Close, but no victory belt.
In this season of missed opportunities for the Mets, a glaring statistic has been the team’s recent shortcomings in one-run games. The Mets entered Saturday with losses in 15 of their past 17 games that had been decided by one run, just another reason their postseason chances have all but evaporated.
“Those come down to one or two plays of execution and it comes down to the smallest things,” Brandon Nimmo said. “I don’t know how many one-run ballgames we’ve had this year, but it sure feels like a lot and those are just where it comes down to the little things.”
Overall, the Mets were 28-32 in one-run games this season — a testament to the team’s solid pitching, when considering the underperforming nature of the lineup. It’s a lineup that was averaging 3.96 runs per game, which ranked 27th in MLB entering play. The Marlins, Rangers and Pirates, all of whom were finished in their respective division races by the All-Star break, were the only teams behind the Mets.
On this homestand, the Mets were 1-3 in one-run games — with losses to the Yankees, Cardinals and Phillies. Flip those numbers and the Mets would have felt better about their long odds of catching the Braves. The three-time defending NL East champions began play with a 5 ½-game lead on the Mets. The Phillies were only two games back.
Manager Luis Rojas cited the Mets’ season-long woes with runners in scoring position as the biggest culprit in the one-run losses. The Mets entered play with a .698 OPS with runners in scoring position, which ranked 27th in MLB.
“I think the runners in scoring position situation is the one that has probably haunted us in the one-run games,” Rojas said. “We can only ask so much from our pitchers, starters and relievers, always pitching in games they are down one run, tie games … relievers as well, coming in high-stress or clutch situations and one pitch here and there and there is the difference.”
The Braves’ sluggish September play — they were 6-8 for the month entering Saturday night’s game in San Francisco — to some degree had left the Mets wondering “what if?” as this final two-week stretch of the season is set to begin.
“We’ve had a lot of missed opportunities,” Rojas said. “There have been some favorable combinations [of other teams losing], I think, the nights that we have lost games. We find that out afterwards or early in the day when we play the night game and we just don’t come through on our side, which is the most important thing.”
Nimmo will hope for a miracle.
“We’re not mathematically out, crazy things have happened in the past,” Nimmo said. “They have made movies about it. It can happen. That’s the mindset you take into it.
“All those inspirational sports shows that you see, where everybody counted [teams] out and they ended up coming through. That is one of the beautiful things about sports and one of the reasons that I love it is that it’s not over until it’s over, so we’ll keep fighting.”