Flushing, NY: By all means six games with the Mets and Nationals does not determine who will eventually prevail in the NL East. And after the Mets lost the rubber game of three against the Nationals Sunday afternoon at Citi Field, it can be determined both teams are even.
This three-game series that went to the Nationals, a 12-9 win in the finale, showed flaws again of the Nationals bullpen. Look at it this way, a 12-1 lead in the seventh inning was not safe. The Mets had a five-run seventh inning and a three-run ninth that made it tight.
Attribute the fight again of these Mets. They came back Saturday and used five home runs to show there was no quit. Sunday, though, it was different circumstances because Zack Wheeler had no command on the mound from the beginning. Mets pitching combined to issue a season-high 12 walks.
The Nationals bullpen, with the worst ERA in baseball, they contributed again and helped the Mets continue their fight and use that no quit attitude. The Nationals and Mets have split six games in the early season and many more will be played to determine things in September with the Phillies and Braves all expected to be involved in the NL East picture.
And it can be determined, again with certainty, both teams have work to do with their bullpens before they meet again next month. Next to the Dodgers, the Mets shave scored more runs than any other team from the seventh inning on. Again that shows fight with the Mets and the attitude of no quit.
The clubs will play 13 of their 19 games in April and May and not see each other again until August 9.
“Six games against the Nationals we’re not going to back down,” manager Mickey Callaway said about his team. “We’re fighting back. They have a good team just as good as we are. We’re not gonna back down from them.”
“It was just an embarrassing day for me,” Wheeler said. The right-hander put the Mets in a hole when the Nationals knocked his fastball in a five-run second inning.
“One of those ones that you just forget and look forward to your next start,” Wheeler said. Also, similar to the Nationals, is that bullpen of the Mets. Tim Peterson allowed five walks. Luis Avilan hit a batter and Anthony Rendon followed with a three-rum homer.
So in a sense, both teams are even when it comes to early season struggles out of the bullpen. Callaway believes his bullpen will come around. He is also not concerned about the mediocrity of Zack Wheeler.
However, these division rivals also understand that pitching will ultimately get you to the top. Time will tell who has the advantage on the mound. For now the Mets and Nationals showed in six games they are about even.
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