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Mets win a nervy series opener

Lindor’s bases-clearing single was all the Mets needed in a 3-2 win against the Nationals

New York Mets v Washington Nationals Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images

The Mets hoped to lift themselves coming off five-straight series losses and started on the right path with a 3-2 series-opening win Friday night at Nationals Park. True to form, the Mets started the game down early.

After a walk and a steal from Luis García, a two-out RBI blooper from Joey Meneses put the Nationals on the board in the bottom of the first. It was the sixth consecutive game the Mets had given up at least one run in the first inning, as opponents are outscoring the Mets 35-9 this year in the opening frame.

The Mets, meanwhile, stranded three runners in the first and two runners each in the second and third, making Nationals’ starter MacKenzie Gore work through 84 pitches in three innings but failing to send a runner home. Mets starter Tylor Megill didn’t pitch much better than Gore early on, allowing three hits and four walks to a struggling Nats offense. Still, he limited the damage to Meneses’s first-inning RBI and generally looked composed pitching in hot water.

That lasted until the fourth inning. With one out and a runner on third, Megill forced a hard ground ball from rookie Jake Alu to Francisco Lindor, who was shifted in on the play. Lindor backhanded the grounder intending to throw home, but the ball bounced off his glove and slowly rolled into left field, allowing Alex Call to score and Alu to rush to second. Another defensive adventure from Francisco Álvarez on a dropped third strike could have allowed another run, but an athletic play from Pete Alonso ended the inning and kept the score at 2-0.

The Mets' offense, which hadn’t scored a run in nineteen consecutive innings, finally came alive in the sixth. A leadoff single from Starling Marte and a duck-snort double from Mark Canha to start the inning put the tying runs in scoring position with no one out. Pinch hitting for Eduardo Escobar, Brett Baty’s swinging bunt allowed the Nationals to throw out Marte at home, and Canha’s failure to advance to third kept runners at first and second. An Álvarez groundout and a Nimmo walk loaded the bases with two outs, and on a 3-2 pitch, Lindor cleared the bases on a single to right-center field. McNeil’s groundout to second ended the inning, but the result was a long-awaited 3-2 lead.

That was all the scoring the Mets could muster, and it was all they needed. A bullpen relay of Jeff Brigham, Adam Ottavino, and David Robertson kept the score frozen and got within one out of ending the game, but Robertson ran out of gas after 1.2 innings with one out left to get. Drew Smith came in and struck out Lane Thomas to earn his first-career save, giving the Mets just their fifth win in May and creating a little more separation from the Nationals at the division's cellar.

The Mets play the Nationals again tomorrow with a 4:05 ET first pitch, with Joey Lucchesi scheduled to go against former Met Trevor Williams. The Mets will aim to win a consecutive game for the first time in three weeks.

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What’s WPA?

Big Mets winner: Francisco Lindor, +29% WPA

Big Mets loser: Brett Baty, -16% WPA (harsh)

Mets pitchers: +54% WPA (all relievers, Megill 0% WPA)

Mets hitters: -4% WPA

Teh aw3s0mest play: Lindor RBI single, +38.6% WPA

Teh sux0rest play: Brett Baty fielder’s choice, -14.6% WPA