Mets blow lead, implode in disaster eighth inning in loss to Reds

CINCINNATI — The Mets essentially ran out of pitchers, but they found no such limit of mistakes to make. 

Imploding in one of the ugliest eighth innings you will see, the Mets lost 9-6 to the Reds at Great American Ball Park on Saturday, when what was once a three-run lead was wasted. 

The Mets (2-6) snapped a brief, two-game winning streak in part because their bullpen arms were depleted, and in part because everything that could go wrong proceeded to go wrong with Yohan Ramirez on the mound

Ramirez, who had pitched a scoreless seventh, returned for an eighth inning that never seemed to end.

The Mets entered the frame up one and watched the Reds break out for five runs on mostly sloppy defensive play. 

Luis Severino #40 of the New York Mets throws a pitch in the first inning against the Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ball Park on April 06, 2024 in Cincinnati, Ohio. Getty Images

In the fateful inning, Jeimer Candelario led off with a walk.

Pinch-runner Bubba Thompson appeared to steal second, though a balk was called that gave him the base anyway.

Ramirez struck out Jake Fraley, but strike three skipped past catcher Omar Narvaez, allowing Fraley to take first and Thompson to take third.

Cincinnati Reds’ Elly De La Cruz (44) celebrates with Jake Fraley (27) following a baseball game against the New York Mets, Saturday, April 6, 2024, in Cincinnati. AP

Ramirez also appeared to beat Elly De La Cruz, whose excuse-me check swing sent a soft grounder to the left side.

But Brett Baty gave chase for a few steps before believing Francisco Lindor would grab the ball and then backed off — while Lindor was scrambling toward second base.

A ball that went 4 feet before hitting the dirt and was put in play at just 61.5 mph squirted through the left side for an RBI single to tie the game. 

Ramirez did not beat Spencer Steer, who smoked a three-run homer to left that just about ended the game — but did not end the damage.

Elly De La Cruz #44 of the Cincinnati Reds scores a run in the sixth inning against the New York Mets at Great American Ball Park on April 06, 2024 in Cincinnati, Ohio. Getty Images

Two singles and a walk later, the Reds had loaded the bases for Christian Encarnacion-Strand, whose sacrifice fly scored one.

Harrison Bader’s throw home skipped past Pete Alonso, the cutoff man, and allowed the base runners to move up a base, though Ramirez would strand them on second and third. 

By the merciful end of the game, forgotten were the 11 hits and six runs the Mets collected, which qualifies as an explosion for this struggling offense. 

Also forgotten was a solid day from Luis Severino, who looked much better — and much more like the Severino of old — in his second start of the season. 

The former Yankee allowed two runs (one earned) on three hits and two walks in five innings in which he punched out seven.

After a rough Mets debut and a rough 2023 season in The Bronx, Severino bouncing back was important. 

Cincinnati Reds third base Jeimer Candelario (3) reacts after reaching second base on a double in the second inning of the MLB baseball game between the Cincinnati Reds and New York Mets at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati on Saturday, April 6, 2024. Albert Cesare/The Enquirer / USA TODAY NETWORK

Severino relied most on his four-seamer, retired nine straight Reds from the second through the fifth and did not allow mistakes made behind him to swell. 

Cincinnati only scored against Severino in the second inning, when Candelario hit what would have been a deep fly out to left, but Tyrone Taylor slipped on the warning track, turning it into a double.

With one out and Candelario on third, De La Cruz smacked a grounder to second, and Jeff McNeil tried to charge the ball and throw home — but the ball skipped past him, a run scoring on a slip and a slip-up (which was ruled an error). 

Stuart Fairchild #17 of the Cincinnati Reds steals second base ahead of the tag from Jeff McNeil #1 of the New York Mets in the sixth inning at Great American Ball Park on April 06, 2024 in Cincinnati, Ohio. Getty Images

Severino was solid but lasted just five innings.

After a doubleheader Thursday and 5 ²/₃ innings from Jose Quintana on Friday, Edwin Díaz, Adam Ottavino, Brooks Raley and Drew Smith had been used on back-to-back days and were unavailable. 

Manager Carlos Mendoza tried to navigate without his best arms, but Ramirez and his defenders could not get the job done.

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