The Mets arrived in Washington D.C. for a series in the midst of the Trade Deadline, facing a team who looked to be a major players on the market, with Josh Bell pretty much a sure thing to get traded, as well as rumors swirling about whether or not young superstar Juan Soto would be traded. The Mets were starting the series with former National Max Scherzer on the mound, facing Patrick Corbin, who in a few years went from very good pitcher to absolutely horrendous.
The first inning was quiet for the Mets. They were able to put balls into play against Corbin, but they still went down in order. For the Nationals, they were able to take advantage of some lunacy. After Scherzer got two outs to start things off, Soto drew a walk on a full count. Then Bell hit a ball down the right field line for a double, and Starling Marte fielded it. But when he threw it in, he threw it to second where no one was covering, allowing Bell to make it to third and Soto to score the first run of the game. Yadiel Hernández popped out to stop the chaos there.
The Mets turned right around and answered the Nationals scoring with some of their own. A Pete Alonso walk and a Mark Canha single put runners on, and despite reaching a point of having two outs, the Mets thrived in that situation as they have all year. Jeff McNeil, Tomás Nido, and Marte all singled to drive in runs, though Marte’s single ended with an out at the plate when Nido attempted to score from second. However, the Nationals went into the bottom of the second inning down two runs, and that didn’t change in the next three outs, going down in order with two of the outs being strikeouts.
The Mets had a comparatively quiet top of the third, however they did add another run on a Pete Alonso solo home run. However, they were otherwise quiet, with no other hits in the inning. The Nationals’ bats stayed silent in the bottom of the third, once again going down in order.
In the fourth the Mets had some activity but nothing amounted to much. McNeil got hit by a pitch and Brandon Nimmo singled but they were both stranded by the rest of the Met’s bats. The bottom of the inning was way more exciting. Soto started things out with a home run to add another run to the Nationals score and cut the Mets lead to two runs. Three straight one-out singles led to another run being scored, cutting the Mets lead to a very skinny run. Scherzer got it together and shut the door on the inning before another run could score, but it was a rough inning.
The Mets drove Corbin from the game in the fifth inning, as a result of multiple long at-bats driving his pitch count to 90 pitches before he got two outs in the fifth inning. Despite an Alonso ground rule double and Daniel Vogelbach walk, the Mets weren’t able to cash in more runs, keeping the lead at a single run. In the bottom of the inning Scherzer was able to recover and keep the Nationals away from any scoring. With the exception of a Soto walk, the Nationals had no action and went down quietly.
The sixth inning saw the Mets break the game right open. After two quick outs from McNeil and Nido, Nimmo got on base with a double, and Marte followed him with a hit by pitch. Then Francisco Lindor, facing Steve Cishek (who famously hit him in the head with a pitch in May), hit a three-run home run to put the Mets ahead by four runs. In the bottom of the inning, Scherzer kept things quiet for the Nationals, giving up a two-out single but otherwise setting the Nationals down easy.
The seventh inning was quiet for both sides. Despite the Mets getting two singles, they were unable to do anything with them. Not that it mattered much with a good lead in the later innings. There was a weird moment during Nido’s at-bat. He checked his swing on what would’ve been the third strike. The first base umpire ruled it was not a swing. But immediately the home plate umpire overruled that and called it a swing, as he had not asked for help the first base umpire’s ruling was null and void. In the bottom half of the inning the Nationals were unable to do anything to make the Mets regret not scoring anymore runs. They went down in order, even with Scherzer leaving the game after two outs in the sixth in favor of Joely Rodríguez.
In the eighth, the Mets were quiet once again. A lead-off Nimmo single was erased by a double play and a Lindor groundout shut the inning down for the Mets. The Nationals had two outs, then Soto walked for the third time. Adam Ottavino came into the game in the bottom of the eighth and, in maybe the most bizarre moment of the night, had a balk called on him by the first base umpire that was then almost immediately reversed when the other umpires realized time had been called before the balk. He got Nelson Cruz out before he could get entangled in any more tomfoolery from the umpires.
The ninth inning was smooth sailing for the Mets. In the top of the inning they went down in order, but they still were ahead four runs with just three outs to go. Ottavino stayed out for the bottom of the ninth, tasked with getting three outs. And he was able to complete that task, and the Mets won the opening game of the series against the Nationals.
The Mets win against the National served as their seventh straight win. It also added another half game to their lead over the Braves for first place in the National League East, now at 3.5 games. Tomorrow night’s game is one of the biggest the Mets will have all year. Not only will it be happening just a little while after the trade deadline, which may see the Mets add more pieces, they will definitely have one huge addition for that evening’s game: Jacob deGrom, over a year since he last pitched, will be taking the mound for the Mets in the midst of a playoff run. Things don’t get much more exciting than that.
SB Nation GameThreads
Win Probability Added
Big Mets winner: Francisco Lindor, +20.0% WPA
Big Mets loser: Eduardo Escobar, -10.8% WPA
Mets pitchers: +9.9% WPA
Mets hitters: +40.1% WPA
Teh aw3s0mest play: Francisco LIndor’s three-run home run, +25.5% WPA
Teh sux0rest play: Josh Bell’s double in the first inning, -11.3% WPA