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Mets vs. Nationals Recap: Twice as nice

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Michael Conforto’s big day helps lead the Mets to victory.

MLB: New York Mets at Washington Nationals Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

April has been the cruelest month to the Mets. With injuries and losses mounting, the Mets had to headed to D.C. to face the rampaging Nationals. After Josh Edgin’s heroics in the opening game of the series, the Mets had to try and capitalize on any momentum they earned, but they had to do it against Stephen Strasburg.

Captain-Kirk-Win-5-3

Zack Wheeler squared off against Strasburg and pitched a pretty typical Zack Wheeler-like game. He gave up a run in the first when Ryan Zimmerman singled in Michael Taylor, but he also struck out Bryce Harper and Daniel Murphy in the opening inning.

Wheeler was behind on the scoreboard and he was consistently behind in the count to batters as well. He issued four walks to go along with five hits by the Nationals, which added up to a lot of traffic on the bases. Wheeler’s first big test came in the third when he walked the leadoff hitter Trea Turner. Michael Taylor followed with a single and Wheeler found himself in a heap of trouble with the power hitters due up.

Wheeler again was tough on Harper, who struck out and T.J. Rivera saved a hard-hit ball at first by Ryan Zimmerman to get the second out of the inning. Daniel Murphy was intentionally walked, and despite hitting the ball hard, Anthony Rendon made the third out of the inning when he lined out to center.

Wheeler caught a break in the fourth with the help of umpire Angel Hernandez. Jayson Werth attempted to steal second and got up to run to third when the throw went into center. Werth ran into Asdrubal Cabrera, and when Cabrera went to go field the ball, umpire Angel Hernandez seemed to call interference on Cabrera. However, when Werth was tagged at third he was called out. Werth and Nationals manager Dusty Baker were steamed, but after replay the out stood and Wheeler got out of the inning.

Wheeler’s undoing came in the fifth, though much of it was no fault of his own. The inning started when Jose Reyes booted a ball hit by Turner. Taylor followed with a hit that went in between an uncertain Jose Reyes and Asdrubal Cabrera.

In Friday night’s game, Josh Edgin got Bryce Harper to ground into a game-ending double play with the bases loaded. Harper was unable to redeem himself when he once again hit a ball back to the pitcher for a double play.

The defense again left something to be desired when Cabrera was unable to throw out Zimmerman on a ground ball and the Nationals’ second run came home.

That was it for Wheeler when Terry Collins called for Josh Edgin to face Murphy. Edgin got the out and the Mets held on to their one-run lead.

The Mets had that lead in large part due to Michael Conforto. In the top of the fifth the Mets first tied the game when Reyes and Rivera led off with back-to-back hits. Travis d’Arnaud grounded out to bring Reyes home from third for their first run. Two batters latter Michael Conforto took Strasburg deep for a two-run home run. He added another blast in the eighth with a solo shot to give the Mets a 4-2 lead.

Hansel Robles and Jerry Blevins were both effective out of the pen, but once again Addison Reed struggled. He gave up a long home run to Ryan Zimmerman to cut the lead to 4-3.

Jose Reyes is suddenly showing signs of life at the plate and he got the run right back in the top of the ninth. That left Jeurys Familia to close it out after being pulled the night before. This time he picked up the save with little drama and the Mets can go for the series sweep on Sunday with Noah Syndergaard on the mound and a new month on the horizon.

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What’s WPA?

Big winners: Michael Conforto +39.5%, T.J. Rivera +16.0%, Hansel Robles 14.5%, Jose Reyes 11.5%
Big losers: Travis d’Arnaud -14.2%
Teh aw3s0mest play: Michael Conforto home run in fifth
Teh sux0rest play: Ryan Zimmerman home run in 8th
Total pitcher WPA: 31.8%
Total batter WPA: 18.2%
GWRBI!: Jose Reyes