Russell: Mets Can’t Finish Sweep

The Mets’ eight-game win streak was snapped Sunday in a 7-4 loss to the Nationals and the first-place Braves are next on the schedule. 
It would be ridiculous to complain about the loss when the team has won 15 of 17 but some weaknesses that could hurt the Mets chances of making the playoffs reared their heads. 
There is no Rusty Staub or Lenny Harris on this bench. Mickey Callaway used Aaron Altherr as a pinch-hitter in the bottom of the eighth and the Mets trailing 5-4. Altherr, who came into the game with an .075 batting average, fanned on three pitches. Other bats on the bench include Juan Lagares (.180) and Tomas Nido (.204). 
Edwin Diaz surrendered a two-run homer in the ninth, as a one-run deficit became a three-run deficit. Callaway spoke before the game about how the talk of moving Amed Rosario to centerfield may have motivated him to play better at short and that perhaps Seth Lugo closing a game could inspire Diaz. 
While Callaway has praised the unselfish attitude of Diaz — rare for a closer — Sunday’s ninth inning is another sign that Lugo should be pitching in high-leverage situations, at least for the time being. At least the Mets saw a positive with Jeurys Familia striking out the side in the eighth. 
The defense is in the bottom half of the league in fielding percentage and in the first inning, Washington scored three runs on a ball hit to first base. Pete Alonso’s throw was wide of Jacob deGrom — though the pitcher did slow down for a moment covering the bag — allowing two runs to score.
DeGrom’s throw home should’ve ended the inning but Wilson Ramos couldn’t hold on, allowing a third run to score. 
The Mets are still on the outside looking in at the wild card even after this sizzling hot stretch. 
“We haven’t done anything yet,” Callaway said before Sunday’s game. “All we’ve done is our ourselves in a better position than we were.”
 GGive Callaway and GM Brodie Van Wagenen credit. They thought this team could compete. Unlike 2015, when Yoenis Cespedes, Michael Conforto, Juan Uribe, Kelly Johnson, Addison Reed and Tyler Clippard arrived to take the Mets from mediocrity to the World Series, only Marcus Stroman was added to the roster to boost the pitching rotation.
It’s not a flawless team but neither are the others competing with the Mets. The least flawed will be playing in October
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