Mets pitchers combined to walk 12 batters as they dug the team into a 12-1 hole. New York's offense erupted after that, helped by a terrible Nationals bullpen, but the late explosion fell short as the Mets lost, 12-9, on Sunday afternoon at Citi Field in the finale of their three-game series. >> Box score
Seven things to know about Sunday's game
1) Zack Wheeler was shaky from the start of the game, and while he escaped the first inning unscathed, the Nationals dropped a five-spot on him in the second inning with Wheeler unable to locate at all. That inning was especially ugly, with Wheeler walking a pair of batters, allowing a ground ball RBI single to Max Scherzer, and left fielder Jeff McNeil playing what would have been a sacrifice fly and the second out into a ground-rule double by Adam Eaton that made it 4-0 Nats.
Although shaky, Wheeler held the Nats scoreless over the next two innings, but melted down in the fifth, when he issued four walks and a single before being taken out. Overall, Wheeler issued a career-high seven walks and served up four hits as the Nats dinged him for seven runs in 4.2 innings. Wheeler, who threw more balls (52) than strikes (51) has a 10.24 ERA in two starts this season.
2) Tim Peterson relieved Wheeler and was somehow worse, walking five batters in just 1.1 innings while throwing as many balls (22) as strikes (22). That included a run-scoring wild pitch and a bases loaded walk. With Peterson perhaps unavailable when the Mets play on Tuesday and with him turning in such a hideous performance, they should strongly consider sending him to Triple-A Syracuse and calling up a fresh reliever.
3) After going 0-for-4 against Scherzer on Opening Day, Pete Alonso went hitless in his first two at-bats before ripping a double to left field off Scherzer in the sixth inning. After Scherzer exited the game, Alonso crushed a three-run homer to left-center off Matt Grace. Alonso finished 2-for-4 with a walk. He is hitting .382 with a 1.256 OPS.
4) Michael Conforto went 2-for-4 with a three-run homer and double. Conforto, who hit his first homer of the season on Saturday, now has a 1,010 OPS this season.
5) Scherzer stifled the Mets over the first six innings but bent in the seventh when the game was already well out of reach. Overall, he allowed four runs on eight hits while walking none and striking out seven in 6.1 innings. His ERA for the season is 3.32.
6) Brandon Nimmo, in the midst of a terrible slump, was double-switched into the game and roped a double off Scherzer in his second at-bat. He went 1-for-3 overall.
7) Robert Gsellman and Seth Lugo were both sharp, with Gsellman working around a hit while striking out one in a scoreless inning of work, and Lugo striking out the side in his inning of work.
The Mets are off on Monday.
They open a two-game series against the Twins on Tuesday at Citi Field, with RHP Jacob deGrom opposing RHP Kyle Gibson.