It was bad enough that the Mets walked a tight-rope for a majority of Monday afternoon considering the number of dangerous situations Trevor Williams and Seth Lugo found themselves in. But then Edwin Diaz put the proverbial blindfold on for the final steps — and the result was as expected.
The Mets closer blew his second save opportunity in the five-game series against the Washington Nationals, relegating New York to a 4-3 loss while squandering a golden opportunity to move within three games of first place in the National League East with the Atlanta Braves off on Monday.
Fueled by Pete Alonso’s 30th home run of the season to put them up 3-2 in the sixth inning, the Mets escaped a bevy of situations that had the Nationals poised to put the game out of reach. Diaz, however, walked the first two batters of the inning before Andrew Stevenson singled in the tying run.
With the winning run on third and with one out, a slow roller up the middle by Carter Kieboom slid under the glove of Francisco Lindor — though the Mets had no chance of getting the winning run at home or turning an inning-ending double play to force extras.
Diaz’s struggles reared their ugly head and the worst possible time after being automatic for the last seven weeks, as the Mets were forced to settle with a 3-2 record over the five-game set against the lowly Nationals — both losses coming directly off of the closer’s issues.
Alonso had two RBI on the afternoon, including a two-out single in the first inning to score to get the Mets on the board against Patrick Corbin.
Washington quickly found an answer when Michael Conforto misjudged a fly ball hit down the line by Alcides Escobar, resulting in a one-out triple. He was driven in by a Juan Soto RBI groundout; the Nationals star improving his near-perfect success rate of driving in runners in from third with less than two outs to 20-for-22 this season.
Williams limited the damage in the first after putting runners on second and third following the Nationals’ equalizer, striking out Carter Kieboom to end the threat.
The spot starter continued pulling off magic acts, most notably in the third inning after a walk to Soto and a double from Josh Bell off the wrist of Alonso put runners on second and third with no outs. But Williams coaxed a lineout from Yadiel Hernandez to right field that Soto opted not to tag up on and test the arm of Michael Conforto. A grounder from Kieboom right to Villar allowed the Mets to cut Soto down at home before Alex Avila popped up to Javier Baez.
In the first three innings alone, the Nationals went 0-for-8 with runners in scoring position.
The Mets took the lead in the fourth after a Jeff McNeil double play scored Baez from third. It was Baez’s sixth hit in as many at-bats and was moved to third on another single from Kevin Pillar.
Williams gave it right back as he yielded three straight hits to start the bottom of the frame, but yet again limited the damage by retiring the next three batters he faced, including a flyout to center from Soto. He followed it up by coaxing a vital double play to get out of a first-and-second jam with one out in the fifth.
The man who started the double play, Alonso, put the Mets ahead in the sixth with a lead-off home run for his 30th of the season. He became just the ninth Met in franchise history to record multiple seasons of 30 or more round-trippers and just the third to do it before his 27th birthday after posting 53 in his rookie campaign of 2019.
Trouble kept brewing for the Mets, though, especially in the eighth inning when reliever Seth Lugo put the tying run at third when he allowed a two-out triple to Luis Garcia. But after walking Ryan Zimmerman, Lane Thomas’ liner up the middle was knocked down by a diving Baez before getting the speedster by half a step.
A sweep against the Marlins is imperative for the Mets to try and make up some ground over the final month of the season, especially with the crosstown-rival Yankees looming over the weekend.