Nationals shock Mets with team-record rally in ninth inning

CLOSEAutoplayShow ThumbnailsShow CaptionsLast SlideNext SlideWASHINGTON — Shock and disbelief engulfed the visitors clubhouse. You could hear the occasional backpack zipper, or hangers clanking in a locker. But not much else. “When I came in here, I didn’t really know what just happened,” said Brandon Nimmo, the look on his face confirming that. “It kind of just seemed like a bad dream.”So much had happened, but there was little explanation. The Mets, once again, did the unthinkable — but not in a good way. Outside, they had entered the bottom of the ninth inning with a six-run lead. Many Nationals fans had left and a rather tame crowd remained. A half inning prior, fans booed their team for its poor performance. Those who stayed witnessed history.The Nationals on Tuesday broke a franchise record for the largest deficit overcome in a ninth inning. They won, 11-10, and celebrated like you would expect. The Mets slowly walked off the field, forced to face yet another debilitatingly painful loss — perhaps the worst yet. “This might be the toughest one of the season,” Jeff McNeil said. “We had it.” No better way to top off the bottom of the 9th. pic.twitter.com/9ISGncN4Md— Nationals on MASN (@masnNationals) September 4, 2019The multiple Mets who spoke to reporters after the game did not have much time to reflect on this one before a TV camera and recorders were shoved in their faces. But they probably will not have many answers for how the latest disaster occurred, if only because many have never experienced something like this. A seven-run ninth inning. Seven runs.“That’s hard to do even in a little league game, I feel like,” Nimmo said. “Come back from six runs down in the bottom of the ninth against guys throwing 99 mph. I don’t have words for that.”That it happened in a September game with postseason implications could make it tragic for the Mets, who fell to five games back of the second wild card spot. In many seasons that contain a postseason chase, there is usually a loss that is seen as the dagger. This could be the one. “Everybody’s pretty disappointed,” said Jacob deGrom, whose showdown with Washington ace Max Scherzer became the least important aspect of the night. “We let one get away there.” Before this, according to ESPN, MLB teams were 274-0 when leading by at least six runs entering the bottom of the ninth this season. Of 9,232 games in franchise history, this was the first in which the Mets blew a lead of at least six runs in the ninth, per MLB Network. “It’s been a crazy year,” the Nationals’ Ryan Zimmerman said. “That’s the only way to sum it up. For me, for the team, for everyone. It kind of fits into the narrative, I guess.”— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) September 4, 2019It’s not like the Mets became complacent throughout the game, either. No, they put up a five-spot in the top of the ninth, one that seemed to seal the game. The Mets have had some horrific losses this season. But they couldn’t possibly blow this, right? There was zero energy in the ballpark and a comeback seemed impossible after the Nationals had played a poor final few innings. Because the Mets piled on in the top half, Edwin Diaz sat down and Paul Sewald entered the game. He allowed two runs, but at the time, it never seemed those would matter. They probably wouldn’t have been written about if the result had held. “They got hits on the pitches that I threw,” Sewald said. “I felt really good, felt ready. Made some good pitches they got hits on. Made some bad pitches and they got hits on those, too. Just disappointed.”The Mets pulled him and put in Luis Avilán, who had a fantastic August. He gave up a single that loaded the bases. Um, what’s happening? Edwin Diaz trotted in, the last line of defense. He has had a brutal season but his last two outings were solid. Two pitches in, pinch-hitter Zimmerman smoked a two-run double. The stadium had some life, and apparently the Nationals did, too. But this couldn’t actually happen, right? DeGrom couldn’t help. Neither could Seth Lugo, who pitched the eighth and was pulled by manager Mickey Callaway because the Mets had such a large lead. In the outfield, Jeff McNeil helplessly watched and, as the tying run stepped into the batter’s box, he knew something terrible might loom. “Once they get the tying run up, anything can happen,” he said. “They took advantage.”More: Months after free agency fiasco, Craig Kimbrel and Dallas Keuchel are key players in NL pennant raceMore: MLB’s efforts to speed up play run into reality of modern game: ‘It’s not going to happen’Kurt Suzuki, the next batter, battled Diaz. The two went head to head for a couple minutes, and it resulted in a full count. On the eighth pitch, Suzuki hammered a 99.9-mph four-seamer to left field. “When I saw the ball,” Diaz said, “I just said: ‘This game is over.’ ” Eight Nationals went to the plate. The Mets got one out. The remaining fans went nuts when Suzuki’s walk-off landed. The Nationals crowded around home waiting to greet the hero. “With the at-bats everyone was putting on that inning, I didn’t want to kill the rally,” Suzuki said. “I wanted to come through just like everyone else was.”And the Mets were left with another heartbreaking loss in a season full of them. “Definitely hard to wrap your head around,” Nimmo said. “It’s really tough,” McNeil said. “It’s disappointing to let down the team,” Sewald said. “I mean, it’s tough,” Callaway said. “It’s going to be tough to digest tonight. But we have to do it, right? We’ve had to digest several, and you’ve got to come out tomorrow and win the series.”“That’s a tough loss,” deGrom said. “I’m sure guys are going to be pretty upset until it’s time to play tomorrow.”Again, this might be the worst loss of the season. Diaz imploded in Los Angeles in May, then did so again in Philadelphia less than a month later. There have been too many blown leads, too many late-inning debacles with different players at fault. But none of those, in theory, seemed like it could effectively end the season. This one, if only because of its proximity to October, does. The Mets will probably need a second miracle to play after this month. If it can be done once, perhaps it can be done again. They’ll hope so, because there is nothing else they can do. They are forced to reconcile this, to come to grips with another inexplicable result. As Nimmo said, there might not be much they can do for one another at the moment. “Just because we’re encouraging each other,” he said, “doesn’t make it feel any better.”The Mets must find a way to flush it. They play again on Wednesday afternoon, and that game will tell if the shock still exists and if the gut-punch was too much for a group that has labeled itself as resilient all season. “We gotta win every game from here on out,” McNeil said. Back in the Mets clubhouse, there were not many answers for an epic collapse. Only pain and anguish. Contributing: Associated PressAutoplayShow ThumbnailsShow CaptionsLast SlideNext Slide

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