It's no secret that it's been a patchwork season for the Mets -- key players have been injured, there are deep questions surrounding their young bullpen and pivotal defensive positions are being filled by players who sometimes aren't up to the task.
So far, it's mostly worked. But yesterday afternoon's 5-3 extra-inning loss to the Braves seemed proof that the Mets are a team with deep vulnerabilities -- a fraying quilt in need of attention and modification if they're going to keep their tentative grasp on first place in the NL East.
Despite scoring three runs in the seventh to take a 3-1 lead, the Mets allowed the Braves to tie the game in the ninth inning, thanks in part to a misplay by shortstop Wilmer Flores, and the team faltered in the 11th when Carlos Torres allowed a two-run single to Cameron Maybin. With the Nationals winning, the Mets' division lead was cut to a half game.
Clinging to a two-run lead, Hansel Robles started the ninth to close it out for Jeurys Familia, who was unavailable following the birth of his son Friday night. Robles promptly allowed a walk and a single. Juan Uribe struck out and Jace Peterson appeared to hit a game-ending double-play ball, which was instead bobbled and knocked down by Flores, who was only able to get the force at second. Maybin then singled in the second run and Alex Torres was brought in. He gave up an RBI single to Freddie Freeman to tie it at 3.
"I thought I did a good job knocking it down," said Flores. "It was a hard-hit ball . . . It wasn't frustrating."
A different perspective, from manager Terry Collins: "That was a double play and we've got a chance to get the game over and we didn't make the play. We still got to get an out and we didn't make the next out."
Andrelton Simmons singled off Carlos Torres to kick off the 11th and Uribe hit a ball that deflected off the outstretched glove of a diving Dilson Herrera for a single. Both were sacrificed over by Peterson and Maybin again made the bullpen pay, this time stroking a 1-and-1 curveball to center for a two-run single. Maybin went 3-for-6 with three RBIs.
"Losing the game [stinks] . . . and the fact that I did it," Carlos Torres said. "It's terrible . . . the fact that we lost the game after we came back."
Jacob deGrom had another sterling start, besmirched only by Freeman's towering first-inning solo home run -- a blast hit so high and so far (ESPN estimated 437 feet) that Curtis Granderson could only stand and watch.
Lethargic for most of the day, the Mets finally showed spark in the seventh against starter Shelby Miller, when pinch hitter Juan Lagares singled to center with one out and Granderson followed with a double to the corner in right. Travis d'Arnaud's hit a bloop single to center that fell in front of Maybin, who fielded the ball and bobbled it for a hit and an error, allowing two runs to score. D'Arnaud moved to second on a wild pitch and Lucas Duda doubled him home to give the Mets a 3-1 lead.
Duda, Granderson, Darrell Ceciliani and Herrera all had two hits.
Collins pulled deGrom after the seventh and 102 pitches; Danny Muno's three errors helped add to the pitch count. Collins tried to cobble together the final innings with five relievers. "You saw today. It's real hard," he of trying to manage the pen without its greatest asset. "You try to piece together your matchups that you think are best suited to get outs and hope for the best . . . We've got young guys . . . and it gets to be a little tough at the end of the game."