While the final score of 13-6 makes it seem like the Mets had this one in the bag from start to finish, it was a much closer affair for eight of the nine innings this afternoon.
The offense started out hot, with Jonathan Villar starting off his day with a line drive double down the third base line off of Josiah Gray, a highly touted prospect the Nationals acquired for Trea Turner and Max Scherzer this past trade deadline. Francisco Lindor worked a walk, and Pete Alonso fisted a single to right. Villar could have (and frankly, should have) scored on the play but was concerned about the ball not dropping (it was a hit the whole way). The bases were quickly loaded with no outs.
Michael Conforto, who in August remembered he is good at baseball, did not allow that minor base running gaffe to go against the Mets. He smacked a hard hit single up the middle, scoring two to make it 2-0. Javier Báez started off his strong day at the plate with an RBI single to make it 3-0, and Jeff McNeil capped off the inning with a warning track sacrifice fly to put up a four spot on Gray.
The Nationals, just like they always seem to against the Mets, refused to make it easy for them. Lane Thomas, who has hit approximately .800 since being acquired from the Cardinals for extremely old Jon Lester, led off the bottom of the first with a home run off of Taijuan Walker. Alcides Escobar worked a walk, and Josh Bell quickly made Walker pay with a two run homer, making it 4-3.
The Mets did not just sit on their lead, however, as they scored in both the second and third innings, both of which on opposite field home runs by Villar and Báez. Walker did a great job of settling down (for a while), throwing three scoreless innings. That is how we got to a 6-3 ballgame in the fifth.
Remember when Walker settled down? He quickly got unsettled in that fifth inning. After getting the first out, he surrendered singles to Yadiel Hernandez, Thomas, and Escobar, loading the bases for [gulps] [tugs nervously at collar] Juan Soto.
While Soto did not do as much damage as he could, he did smash a single up the middle to make it 6-5. A wild pitch tied it at six apiece, and ended Walker’s day after 4.1 inconsistent innings, continuing a worrying second half trend for the big righty. Jeurys Familia came in to relieve Walker, and had one of the more impactful 0.2 innings pitch one could have. With runners on and one away, he blew away Carter Kieboom for the second out, and subsequently hit Andrew Stevenson to load the bases. He got out of it by striking out Riley Adams, keeping it tied at six. That would start an absolutely dominant stretch for the bullpen to end the game.
The Mets went down easily in the sixth. and Miguel Castro threw a perfect bottom of the sixth to keep it tied. The seventh was largely the same, with the Mets going down relatively easily and Aaron Loup working around a one out walk to keep it scoreless. The top of the eighth was a different story, for our beloved Metropolitans of New York.
Báez kept his excellent day going with a lead off infield single. Jeff McNeil stroked an opposite field single and Kevin Pillar decided he was jealous of the singles and added one of his own to load the bases with no outs. Newly clean shaven Patrick Mazeika hit a sharp line drive to center, which Thomas made a great sliding play on to get the out. Báez, however, alertly realized that Thomas would have to leave his feet to catch the rather shallow liner, and tagged up with ease to make it 7-6 Mets. They did not score another run in the eighth, with Luis Guillorme striking out and Villar hitting a hard hit grounder right to Bell.
After a clean 8th from Trevor May, where our favorite Twitch streamer worked around a lead off walk, educing back to back to back fly outs, we marched on to the ninth.
And as you can tell from the final score, it was a wild one.
Lindor opened up with ninth in style, taking a first pitch curveball 413 feet to dead center field, making it 8-6. A Pete Alonso double and a Conforto single made it 9-6. Báez singled (making him 4-4 with a hit by pitch on the day, which probably was his best as a Met thus far), and Villar walked to load the bases. Pillar immediately broke the game wide open, walloping a grand slam (he really crushed it, hitting it 418 feet), making it 13-6. Yennsy Diaz pitched a clean ninth, capping off a wonderful performance by the bullpen, which tossed 4.2 hitless innings in relief of Walker en route to a very fun win in Washington D.C.
-illar of the day
Now THIS game was a good ol’ fashioned -illar-off. The two were excellent. Villar went 2-6 with a double, home run, and a walk. Pillar went 2-4, a very rare walk, and a grand slam. He also stole a base. Both are more than deserving but Pillar hitting literally a 418 foot grand slam makes him the -illar of the day.
Win Probability Added
Big Mets winner: Javier Báez, +25.4% WPA
Big Mets loser: Taijuan Walker, -46.2% WPA
Mets pitchers: -3.4% WPA
Mets hitters: +53.4% WPA
Teh aw3s0mest play: Kevin Pillar’s single to load the bases with no outs in the eighth, +11.9% WPA
Teh sux0rest play: Juan Soto’s two RBI single, -19.6% WPA