BUFFALO — For the past two weeks, it’s been just about all roses from this lineup, but Saturday night the Mets were a handful of dead dandelions.
Maybe it was the hangover effect after scoring 18 runs the previous night. For nearly 3 ½ hours they waited for a big hit that never arrived in a 3-2 loss to the Blue Jays at Sahlen Field that snapped their two-game winning streak.
A team that entered hitting a major league-best .346 with runners in scoring position in September reverted to its August ways. The Mets went 1-for-11 with runners in scoring position on this night and left seven runners on base.
Adding to the agony, Amed Rosario was picked off first base to conclude the game (it came on a replay challenge by the Blue Jays) after Rosario had struck out but reached first on Rafael Dolis’ wild pitch on strike three. The pickoff left Jeff McNeil standing at the plate.
Subtract Rosario’s three hits, and the Mets barely had a pulse. And yet they stayed in the game until late because of a decent start from Seth Lugo and shutdown bullpen performance. Miguel Castro was particularly effective in pitching 1 ¹/₃ hitless innings with three strikeouts.
The Mets (21-25) need to recover quickly and figure out how to win Sunday’s series finale. The regular season concludes two weeks from Sunday, and the Mets trail by two games in the race for a wild-card berth — in a crowded mix that also includes the Giants, Marlins, Cardinals, Brewers and Rockies.
In his fourth start, Lugo lasted 5 ¹/₃ innings and allowed three earned runs on seven hits and one walk with five strikeouts. The outing was Lugo’s longest since shifting to the rotation, but the Mets still need him to work deeper into games.
Chasen Shreve replaced Lugo in the sixth and watched Jonathan Villar hit a grounder between J.D. Davis and Rosario — both defenders stopped — for an RBI single that extended the Blue Jays’ led to 3-1.
Lugo expended plenty of energy in surviving the fifth, after loading the bases. Travis Shaw’s sacrifice fly put the Mets in a 2-1 hole after Lugo had walked Alejandro Kirk leading off the inning and Joe Panik and Cavan Biggio each singled with nobody out.
Lugo limited the damage to one run in the fourth after allowing three straight hits. The biggest play was Lugo grabbing Vladimir Guerrero Jr.’s bouncer and racing to an uncovered third base, just beating Travis Shaw to the bag. The Blue Jays challenged, but the call was upheld. Lugo retired the next two batters to keep it 1-1.
Randal Grichuk’s infield single was responsible for the run, after Shaw’s double to right-center wedged under the fence and Bo Bichette, who had scored, got sent back to third base, following a challenge by the Mets. Bichette’s single leading off the inning started the rally.
Jake Marisnick’s RBI double in the fourth gave the Mets their first run. It continued a hot stretch for Marisnick, who entered 9-for-23 (.409) since coming off the injured list on Aug. 28. Michael Conforto had reached second leading off the inning as Cavan Biggio booted his single to right field. Robinson Cano drew a two-out walk against Robbie Ray to extend the inning for Marisnick, who later departed the game with right hamstring tightness.