Syndergaard. Strasburg. September. Citi Field. Game 154. In an alternate universe where the Mets suffered one hundred billion fewer injuries and Ryan Zimmerman didn’t embrace the magic of launch angles, this might have been the game of the baseball calendar. Instead, the Mets were left seeking some positive mojo for some players heading into 2018, while the Nationals were simply working their roster into playoff shape. The bullpens dueled into an extra frame until an all-too-familiar face put the Mets to bed in the tenth.
Noah Syndergaard’s cameo was Game of Thrones quick. Thor was making his first appearance since leaving a game against these Nationals on April 30 with a right lat tear. It was predetermined that Syndergaard would only pitch the first inning, in which he hurled five whole pitches. Jayson Werth singled with one out, but Daniel Murphy grounded out sharply into a double play on the at fifth pitch. Syndergaard did hit 99 MPH on the radar gun, and his successful return would ultimately be the positive outtake of the night.
As scheduled, Matt Harvey made what was his first career relief appearance, starting the second in relief of Syndergaard. Harvey started off with two scoreless innings, enabling the Mets to grab an early lead against Stephen Strasburg in the bottom of the third.
Brandon Nimmo hit an opposite field ground-rule double to score the first run, and Kevin Plawecki followed with a squibber through the middle to plate two more and give the Mets an early 3-0 lead. The offense would go dormant from there, though, recording only one more hit the rest of the way.
The Nationals would get two right back in the top of the fourth on an Adam Lind home run, then tie it up in the fifth on a Matt Wieters solo shot. From there it became a battle of the bullpens, as both teams were largely shut down over the remaining regulation frames—the Nats had one opportunity in the top of the eighth with first and third and one out, but Jamie Callahan struck out Michael Taylor and Andrew Stevenson to keep the game tied.
That only set the stage for a painful extra-inning denouement to an excruciating season. Daniel Murphy came to the plate to lead off the tenth against Jacob Rhame, and promptly launched his ninth home run against his former team over the last two seasons. The Mets went quietly in the bottom of the tenth to fall to defeat, left trying to envision a 2018 where Syndergaard is throwing his 200th inning in a meaningful September game against the Nats, rather than his 28th in a loss that keeps them a half-game “behind” the Reds in the battle for the fifth overall draft pick next year.
SB Nation GameThreads
Win Probability Added
Big winners: Jeurys Familia, +12.8% WPA, Jamie Callahan, +10.4% WPA
Big losers: Jacob Rhame, -37.1% WPA, Matt Harvey, -12.2% WPA, Juan Lagares, -10.6% WPA, Amed Rosario, -10.4% WPA
The aw3s0mest play: Brandon Nimmo RBI ground-rule double in third inning, +16.1%
The sux0rest play: Daniel Murphy’s 10th inning home run, -34.8%
Total pitcher WPA: 0.7% WPA-
Total batter WPA: 49.3% WPA-
GWRBI!: Daniel Murphy