WASHINGTON — A series that began with contract extensions for New York Mets General Manager Sandy Alderson and Manager Terry Collins ended with another frustrating losing season confirmed.
Gio Gonzalez struck out a career-high 12 and allowed just one hit through seven innings as the Mets lost to the Washington Nationals 3-0 for a split of their day-night doubleheader Sept 25.
“I’ve seen a lot of him,” Collins said of Gonzalez. “That’s as good as I’ve seen him.”
In the first game, Matt den Dekker singled home the go-ahead run off Tyler Clippard in the eighth inning to help the Mets to a 7-4 victory.
Curtis Granderson singled three times and drove in three runs, and Wilmer Flores also singled three times and drove in an insurance run as New York got 15 hits.
Those hits disappeared in the nightcap as Gonzalez (10-10) did more than enough against Zack Wheeler (11-11), who allowed three runs over five innings.
Drew Storen pitched a perfect ninth for his 11th save. That sealed a loss that is New York’s 82nd, guaranteeing a sixth straight losing season. And Collins, who the Mets announced Sept. 23d would be returning in 2015, admitted snapping that streak was a definite goal this season.
“It was one of the things we were looking forward to, especially the way we’ve played last month,” said Collins, whose club is 40-34 since July 4. “We were making a comeback, but now we are just worried about finishing strong.”
The NL East champion Nationals did their damage off Wheeler in the fourth on a fielder’s choice, a passed ball, and one of three singles by Anthony Rendon.
“They hit one ball hard the whole night,” said Wheeler, who allowed four hits and three walks. “It was just one of those games where they were finding holes and they were dropping in. It’s not the way I wanted to go out this year.”
Alderson received a contract extension Tuesday through 2017 as an endorsement of the Mets’ rebuilding project. That they can still finish in second place in the NL East is some testament to their progress.
The Mets have twice assembled streaks of seven straight losing years since their inception in 1962.
Granderson had one of only three Mets hits in the nightcap as he continues a hot September after struggling for much of his first season in Queens. He’s now 10 for his last 24, and has eight multihit games this month.
“I’m just getting hits,” said Granderson. “I really wish it was more complicated than that, but sometimes you find a little bit of grass or a couple of holes here or there. That’s really it.”
In the opener, Carlos Torres (8-5) pitched the seventh and Jenrry Mejia worked the ninth for his 28th save.
Washington’s Blake Treinen allowed four runs on eight hits in 4 1-3 innings, the shortest of his seven spot starts this season, while New York’s Dillon Gee gave up four runs on nine hits over five in his shortest outing since July 24.
Clippard (7-4) allowed two runs in two-thirds of an inning.
Granderson opened New York’s scoring in the first with a single off Treinen, and drove in two more in a three-run fifth off reliever Xavier Cedeno.
The Nationals responded for three runs in the bottom of the inning. But then, the Mets got to the usually reliable Clippard.
Ruben Tejada was hit by a pitch to lead off. Juan Centeno reached on a fielder’s choice that retired Tejada, stole second, and scored on den Dekker’s single. Den Dekker reached second on the throw and scored from there on Flores’ infield single.