Coming off a 2-11 stretch against the Dodgers and Giants that basically ended their season, the Mets entered this series against the lowly and decimated Nationals in their lowest point of the season. They lost the first game of the series, making things look even more dire than they had, but an uplifting win Saturday night helped get some good feelings back that they looked to carry into in the rubber game of the series.
They’d send Tylor Megill to the mound to do so, coming off the worst start of his career. He had a nice rebound performance, allowing just two runs in five innings on a Josh Bell two-run homer in the fourth inning.
The Mets scored a run in the first when Francisco Lindor coaxed Eric Fedde into a balk while faking down the third base line, but stranded a runner at third. Bell’s homer gave the Nats a 2-1 lead at the time, and it was looking like another game where the Mets would have to play from behind.
This time, however, they instantly took the lead back. In the bottom half of the fourth, Javier Báez came up with a runner on first and one out, and demolished a 447-foot home run into the second deck. The Mets jumped back out to a 3-2 lead on Báez’s two-run blast, which he followed with an interesting thumbs-down celebration. Seeing this, Mets fans probably thought this was a new, harmless inside joke that was running through the clubhouse, much like the churve celebration or the home run horse. Surely we’d get some laughs about it after the game.
More on that later.
The Mets added another run in the sixth on a Pete Alonso base hit, but the Mets stranded two more runners on when Conforto and Báez both struck out to end the inning.
Juan Soto touched off a solo shot in the sixth off Aaron Loup, a rare lefty-lefty homer surrendered by Loup this year. But that was all the Nats could get off Loup, who’s ERA climbed all the way to 1.22 with the homer.
The Mets once again answered in their half of the inning, when Kevin Pillar singled, stole second, and then scored on a Dom Smith RBI single. The next batter, Jonathan Villar, homered just over the orange line in left-center, and the Mets suddenly led 7-3.
Miguel Castro handled the Nats without issue in the seventh. Jeurys Familia came on for the 8th and recorded two quick outs, but then ran into trouble. He served up a solo homer to Bell, his second of the game, which made it a 7-4 game, and then surrendered back-to-back walks to bring Luis Garcia up as the tying run. But Familia bore down and struck Garcia out to end the frame.
The Mets’ bats went back to work in the eighth, which is a sentence that usually means they rolled over two grounders and struck out looking, but this time it means they loaded the bases with one out for Francisco Lindor, who ripped a two-run double down the left field line to make it 9-4. The Mets stranded two more runners in the inning and eight in the game, but hey at least they scored nine runs this time.
New addition Heath Hembree sealed the deal in the ninth with a 1-2-3 inning, capping off the first Mets series win since they last played the Nationals earlier this month. The Mets have 8 wins in the month of August, and 5 of them have come against the pitiful Nationals. This was the most runs the Mets have scored in a game since July 19, and just the third time this month they had scored at least 7 runs in a game.
After the game, Báez took the podium and clarified that his “thumbs down” celebration was actually a retaliatory gesture to the fans for their booing of him and others during this horrid August stretch. Báez claimed “When we don’t get success, we’re going to get booed,” Báez explained afterward. “So they [the fans] are going to get booed when we get success.”
As bad of a look as you may think that is or isn’t, Sandy Alderson arguably fanned the flames by making a statement about it, making it an even bigger deal than it was, and ensuring this will dominate the news cycle for the next two days before the Mets play a doubleheader on Tuesday against the Marlins.
In what was supposed to be a “new era” for the Mets, they’re as much of a mess as they’ve ever been.
*illar of the game
Villar recorded three hits in five at bats, with one being a homer and the other being a double. Kevin Pillar, on the other hand, went 1-for-4, so this crown once again belongs to Villar.
Win Probability Added
Big Mets winner: Javier Báez, +20.8% WPA
Big Mets loser: Michael Conforto, -12.4% WPA
Mets pitchers: -1.5% WPA
Mets hitters: 51.5% WPA
Teh aw3s0mest play: Javier Báez hits a two-run homer in the fourth inning +25.8% WPA
Teh sux0rest play: Josh Bell hits a two-run homer in the fourth inning, -24.3% WPA