Saturday, July 27, 2013

We Don't Need No Stinkin' Walk-Offs

Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images North America

After playing their best game of the season in the first game of Friday's day-night doubleheader, whitewashing the Nationals, 11-0, the Mets dropped the second contest to Washington, 2-1, losing the game when Ryan Zimmerman took a LaTroy Hawkins offering over the wall in right field.

The heartbreaking defeat was the Mets' ninth walk-off loss of the year in their 100th game.  That's only three shy of the dozen walk-off losses the Mets suffered in 2010, a year in which the Mets seemingly lost every game on the road in walk-off fashion.

With the loss, the Mets dropped to 46-54.  That means one-sixth of their losses have come with their opponents celebrating in front of their home crowd by throwing their hands up in the air and waving them around like they just don't care.  To make matters worse, the Mets actually have a winning record on the road (25-24) despite all the walk-off losses.

Just imagine where the Mets would be if they had just won five of those nine games they lost via the walk-off.  For one thing, they'd be 30-19 away from home, which would be the best road record in the majors (St. Louis currently has the best record on the road at 30-21).  Winning those five games would also have given the Mets an overall record of 51-49.  The team would be in second place in the NL East and would be within sniffing distance of the division-leading Braves.

And what about losses at Citi Field in which the opponent scored the decisive run in their final turn at bat, which don't count as walk-off losses but are just as painful and avoidable?  Just this past Monday, the Mets blew a 1-0 ninth-inning lead to Atlanta when Bobby Parnell allowed two runs before he could get the final three outs.  The team has also lost four extra-inning games at home, including a 20-inning defeat to the Marlins on June 8 and a 15-inning loss to the Diamondbacks on the Fourth of July.  In the latter contest, the Mets rallied to tie the game in the 13th and 14th innings, only to see the bullpen allow an extra-inning run for the third consecutive frame in the 15th.  New York did not have a third overtime rally in them that day.

Other games at Citi Field that saw the Mets give up the decisive run in their opponent's final turn at bat include a 3-2 loss to the Dodgers on April 25 (Los Angeles scored two runs in the ninth), a 7-4 defeat to the Reds on May 22 (Cincinnati scored three times in the ninth), and a 6-4 heartbreaker to the Nationals on June 28 (Washington scored twice in the ninth).  The most recent home loss in which the Mets allowed the winning run to score in their opponents' final at-bat came this past Monday, as mentioned above, when Atlanta scored two runs in the ninth inning to turn an uplifting 1-0 victory in to an ugly 2-1 defeat.

In all, the Mets have lost 17 games in which their opponent scored the winning run in their final turn at bat (nine walk-offs, four extra-inning home losses, four home losses in which the decisive run was scored in the ninth inning).  That's almost one-third of their loss total for the season.  Had the Mets just won nine of those 17 games - which is barely more than half - they'd have a 55-45 record.  And if two of those nine wins had come against the Braves (in addition to last Monday's ninth-inning debacle to Atlanta, the Mets also let a 1-0 ninth-inning lead slip away in Atlanta on June 17, which became one of their nine walk-off losses), Atlanta's record would not have been 58-45.  Rather, it would have been 56-47, meaning the Mets would be in first place right now.  And all they had to do was win roughly one-half of the games they lost in their opponent's final at-bat.

The Braves have four walk-off losses in 2013.  The Nationals have five.  The Phillies have six.  The Mets have nine.  And don't forget those eight additional losses at home in which the Mets allowed the decisive run to score in the ninth inning or later.

We don't need no stinkin' walk-offs like last night's loss at Nationals Park.  We also don't need no stinkin' losses at home when the games are there for the taking in the late innings.  Should those types of losses continue, the Mets are going to miss out on what could have been an unexpected successful season.  And that would be the biggest stink of them all. 

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