Maybe it was the bright lights. Or one too many subway rides. Whatever the reason, the Tribe played like an also ran instead of a contender. Not only were they swept by the Mets in this three-game series, but they lost Thursday night’s game, 2-0, after enduring two rain delays totaling just over three hours. The game was called in the bottom of the eighth with runners on first and third.
“The umpires were unbelievable with us,” Francona said. “You appreciate communication like that. You’d like to finish the game, but at some point you have to say let’s cut or losses and go home.”
Rookie Adam Civale (1-3, 1.82) took the loss. He allowed a two-run double to Wilson Ramos in the fourth inning for the game’s only runs. Joe Panik started the rally with a leadoff single. Civale retired Pete Alonso, but Michael Conforto doubled Panik to third.
Ramos delivered the game winner with double down the right field line.
The game was halted AT 8:45 p.m. with Conforto on first and a 0-1 count on Ramos. It did not resume until 11:12 p.m. The game was halted for a second time at 11:47 p.m. in the eighth with Mets on the corners with no outs against Hunter Wood.
It was a night that seemed appropriate for Mets starter Noah Syndergaard. The 6-4, 240-pound Syndergaard is nicknamed Thor, the god of thunder and lightning. Syndergaard had to feel right at home in such conditions.
Syndergaard (9-6, 3.71) took a no-hitter into the sixth inning. He opened with a strikeout of his former catcher, Kevin Plawecki. Tyler Naquin, however, lined a single to center for the Tribe’s first hit.
It was the Indians’ best scoring chance of the night. After Naquin’s single, Civale struck out when his two-strike bunt went foul. Francisco Lindor kept the inning going with with a single and Greg Allen sent a hard shot toward the hole between first and second. Alonso knocked it down at first base with a dive and flipped to Syndergaard, who beat Allen to the bag for a foot.
Allen slammed his helmet to the ground after crossing the bag.
By the time play resumed, Civale and Syndergaard were showered and dressed. Tyler Clippard replaced him in the sixth and retired Ramos on a liner to left to end the inning after Conforto stole second on his first pitch.
Jeurys Familia replaced Snydergaard and retired the Indians in the seventh.
The poor defensive play the Indians showed throughout their stay in New York surfaced again in the seventh. Todd Frazier sent a roller down the first-base line. Clippard fielded the ball, but made a high throw that bounced down the right field line as Frazier went to second.
Right fielder Yasiel Puig picked up the ball and made an even wilder throw to no one in particular as Frazier went to third. Give the Indians two errors on that play and eight for the trip — four against the Mets and four against the Yankees.
Naquin took Puig and Clippard off the hook. He caught Juan Lagares’ fly ball to left and made made a perfect throw home to get Frazier for an inning-ending double play.
Civale, in his fifth big-league start, did what he usually does. He threw strikes and kept the Mets off base for the most part. He allowed four hits, struck out three and didn’t walk a batter. Civale started twice on this trip against the Yankees and Mets. He allowed a combined four earned runs in 11 2/3 innings with seven strikeouts and two walks.
The Indians started this trip with a resounding 19-5 win over the Yankees on Aug. 15. They followed it with one-run losses Friday and Saturday before earning a series split with an 8-4 win Sunday.
After Monday’s off-day, the Indians made their first visit to Citi Park. They spent the next three days in a fog. When they awoke they were 2-5 and soaked to the bone.
“We had higher hopes than this,” second baseman Jason Kipnis said. “These were not the results we were hoping for. It doesn’t stop us from what we want to accomplish. We still have enough time left. But we didn’t do ourselves any favors."
They played poor defense on Tuesday, turning a 2-0 sixth-inning lead into a 9-2 laugher for the Mets. Wednesday night, closer Brad Hand couldn’t protect a 3-2 lead in the 10th as the Mets rallied for a 4-3 win. Thursday night Thor, the weather and a lack of offense were too much to overcome.
The Indians, held to two hits, were shut out for the 11th time this season. The Tigers, who have been blanked 12 times, are the only AL offense shut down more times than the Tribe.
The loss dropped them to 3.5 games behind the idle Twins in the AL Central. It matches their biggest deficit since Aug. 6.
The defeat, combined with wins by Oakland and Tampa Bay, knocked the Indians out of the AL’s two wild-card spots. Oakland (74-53) moved into the first wild card spot, while the Rays moved into the second spot at 75-54. The Indians (74-54) trail the Rays by a half game.
It’s the first time they haven’t had possession of a wild card spot since July 18.
“It’s disappointing,” Naquin said. "These are good teams, but we’re a good team, too. Tonight Greg (Allen) hit the ball hard, but Pete (Alonso) made a good play with Noah (Syndergaard). Wednesday night (Carlos) Santana had a big hit for us (homer in the 10th for a 3-2 lead), but I think the game of baseball just go to us.
“We’re the same team. Still playing good baseball. We just have to turn it around a little bit.”
The Indians return to Progressive Field for a brief three-game series against the Royals. Rookie right-hander Zach Plesac (6-4, 3.53) will face the Royals and right-hander Jakob Junis (8-11, 4.78) Friday at 7:10 p.m. SportsTime Ohio and WLKR 95.3 FM will carry the game.