WASHINGTON — T.J. Rivera hobbling back to the Mets dugout in the top of the seventh inning was a picture that captured the state of the team’s outfield right now. Playing left field in an emergency situation because Yoenis Cespedes and Curtis Granderson were out of the starting lineup with nagging injury concerns, Rivera cramped up running out a ground ball to short.
“He cramped up, both legs, just cramped up, so we had to get him out,” Mets manager Terry Collins said.
Cramps in Cespedes’ right hamstring had him out of the lineup Tuesday, but Collins said he expects to have the slugger back in the lineup on Wednesday. Rivera said he would “absolutely,” be ready for Wednesday.
Granderson is just hopeful. He was a late scratch from the Mets’ starting lineup for Tuesday morning’s game. It was the third-straight game the outfielder was out of the starting lineup with tightness in his right hip.
These Mets out of starting lineup against Nationals on July 4th
After Granderson hit the game-tying home run in the top of the ninth Monday night, the Mets had hoped that he would be available Tuesday. Granderson, however, was hobbling after the game Monday and admitted that he had to hope the ball went out because he wasn’t sure he could be aggressive running the bases.
“We’re going to be cautious with him,” Collins said. ” I told him the one thing we don’t need is to lose him for two weeks or longer.”
Once flush with outfielders, the Mets had to go to an emergency situation on Tuesday. Juan Lagares (broken bone in his hand) and Michael Conforto (bruised left wrist) are both on the disabled list, and the Mets’ only other outfielder on the 40-man roster is only in Class-A.
So Rivera played left field Tuesday, Brandon Nimmo was in center and the slumping Jay Bruce was in right field. When Rivera left the game, the Mets went to Matt Reynolds.
Collins said that his caution with Granderson would extend to Wednesday. With an off day on Thursday, he would err on the side of giving him extra rest.
“I am hoping 24 hours he’ll be OK for tomorrow. I did remind him, we do have the next day off, if we need to take an extra day, then so be it,” Collins said. “We’re close to getting Michael back, hopefully we’ll start getting back to full strength.”
Jay Bruce, whose error led to a big Nationals inning in the fifth, said nobody is feeling bad for the Mets because of their injury woes.
“We’ve got a lot of guys banged up,” Bruce said. “But as I have said before, we have to play. We’re are expected to go out there and be competitive and win ballgames. We expect that from ourselves, because we feel like we have 25 useful and capable guys here. Tough when we don’t get it done, but we’ve got to keep going.”
SETH’S STREAK SNAPPED
The loss was the first for Lugo on the road since last season. The righthander’s streak of six straight road wins tied the longest in team history. Tom Seaver and Jerry Koosman each did it twice.
Lugo allowed six runs on 10 hits. He walked two and struck out three over five innings pitched. Five of those hits came in the Nationals’ four-run fifth inning.
“I made worse pitches the third time through the lineup,” Lugo said of the fifth. “Middle of the plate, up in the zone. Good hitters are going to hit them.”
Lugo’s last loss away from Citi Field was his first major league start last season, Aug. 19 at San Francisco.
Daniel Murphy has not b
een kind to his former team. The Nationals second baseman, who played his first seven seasons for the Mets, tied a career-high with five RBI against the Mets Tuesday. He has driven in 13 runs against them this season.
It’s not a surprise to the Mets.
“It’s Daniel Murphy,” Collins said. ” I’ve seen it live and in person for five years. He’s an outstanding hitter. You gotta locate or he’s gonna get a hit.”
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