Mets bullpen delivers another brutal loss as Diamondbacks rally in the ninth to split series

The Mets lost to the Arizona Diamondbacks 5-4 thanks to a go-ahead two-run homer by Diamondbacks second baseman Ketel Marte.
AP Photo/Seth Wenig

In a season full of heartbreaking losses, the New York Mets managed to deliver yet another one Sunday, as lefty reliever Jake Diekman allowed a go-ahead two-run homer to Ketel Marte in the ninth inning to turn a 4-3 Mets lead into an eventual 5-4 Diamondbacks victory.

This marked the Mets’ sixth loss this season in a game they led after eight innings, the most in the majors. All have taken place since May 1. So far this season, the Mets bullpen has blown 11 saves.

After Jose Quintana lasted just four innings, the Mets bullpen had shut out Arizona for four innings before Diekman allowed a pinch-hit double to Gabriel Moreno and a go-ahead homer to Marte, his second of the day after leading off with a homer. Dedniel Núñez, Danny Young, Reed Garrett and Adam Ottavino combined to strike out nine batters and allow just two hits before Diekman melted down.

“I don’t feel I’ve executed well enough in certain situations,” Diekman said. “The homer, if it’s two more inches in, it might be a swing and miss, it might be a double down the line and they only score one, so that’s different. I like how everything moved today. It was just the execution.” 

“You got to be perfect there,” Mets manager Carlos Mendoza said. “I thought the bullpen did a hell of a job piecing it together all the way to the ninth inning, where we couldn’t get the last three outs. I thought the bullpen guys threw the ball really well before that ninth inning.”

The Mets fell behind early 3-0 after first-inning homers by Ketel Marte and Lourdes Gurriel Jr. and a RBI groundout by Kevin Newman in the second inning. But they counter-punched with a four-spot in the third inning, thanks to a two-out RBI single by Pete Alonso, a two-run triple by Brandon Nimmo just out of reach of the diving right fielder Randal Grichuk and another RBI triple by J.D. Martinez off the wall in deep left center field. 

The Mets entered Sunday’s game with just two triples on the season, including one by Starling Marte Friday, before Nimmo and Martinez hit back-to-back triples. For Martinez, 37, it was the 24th triple of his career. He had two last season with the Dodgers.

After averaging no more than 0.6 home runs allowed per nine innings each of the last two seasons, that number has more than doubled so far this year for Quintana, who entered Sunday’s game with 1.4 home runs per nine. Quintana has allowed eight homers over 29 innings in his last five starts. In 75.2 innings last season, Quintana allowed just five home runs.

Jose Quintana looks on after allowing a leadoff home run to Marte in the first inning of Sunday’s loss. AP Photo/Seth Wenig

Command also continued to be an issue for Quintana in his start. In addition to walking three batters, he also hit two. Going into Sunday’s game, he had hit two batters all season. 

Quintana allowed a leadoff homer to Ketel Marte in the first. Two batters later, Lourdes Gurriel Jr., who was a late scratch from Saturday’s game due to flu-like symptoms, hit a bomb of his own. After a leadoff walk and double in the second, Dbacks shortstop Kevin Newman drove in a run on a groundout, but Quintana managed to limit the damage, stranding two runners in the inning. He also got into and out of trouble in the fourth inning, working around a one-out single by Newman and back-to-back two-out walks by Marte and Corbin Carroll to get Gurriel to fly out to center field with the bases loaded.

“I think [I’m throwing] too many pitches down the middle and I think at some points I’m missing my spots,” Quintana said. “I’m trying to make adjustments to limit the homers. Get the ball down and hit better spots.” 

After throwing 84 pitches across four innings, Quintana was pulled prior to the start of the fifth for Núñez. After allowing three runs on four hits with three walks and two hit batsmen, Quintana’s season E.R.A. went up from 5.06 to 5.17. His inability to pitch deep into games caused Mendoza to turn to the bullpen early.

“I thought [Quintana] battled, but 84 pitches through four innings, he had to work,” Mendoza said. “I think he was at times maybe a little bit too fine and they made him work.” 

Marte went three-for-three Sunday with the two home runs, three RBI, a walk and hit by pitch. The Mets had managed to keep Marte, one of the Diamondbacks’ best hitters, at check through the first three games of the series before Sunday’s game, holding him to two hits in 11 at-bats.

Diamondbacks pitcher Bradon Pfaadt allowed four runs in innings, striking out eight Mets batters. Outside of the third inning, he was nearly untouchable. Four of the five hits and one of the two walks he allowed on the day came in the four-run third inning. The only other hit he allowed, a two-out single by D.J. Stewart, came with two outs in the sixth inning. It also proved to be the Mets’ last hit of the game.

Former Met Paul Sewald — who made headlines Saturday after the Diamondbacks’ win when, according to the New York Post, he got into a shouting match with a heckling Mets fan — recorded the save for Arizona. 

Marte and former Met Paul Sewald celebrate the Diamondbacks’ comeback win Sunday. AP Photo/Seth Wenig

After wrapping up a 3-7 homestand, the 24-35 Mets will go to D.C. and begin a three-game series against the Nationals. After off days on Thursday and Friday, the team will be traveling to London for two games against the Phillies.

With the way the Mets keep finding heartbreaking ways to lose games just over one-third of the way into the season, many fans may prefer the team not come back from their trip across the pond.