This is a game David Wright expected to win.
In Saturday's 7-6 loss to the Washington Nationals, the New York Mets scored five off All-Star Gio Gonzalez, knocked him out after four innings and had all the momentum after plating five runs in the fourth to grab a 5-3 lead. Normally, those actions would result in the Mets securing a victory.
Saturday, that wasn't the case. Mere minutes after taking the lead, the bullpen coughed it up, serving up three runs to put the Mets behind, 6-5.
"We get five off Gio, we've got to win that game," Wright said. "You're able to have a big inning like that, and couldn't capitalize on it. The name of the game is you get some momentum on your side, we got to find a way to go out there and put up zeros, and we weren't able to do that today."
After falling behind 3-0, the Mets rallied for five runs in the fourth by batting around the lineup. Citi Field came to life as the Mets' bats were knocking around the All-Star just one day after pouncing on Stephen Strasburg.
The good fortunes ended quickly, though, as Aaron Laffey gave up the lead. After retiring the first two hitters, Laffey walked Jayson Werth, surrendered a double to Bryce Harper and then allowed a three-run homer to left-center to Adam LaRoche that put the Nationals up 6-5. All the excitement and energy of the five-run fourth suddenly were zapped from Citi Field.
The Mets did rally to tie the game in the seventh, but Harper's solo shot in the eighth made the difference.
"I keep going back to it, you score runs against good teams, you got to put up zeros and we need to play better defense and obviously make better pitches," said Wright, who went 1-for-3 with two walks. "Offensively, when we have an opportunity to put a team away we got to do that."
With Saturday's loss, the Mets are now 1-3 in one-run games and 2-4 in games decided by two runs or less. Their third baseman acknowledged the team needs to improve in these close games, as they make the difference between being a .500 team and a winning squad.
Wright said the responsibility for these blown games, like Saturday's, falls on the entire team, not just one area. He specifically talked about the Mets' 9-8 loss in Colorado Tuesday, when he said the offense did not do a good enough job putting the Rockies away.
For the most part, though, it's been the team's pitching that hasn't held up its end, as the Mets offense has scored 97 runs this year (fourth in MLB). Wright believes the development of specific roles will benefit the arms.
"It's still relatively early in the season and guys are still learning their roles and learning what situations they're going to come in. There's obviously an adjustment period that comes along with that," Wright said. "At the same time when guys are called upon, whether it's pitching or position players, we'll get better at understanding what the roles are and guys becoming better at that role.
"That's no excuse for today. If we're going to hopefully be at the top of this division, we're going to have to win close games like this, that seesaw game, we have to find ways to take these."