Mets Lose Momentum, Ground, and Precious Time

Vintage Wainwright, wasted opportunities doom Mets vs. Cards

Things aren’t looking great, friends. It ain’t over ‘til it’s over, but it’s getting awfully close. Let’s start from the top.

The fact that Adam Wainwright ended up turning in a Hall of Very Good career after etching his name in the history books by striking out Carlos Beltran with the bases loaded to send the St. Louis Cardinals to the 2006 World Series may offer a sliver of solace for those who remember that night like it was tattooed behind their eyes (at least he wasn’t a scrub, right?). Probably not, though.

For those fans who may not remember that evening so well, Vintage Waino was on full display on Monday night at Citi Field to fill that gap, shutting out the Mets for six innings, while working around four base hits and three walks with his just-as-awesome-as-it-was-15-years-ago curveball dropping at will.

Despite some baffling breaking stuff, New York hit Wainwright hard throughout the night and certainly had opportunities to change the evening’s vibe (0-for-7 with runners in scoring position, nine left on base). But the veteran right-hander just kept navigating around trouble.

The Mets loaded the bases in the first, taking advantage of early command issues on Wainwright’s part, but Jeff McNeil went down swinging to end the frame. McNeil went 5-for-10 in the Yankees series but is still searching to find the stroke that everyone’s accustomed to (0-for-4 on Monday).

After the win, Wainwright expanded on the McNeil at-bat and even had time to toss a little jab the fans’ way. Vicious.

Michael Conforto lined out sharply with two men on in the fifth and that was pretty much the extent of the pressure the Mets put on Waino.

A brief respite from that presented itself upon Alex Reyes’ arrival in the eighth. With the Mets down 3-0, Reyes issued a leadoff walk to Francisco Lindor and Conforto singled, but Pete Alonso, Javier Baez, and McNeil all went down swinging against the 27-year-old right-hander to end the threat.

Mets manager Luis Rojas spoke about the offense stalling out in the eighth after the game.

“Reyes [has] got special stuff,” he said. “Our momentum got stopped a little bit. We thought — like we’ve done a lot of times in the past — that we were gonna come back and close the gap a little bit […] Not the case tonight. Last six outs, big strikeouts.”

Following the letdown, St. Louis tacked on four more in the ninth off of Yennsy Diaz, and the Mets lost by a touchdown.

With San Diego’s loss to San Francisco (Giants clinched a postseason berth with the win) and nights off for Cincinnati and Atlanta, the Mets dropped to 3 1/2 games back in the NL Wild Card and 5 1/2 back of the Braves in the division.

Wasted opportunities have become synonymous with this year’s edition of the Metropolitans. We can probably rattle off a half-dozen off the tops of our collective heads right now… See? Easy.

That wasn’t the case over the first half of the season when the Bench Mob and the pitching staff were carrying this team, but they play 162 for a reason. Over the course of the season, vulnerabilities were exposed, injuries continued to strike, August happened — you know, baseball.

Sure, guys dug themselves out of holes (Lindor, Conforto), and some just flat out balled (Alonso, Marcus Stroman), but underperformance will remain the prime culprit in derailing this once-promising season.

Though, with 17 games left and the four teams ahead of the Mets not looking all that unstoppable, there’s always time left for a little magic. LFGM.

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