WASHINGTON — On pace to lose more than 90 games, the Mets have endured a fair amount of misery, injuries and mistakes this season. Then came Tuesday night and a new nadir.
The Mets lost to the Washington Nationals, 25-4, the most lopsided loss in the team’s 57-year history. Seven Mets pitchers took the mound, and all but two coughed up runs, including the veteran infielder Jose Reyes. In all, the Mets gave up 26 hits, the second-highest total in team history.
“A tough loss,” Mets Manager Mickey Callaway said after the game. “It’s embarrassing. We gotta do better than that.”
The Mets have given up more runs in a game before. That distinction belongs to the 1985 squad, which lost by a score of 26-7 to the Philadelphia Phillies on June 11 of that year. But that team at least made up for it by finishing the season with 98 wins and would go on to be World Series winners the next year.
This year’s Mets are mired in gloominess with little way out. Tuesday’s non-waiver trade deadline came and passed without a major trade to improve the team. Earlier in the day, John Ricco, the team’s assistant general manager, insisted the Mets could contend for the playoffs in 2019 because of the team’s talented core of pitchers.
His words did not prove true in the evening. Steven Matz, one of the starting pitchers the Mets hope to build around, surrendered seven runs and lasted only two outs in the shortest start of his career.
After some uneven defense in the bottom of the first inning, the first baseman Wilmer Flores also came out of the game. The Mets later announced it was because he felt dizzy and dehydrated, another unusual ailment in a season full of them.
“I wasn’t even there,” Flores said. “I felt lost.”
It made little difference who was on the mound or in the field. The Nationals smashed five home runs, including two by the former Mets second baseman Daniel Murphy. By the third inning, the Mets trailed by a score of 13-0.
The only two relief pitchers who did not allow a run were Jerry Blevins and Drew Smith, who combined to pitch 2⅓ innings.
By the fifth inning, Callaway knew he would need to use a position player to avoid burning through everyone in the bullpen. Noah Syndergaard, who is returning from a stint on the disabled list for hand, foot and mouth disease, was slated to start on Wednesday, so the Mets wanted to keep some relief pitchers fresh just in case.
In the sixth inning, Callaway asked Reyes, the struggling backup infielder, if he was willing pitch. Reyes, who had been hoping to get a chance to pitch before he retired, said yes.
The last time Reyes, 35, pitched was when he was 11 or 12 years old in his native Dominican Republic.
“When you get on the mound and before you throw a pitch, it’s fun,” he said. “But when you start to see people hit a homer and stuff, you get more serious. Even though I’m not a pitcher, you don’t want to see that. I want to put a zero up there. But I do the best that I can.”
Juan Soto, the Nationals rookie outfielder, laughed as he stepped in the batter’s box. The first baseman Ryan Zimmerman, a longtime opponent of Reyes, even faked charging the mound after Reyes hit him with a pitch.
“That was pretty funny and surreal to hit against him,” Zimmerman said.
In all, Reyes, throwing from a side-arm position, gave up six runs on five hits, including two home runs. He threw 48 pitches, a concerning number for anyone who might be asked to pitch again anytime soon. Reyes hit 87 miles per hour with his fastball and threw a curveball in the 60s.
As Reyes’s pitch count ballooned, Callaway grew concerned and sent pitching coach Dave Eiland to the mound to check on Reyes, who was also worried about hurting his arm. Paul Sewald, a relief pitcher, warmed up in the bullpen as an emergency.
“I’m glad that I got out of the inning and Mickey don’t need to use to another position player or pitcher,” Reyes said.