There are some days as a Mets fan, when it feels like no matter what the team does, they can’t win. This was not one of those days.
Marcus Stroman started the night amped up, clearly reveling in starting his first home game for his local team. Over the first three innings, but especially the second and third, Stroman was firing on all cylinders, striking out seven Nationals in the first three innings, tying his season record early in the game. Steven Strasburg was equally impressive, setting down the first nine Mets in order, with both starters blanking their competition through three.
But the fourth inning was a significant one for both clubs. In the top of the inning, the first three Nats batters scored without recording an out. A single to Adam Eaton out a man on base for Anthony Rendon, who struck a triple to right-center field, which caused a scary looking, but ultimately harmless, collision between Michael Conforto and Jeff McNeil. The next batter was Juan Soto, who crushed a home run to right-center to put the Nats up 3-0.
The Mets wasted no time in answering right back. Jeff McNeil led off the inning with a great at-bat, fouling off Strasburg a few pitches and working a seven-pitch walk. Amed Rosario and Conforto failed to drive McNeil in, but Pete Alonso had no such trouble. Alonso lined an absolute laser (4 seconds from the bat to landing) over the heads of Gary, Keith, and Ron, broadcasting from the M&M Deck, for a massive two-run home run. The next batter was J.D. Davis, who drove an high, majestic bomb to the opposite field to tie the game.
Stroman encountered threats in the fifth, walking Trea Turner and allowing another Eaton single. But he was able to escape trouble with his eighth strikeout of the night, fanning Rendon with a cutter to end the inning.
That was all preamble for the Mets’ masterful and, frankly, unbelievable walking of the tightrope in the sixth inning. Juan Soto ripped a double down the right-field line to lead off the inning, and was moved over to third by a single off the bat of Matt Adams. For the second time in the game, Alonso was overly aggressive at first base, and instead of letting newest Met Joe Panik field the ball, he dove and the ball deflected off of his glove. For some reason, Soto stayed put a third base, and there were two on and no outs with Kurt Suzuki coming to the plate.
A ground ball to third base was, instead of starting a double play, thrown home by Todd Frazier and, despite a too-many-throws rundown ensuing, Soto was out, with the runners moving to second and third. Brian Dozier hit a frozen rope that looked destined to find grass, but instead found Amed Rosario’s glove for a leaping second out. An intentional walk to Victor Robles put a force out at each base, but Stroman didn’t need any help recording his final out, striking out Strasburg with his 102nd pitch of the night.
The Mets pulled off a similarly inept sixth inning, also beginning the inning with men on the corners with no outs, but an Alonso line out, a terrible strike three call to Davis, and a Ramos ground out led to no runs.
Stroman started the seventh, but was pulled after a leadoff walk. Justin Wilson was the first in the game from the bullpen, and struck out Eaton for the first out. Noted Met-killer Rendon was up next, and he dumped a two-run home run over the left-field wall to put the Nats up 5-3.
Robert Gsellman started the eighth for the Mets, and looked good, inducing two ground outs and striking out pinch hitter Andrew Stevenson to end the inning. In the bottom of the inning, Rosario lined a double into left field to give the Mets a one-out baserunner, but neither Conforto nor Alonso could reach base to extend the inning.
Gsellman also started the ninth inning, but promptly gave up two singles to start the inning. Turner, who led off the inning, moved to third on a sacrifice fly, and scored on a wild pitch, putting the Nats up 6-3.
It appeared that this was an insurance run for the Nationals, in case their closer, the thoroughly beleaguered by the Mets Sean Doolittle, faltered a bit. Well, falter he did. Davis led off the inning with a double, followed up by a line drive single by Wilson Ramos. Todd Frazier then absolutely crushed a Doolittle pitch to deep left field, tying the game, replete with an epic bat-flip.
Panik then singled and was replaced on first by Juan Lagares on a failed bunt attempt. After a McNeil flyout, Rosario singled to put two men on for Conforto. A line drive over the head of Eaton ended the game, and allowed the incredibly loud, engaged crowd a chance to go apeshit once more.
Tomorrow is another marquee pitching match up, with Noah Syndergaard taking on Patrick Corbin.
SB Nation GameThreads
Win Probability Added
Big winners: Michael Conforto, +45.0% WPA, Todd Frazier, +34.9% WPA, Amed Rosario, +13.1% WPA
Big losers: Justin Wilson, -25.4% WPA, Marcus Stroman, -10.4% WPA
Total pitcher WPA: -36.6% WPA
Total batter WPA: +86.6% WPA
Teh aw3s0mest play: Todd Frazier’s game tying home run, +43.4% WPA
Teh sux0rest play: Anthony Rendon’s two-run home run, -32.5% WPA