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Mets vs Nationals Recap: Mets exorcise Citi demons, finally beat Nats

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Before tonight, the Mets hadn't beat the Nationals at Citi Field in over a year. We have Travis d'Arnaud, Juan Lagares, and the bullpen to thank for ending the 12-game losing streak.

Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Marlon Byrd and John Buck were in the starting lineup the last time the Mets beat the Nationals at Citi Field. It was June 29, 2013, and like tonight's game, Dillon Gee was the Mets' starting pitcher. Gee didn't pitch as well tonight as he did last June, but the Mets' bullpen was strong enough that it didn't matter. The Mets' frustrating 12-game losing streak against the Nationals at Citi Field is finally over; praise be to Carlos Torres, Jeurys Familia, and Jenrry Mejia.

The Mets took a 3-0 lead in the first inning, thanks to a bases loaded double by Travis d'Arnaud. He was credited with two RBI, and a third run scored on the play when Lucas Duda knocked the ball out of Nats catcher Wilson Ramos's glove on a play at the plate. The throw had beat Duda by a mile, so Ramos was charged with an error.

Dillon Gee was shaky from the get-go and turned in an uninspiring start, despite getting credit for the "win." He was rather fortunate to allow just three runs in 5.1 innings, for the Nationals managed nine hits, two walks, and a hit-by-pitch against him. In just one of the six innings he started did Gee send the Nats down one-two-three. RBI singles by Adam LaRoche and Wilson Ramos in the third inning cut the Mets' lead to 3-2, and Anthony Rendon tied the game in the fifth with a solo home run that barely cleared the fence in left field.

The game did not remain tied for long, as Juan Lagares doubled home Eric Young Jr. in the bottom of the fifth inning to give the Mets a 4-3 lead. The way the Nats were reaching base, this didn't seem like a safe lead. Sure enough, Gee took the mound in the sixth inning and gave up two singles while recording one out. He departed for Carlos Torres. Three pitches later, the threat was put down, as Torres induced a ground-ball double play off the bat of Asdrubal Cabrera. Inning over. Torres then worked a scoreless seventh inning, once again getting a double play to end the frame, this time off the bat of Ian Desmond.

Jeurys Familia pitched an impressive, scoreless eighth inning, striking out two while throwing some serious heat. He should be considered for the closer role in 2015. Current closer Jenrry Mejia came on for the ninth inning, and despite allowing a leadoff single and, three batters later, an intentional walk, he got the job done. He struck out Desmond and Rendon for the last two outs of the game.

Some additional bullet thoughts:

  • Pending trades, injuries, etc., it might be tough for Dillon Gee to crack the 2015 rotation. He now has a 3.80 ERA and 4.65 FIP; neither mark is very good in 2014 Major League Baseball. What's more, his swinging-strike rate is a meager 7.0%, the lowest of his career. I'm not sure what the organization should do with him, but I'd rather see Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, Zack Wheeler, Bartolo Colon, Jon Niese, Noah Syndergaard, and possibly Rafael Montero in the 2015 rotation over him.
  • The umpire crew seemed to blow a Mets challenge in the fifth inning. Ian Desmond hit a potential double-play grounder to Dilson Herrera with one out and Adam LaRoche on first base. Herrera threw to Ruben Tejada to get LaRoche at second base, but Tejada's relay to Lucas Duda at first base wasn't in time and Desmond was called safe. However, replays seemed to show that Desmond was out.

    Challengemetsnats9.12.14_medium

    The picture is fuzzy, but Gary Cohen, Ron Darling, and I all thought Desmond was out. Terry Collins astutely challenged the call but it was upheld. The replay system has generally worked well this season but some plays have slipped through the cracks. Life goes on.
  • Juan Lagares made an uncharacteristic error in the second inning. Bryce Harper singled to center field and Lagares bobbled the ball, allowing Harper to advance to second base. Much like when he doesn't catch a fly ball hit within 100 yards of him, an error is legitimately shocking. That play might cost him a small fraction of the dozens of DRS and UZR runs he has racked up.

The Mets are now 72-76, 12 games behind the Nationals in the NL East and 6.5 games back of the Pirates in the Wild Card race. Our heroes are still several wins away from actually playing meaningful games in September, but at least they're not yet mathematically eliminated.

Game three of Mets-Nats is Saturday night at 7:10 pm EST. The pitching matchup is Zack Wheeler vs Doug Fister.

Three Stars of the Game

First Star: Carlos Torres
Second Star: Travis d'Arnaud
Third Star: Juan Lagares

SB Nation GameThreads

* Amazin' Avenue GameThread
* Federal Baseball GameThread

Win Probability Added

(What's this?)

Big winners: Juan Lagares +23.6%, Carlos Torres +23.1%
Big losers: Dillon Gee -17.9% (as pitcher), Eric Campbell -9.8%
Teh aw3s0mest play: Travis d'Arnaud three-run double in the first inning, +19.5%
Teh sux0rest play: Anthony Rendon solo home run in the fifth inning, +16.3%
Total pitcher WPA: +29.7%
Total batter WPA: +20.3%
GWRBI!: Juan Lagares RBI double in the fifth inning