The Mets had a couple of opportunities to beat the Nationals in just nine innings, but considering the way the game ended, nobody will really remember that in the end. Having nearly been traded a couple days before the game—learning the news while on the field and understandably getting emotional for everyone to see—Wilmer Flores hit a walk-off home run in the first of three game of a very important series against the division-leading Washington Nationals.
All Flores really had to do to get the support of the crowd last night was to just show up. Having seen the 23-year-old, who has been with the Mets since he was 16, tear up on the field turned him into one of the most likeable players in recent memory. You figured he would get a good amount of support when he made his first trip to the plate.
But Flores, who is not known for his glove, made a very nice diving play to his left to stop a ground ball in the first inning and turn it into an out. That brought about his first standing ovation of the night, and overwhelming display of support from the thousands in attendance. He got another when he made his first plate appearance, too, and another when he drove in a run on a single in the fourth inning to put the Mets on the board.
That run almost held up for the entire game. Matt Harvey was perfect through five-and-one-third innings before allowing a single in the sixth. He kept Washington from scoring into the eighth, but they broke through on a seemingly-phantom hit-by-pitch, an infield single, and a very hard single up the middle by Yunel Escobar. In came Tyler Clippard, who threw a ton of pitches to Jayson Werth, most of which were fouled off, before finally getting him to strike out looking, with a little bit of help from the home plate umpire’s strike zone.
In total, Harvey struck out nine, didn't walk anyone, and gave up one run on just five hits. He threw 109 pitches, 74 of which were strikes. And he now has a 2.91 ERA, still third among the Mets' current rotation but comfortably within the top tier of major league pitchers.
Of course, Flores’s single could have been one of multiple runs in the fourth inning. After his hit, Juan Lagares walked to load the bases, but Eric Campbell struck out looking on a 3-2 fastball down the middle of the plate.
But the Mets’ bullpen—Clippard, Jeurys Familia, Hansel Robles, and Carlos Torres—shut the Nationals out through the top of the twelfth. Hansel Robles struck out two in his scoreless eleventh inning, one of whom was Bryce Harper, who argued the call intensely with the home plate umpire and was ejected from the game.
Had the game gone longer, that might have made a big difference. But after Carlos Torres struck out the side in order in the twelfth, Flores hit a solo home run to left-center field to end the game. It was incredible.
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Win Probability Added
Big winners: Wilmer Flores, +45.9% WPA, Jeurys Familia, +31.3% WPA, Matt Harvey, +14.5% WPA, Carlos Torres, +11.4% WPA, Hansel Robles, +11.4% WPA
Big losers: Eric Campbell, -12.8% WPA, Daniel Murphy, -10.7% WPA
Teh aw3s0mest play: Wilmer Flores’s walk-off home run in the twelfth, +38.6% WPA
Teh sux0rest play: Yunel Escobar’s game-tying single in the eighth, -27.7% WPA
Total pitcher WPA: +68.6% WPA
Total batter WPA: -18.6% WPA
GWRBI!: Wilmer Flores