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A pair of home runs and a sac fly lead Vargy and the Mets to victory

Jose Lobaton came off the bench and drove in the winning run in an extra inning affair.

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The Mets got off to a good start in their last series of the year against the Nationals as they picked up the 5-4 win. Not only did the Mets win the game, which is cool on its own, but they also scored three runs against Max Scherzer, Jacob deGrom’s biggest threat in the Cy Young race, raising his ERA to 2.57. With this win, the Mets have clinched at least a .500 season against the Nationals as they improved to 9-7 against them in 2018.

In their last shot against Max Scherzer this season, the Mets made things interesting in the top of the first. The second batter of the game, Jeff McNeil, wound up on second base with a double after an interesting series of events in center field which included hats falling off, a divot in the grass, and a barrel roll. Michael Conforto drew a walk as the next batter, but Scherzer was able to induce a pair of fly balls from Jay Bruce and Dominic Smith to end the Mets’ early threat.

Just like the Mets, the Nationals efforts to score were fruitless through the first couple of innings. Jason Vargas continued his impressive stretch as he put up another solid start on Thursday night. With three starters in the lineup having an OPS over .890, the Nationals weren’t a pushover. Overall, Vargas went 5.2 strong innings with eight strikeouts to his name. The Nationals did break through to score two runs on three hits, but I’ll take that seven days a week and twice on Sunday.

The Mets finally got to the scoring portion of the night’s game in the top of the third inning as Jason “Shohei OhtaniVargas lead off with a single to set things in motion with the top of the order coming up. Things didn’t quite go as planned after Amed Rosario and Jeff McNeil both struck out swinging. Fortunately, Michael Conforto is as hot as an oven and kindly deposited Max Scherzer’s fastball over the left-center field wall to give the Mets a 2-0 lead. Immediately after that, the Bruce was loose as Jay sent a fastball of his own over the wall in center to put the Mets ahead by three. Unfortunately, Dominic Smith couldn’t make it three straight dingers as he struck out to end the Mets’ half of the inning.

The two aces continued to trade zeroes for the next few innings until Vargas reached the bottom of the sixth inning. Trea Turner singled to lead things off and following a fly out by Bryce Harper, Anthony Rendon came to the dish ready to do some damage. He wasted no time sending the 100th home run of his career over the wall and bringing the Nationals within one run. The buck stopped there as Vargas and Seth Lugo combined to set Soto and Zimmerman down without issue.

With Max Scherzer out of the game and Matt Grace in, the Mets went back to scoring in the top of the eighth. Jeff McNeil tripled on a ball to right and the Amazin’s were back in business. After that, Michael Conforto finally made an out, but the Bruce remained loose as he lined a ball to right, bringing McNeil home and pushing the Mets’ lead to two. One run was all they got as a pair of strikeouts by Frazier and Nimmo drew the curtain on the top of the eighth.

The Mets’ two-run lead was short-lived as the Nationals had some hits of their own ready to go in their half of the eighth. With Lugo out and Anthony Swarzak in, the Nats immediately stringed together a single and a walk to quickly dispatch Swarzak from whence he came. The moon must’ve hit Callaway’s eye like a big pizza pie because it’s Zamora coming into the game to try and eliminate the Nationals’ threat. Zamora only faced one batter, Bryce Harper, and he was able to get him out. After that, Robert Gsellman scooted in on the bullpen cart with visions of ending the inning in his head. Gsellman managed to get Rendon to ground out, which is good, but a run scored on the grounder, which is bad. Juan Soto wasted no time in lacing Gsellman’s next pitch to right to score Trea Turner and even things at four apiece. Ryan Zimmerman followed Soto with a single to induce a corners situation, but a pop up to foul territory by Matt Wieters closed the book on the eighth inning.

The ninth inning consisted of the two bullpens trading zeroes, but things got a bit spicy in the top of the 10th. With Greg Holland in the game, Amed Rosario lead off with a single. Jeff McNeil, who was bunting for some reason, got called on a bunt that he believed he pulled back in time, and Mickey Callaway went postal. Coming out of the dugout in a barrage of arms, bulging neck veins, and a handful of the seven words you can’t say on television, Callaway was promptly ejected by the home plate umpire. McNeil eventually struck out swinging, but Conforto and Bruce were both walked to load the bases with Jack Reinheimer coming up. In a very Mets-y at bat, Reinheimer grounded out to Holland as the Nationals turned a double play to end the threat.

Jacob Rhame would face some bumps in the road over the two innings that he pitched, but the Nationals could never break completely break through against the bespectacled hurler. For the Mets, they were finally able to break through against the Nats bullpen in the top of the 12th. Another Amed Rosario was followed by another questionable bunt call for McNeil, bringing up Conforto with a man on second and one out. Naturally, Conforto was given a free pass and Bruce worked a walk of his own right after. With the sacks juiced, former National Jose Lobaton was up with the ability to put the Mets ahead. On the fifth pitch of his at bat, the catcher hit a sacrifice fly to center to give the Mets their first lead since the eighth inning.

In to close for the Mets was Paul Sewald who had minimal issues with his assignment. Trea Turner went down easily, as was Bryce Harper. Harper didn’t completely agree with the umpire’s assessment of the strikezone and had a uncouth discussion with the man in black and received the same treatment as Mickey Callaway. Sewald then induced a grounder from Rendon to seal the Mets’ 5-4 win.

On Friday night, the league leader in ERA, Jacob deGrom, takes the bump against Joe Ross and the rest of the Nationals.

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What’s WPA?

Big winners: Jay Bruce +36.1% WPA, Jacob Rhame +28.6% WPA, Michael Conforto +27.2% WPA, Paul Sewald +20.9% WPA, Tyler Bashlor +14.3% WPA, Seth Lugo +13.0% WPA, Jose Lobaton +11.2% WPA, Amed Rosario +10.4% WPA
Big losers: Jack Reinheimer -35.6% WPA, Jose Reyes -21.4% WPA, Robert Gsellman -20.9% WPA, Anthony Swarzak -20.1% WPA, Kevin Plawecki -18.5% WPA, Austin Jackson -16.0% WPA
Teh aw3s0mest play: Michael Conforto’s third inning home run, +31.2% WPA
Teh sux0rest play: Jack Reinheimer’s bases loaded double play, -35.6% WPA
Total pitcher WPA: +53.6% WPA
Total batter WPA: -3.6% WPA
GWRBI!: Jose Lobaton