It is September 8, and the Mets have a five-game lead in the National League East. That’s not something many people thought was going to happen this year, but watching the team get to this point has been an enjoyable ride, even if there have been some bumps along the way.
A couple of those bumps came over the weekend. Matt Harvey and Scott Boras introduced an innings limit that will results in fewer appearances by Harvey the rest of the season. And the Mets lost two of three to the lowly Marlins over the weekend, while the Nationals completed a four-game sweep of the Braves to pull within four games of the Mets.
On Labor Day, the Nationals opened the three-game series between the two teams with their ace, Max Scherzer, on the mound. The Mets started Jon Niese, who had been on a bad stretch recently and didn’t do anything to change that yesterday afternoon.
After the Mets jumped out to a 3-0 lead with a trio of solo home runs over the first few innings of the game, Niese surrendered five runs in the bottom of the fourth inning. But the Mets’ parade of relief pitchers kept the Nationals from scoring again. Carlos Torres, who finished that inning for Niese but couldn’t finish his own second inning of work because of a calf injury, pitched well. Erik Goeddel, who had to warm up unexpectedly when Torres got hurt, threw an inning. Dario Alvarez made his first major league appearance of the season and struck out Bryce Harper in a tie game. And Hansel Robles threw two excellent innings before Jeurys Familia finished the game with a three-strikeout ninth inning in which he allowed just a single.
Plenty of credit goes to the Mets’ offense, too, which didn’t have much trouble against Scherzer. The early home runs against him by Michael Conforto, Kelly Johnson, and Yoenis Cespedes were all impressive in their own way. And after falling behind, the team chipped away with one run in the fifth and one in the sixth to tie the game. The Mets took the lead for good in the seventh on a David Wright single, and they scored twice more in the inning, with Wright scoring the eighth and final run of the game on a two-out double to right field by Cespedes and emphatically celebrating as soon as the home plate umpire called him safe.
In winning the first game of the series, the Mets avoided the only potential terrible outcome in the series. Getting swept in Washington would have left the team in first place by just one game. With Matt Harvey on the mound tonight—the only certain Harvey start as far as anyone knows right now—and Jacob deGrom on the mound tomorrow night, the opportunity to come out of Washington in even better shape is there.
SB Nation GameThreads
Win Probability Added
Big winners: Yoenis Cespedes, +28.5% WPA, Curtis Granderson, +26.9% WPA, Erik Goeddel, +10.7% WPA
Big losers: Jon Niese, -48.2% WPA
Teh aw3s0mest play: David Wright’s go-ahead single in the seventh, +22.3% WPA
Teh sux0rest play: Wilson Ramos’s go-ahead grand slam in the fourth, -30.0% WPA
Total pitcher WPA: -20.3% WPA
Total batter WPA: +70.3% WPA
GWRBI!: David Wright