With just a handful of games remaining on the schedule, every single game is crucial for the Mets as they look to make one final push towards a potential Wild Card spot.
But Saturday's 3-2 loss to the Reds was a crushing blow, as the Mets wasted a great outing by Zack Wheeler and squandered run-scoring opportunities with men on base, losing to a team that's been near the basement of the NL Central all season long.
"It hurts," Mickey Callaway said after the game. "We had multiple chances. I think the way we lost hurts. We had a couple of mistakes in the field and then we had plenty of chances at the plate, we just didn't come through. I think we struck out on almost every chance we had with runners in scoring position. We needed a sac fly here, just touch the ball there, and we just didn't get it done."
The Mets fell into an early 2-0 hole in the first inning. With the bases loaded and no one out Aristides Aquino grounded a ball to third. After assuming the ball was foul, Todd Frazier was not able to rebound in time to throw out Aquino, allowing the Reds' first run to score. They would add a second run on an RBI single from Jose Iglesias.
"I made a bonehead mistake," said Frazier after the game. "That's something that cost us one, maybe even two runs. … It's a tough one. These are games you're supposed to win.
Reds starter Anthony DeSclafani followed up a seven-inning, one-hit start with six innings of three hit ball on Saturday, and while the Mets didn't have many opportunities, they wasted the few that they did.
The Mets went 0-6 with runners in scoring position on the afternoon, with the most glaring chance coming in the fifth inning. With the bases loaded, one out, and one run already in on a Brandon Nimmo hit-by-pitch, the Mets had the bases loaded for their two best hitters, Jeff McNeil and Pete Alonso. But they each went down on strikes, ending what was the Mets' best chance to take the lead.
As things currently stand, the Mets are 4.0 games back of the second Wild Card spot with eight games remaining. Their playoff chances, slim to begin with, grew even smaller on Saturday.
"You come here every day to get after it, but you've got to keep on doing that," Callaway said. "We have very few games left, and we can do it for eight more.
"You've got to win the next game and keep on plugging forward. That's as simple as I can put it, and that's the mindset we have to have."
The Mets now have one last game with the Reds on Sunday afternoon before heading home for their final seven game (four against the Marlins, three against the Braves). They don't have much time left to make up ground in the standings, but they're keeping a positive mindset within the clubhouse.
"I felt like we had to go 9-1, so here's our one," said Frazier. "Let's roll from here, and they say when you lose you have to hope for some losses, and that's the stage we're at right now and that's just not a good stage. … Still, everybody's in high spirits and we'll be ready to play tomorrow.
"I think everybody understands the severity of it, but like I said, you've got to win."