Playing shorthanded, with a roster crushed by injuries, the last thing the Mets needed was extra innings against the Nationals. But these days, the worst possible outcome has become inevitable.
So there was something familiar about the scene Friday night, when the fog settled in, the 11th inning rolled around and closer Jeurys Familia suddenly couldn’t throw strikes in the Mets’ 4-3 loss to the Nationals.
The winning run was forced across the plate when with the bases loaded and one out, Familia issued a four-pitch walk to pinch hitter Trea Turner.
“Today, I just missed the zone with my sinker,” said Familia, who walked the previous batter, Anthony Rendon, to load the bases.
With their latest wrenching loss, the Mets (8-9) dipped below the .500 mark and dropped their sixth game in their last seven. They lead all of baseball with four extra-inning games, going 1-3 in those situations, 0-3 at home.
Familia again looked rusty a night after needing 30 pitches to navigate his first outing following his 15-game suspension for domestic violence.
“He didn’t throw the ball over the plate, and that was very uncharacteristic of him,” manager Terry Collins said.
Michael Conforto hit a leadoff homer. Curtis Granderson tied the score twice, first with a run-scoring single and then with his first homer of the year. It was a mammoth blast to the upper deck in rightfield, a sign that one of the Mets’ coldest hitters might be coming out of a funk at an opportune time. Granderson was hitting .143 with no homers before the game.
Pressed into duty one day ahead of schedule, Matt Harvey delivered a workmanlike performance, allowing three runs in seven innings, though he struck out only two.
It wasn’t enough on a night in which the Mets were without Yoenis Cespedes. His hamstring still was so sore that he had to give up on his attempt to warm up for a pinch-hitting appearance.
The Nationals’ Bryce Harper hit a two-run shot off Harvey, against whom he had been 1-for-26 lifetime. Backup catcher Jose Lobaton also homered.
Jose Reyes heard boos after going 0-for-5, dropping his average to .097. It was just another thing that went wrong on a night that seemed destined to be rough.
Before the series opener, Collins gave an injury update on nearly everyone in uniform but himself. Then, by necessity, he started a rightfielder at first, pinch hit one pitcher (Zack Wheeler, who doubled) for another (Harvey), then used another pitcher (Robert Gsellman) as a pinch runner as the potential winning run in the ninth.
“It’s all hands on deck in those kinds of situations,” said Wheeler, the first Mets pitcher to deliver a pinch hit since 2011.
By the end, the only position player left on the bench was Ces pedes. The Mets sent two players to the disabled list (Lucas Duda and Wilmer Flores), including one of them to the hospital (Flores), where he will be confined for the weekend to treat an infection.
Then Collins had to tear up his original starting battery. Jacob deGrom had been scheduled to start with Travis d’Arnaud behind the plate. But d’Arnaud’s bruised wrist prevented him from throwing and deGrom still was feeling the lingering effects of a stiff neck.
He had complained of the symptoms the day before, allowing the Mets to put Harvey on standby. “It wasn’t the best timing,” deGrom said. “I definitely wish I was out there tonight.”