If the clutch gene were actually a real thing in baseball, the New York Mets would be lacking it during this first portion of the 2020 MLB season.
For a second-straight night at Citi Field, the Mets (3-4) left a multitude of opportunities beckoning in a 4-2 loss to the Boston Red Sox (3-4) on Thursday.
Just one night after leaving 11 men on-base in a 6-5 loss — which included an inability to plate two runs with the bases loaded and no outs in the ninth inning — the Mets left nine runners in a second-straight loss, which included them getting the lead-off man on-base in five of nine innings.
After going 1-for-10 with runners in scoring position on Thursday night, they are 3-for-23 over their last two games.
“We’re just getting a little anxious in those situations,” Mets manager Luis Rojas said. “Once we get there, we haven’t been able to get big hits to score the runs we really should be scoring.”
The culprits remained the same, too, as Michael Conforto struck out with one out and the tying run in a 3-2 game at the time on third in the eighth inning. That after he struck out in the ninth the night before to snuff out another promising rally.
“It’s a little bit of anxiety, just trying to do too much,” Rojas said of Conforto’s recent woes.
Rojas’ offense continues to sputter at Citi Field as they scored three or fewer runs for the fourth time in five games this season. The Mets could only muster four hits, two of them coming from Jeff McNeil, who also accounted for both RBI.
With little support, Steven Matz was saddled with the loss.
While he was hit hard for a majority of his outing — especially by Red Sox catcher Christian Vazquez, who launched two home runs in successive at-bats off the Mets’ southpaw in the first four innings — he kept the damage to a minimum.
He managed to get through 5.1 innings — including a strikeout of Vazquez in the sixth — allowing three runs on eight hits.
McNeil managed to break the trend of clutch-hitting ineptitude, at least for a moment, with the bases loaded and one out in the third inning. Following Vazquez’s first home run of the night in the second frame, McNeil slapped a single the other way into left field to score two and give Matz and the Mets the lead.
He was the only Met that could get to Red Sox starter Martin Perez, recording the only two hits the lefty would allow in 5.2 innings of work. While the Mets’ All-Star went 2-for-3 during Perez’s outing, the rest of his teammates were 0-for-15.
Matz wouldn’t keep the lead supplied by McNeil for long — and it would be the newest Met killer to come through again. Following a Xander Bogaerts infield single, Vazquez launched his second round-tripper of the night in the top of the fourth to put Boston ahead 3-2.
The Mets would squander a golden chance to at least tie the game in the seventh inning after a Robinson Cano lead-off single. He was pinch-run for Andres Gimenez, who quickly stole second, but Wilson Ramos, Brandon Nimmo, and Amed Rosario could not find a way to get him in.
They did it again in the eighth when a one-out JD Davis single advanced Pete Alonso, who had been hit by a pitch, to third. But Michael Conforto, who struck out in the ninth inning on Wednesday night to help kill the Mets’ rally, did so again for the second out of the inning.
After Yoenis Cespedes drew a walk to load the bases, Gimenez grounded out to let Boston off the hook.
“We trusted that he could hit for us,” Rojas said when asked about whether he considered pinch-hitting Gimenez for Dominic Smith, the Mets’ No. 1 bat off the bench.
The Red Sox grabbed insurance in the ninth off Mets closer Edwin Diaz, who’s nightmare in Queens continues. After loading the bases with one out, he hit Jose Peraza to bring home a run.