NL East: Why the New York Mets' Loss Tuesday Was the Worst of the Season

Mike CorasanitiContributor IIIJuly 18, 2012

WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 17:  Bryce Harper #34 of the Washington Nationals collides with David Wright #5 of the New York Mets sliding into third base for a triple in the tenth innning at Nationals Park on July 17, 2012 in Washington, DC. Washington won the game 5-4.  (Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images)
Greg Fiume/Getty Images

The ship hasn't sunk, the fat lady hasn't reached her final note and the season isn't anywhere close to being over, but the New York Mets are in trouble.

Tuesday night in D.C. against the division-leading Washington Nationals had the potential to be a turning point for the second half of the season. Jonathon Niese was on fire, surrendering only one run off of a Tyler Moore homer in a seven-inning outing, Jordany Valdespin hit another ninth-inning three-run homer like it was his job to put the Mets up 3-2, and the team had a shot to move within five games of first place in the NL East.

Wouldn't that have been nice?

Rather, the Mets squandered two leads after Valdespin's go-ahead blast, eventually losing on a Tim Byrdak wild pitch in the bottom of the 10th. They are now only a mere two games above .500 and seven games behind first place.

But what makes Tuesday's loss the worst of the season is not the fact that the team blew two leads, not the fact that the game was tied up in the bottom of the 10th by soon-to-be Met killer Bryce Harper, but the fact that the loss was so devastatingly predictable.

The Mets played a strong seven or eight innings, albeit suffering from offensive futility at the hands of Ross Detwiler, teasing the fans with signs of how good they can really be by coming back and then blowing leads again and again with the worst bullpen in all of baseball.

This is a team that has the potential to win the division, make the playoffs and even win a series. But of course, the Mets don't need first place. They don't even need second place. What they do need is to stay within striking distance of that second Wild Card spot (which they are) and not let this breakout season go to waste by starting their second half with two straight sweeps.

Tuesday night was easily the worst loss of the season for the Mets, but the series can still prove to be a turning point. One close game to show the bullpen isn't so disastrous and one blowout to prove they still have some pop would be the perfect scenario, but just being able to leave Washington with two out of three would be good enough for me.