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The 10-game perk that the Mets held on June 1 is a distant memory. The 2½-game lead the Mets rebuilt as recently as Friday has broken down.
With seven games to play — three of which against each other — it is a clean sheet in NL East. The Mets and Braves are all tied up, setting the stage for a dramatic last week that manager Buck Showalter’s Mets wanted to avoid.
The Mets dug a hole in the first inning they never got out of and lost 6-4 to the Marlins on Tuesday for 29,067 at Citi Field, only their third loss in the past 11 games, losing their division lead.
The Mets and Braves hold identical records (97-58) ahead of the Mets series final against the Marlins and Atlanta’s series final in Washington on Wednesday. The Braves, who won Tuesday, will host the Mets this weekend, though the timing and possibly location of the series are up in the air as Hurricane Ian is expected to pass through Georgia later in the week.
Carlos Carrasco, who fights with Taijuan Walker to be the No. 4 starter in the playoffs, stepped in on Tuesday as the better pitcher this month. He went on to seriously hurt his argument.
The 35-year old gave up four runs in three innings – and was probably lucky enough to limit the damage to four – while giving up six basehits and a walk and hitting a batter through 67 pitches.
He loaded the bases in both the first and second inning, although he was burned only in the first. The sacrifice fly by Bryan De La Cruz scored a run and a wild pitch accounted for a second run.
Carrasco escaped a baseless jam in the second inning by causing a 1-2-3 double play by Miguel Rojas before Brian Anderson grounded out.
But his brief luck evaporated in the third inning, when a flat four-seam fastball—one of many pitches from Carrasco that didn’t have their usual speed—to Garrett Cooper resulted in a two-run home run that was in right field. foul post for a 4-0 deficit.
Pete Alonso tried to bring the Mets back into the game with a three-run homerun to left field in the fourth inning to become the first Met in franchise history to record multiple seasons of 40 home runs. But Alonso – who increased his RBI count to 131 and surpassed Aaron Judge (128) as Major League leader – couldn’t do it all.
The Mets struggled the rest of the way against the Marlins’ staff. Pablo Lopez, an otherwise solid starter who had fought the Mets this season (11.34 ERA in four starts before Tuesday), was outstanding for six innings, in which his lone error came against Alonso.
The Mets hit only until the fourth, which was only one of the two innings in which they put a runner in scoring position.
The Mets scored in the eighth in a bizarre series in which Jeff McNeil singled and was hindered all the way home. The first base umpire, John Tumpane, made a continuous call to left-handed Richard Bleier, and the appearance resulted in an irate Marlins manager Don Mattingly being ejected after several minutes of pointing and yelling at the umpires.
Bleir caused Alonso to ground out to end the inning, before the pitcher was also ejected after confronting the umpiring crew.
While the public enjoyed it, the Mets were buried too far to take advantage.
The Marlins had filled their lead against Trevor Williams in the fifth inning when they got the bases loaded for Jacob Stallings, who lined out with two runs to right-center to make it 6-3.
From Carrasco to Williams to Tylor Megill – who pitched a scoreless eighth inning but walked twice and was out of control – it was a rough night for Mets pitchers trying to secure the roles after the season.
Only David Peterson, who was also wild but effective, for two scoreless innings, acquitted himself decently when vying for a bullpen job.
The Mets turn to Walker on Wednesday, which is an opportunity for the right-wing to grab the No. 4 spot in the rotation — and for the Mets to try and reclaim the No. 1 spot in the division.
But the Mets have learned that they can’t rely on the Braves to lose. If the Mets want to win the NL East, they will probably have to beat Atlanta themselves.