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Mets complete disappointing trade deadline day with 10th inning loss to lowly Royals – Boston Herald

KANSAS CITY — You’d never know that the Mets were considered preseason World Series contenders based on the lineup they put out Tuesday for the first game of a series against the Kansas City Royals, and based on the way they lost.

Brandon Nimmo was out with quad tightness. The Mets used fringe guys like DJ Stewart, Rafael Ortega and Danny Mendick in place of lineup regulars. Such is life after the trade deadline, which passed just two hours before the Mets lost, 7-6, in 10 innings at Kauffman Stadium.

With the bases loaded, the Mets brought in left-handed rookie Josh Walker. He balked without even throwing a pitch and the Royals walked off with the win.

Walker’s balk was the result of a PitchCom issue. Walker was unable to obtain one when he ran out to the mound. They didn’t have them in the bullpen.

“I didn’t have a PitchCom in my ear so me and [catcher Francisco Alvarez] didn’t have communication, so I was trying to relay that to him,” Walker said. “When I went to step off, my foot was kind of in the footprint of where guys have been throwing. I think my knee buckled a little bit so I stepped off. That was it.”

It was a disappointing end to a disappointing day.

“It was very technical,” said manager Buck Showalter. “But you’ve got to step off there.”

Francisco Alvarez hit his 21st home run of the season, Pete Alonso hit his 31st and Jose Quintana turned in a solid outing despite being charged with three earned runs over 6 2/3 innings. It was the kind of outing the Mets (50-56) could’ve used earlier in the season when pitchers were routinely failing to even make it to the sixth inning, let alone the seventh.

“Wish we would’ve had him all year,” Showalter said.

But Quintana was on the shelf for most of the season recovering from a freak injury that occurred during spring training. He spent much of the season rehabbing after a bone graft surgery was required to remove a lesion on his rib. By no fault of his own, the Mets spiraled. There was some rumored interest in the veteran lefty as the market heated up, but the Mets were able to hold on to him.

Quintana’s return gives some hopeful signs for that competitive 2024 season Billy Eppler has promised since he is signed through next season.

“The last couple days, it was on my mind,” Quintana said. “I’ve been in that situation before with my career so it’s nothing to be worried about. Today, I was ready to pitch and if something happens, it happens.”

In the Mets’ first game without right-handed ace Justin Verlander, right-handed reliever Dominic Leone and outfielders Tommy Pham and Mark Canha, the team faced the second-worst team in the major leagues. Kansas City’s once-great ace, Zach Greinke, couldn’t get much going. Alonso took the veteran right-hander deep in the second inning, leading off with a shot to center field to put the Mets up 1-0.

A double, a sacrifice bunt and a sacrifice fly by the Royals tied the game in the bottom of the fifth. Quintana retired the side in order in the sixth before running into trouble in the seventh and Kansas City (33-75) took a 3-1 lead.

The Mets rallied for three in the eighth but the bullpen wouldn’t hold the lead, with right-hander Adam Ottavino giving up a run in the bottom of the frame. Alvarez teed off on reliever Carlos Hernandez to lead off the inning, giving the Mets some insurance. But, Brooks Raley (0-2) then gave up two and Kansas City knotted the game at 6-6. The Mets needed three pitchers in the bottom of the 10th and still couldn’t make it through.

“Tonight was hard for us when we were so close to getting that win and winning the game a couple times,” Quintana said. “We need to keep focused on the games and play hard so we can get some wins.”

The future looks fine, but it’s unclear how far away that future is. The present isn’t quite as impressive, but at least now the Mets can get some resolution to a disappointing season.

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