Mets starting pitcher Tylor Megill stands in the dugout after...

Mets starting pitcher Tylor Megill stands in the dugout after he was relieved during the second inning of a game against the Nationals at Nationals Park on Wednesday in Washington. Credit: AP/Alex Brandon

WASHINGTON — Given the Mets’ early-season proclivity for huge comebacks and other improbabilities, you are forgiven if you refused to rule out such a feat longer than you otherwise would or should Wednesday night, despite all of the evidence to the contrary.

But the Mets conjured no magic this time. They lost to the Nationals, 8-3, as Tylor Megill endured the worst start of his young career and the hitters did minimal hitting after the first few minutes.

That makes the rubber match Thursday afternoon a tad more interesting. On the line as Taijuan Walker faces Joan Adon will be the Mets’ series unbeaten streak. Through nine this season, they have won eight and split one.

This one got ugly early. Washington (11-21) shellacked Megill, who gave up eight runs in 1 1⁄3 innings. That was most runs allowed and the fewest outs recorded in any of his 25 major-league starts. His ERA ballooned from 2.43 to 4.41.

“I just didn’t have it today,” Megill said. “An outing like this, as bad as it went, you can’t really dwell over it. Flush it. Obviously, it was a bad outing. I’m capable of way more. I’m not going to let this one define me.”

Staked to a three-run lead before he took the mound, Megill gave it back — and then some — fast. Cesar Hernandez led off the bottom of the first with a single, and Juan Soto walloped a two-run homer. Keibert Ruiz contributed a tying RBI single. Maikel Franco’s sacrifice fly put the Nats ahead. Dee Strange-Gordon added a single to make it a five-run opening inning.

In the second, after Hernandez led off with another single, Nelson Cruz launched a three-run home run to blow open the game.


“I left a lot of stuff over the plate, obviously in hitter’s counts, and they did what they did with it,” Megill said.

Of Megill’s 14 batters, 10 reached base. His eight runs allowed nearly matched his six-start total entering the night (nine).

That marked a stunning degree of ineffectiveness from the righthander who has filled in admirably for injured ace Jacob deGrom. In each of his previous half-dozen appearances, he lasted at least five innings and gave up no more than four runs. That included five shutout innings on Opening Day against these Nationals in this city.

“He’s pitched so well for us that we’ll give him a pass tonight,” manager Buck Showalter said.

Although he noted that the Nationals “seemed like they were on the repertoire and the sequence,” Showalter pooh-poohed the idea that Megill might have been tipping his pitches.

“Most of the time you go back through it and they’re not very good pitches,” he said.

Trevor Williams and Stephen Nogosek, making his season debut, gave the Mets (21-11) a chance by combining for 6 2⁄3 innings of scoreless relief.

“That was big. I’m really proud of those two guys,” Showalter said. “I know there were some people in our bullpen who were pretty happy about it.”

The first signs that the game might feature low-quality starting pitching came in the top of the first — but those circumstances favored the Mets. Three of their first four batters scored against Aaron Sanchez, who entered with an 8.56 ERA in three starts. Pete Alonso mashed a two-run homer, his third long ball in three games.

Sanchez settled in to retire 11 consecutive batters into the sixth inning, until Alonso’s line drive off his left glove wrist forced him out of the game.

The Mets threatened to make it interesting with back-to-back singles to open the ninth. But there was no wild rally.

“That well is hard to go to every time,” Showalter said. “I kept thinking we might get back in it, but we just didn’t string enough together.”


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