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Mets win behind a big first inning and a strong return from Syndergaard

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The Mets grabbed the lead early and never relinquished it.

Washington Nationals v New York Mets Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images

Noah Syndergaard earned a win in his first start since May 25th, as the Mets bested Tanner Roark and the Nationals 4-2. Adam Eaton led off the game with a base hit and—with Syndergaard as vulnerable to the stolen base as ever—promptly stole second. But Syndergaard then recorded the first of his three strikeouts for the night in Juan Soto and Anthony Rendon lined out to Asdrubal Cabrera who made a nice diving play to tag second base with his glove to double off Eaton and end the inning.

Adeptly working around baserunners was the story all night for Syndergaard, who allowed seven hits in five innings, but only one run, as the Nationals failed to hit with runners in scoring position.

Meanwhile, the Mets gave Syndergaard an early lead to work with, as they jumped on Roark for three runs in the first inning and one run in the second inning. In the first, Brandon Nimmo, Cabrera, and Jose Bautista led off the inning with three straight singles to plate the Mets’ first run. Michael Conforto then hit a ground ball to Daniel Murphy, who threw out Bautista at second, but the ball was hit too slowly to double up Conforto. Wilmer Flores then hit a sacrifice fly to score Cabrera. The Nats put the shift on against Devin Mesoraco, but he went against it, banging a single up the middle to put the Mets out in front 3-0. Matt den Dekker struck out to end the inning. den Dekker, Ty Kelly, and Kevin Kaczmarski are now a combined 0-for-23 for the Mets.

The Mets struck again in the second when Amed Rosario continued his hot streak, leading off the inning with a triple. Syndergaard, showing he hasn’t lost his prowess with the bat, then drove in Rosario with a single to stretch the Mets’ lead to 4-0.

One could say Tanner Roark was getting his breasts ignited, if you know what I mean, but the Mets managed just two hits off Roark during the rest of his five innings of work, as the righty was able to settle down. The four runs held up for Syndergaard, however. The Nationals’ only run off him came in the third when Tanner Roark hit a strange bouncer that hugged the top of the wall in foul territory and skirted past Nimmo for an unlikely triple. Who says we need a designated hitter in the National League? Wilmer Difo then hit a double down the right field line to score Roark, but the Mets benefitted from a baserunning blunder on his part when he tried to advance to third on a grounder to short off the bat of Eaton and was tagged out. Noah Syndergaard worked around the Juan Soto single that followed Eaton’s at-bat and would have scored Difo had he remained at second base, ending the inning with a strikeout of Bryce Harper. It was not Harper’s night, as he would go on to hit into a couple of hard outs, including an inning-ending 6-4-3 double play in the fifth inning that closed the book on Syndergaard’s night. Harper’s frustration was visible, as he failed to run out the double play grounder.

Syndergaard was replaced by Seth Lugo, who pitched two scoreless innings of relief. Replicating Syndergaard’s fourth inning, Lugo walked Matt Adams and Daniel Murphy to lead off the sixth inning. But he was able to get Matt Wieters to strike out swinging, the pinch hitter Brian Goodwin to fly out to left, and Difo to ground out to first to escape the jam. Seth Lugo turned it around in the seventh inning, when he really had his curveball working. He retired the Nationals 1-2-3 and struck out two batters in the frame.

Meanwhile, the Mets failed to score despite having runners on in both the sixth and seventh innings against the Nationals bullpen. Rosario led off the sixth inning with a double off Justin Miller that bounced on the warning track in center field over the head of Harper and over the wall. Jose Reyes, who had been double-switched in for den Dekker when Lugo entered the game, then flew out to center. But Rosario stole third to put himself 90 feet away with one out. Nimmo failed to get him in and struck out swinging. Cabrera then worked out a walk, but Bautista was rung up on a check swing strike three—a call that he clearly did not agree with in the least. The Mets had a less eventful seventh; Conforto had a bloop single to left to lead off the inning, but was stranded at first base.

Robert Gsellman came in to pitch the eighth inning for the Mets and was hit hard the entire inning. Harper hit into another tough luck out to lead off the inning, as his hard-hit grounder found Flores’ glove. Adams followed that with a moonshot home run to the upper deck in right field to cut the Mets’ lead to 4-2. Murphy the hit one hard back to Gsellman for the second out and Matt Wieters flew out to deep right center to end the inning.

Shawn Kelley pitched a scoreless bottom of the eighth for the Nationals, working around Nimmo’s third hit of the night and striking out two batters.

Mickey Callaway had both Anthony Swarzak and Jerry Blevins warming in the bullpen but chose to stick with Gsellman, who had a much smoother ninth inning. He recorded two relatively quick flyouts off the bats of the pinch hitter Trea Turner and Difo. Eaton then squared up on a pitch, but Brandon Nimmo was able to make a diving grab to catch the screaming liner and end the game.

Overall, it was a positive first start off the disabled list for Syndergaard, who was able to shut down innings and limit the damage to earn his fifth win of the season. That now matches Jacob deGrom’s win total for the year and I imagine he spent the evening sitting in the dugout wondering when he will ever benefit from four runs of support.

In game three of this four-game series, Zack Wheeler faces off against rookie Austin Voth, who will be making his major league debut for the Nationals.

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What’s WPA?

Big winners: Noah Syndergaard, +15.4% WPA
Big losers: None
Teh aw3s0mest play: Asdrubal Cabrera singles to make it first and third with no one out in the first inning, +9.1% WPA
Teh sux0rest play: Seth Lugo walks Daniel Murphy to make it first and second with no one out in the sixth inning, -6.9% WPA
Total pitcher WPA: +31.8% WPA
Total batter WPA: +18.2% WPA
GWRBI!: Devin Mesoraco