t happen, but maybe guys shut down mentally,’’ Callaway said his relievers collectively mailed it in because they didn’t expect to pitch.
Ramos wanted no part of that thinking.
“We pride ourselves on being ready,’’ Ramos said. “We just didn’t get the job done. There are no excuses.’’
None at all.