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Sweeping the doubleheader and the series, the Mets show signs of life

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While they are still out of first place, the Mets made some progress today.

MLB: Game Two-Washington Nationals at New York Mets Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

Game 1

On a scorching hot day at Citi Field, the Mets beat the Nationals 4-1, in game one of yet another doubleheader after the second game last night was postponed due to rain.

Marcus Stroman took the mound and proved why right now, he’s the most reliable starter the Mets have. Through the first five innings of the game, Stroman allowed just one hit and one walk, while striking out seven batters. This included a minor hiccup in the fourth inning, where Stroman seemed to feel physically ill from the heat after fielding a groundball from Juan Soto, but then recovered to get the final out of the inning.

After a dreadful weekend in Philadelphia for the Mets’ offense, the lineup seems to have turned a corner in the past two days. Facing a soft tossing lefty in Sean Nolin, his first appearance in the big leagues since 2015 when he was with the Athletics, it was fair to assume this might be another one of those days where the lineup could not do anything against a pitcher they should be having success off of.

In the bottom of the first, the Mets disputed that notion, getting back-to-back hits from Dom Smith and J.D. Davis, putting Smith in scoring position for Jeff McNeil. McNeil ended up striking out swinging, giving the Mets an early two men left on base, and coming up short in their first attempt to score off of Nolin.

However, the bats were once again able to get something going in the bottom of the second, with Jonathan Villar leading off the inning with a softly hit single to center. After Michael Conforto and Tomás Nido lined out to the outfield, Marcus Stroman of all people was able to keep the inning alive. On the first pitch he saw, Stroman squared up and dropped a perfect bunt to the right of the pitchers mound, leaving the Nationals with no play, and putting two men on base for Brandon Nimmo. Nimmo took advantage of Stroman extending the inning, flying a 3-2 cutter over the right field wall for his third home run of the season, and his first in 69 plate appearances, to give the Mets an early 3-0 lead in the second inning.

In the bottom of the third, the Mets had more opportunities to score off of Nolin when Dom Smith and J.D. Davis got back-to-back hits for the second straight time. Jeff McNeil then came to the plate and lined into a double play to first base, where Davis was then doubled off. Jonathan Villar then flied out to Juan Soto in right field, leaving a runner in scoring position and keeping the game at 3-0.

The bottom of the fourth inning also marked the fourth time the Mets got runners on base against Sean Nolin, and this time they were able to capitalize and score another run. After Michael Conforto led off the inning with a single up the middle, Nolin’s day was done and the Nationals brought in reliever Andrés Machado. The first batter Machado faced was Tomás Nido and Nido welcomed him to the game with a softly hit single, allowing Conforto to go first to third. Pitcher Marcus Stroman was then up for the second time, and while he struck out and could not replicated his bunt magic from his first plate appearance, noted speedster Tomás Nido stole second base, putting two men in scoring position.

Brandon Nimmo then came to bat with another opportunity with runners in scoring position, and once again delivered with a single to left field, scoring Conforto and making it 4-0 Mets. Pete Alonso was next, looking to keep the rally going, and on a 1-2 pitch, was hit up and in on his hand, which dropped him to the ground. While walking to first base, Alonso voiced his displeasure with pitcher Andrés Machado (with words that are not appropriate for this recap), and while both managers came out of the dugout, nothing else came out of the incident. With the bases now loaded, Dom Smith and J.D. Davis had golden opportunities to break the game open, and instead both struck out swinging, leaving the game at 4-0.

After cruising through the first five innings, Marcus Stroman found himself in trouble in the top of the sixth with the sun beating down on the field. After walking the leadoff batter Riley Adams, Stroman allowed back-to-back hits to Andrew Stevenson and Victor Robles, the second hit a double, to score the first Nationals’ run of the game. This also allowed the tying run to come to the plate, and made the missed opportunities the Mets had earlier in the game to score more runs even worse.

After striking out Alcides Escobar for the first out of the inning, manager Luis Rojas opted for lefty Aaron Loup to face Juan Soto rather than a tiring Stroman. This ended Stroman’s afternoon, who struck out eight batters over 5.1 innings, and left the game with two runners on base. Loup then came into the game, looking to continue his dominance this season, but was faced with a very tall task of facing Soto. Soto worked out a very impressive at-bat, walking on 9 pitches, including getting a few generous calls from the home plate umpire.

This brought Josh Bell to the plate as the go-ahead run, and on the sixth pitch of the at-bat, he grounded a ball right at Jeff McNeil who shuffle passed the ball to Jonathan Villar to turn the double play and get the out at second base. Villar’s throw to first to get the second out was a scary one, as it was wide of the bag, and had Pete Alonso jumping to catch the ball, and then having to reach to tag Bell, which he successfully did, to allow the Mets to escape the inning and keep it a 4-1 game.

After being sent down in order in the bottom of the sixth, Edwin Diaz came on for the save in the seventh inning and worked around a one-out double by Carter Kieboom to secure the win for the Mets. With the win, the Mets took the first two games of the series against the Nationals before having to play a second game just 30 minutes later.

*illar of the game

Kevin Pillar did not play in the first game, and Jonathan Villar had a single which allowed him to score on Brandon Nimmo’s three-run homer. Advantage: Villar

Box scores

ESPN

MLB

Win Probability Added

Fangraphs.com


Big Mets winner: Brandon Nimmo, +30% WPA
Big Mets loser: Jeff McNeil, -10% WPA
Mets pitchers: +26% WPA
Mets hitters: +24% WPA
Teh aw3s0mest play: Brandon Nimmo’s three-run homer in the bottom of the second inningg, +30.8% WPA
Teh sux0rest play: Victor Robles’ RBI double in the top of the sixth inning, -12% WPA

SB Nation GameThreads

Amazin’ Avenue

Federal Baseball


Game 2

For the first six innings of the second game, it appeared that the Mets would pick up a second consecutive 4-1 victory. The offense, which has been struggling so mightily this season, strung together enough hits in the fourth against Erick Fedde to bring in two runs and give the Mets the lead. Michael Conforto, J.D. Davis, and Jonathan Villar hit three straight hits in the fourth, and it appears that Conforto and Davis may finally be getting hot.

The Mets’ 27th man for today’s doubleheader, Trevor Williams, pitched a perfectly cromulent game, going four and a third innings of one run ball, striking out two. Seth Lugo pitched one and two-thirds scoreless innings in relief, keeping the Mets in the game. Jonathan Villar hit a two-run home run to dead center off of Tanner Rainey to give the Mets a three-run lead going into the seventh inning.

Then, the wheels came off.

Trevor May has been on a good streak as of late, but clearly did not have it today. May only recorded one out, while loading the bases on singles by Luis Garcia and Adrian Sanchez and a walk to Gerardo Parra before exiting the game with an expletive-rilled rant, if my lip-reading skills are to be trusted. Next up was Jeurys Familia, who induced a pop up to Victor Robles to get the key second out.

When Andrew Stevenson came to the plate, the first pitch was in the dirt and went to the backstop, scoring Garcia and moving the runners to second and third. This very much looked like a ball that James McCann should’ve had, but it wasn’t McCann’s glove that blew the lead.

That culprit would be Jeff McNeil’s defense.

Familia got Stevenson to hit the ball on the right side of the infield, but Jeff McNeil took a bad route to the ball and never even got a glove on it, allowing Sanchez and Parra to score and tie the game. Familia did a fairly good job, keeping the ball on the ground and limiting hard contact, but saw three inherited runners score on his watch.

In the top of the seventh, McNeil had a chance to redeem himself against new pitcher Kyle Finnegan, but grounded out weakly for the first out. Thankfully, Pete Alonso is a mountain of a man and hit a ball sky high that carried out to left field for a walk-off victory for the Mets, and a sweep of the series with the Nationals.

Tomorrow, Tylor Megill starts for the Mets as they welcome Julio Urias and the Dodgers to Citi Field for one of the toughest series of the season thus far.

*illar of the game

Kevin Pillar was hitless in his sole appearance. Jonathan Villar collected three hits, including a two-run home run. This is an easy Villar victory.

Box scores

ESPN

MLB

Win Probability Added

Mets vs Nationals WPA Chart 8/12/21 Game 2
Fangraphs.com

What’s WPA?

Big Mets winner: Pete Alonso, +47.2% WPA
Big Mets loser: Jeurys Familia (unfairly), -21.6% WPA
Mets pitchers: -0.17 WPA
Mets hitters: 51.7% WPA
Teh aw3s0mest play: Pete Alonso’s game winning home run, +42.7% WPA
Teh sux0rest play: Andrew Stevenson’s seventh inning single, -32.4% WPA

SB Nation GameThreads

Amazin’ Avenue

Federal Baseball