The 2020 season is just six games old and already many of the ghosts of last season have been visited upon these Mets. None have been more haunting than the sinister ones that reside in their bullpen.
Mets relievers wore the curse again on Wednesday night. This time two of the club’s most-reliable relievers — Seth Lugo and Justin Wilson — felt the impact and their poor performances were enough to doom the Mets in a 6-5 loss to the Red Sox at vacant Citi Field.
Lugo allowed a game-tying home run to Boston catcher Christian Vazquez in the seventh inning to make it 3-3 and Wilson was pummeled in the eighth for three runs as the Mets wasted a strong start from Jacob deGrom. Wilson faced eight batters and got only two outs as he gave up a run-scoring squib single by Mitch Moreland and a two-run single by Vazquez before exiting with the bases loaded.
Neither Lugo nor Wilson had allowed a run in a combined five appearances.
The Mets made it interesting in the ninth only to be snuffed with the tying run 90 feet away. They loaded the bases against Boston’s Brandon Workman with none out, but got only one run across in J.D. Davis’ one-out infield hit. Yoenis Cespedes struck and Robinson Cano’s short flare into shallow left field was snagged by shortstop Jose Peraza for the final out. They couldn’t escape the hole the bullpen put them in.
“Lugo and Wilson, they were throwing the ball really good, not allowing in a run and then tonight Lugo gives up the solo homer and Wilson gives up (three) runs as well,” manager Luis Rojas said. “It's something that's going to happen: relievers are going to give up runs. They’re not going to be perfect throughout a season. But these are two of the best relievers in the game.”
“I clearly didn’t have my best stuff,” Wilson said. “I thought I was going to sneak out of it (on Moreland’s swinging bunt), but it sometimes doesn’t roll your way.
The Mets are 3-3 and two of the defeats lay squarely on the shoulders of the relief corps. There was the July 25 loss to Atlanta where closer Edwin Diaz failed to protect a lead and the team lost in extra innings to Atlanta. And there now there is this disappointment, where Lugo entered with a 3-2 lead.
Mets relievers had a 4.99 ERA in 2019. After just six games this season, they have an unsightly 6.39 ERA.
“[They] blew the lead but we trust our guys so much,” Rojas said. “We know they’re going to come back tomorrow ready. To take on tomorrow’s game. Something you’ve got to do in a season like this is recover quickly because the next thing you know, you’ve got to be good.”
deGrom turned in a solid 6-inning, 88-pitch performance and was in a position to earn a win before coming away without a decision. His fastball touched 101 and his 91-mph changeup was often brilliant. However the righthander allowed two runs in the fourth inning when two changeups were hit for back-to-back doubles by Rafael Devers and Moreland for one run and two sliders went for wild pitches allowing another. He gave up the two runs on a total of three hits and a walk while striking out four.
He extended his scoreless innings streak to 31 1/3 before it was snapped in that fourth inning and fell just short of the club record of 32 2/3 innings set in 2012 by R.A. Dickey. His mark is tied for third best in franchise history.
Asked about posting the best velocity numbers of his career, deGrom said that after working hard on his delivery, the ball “is coming out with less effort than in years past. . . . I feel like everything is in line where I want it to be.”
Pete Alonso turned the page on a poor start by going 4-for-4, Yoenis Cespedes had two hits including a solo homer in the eighth inning that made it 6-4 and Robinson Cano and highly-touted prospect Andres Ginenez — making his first career start — had two hits including a run-scoring triple for the 3-2 lead.
However even though the Mets managed 15 hits, they didn’t deliver in the clutch. They were 3-for-14 with runners in scoring position and stranded 11.