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No encore for Mets as bats fall flat in Buffalo

@alysonfooter
September 12, 2020

Coming off a landslide win in their opener with the Blue Jays, the Mets were probably hoping for a carryover effect to lead them to a similar result the next day. Instead, the Mets had one of their quieter nights at the plate in a 3-2 loss to Toronto at

Coming off a landslide win in their opener with the Blue Jays, the Mets were probably hoping for a carryover effect to lead them to a similar result the next day.

Instead, the Mets had one of their quieter nights at the plate in a 3-2 loss to Toronto at Sahlen Field in Buffalo, N.Y., on Saturday night. A ho-hum night for the offense dropped the fourth-place Mets to six games behind the Braves in the National League East.

Box score

The Mets are now four games under .500, and if they are to win this series, they will have to come out swinging on Sunday against veteran lefty Hyun Jin Ryu, who despite a subpar outing recently vs. the Yankees, has been exactly the ace that the Blue Jays were hoping for when they signed him.

With 14 games remaining on the schedule and some leapfrogging required to get to the postseason, time is running out.

“Everybody knows the number of games that we have left,” manager Luis Rojas said. “We know that, right now, we're not in the mix for the playoffs. Our focus needs to be on the game that we're going to play on any given day. Right now, we've just got to start focusing on [Sunday].”

It’s best for that process to begin quickly, after a night of disappointments.

The Mets squandered a second chance with two outs in the ninth inning when Amed Rosario reached base after striking out, thanks to a wild pitch on strike three, but the game was over seconds later after Rafael Dolis nailed Rosario on a pick-off play.

Center fielder Jake Marisnick, who ripped an RBI double in the fourth, was lifted for a pinch-hitter in the sixth, exiting with right hamstring tightness, a move that Rojas categorized as precautionary.

The Mets also wasted a respectable outing by Seth Lugo, at a time in the season when New York can ill afford to not capitalize on a good performance by its most reliable starter outside of ace Jacob deGrom.

Lugo recorded his longest outing of the season in both innings (5 1/3) and pitches (91), and he looked strong throughout. He retired the first seven batters he faced before allowing his first base hit.

That’s not to say Saturday’s loss wasn’t without its entertaining moments. Lugo received a boost from his defense -- literally, his defense. He converted the very rare one-unassisted putout at third base in the fourth inning, helping confine the Jays to just one run in the frame.

Vladimir Guerrero Jr. chopped a ball into the ground that bounced once before shooting to the right of the mound. Lugo snared it, and with no one to throw to at third, he sprinted over, sliding and beating Travis Shaw to the bag by a split-second.

Lugo said he was getting ready to make a toss, but then he saw third baseman J.D. Davis running toward the ball. At that moment, he knew he did not have time to throw to first, so going to third was the only play. Noting that Shaw is not very fast, Lugo said he felt he had a chance on the play.

“I almost stood up, but I saw [Shaw] sliding,” Lugo said. “I think that was the best way I could get my foot out there and beat him to the bag.”

Has he ever been a part of a play like that before?

“That's the first time I've ever seen it, much less attempted it,” Lugo said.

The play was close enough for the Blue Jays to challenge it, but the call stood after review.

“I knew it, and I think [Shaw] knew, too,” Lugo said. “He went straight to the dugout.”

It was a lighter moment in an otherwise deflating loss. And with the stretch run upon them, time is not on the Mets' side.

“I'd say that's a realistic thing, but if we're focused on that, we're focused on the wrong thing,” Lugo said of the dwindling number of games. “I can't think like that, and I'm hoping other guys aren't, as well. Hopefully we can just focus on what we can control -- and that's executing pitches, executing plays, having good approaches at the plate. And if we can do that, we're going to put ourselves in a good spot. That's where our focus needs to be.”

Alyson Footer is a national correspondent for MLB.com. Follow her on Twitter @alysonfooter.