Mets exposed as playoff dream is all but over

In the long goodbye to this Mets season, the culpability is widespread.

The starting rotation and bullpen aren’t deep enough, and on too many recent nights this often potent lineup hasn’t shown up, or at least not until too late. All conspired Wednesday night to put an ugly exclamation on the home portion of the Mets’ schedule.

Their slim postseason chances withered further with an 8-5 loss to the Rays at Citi Field for a fourth setback in six games on the homestand. The Mets are finished at home in 2020 and now pin playoff hopes on sweeping four games in Washington beginning Thursday, coupled with some combination of Mars, Jupiter and Neptune aligning.

The Mets trail the Marlins by three games for second place in the NL East, which carries an automatic postseason berth. The Phillies are sandwiched in between, only a half-game behind Miami. The wild-card race is just as problematic; the Giants began play leading the Mets by three games for the final spot, with the Phillies and Brewers in between.

“To be where we are at right now, we are obviously not too happy,” Dominic Smith said.

Andres Gimenez and Smith each homered during the competitive phase of the game. Todd Frazier blasted a two-run homer with two outs in the ninth after the Mets had fallen into an 8-2 hole entering the inning. The Mets (25-31) averaged only two runs in their four losses on the homestand. But they were worse on the other side, allowing an average of eight runs in those losses.

“We have been challenged in a lot of areas,” manager Luis Rojas said. “Especially with the starting pitching, that was one of the things that built up. We were playing catch-up a lot of times.”

Luis Rojas' Mets fell to the Tampa Bay Rays tonight.
Luis Rojas’ Mets fell to the Tampa Bay Rays tonight.Charles Wenzelberg/New York Post

The Rays, who clinched their first AL East crown since 2010, celebrated with confetti and high-fives on the field.

Michael Wacha wasn’t particularly sharp, but kept the Mets in the game by allowing four earned runs on six hits over six innings. The stinger came in the sixth on Randy Arozarena’s two-run homer that snapped a 2-2 tie.

“It’s just frustrating, must-win games here and I just didn’t get it done here tonight,” Wacha said.

Wacha (1-4) previously had not recorded an out in the sixth inning of a start all season. In recent weeks he has bounced between starter and reliever, as Rojas has tried to patch up a bleeding rotation. Rojas’ other primary option to start, Steven Matz, flopped in his return to the rotation last Friday and rates among the team’s biggest disappointments this season. Matz entered for mop-up duty in the ninth and surrendered a solo homer to Arozarena.

Chasen Shreve, a bright spot in the Mets bullpen for most of this season, surrendered a two-run homer to Brandon Lowe in the eighth that gave the Rays plenty of cushion.

Smith tied it 2-2 in the fourth with a mammoth homer into the second deck in right field. The blast was Smith’s 10th of the season, joining him with Pete Alonso and Robinson Cano as the Mets players in double digits. Alonso hit homer No. 13 a night earlier. Cano has 10 homers.

Gimenez’s homer in the second had tied it 1-1. It was just the latest loud hit by the shortstop, who figures to garner votes in the National League Rookie of the Year balloting.

Joey Wendle homered in the second for the game’s first run. The Rays added another run in the third on Lowe’s RBI fielder’s choice. Alonso’s throw home was just behind Manuel Margot, who raced home from third. Margot had opened the inning with a bunt single and reached third on Mike Zunino’s double.

“We’ve still have a shot with the four games left and we’re competing, we’re going to do what we do,” Rojas said. “Just keep fighting like they did in that ninth inning there.”

tinyurlis.gdclck.ruulvis.netshrtco.de