It was a day of firsts. The first time Chris Bassitt donned the orange and blue of the New York Mets. The first—though almost certainly not the last—Pete Alonso grand slam. The first game of 2022 that did not have a rain or electric bill related delay to it. However, it did not contain the first loss of the season for the Mets.
Chris Bassitt had some Mad Max-sized shoes to fill, following up Max Scherzer’s debut with one of his own. And all he did was dominate the Nationals.
The first four innings saw Bassitt and rookie Joan Adon go pretty much toe to toe. The Mets threatened in each inning, but Adon did a good job of keeping them off the board. Bassitt surrendered just two hits and a walk in the first four frames.
The fifth inning was, by far, the most important inning of the game. It began with a well struck single by James McCann. Brandon Nimmo walked (surprise!), to put two runners on with no outs. Starling Marte, who had a tough 0-4 night, flew out. A Francisco Lindor walk loaded the bases for designated hitter Pete Alonso. Alonso smoked a poorly placed fastball, hitting it a modest 111.6 MPH over the left field fence, pulled off an endlessly cool bat flip in the process (probably got a little nervous that the wind was going to keep the ball in the ballpark), and put the Mets put in front 4-0. Which would prove to be more than enough.
Bassitt continued his strong performance after being handed the lead, tossing a perfect fifth inning and surrendering a hit in the sixth, putting together the best outing by a Mets starting pitcher to date. The Mets offense followed their early game blueprint after the fifth, scattering hits and base runners but were kept off the board in the sixth, seventh, and eighth innings.
Drew Smith continued his solid start to the season with a perfect seventh inning, and Joely Rodriguez—yet another debut in the orange and blue—tossed an impressive eighth inning to keep the score 4-0 into the ninth.
The Mets added a superfluous but entertaining insurance run in the ninth. Nimmo led the inning off with a double, which was actually a bouncing ball into the shift that deflected off of Maikel Franco’s glove—while Cesar Hernandez was in perfect position to field it behind him—and into right field. A Marte fly out moved Nimmo to third, and a wild pitch saw Nimmo scamper home with the fifth and final run of the game.
Rodriguez came out to start the ninth inning and face Soto, and he got the lefty to ground out weakly to Jeff McNeil. Noted New Yorker Adam Ottavino came in to finish it off, getting the last two outs of the game around a Josh Bell single.
Win Probability Added
Big Mets winner: Pete Alonso, +19.2 WPA
Big Mets loser: Starling Marte, -7.8% WPA
Mets pitchers: +35.3% WPA
Mets hitters: +14.7% WPA
Teh aw3s0mest play: Pete Alonso’s grand slam in the top of the fifth, +26.6% WPA
Teh sux0rest play: Juan Soto’s single in the bottom of the fourth, -4.3% WPA