Chris Young's pitching gave the Mets reason to smile on Sunday. Unfortunately he wasn't able to pick up three more hits or serve as his own reliever during the contest as well.
D.J. Carrasco blew a 3-1 lead, Blaine Boyer got rocked in the 11th inning and the offense got just one runner on base of their own volition after the fifth inning in a 7-3 loss to the Nationals. A big part of the problem was the team's complete inability to make contact with the ball.
The Mets struck out 17 times on Sunday afternoon and 34 times over the course of the three game series. That's a pretty shocking and depressing number given the fact that the Nationals didn't run Nolan Ryan, Roger Clemens, Walter Johnson or Henry Rowengartner out on the mound at any point this weekend.
Even with that massive multi-stage failure at the plate, the Mets found themselves in solid shape when they entered the eighth inning of Sunday's game. Then Carrasco happened and Boyer followed and a weekend that could have given the Mets a little more wind in their sails after a decent first week turned into mostly reasons to doubt the team.
There's nothing quite so deflating as watching a team that's unable to keep the other team from scoring runs in the late innings of close games. The Mets failed miserably on Sunday and they also failed on Friday when Washington rallied for three eighth inning runs to turn a close game into a comfortable victory.
It is wrong to totally eviscerate Boyer, Carrasco or Tim Byrdak (Friday's main culprit) for their ineffectiveness. It would be nice if they were better, but the Mets knew who these guys were when they decided to bring them along from Port St. Lucie.
The problem is that the Mets don't have a relief corps that misses enough bats. When you consistently allow balls in play, you risk Lucas Duda misplaying one in right or a blooper finding a home.
Those issues will only be exacerbated when the bullpen is getting used as early and as often as the Mets bullpen figures to get used this season. Young's been great twice and Chris Capuano exceeded expectations on Saturday, but this isn't a rotation that's going to take care of enough work all by themselves.
As a result, you can expect to see a lot of transactions like the ones that followed Sunday's game. Boyer was designated for assignment, Duda was sent to Triple-A and Jason Isringhausen and Ryota Igarashi were summoned to replace them.
That's not going to solve the problem, not unless the Mets get to play intrasquad games that count in the standings. That's the only way they are going to start piling up strikeouts.
Everyone's interested to see what Izzy has left in the tank, especially with the prospect of a successful return to Queens making for a nice bookend to his flameout as a youngster. The fact that the team is holding out hope for an arm that's been through countless wringers says quite a bit about the status of the roster, though.
It's far too early to abandon all hope in the 2011 Mets. There's a bit less wind in the sails at this hour, however.