Heading into Sunday night’s series finale of the three-game set with the Washington Nationals in Citi Field, the New York Mets had dropped three straight and seven of eighth overall as they dealt with a number of injuries that left their roster depleted.
Mets’ skipper Terry Collins addressed the recent struggles, which followed a five-game winning streak, after the 3-1 loss to the Nationals on Saturday afternoon, which saw his team held to just two hits by Gio Gonzalez, three relievers, and, the Mets’ manager noted, the Nats’ defense.
“We’re just not finding holes,” Collins said.
“If we hit a ball it seems like it’s at somebody. [Adam] Eaton made two good plays in left field. The center fielder [Michael A. Taylor] made a nice play in right-center.
“I mean, you give credit, this is the big leagues, guys are supposed to catch the ball, and they’re a talented team, but we can’t seem to find any holes at all.”
Salvaging the series finale, and bringing a halt to the losing streak, Collins said, was a big deal.
“It’s huge. It’s huge,” he repeated.
“We haven’t played well back here. But again, we’ve pitched okay, we just haven’t hit.”
The Nationals, on the other hand, entered the third game of three in New York with six straight wins overall and a 12-5 mark on the year.
Five games into a ten-game, three-city road trip that began in Atlanta, the Nationals were 5-0 before Sunday’s finale in New York, and rolling.
“Every good team, you have to play good on the road,” Baker said on Saturday, “and so we’re getting a good head start on the road. You want to be .500 or better on the road, most of my teams are.
“Most of it is sheer determination and playing good ball and you have to have good pitching, you have to have good bullpen help, because the ninth inning is tough, the bottom of the ninth. And so on the road that bottom of the ninth is — even when I was a kid, me and my brother would play who had last ups, and he’d always want first ups and I’d always want last ups.”
The Nationals got good pitching again on Sunday night, with Max Scherzer going eight strong, giving up five hits and three runs.
Scherzer took the mound with a 4-0 lead courtesy of Daniel Murphy, who continued to torment his former employers with a first-inning grand slam that provided all the runs the Nationals would need.
Ryan Zimmerman added some insurance runs in the eighth, with a two-run blast that put it out of reach after the Mets rallied to get within one and kept it close.
Koda Glover finished the Mets off in the ninth (after Oliver Perez gave up a leadoff single), and the Nationals made if seven-straight overall, six straight on the road trip and three-straight in New York in their second straight series sweep.
Washington guaranteed a winning road trip with Sunday’s win, with four to go in Coors Field in Colorado before they come home, and dealt a blow to their reeling NL East rivals on Sunday night.
Collins tried to put it all in perspective when he spoke to reporters after the Mets’ fourth straight loss and eighth loss in their last nine.
“I look at the last 10 games, and we’re a single and a homer from winning every game,” Collins said, as quoted by New York Daily News’ writer John Harper.
“We’re only giving up two, three runs, so I do believe we have the ability to take off. You win nine or 10 and you’re right back in it.”
“Now, they’ve got a good team, no question about it. But every team goes through a bad streak. What we’ve gotta do is say this is ours and when it’s done we’re going to get back in this hunt.”
While acknowledging that the Nationals beat a less-than-full-strength Mets, Baker told reporters he was happy to get the sweep and improve to 6-0 on the road trip.
“We’ll take it,” Baker said, as quoted by MASN’s Mark Zuckerman. “Even though they were without probably a quarter of the team.”
“The Mets have a good team. They’re going to be heard from as soon as they get everybody back.
“But in the meantime, nobody gives any sympathy in this league, and you’ve got to make hay when you can.”
With the win over the Mets, the Nationals improved to 13-5 so far this year, 7-2 on the road, and 11-4 against their NL East rivals early in 2017, after going 51-25 against their divisional rivals last season.
Up next, four with the Rockies in Colorado’s Coors Field, starting at 8:40 PM EDT tonight.
We talked about the Nationals’ win, toad trip and more on Nats Nightly after the game: