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Mets white knuckle it to beat the Nationals

The Mets had a rollercoaster of a game, filled with twists and churves.

Washington Nationals v New York Mets Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

After a successful West Coast road trip, the Mets came home to face the Nationals and got promptly smacked around by the worst team in the division. They hoped to stop the skid, which had reached a four game losing streak, and that hope came in the form of Joey Lucchesi on the mound. They hoped to end the losing streak and change their momentum before facing the Braves over the weekend. But they also had to face former Met Trrevor Williams on the mound for Washington.

In the top of the first, Lucchesi immediately ran into trouble. Alex Call started the inning off with a leadoff walk. Lucchesi then got two quick outs, looking like he was getting out of the inning no problem. But Keibert Ruiz singled and Lane Thomas walked, which loaded the bases for Stone Garrett. But Garrett flew out to Brandon Nimmo in center, and Lucchesi wiggled his way out of trouble. In the bottom of the first, the Mets didn’t put up much of a fight. Nimmo lined out, then Starling Marte and Francisco Lindor had back to back fly outs to end the inning.

In the second, Lucchesi had an easier go of it. He set the Nationals down in order, getting a pop out and two ground outs on just ten pitches. In the bottom of the inning, Pete Alonso flew out to the deepest part of center field to start things off, but Jeff McNeil singled to put a runner on. Daniel Vogelbach singled to move McNeil to third, and Mark Canha hit a sacrifice fly to bring McNeil in and give the Mets their first lead of the series. Brett Baty singled and Francisco Álvarez walked to load the bases, but Nimmo grounded into a force out to end the inning.

In the third, Lucchesi ran into trouble immediately when Call hit a home run to center, tying the game at one run apiece. Lucchesi then got a lot of help from Lindor when he ran into center field to catch a blooper for the first out. He then got a groundout and a flyout to end the inning, but the game remained tied. In the bottom of the third, Williams got two quick outs from Marte and Lindor. Alonso almost made the third out but a fielding error allowed him to reach base. But the inning ended on a McNeil groundout, stranding Alonso and leaving the game tied.

In the fourth, Lucchesi had a nice, trouble-free inning. He got two strikeouts and a fly out to keep the game tied going into the bottom of the inning. In the bottom of the fourth, Vogelbach and Canha both struck out, but Baty hit a home run to put the Mets ahead again. Álvarez then singled to keep the inning going for Nimmo, who singled into right field and Álvarez went first to third. Marte walked, loading the bases for Lindor. Lindor hit a double just past Joey Meneses’ glove, driving in Álvarez and Nimmo to put the Mets ahead by three runs. Alonso flew out to center to end the inning, but the Mets had a good lead for Lucchesi to work with.

In the fifth, Lucchesi got two quick outs to start the inning before allowing an Alex Call single. Jeimer Candelario hit Álvarez in the head on the follow through of a swing, but Álvarez was alright and Candelario struck out to end the inning. In the bottom of the inning, McNeil and Vogelbach started the inning off with two outs, but two singles from Canha and Baty put two runners on. Álvarez struck out though, stranding the runners and ending the inning.

In the sixth, Meneses and Thomas singled which drove Lucchesi from the game, bringing in Tommy Hunter with two on and one out. He promptly gave up two singles allowing a run to score, then a fielder’s choice with a rookie mistake by Baty, who tried to throw Victor Robles out at first for a double play (despite Robles’ speed advantage) instead of throwing home. Hunter got CJ Abrams to strike out to end the inning and stop the bleeding, but the Mets lead was whittled down to a razor-thin one run lead. In the bottom of the inning, Erasmo Ramirez was brought in to take over for Trevor WIlliams. Nimmo singled, and after Marte lined out, Lindor tripled to drive in Nimmo and Alonso singled to drive in Lindor. McNeil grounded out, but Vogelbach dropped a ball perfectly between Abrams, Robles, and Call to drive in Alonso. Canha flew out to end the inning, but the Mets were ahead by four runs with just three innings to go.

In the seventh, Hunter remained in the game. His second inning of work went much better than his first, setting down the side in order on ten pitches. In the bottom of the inning, Hobie Harris came out to pitch for the Nationals. Baty walked, but Álvarez grounded into a double play. Nimmo hit a hard line drive but right at Candelario, ending the inning.

In the eighth inning, Hunter started things off with two straight hit batsmen to immediately put two runners on. Garrett reached on an error by Lindor, loading the bases with no outs. Brooks Raley came in and gave up a sacrifice fly, which was no big deal, they still had a three run lead. Until it mattered. Raley then hit the third batter of the inning, then gave up a go-ahead grand slam to CJ Abrams. Raley then got a ground out from Call and a pop out from Candelario, where Candelario over swung on the follow through AGAIN and hit Álvarez AGAIN. But the inning was over with the Mets behind with just six outs to turn it around and avoid getting swept.

In the bottom of the eighth, Mason Thompson came in for the Nationals. Marte singled to lead off the inning, then stole a base to move into scoring position. Lindor flew out to Robles, moving Marte to third. Alonso then doubled to drive him in and tie the game. McNeil came through, hitting a triple and driving in Alonso as the go ahead run. The Nationals pulled Thompson and brought in Kyle Finnegan, who got Vogelbach to strike out and Canha to ground out, ending the inning with the Mets having a one run lead.

In the ninth, David Robertson came in to try and close the game out for the Mets. He got a strikeout, a groundout, and another strikeout to close it out. The Mets eked out a win to avoid getting swept by the literal Washington Nationals.

A win’s a win, and they have positive momentum going into the weekend series against the Atlanta Braves. But criminal bullpen management by Buck Showalter continues to be an issue for this team. There’s no reason why Hunter should’ve been left out there that long, and that plus Raley nearly cost the game for the Mets. There has to be accountability and correction, or the Mets will find themselves losing games as a result of these decisions.

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What’s WPA?

Big Mets winner: Jeff McNeil, +25.7% WPA
Big Mets loser: Brooks Raley, -55.8% WPA
Mets pitchers: -55.0% WPA
Mets hitters: +105.0% WPA
Teh aw3s0mest play: Jeff McNeil RBI triple in the eighth, +26.7% WPA
Teh sux0rest play: CJ Abrams grand slam in the eighth inning, -56.5% WPA