How many times has it happened to you? The “great” restaurant” was overpriced and the portions were too small. The “terrific” movie put you to sleep faster than Ambien. The “dream” honeymoon ended up with one or both of you putting a divorce lawyer on speed dial. Yesterday afternoon’s game between the Mets and Nationals, a game that should have been exciting from the word “Go” lived up to its billing, even though some of the home town fans didn’t bother to stay around for the end. And the best part was, in a sport which often can be predicted, there was little that was predictable about this game.
It looked like the visiting Mets were in business before most of the crowd got to their seats. Mets’ leadoff man Curtis Granderson hit what looked like an easy fly ball to left. Somehow, Jason Werth played it into a ground-rule double, and starter Max Scherzer unleashed a wild pitch before you could ask “What happened?” But, on his mettle for one of the few times in the game, the ex-Tiger took care of the Mets’ next 3 hitters with 2 strikeouts.
Two of the first 3 Mets to hit in the second inning, Michael Conforto and Kelly Johnson launched home runs to put the Mets ahead. Nothing changed until the fourth, but in that inning, all Hell broke loose.
It started when Yoenis Cespedes unloaded the third solo home run of the day for the Mets. A 3-0 lead with the vaunted Mets pitching staff to protect it. Oh, did I mention Jonathan Niese was the starter? He had given up a five-run inning in each of his last 3 starts, all to last-place ball clubs. Why should the Nationals be left out? In the last of the fourth, in less time than it takes me to tell you about it, the Nats had two singles and a walk. Enter Wilson Ramos, a destructive hitter against the Mets. He had hit 5 doubles, 3 homers and driven in 19 runs against the New Yorkers up to the moment. He promptly crushed the longest home run of the afternoon, a grand slam. Following a Michael Taylor single and a Scherzer sacrifice, (the only out which Niese got that inning,) Jason Werth sent the Mets’ embattled lefty to an early shower with a ringing double off the center field fence for a 5-3 Nationals lead.
This is where Scherzer, the 30-million-dollar man the Nationals signed away from the Tigers would shut down the Mets. In June and July, the days of John Mayberry Jr., Eric Campbell, Kevin Plawecki and Anthony Recker in the Mets’ lineup, that’s how the script would have gone. But maybe Not with the Mets as they are presently configured. They chipped a run off the lead with doubles by Ruben Tejada and Curtis Granderson. They survived an injury to pitcher Carlos Torres in the last of the fifth. Cespedes led off the sixth with his second extra base knock of the day, this one a long double to center. After a balk by Scherzer, Mets receiver Travis D’Arnaud evened the game with a scoring fly ball. The momentum shifted for good in the last of the sixth. With arguably the league’s best hitter coming up in Bryce Harper, the Mets found as unlikely a hero as you ever will find outside of baseball, where names like Ron Swoboda, Brian Doyle and Jeremy Affeldt become household names because of deeds done in pivotal moments. Enter Dario Rafael Alvarez, who had made all of four appearances for the Mets last year and none this year on the mound. With the hostile crowd in a frennzy, he struck Harper out. For once the volatile superstar didn’t toss a bat, helmet or any other piece of equipment. Even he knew he had been had. So did the Nationals, considering what happened next. In spite of the Nats using four pitchers, nothing could stop the Mets. David Wright singled home Ruben Tejada. Daniel Murphy hit a scoring fly ball and Cespedes brought in the last run with his third extra base wallop.From there, it was the job of the recently troubled Mets’ bull pen, but this time Hansel Robles and Jeurys Familia saw their team through to the end. We noticed watching from home, and Harper noticed from his post in the outfield that a good portion of the crowd at Nationals Park left after the Mets’ 3-run rally. It would appear they didn’t know, and cared less about the difficulties the Mets’ bull pen has had lately closing the deal. Yesterday though, they got it done.
What the Nationals needed most was a win yesterday. In fact, to make a statement they needed to sweep the Mets out of Nationals Park. That isn’t going to happen now. Even winning the next two games would still put them 3 games behind and leave their best chance to catch up for the last week end of the season in Flushing. That’s leaving a lot to chance for a team that has underachieved as the Nats have done this season. But that’s just baseball-as I see it.0