What does it say when a team’s most valuable contributors while facing the defending World Series champions is a rookie shortstop and a utility infielder whose career average heading into the night was just .222?
It means that the New York Mets’ most important bats came up lame yet again.
The Mets (7-11) lost their second-straight to the Nationals (6-7) on Wednesday night in a 2-1 result, spoiling another solid outing from Rick Porcello and the contributions from rookie shortstop Andres Gimenez and second baseman Luis Guillorme.
After picking up his 150th career win last week to stymie a horrid start to his Mets career, Porcello was solid yet again, allowing two runs on eight hits in six innings of work while striking out five and walking none.
It still wasn’t enough against the Nationals and their ace, Max Scherzer, who overcame a shaky start to suppress the Mets to just one run over six innings himself — though he was let off the hook at times by New York’s inconsistent and unreliable star bats.
The Mets left another seven men on-base against the Nationals, including five in the first two innings while forcing Scherzer to throw 60 pitches during that stretch.
“I thought we took some good at-bats. We took some deep counts,” Rojas said. “The guys were able to get deep in counts and create some traffic, draw some walks, and we weren’t able to get that big hit and start scoring early.”
Their only offense came in the form of Guillorme’s sacrifice fly in the fourth inning that drove in Andres Gimenez, who got something going with a one-out triple off Scherzer.
Gimenez and Guillorme were also stellar in the field, combining to start three double plays that continuously helped Porcello get out of trouble.
“It’s always fun to play with someone who plays defense similar to you,” Guillorme said of his partnership with Gimenez. “We both have fun out there, we’re both loose, and we try to do the best we can.”
Two of those three double plays came at the expense of the speedy Trea Turner, which was the first time in his career that he grounded into multiple twin killings in a single game.
“It gives you a lot of confidence to attack the zone, induce contact,” Porcello said. “You’re not pitching for the swing and miss because these guys are gobbling up everything behind you.”
“Those are momentum stoppers,” Rojas added
Getting to the Nationals bullpen in the seventh inning, Guillorme followed up his sacrifice fly with a lead-off double in the seventh inning off Javy Guerra, which was followed by a Brandon Nimmo walk after Pete Alonso’s pinch-hit pop-out failed to get the Mets’ man in scoring position to third.
Guerra was subsequently replaced by Tanner Rainey, who induced an inning-ending double play from Jeff McNeil — who is usually the bat the Mets want up in such a situation.
So has been the theme for the Mets in 2020 as they have now left 149 men on-base in 18 games.
“It’s been frustrating,” Porcello said. “We’ve lost a lot of close games. It’s one of those tough things because you’re not playing terrible baseball… we just need something to get us over the hump.”
“You just have to ride out that storm until something good happens.”
For the Mets’ starter, if he had any momentum from his previous outing, it looked as though it evaporated instantaneously when Trea Turner led the game off with a home run into the right-field seats on the second pitch he saw.
Washington snagged another run in the second when Victor Robles blooped a two-out single down the left-field line, scoring Howie Kendrick before he was thrown out trying to stretch it into a double to end the inning.
“Unfortunately, we came up a little short, those two runs early really came back to haunt us,” Porcello said.
But the former Cy Young Award winner once again bore down following a shaky start, going the next four innings without allowing a run to keep the Mets very much in things.
“Tonight I think we played some really good baseball… we didn’t get the big hit,” Rojas said. “Our struggles, they’ve been real so far in our first 18 games. That’s something we must get better at.”