Extra Innings, Extra Pain for Mets

Mets battle back and then lose to Nationals in 12th inning

By Josh Alper
|  Wednesday, Jun 6, 2012  |  Updated 8:25 AM EDT
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A long way to go for a painful outcome.

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On Tuesday night in Washington, the Mets showed a little bit of the resiliency that has lifted them within striking distance of first place.

Down 3-0 early, the Mets battled their way back into the game and grabbed a 4-3 lead in the top of the eighth inning. Homers by Jordany Valdespin and David Wright set the table for the Andres Torres triple that put the Mets six outs away from grabbing a share of first.

They'd wind up getting 14 more outs, but that win would never come. After showing off this year's resiliency, the Mets decided to dial up a comedy of errors that felt like a vintage selection from the Mets follies.

Tim Byrdak and Frank Francisco combined to hand the lead right back in the bottom of the eighth inning and the game lurched into the extra innings where it seemed like the Mets would figure out a way. They did, but it was a way to lose the game instead of winning it.

A wild pitch gave the Mets a 5-4 lead in the 10th, but they gave it back with an inning of defense as painful as any in the history of the game. Valdespin, playing short because the Mets do not have a shortstop of any quality, made two errors and Ike Davis blew a double play ball to let the Nats tie things back up.

Scott Hairston homered in the 12th but there wasn't anyone left in the Mets bullpen to finish the thing off. Elvin Ramirez went out for a second inning, largely because the Mets didn't make a roster move to get Jon Rauch on DL, and the game went away.

Two doubles, one intentional walk, one non-intentional walk that Nats pitcher Ross Detwiler seemed hellbent on wasting by trying to bunt ball four and then a Bryce Harper single for a 7-6 Nationals win.

The defensive foibles and relief hijinx are all too familiar to seasoned Mets watchers as are the reasons for their existence. The lack of a shortstop is less damning, there aren't many teams that have five shortstops ready to play in the bigs on their 40-man roster, than the lack of an extra reliever.

Rauch was found to have debris in his right elbow and stayed in New York, which makes it impossible to understand why the Mets didn't disable him and keep a full bullpen. The recent past of the Mets is filled with rosters playing one or two men short because the team didn't react quickly enough to injuries.

Taking that old chestnut out of mothballs cost them a shot at first place on Tuesday. It's time to go back to the future so that it doesn't start happening over and over again.

Josh Alper is a writer living in New York City. You can follow him on Twitter and he is also a contributor to Pro Football Talk.

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