With the pregame mood in the ballpark as sullen as it has been all season, Justin Verlander and the Mets gave fans a pick-me-up with a 5-2 win against the Nationals Sunday afternoon at Citi Field.
Aiming for his 250th career win, Verlander took the mound against the Nationals unsure whether he would be on the Mets at the end of the week. The Nationals wasted no time taxing that effort, starting the game with back-to-back singles and scoring on an errant throw to second from Omar Narváez. A good defensive play from Jeff McNeil in right field saved another run, but the Mets entered the middle of the first inning down 1-0. It would be the last inning the Mets trailed all game.
Back-to-back walks to lead off the bottom of the first set the table for the Mets, and a one-out single from Pete Alonso plated Brandon Nimmo to tie the game and put Jeff McNeil in scoring position. Daniel Vogelbach couldn’t cash in the run striking out, however, and Mark Canha ended the inning flying out to center field.
Francisco Lindor led off the third inning by slicing a double between left and center field, and McNeil one-upped him by shooting a triple down the right-field line in the next at-bat. Alonso’s sacrifice fly to right field gave him his second RBI of the day and the Mets a 3-1 lead, while a one-out single from Vogelbach, walk from Canha, and bloop single from Brett Baty kept the line moving. With the bases loaded, Omar Narváez cashed in one run on a sac fly before Danny Mendick ended the inning on a groundout with the Mets taking a 4-1 lead.
One day after becoming just the ninth shortstop in MLB history to record his sixth 20-home-run season, Lindor went yard again in the bottom of the fourth, sending a line drive that just cleared the right-field fence. He put on an even more impressive play in the top of the fifth, scooping up a ground ball from Alex Call, spinning, and quickly throwing the speedy Call out at first base for the first out of the inning. Lindor finished 3-4 and a triple shy of the cycle, complete with gold-glove defense as the spark to the Mets on both sides of the field.
Never quite settling into the game, Verlander nonetheless held the Nationals’ order in check after an effortful first inning. A high pitch count knocked Verlander out of the game with one out in the sixth, but he exited with a 5-1 lead allowing five hits and striking out five in line for his milestone win. And standing only two starts shy of the 500th for his career, he would eventually earn his active major-league leading 250th career win.
Nimmo’s error on a fly ball in the seventh put Stone Garrett on second base with one out, and an Ildemaro Vargas single cut the lead to 5-2 with an unearned run attached to David Peterson. With a chance to bring the Nationals back into the game, Call drove another ground ball to Lindor, inducing the inning-ending double play and preserving the lead for Verlander.
After Peterson finished his two innings of work unblemished, Adam Ottavino and Brooks Raley finished off the game to give the Mets a 5-2 win and Verlander his milestone. The trade deadline will have passed the next time the Mets play a baseball game, as José Quintana is scheduled to face off against Zack Greinke and the Royals in Kansas City Tuesday night.
SB Nation game threads
Win Probability Added
Big Mets winner: Francisco Lindor, +18% WPA
Big Mets loser: Daniel Vogelbach, -4% WPA
Mets pitchers: +19% WPA
Mets hitters: +31% WPA
Teh aw3s0mest play: Jeff McNeil RBI triple, +14.5% WPA
Teh sux0rest play: Jeimer Candelario single, -9.6% WPA