Game recap September 20: Thank god for…Jose Lobaton?

Mets 5 Nationals 4, 12 innings

There might be games left on the schedule, but you’ll forgive Mets fans for believing the season over. A day after the team announced that Zack Wheeler would be shut down until 2019 due to workload, fan favorite Wilmer Flores was shut down for the year — diagnosed with early onset arthritis. The games already didn’t matter, but now each calendar day seems to bring new heartbreak.

The heartbreak at Nationals Park was less monumental, but a more-or-less solid Jason Vargas start (5.2 innings, three runs [two earned] and eight strikeouts) was nevertheless squandered by the bullpen who couldn’t protect a two-run lead, surrendering a pair in the eighth inning.

Vargas’ counterpart for the Nationals, Cy Young contender Max Scherzer struck out 13, bringing him to 290 strikeouts on the year, eclipsing his previous season high of 284 strikeouts in 2016. Scherzer went seven innings, surrendering three runs.

Outside their wobble in the eighth, the bullpen managed to hold the tie into extra innings.

Amed Rosario led off the 12th with a single off Nationals reliever Jefry Rodriguez and was sacrificed to second by Jeff McNeil. Two walks — an intentional one to Michael Conforto and an inadvertent one to Jay Bruce — loaded the bases for former National Jose Lobaton, who drove in Rosario with a sacrifice fly. Paul Sewald came in the bottom of the 12th for his second save.

Mickey Callaway was ejected by home plate umpire D.J. Reyburn in the top of the 10th. In the bottom of the 12th, Reyburn ejected Bryce Harper after a called third strike, for balance.

Conforto continued his good hitting against Scherzer, one of the best pitchers to ever play the game, with a two-run home run in the third to begin the scoring (and three walks). Bruce followed with a solo home run — but that was as mortal as Scherzer ever got. Anthony Rendon continued to be a Met killer, driving in three runs.

The road trip continues tonight as Jacob deGrom (8-9, 1.78) faces Joe Ross (0-0, 3.60) at Nationals Park; first pitch is scheduled for 7:05 p.m.

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