The first of a five-game series against the Nationals went according to plan for the Mets, until it didn’t, and then the offense scored a bunch of runs in the tenth inning to secure a 6-2 win in D.C.
Lane Thomas led off the bottom of the first with a single off Mets’ starter Rich Hill, but was erased on the base paths on the very next play. Alcides Escobar sent a line drive into center field that Brandon Nimmo chased down, and when Thomas turned to run back to first after having already touched second base, he neglected to touch the bag on his return. Francisco Lindor recognized the blunder instantly, received the throw from Nimmo, and appealed to the umpire to double-up Thomas as he touched the bag. That cleared the bases for Hill to face Juan Soto with two outs, and Hill took advantage by striking out the young slugger. It was the first of three highly successful meetings against Soto for Hill.
Javy Báez took the extra base on a one-out double in the top of the second inning after dumping a bloop single into right field. Michael Conforto drove him in with a line drive that ricocheted off of starter Sean Nolin’s throwing shoulder and into center field, and thankfully Nolin stayed in the game after the ball came very close to hitting him in the head. Kevin Pillar followed the RBI single with a 111 mile-per-hour double to left field that put Conforto at third base, though Chance Cisco couldn’t follow through on the RBI opportunity after striking out. Hill grounded out to third base to end the inning, and the Mets finished their second turn at-bat with a 1-0 lead.
With two outs and Nimmo on first as a result of a walk in the top of the third, Pete Alonso sent a lazy fly ball to shallow right field that in 95% of cases would have ended the inning. But Soto was playing deep in right-center and couldn’t reach the ball before it fell in play, and the ball hopping past Soto allowed Nimmo to score and for Alonso to end up on third base for his second triple of the season. Báez continued the inning after getting hit with a pitch, but Conforto ended it with a groundout as the Mets finished the inning with a 2-0 lead.
Luis García led off the bottom of the third inning with a double, and Nolin failed to advance him after popping up his bunt attempt to Hill. García then attempted to steal third before Hill began his motion, which prompted Hill to turn around and force him into a rundown that ended with Jonathan Villar tagging García out at third. One pitch later, Thomas flew out, and the Mets saw no damage after the leadoff double.
Villar started the fifth inning with a leadoff double to the gap in right-center, though he was tagged out after Nimmo’s hard-hit grounder into the shift behind second base caught him in a pickle. Hill also found himself in a pickle with two outs and a runner on second and third, but maintained his shutout by forcing a Keibert Ruiz popout to Báez.
The top of the sixth inning ended with some controversy. With Conforto on second base, Chance Sisco was called out after a pitch hit the knob of his bat, rolled into fair territory, and was picked up by pitcher Patrick Murphy who threw him out at first for the third out. Instant replay showed that the ball appeared to hit Sisco’s arm after hitting the knob of the bat, which would have rendered the ball foul, but as the play was not eligible for a replay review the inning ended as it was.
With a runner on first, the heart of the Nationals order up, and two relievers warming up in the bottom of the sixth, Hill finessed his way through an Escobar strikeout, a Soto pop fly, and a Josh Bell groundout. He finished his best outing as a Met with six scoreless innings on an economical 85 pitches, allowing only three hits and striking out four batters.
After Luis Guillorme struck out in the top of the seventh in his first appearance since coming off the IL, Villar hit a single through the hole between the shortstop and the third baseman. Executing a hit and run, Nimmo shot a ball past the third base bag, allowing for Villar to take third base and for Nimmo to stretch his hit into a double after Bell neglected to throw the ball to second. Both Lindor and Alonso struck out, however, and the Mets stranded another two runners on base. This would come back to bite the Mets towards the end of the game.
After Seth Lugo and Aaron Loup cleaned up the seventh and eighth innings, the Mets turned to Edwin Díaz to handle the bottom of the ninth. On his first pitch, Juan Soto sent a fly ball down the left-field line that scraped over the wall to make it a 2-1 game. That Soto did his damage with no runners on base appeared to be a blessing for the Mets, until a one-out walk to Ryan Zimmerman set the table for the Nationals to come back.
With pinch-runner Andrew Stevenson running with two strikes, Riley Adams hit a ball towards center field that a diving Nimmo allowed to get behind him. Báez received the cutoff throw as Stevenson raced towards home plate, and though the throw beat Stevenson, it brought catcher Chance Sisco too far up the third base line as runner and catcher collided violently. Sisco dropped the ball as Stevenson scored the tying run, and left the game immediately after the hit. Díaz settled down by striking out Carter Kieboom and forcing Luis García to ground out to prevent the walk off with a runner on third, and the game continued into extra innings.
With the free runner Francisco Lindor on second base in the top of the tenth, Alonso once again came up big with a soft single into center field, giving the Mets a 3-2 lead. Alonso then advanced to second base on a long flyout from Javy Báez, which turned out to be incredibly important as he and Michael Conforto were able to score on the subsequent Kevin Pillar double. A Villar single two batters later gave him his fourth hit of the day, scored Pillar, and made the game 6-2, which was enough of a cushion for Jeurys Familia to set the Nationals down in order in the bottom of the tenth.
It was far from the prettiest game, but it was a highly entertaining way to begin what should be an impactful series for the Mets. With the Phillies and Braves both losing, the Mets now sit only four games behind in the division and with an opportunity to make up more than one game with an upcoming doubleheader. The Mets plan on starting Marcus Stroman for the first game at 1:05 and Tylor Megill for the second game at 6:05.
*illar of the game
Both! Jonathan Villar went 4-6 with an RBI at the top of the order, and Kevin Pillar went 3-5 with 2 RBI in the seventh spot.
Win Probability Added
Big Mets winner: Rich Hill, +36.8% WPA
Big Mets loser: Edwin Díaz, -23.4% WPA
Mets pitchers: +35.7% WPA
Mets hitters: +14.3% WPA
Teh aw3s0mest play: Luis García groundout
Teh sux0rest play: Riley Adams RBI double