QUEENS — The pond would run out of water with the number of ducks the New York Mets left on Wednesday night in their 6-5 loss to the Boston Red Sox.
With the bases loaded and no outs down two runs in the bottom-of-the-ninth inning, key strikeouts by Michael Conforto and Yoenis Cespedes sandwiched JD Davis’ RBI infield single to stymie the Mets’ rally against Red Sox closer, Brandon Workman, ending with a Robinson Cano lineout to shortstop to end the game.
“I thought we expanded from our perspective,” manager Luis Rojas said. “We chased a couple of pitches that weren’t necessarily pitches we could do damage with.”
In total, the Mets left 11 men on base in the loss.
Their inability to take advantage of prime scoring situations overshadowed yet another instance in which they didn’t do enough to get Jacob deGrom a win.
At least there’s some semblance of normalcy in 2020.
After taking a 3-2 lead in the sixth inning thanks to an Andres Gimenez RBI triple in his first-ever MLB start — and putting deGrom in line for his first win of the season — Seth Lugo and Justin Wilson combined to surrender four runs in the seventh and eighth innings to put the Mets in a hole they could not claw out of.
“I think it’s frustrating and it doesn’t matter who’s on the mound. Jake always keeps us in the game,” Wilson said. “We have to put up more runs for him but we have to shut it down for him in the bullpen.”
It spoiled another quality deGrom outing and the organization’s No. 2 prospect, Gimenez’s, first start where he collected his first two big-league hits.
The Mets’ ace didn’t have an overly dominant night compared to what has become expected of him, but once again he did just enough to keep the Mets’ sputtering Citi Field offense in it.
He allowed just two runs on three hits in six innings of work (88 pitches) with four strikeouts and two ill-timed wild pitches.
With the Mets leading 1-0, the Sox would get to deGrom in the fourth — which is something his opponents over his last four outings couldn’t say.
A double from Mitch Moreland drove Rafael Devers home to tie the game, breaking deGrom’s consecutive scoreless innings streak at 31 — tied for the third-longest in franchise history.
“I didn’t know what the franchise record but I wasn’t trying to give up any runs,” deGrom said. “I know I had a streak going from last year… I don’t like giving up runs.”
In typical, zany 2020 fashion, deGrom threw a pair of wild pitches to score Moreland and give the Red Sox the lead. It was as many wild pitches in a single inning as he had all of last season.
“The two doubles I gave up were on changeups and it ended up resulting in runs scored,” deGrom said. “When I threw it, it was good… then I threw a couple sliders in the dirt.”
“[Those pitches] felt good but I was just upset about some of those offspeed pitches.”
The Mets would respond with a Brandon Nimmo solo home run in the fifth inning to knot things back up at 2-2, but there were ample opportunities for more.
With runners on first and second with no outs in the fourth inning, Cano grounded into a double play to snuff a rally. After Nimmo’s home run, Conforto also grounded into a double play with runners on first and second and one out.
With deGrom’s day over and two outs in the bottom-of-the-sixth, a glimmer of hope for a deGrom win was restored when a two-out single by Cano was converted into the go-ahead run when Gimenez tripled to dead-center, getting the ace in line for his first win of the season.
The Mets’ lead — and deGrom’s chances at a win — only lasted one-third of an inning when the usually-reliant Lugo allowed a one-out home run in the seventh to Christian Vazquez.
DeGrom’s no-decision was the 58th of his career, roughly 33.5% of his career starts as a Met — an unfair statistic considering his ERA in those games is a minuscule 2.23 (91 runs allowed in 367.2 innings).
The Mets continued to squander opportunities despite who was on the mound. After getting Jeff McNeil and Pete Alonso on base with one out, a weak Conforto grounder was followed by a Davis strikeout in the seventh.
Boston took the lead in the eighth after more suspect Mets defense. Wilson allowed a pop-up single that Davis could not catch and two walks — one intentional — to load the bases with one out. After getting Rafael Devers to strikeout, a slow roller from Moreland up the third-base line could not be handled by McNeil, allowing the go-ahead run to score. A single by Vazquez plated another two.
“I thought I was going to get out of it,” Wilson said. “Sometimes it just doesn’t go right.”
It was a peculiar decision by Rojas to go with an overworked Wilson for a fourth time in six days with fresher arms available in the pen.
Cespedes immediately grabbed one back for the Mets, making it 6-4 on the first pitch he saw from Sox reliever Matt Barnes in the eighth inning with a laser-beam round-tripper into the left-field seats for his second of the year.
A Wilson Ramos double play ended a threat in the eighth down two before Workman walked Nimmo and McNeil to start the ninth inning. Alonso loaded the bases with a bloop single over the first-base bag.
“It’s frustrating,” Alonso said. “We had a big chance there not just in the ninth, but we had a bunch of guys on base and we left them out there. As a team, we need to capitalize on that.”