Edwin Diaz, from his vantage point on the mound, felt it was a strike. When he got into the clubhouse and saw the replay, he was convinced.
His 3-2 slider to the Nationals’ Juan Soto leading off the ninth inning Friday night should’ve been a strikeout. Instead, home plate umpire Kerwin Danley ruled the pitch had missed, sending Soto to first base and setting up the inning.
“I think the 3-2 pitch to Soto was a strike for me,” Diaz said over Zoom, after he was unable to force extra innings in the Mets’ 1-0 loss in Washington. “After that pitch, the inning changed completely.”
In fact, it fell apart. Diaz couldn’t put away either Ryan Zimmerman or Yan Gomes after getting ahead of both hitters. Zimmerman reached for a 3-2 slider and poked it into right field, sending Soto to third. Then, Gomes got on top of a 2-2 fastball to drive in Soto with the game-winning run.
Diaz said he was prepared to pitch the ninth, even though the initial plan was for Seth Lugo to at least start the inning.
“Ideally, that’s what we wanted,” Rojas said.
But after Lugo retired Trea Turner (the only batter he faced) for the final out of the eighth inning, he told Rojas he was a bit tired. Lugo had thrown 37 pitches Tuesday, and the Mets didn’t want to push him too hard.
Diaz’s struggles in non-save situations are nothing new this season. In save opportunities, he has allowed just one run in 15 outings across 15 ¹/₃ innings, and has converted 14 of 15 chances. Otherwise, the closer has given up eight earned runs in 11 ²/₃ innings. That concerning trend continued Friday night.
“I thought I made pretty good pitches, but today wasn’t my day,” Diaz said. “I’m ready for [Saturday].”