The not-really-the-Mets beat the not-really-the-Nationals in a game that featured outstanding pitching, stout defense, timely hitting and another catastrophic injury. More on that in a bit.
Both teams fielded lineups that would be better suited to Spring Training or mid-September, rather than a regular season Friday night in late August. Both teams fielded those lineups for different reasons: the Nats because of a late extra-inning affair on Thursday night, the Mets out of dire necessity. A.J. Cole was summoned from the minors to start for Washington, facing off against Jacob deGrom. As you would imagine, deGrom had the better of the bargain.
The Mets started things off in the first, looking like they would blow the game open right away. Brandon Nimmo worked the count to 3-2 before working out a leadoff walk. Juan Lagares, mired in an awful slump, struck out on three over-swings. Yoenis Cespedes also worked out a 3-2 walk and Asdrubal Cabrera spanked a base hit into right field chasing home Nimmo. Dominic Smith then hit a single up the middle that was pure bad luck on a couple of levels. The ball bounced up and caught the leg of second base umpire Andy Fletcher’s trousers and the dead ball deprived the Mets of a run. It also cost the Mets the services of Cespedes, possibly for the rest of the year. He strained his right hamstring — again — making the turn from second to third and hobbled off the field, accompanied by manager Terry Collins and, yes, trainer Ray Ramirez. After that drama, Travis d’Arnaud and Amed Rosario both struck out to end the inning.
For his part, deGrom was masterful, albeit against Washington’s “B-minus” lineup, as Gary Cohen put in on the SNY broadcast. The Nats were missing Bryce Harper and Jayson Werth due to injury, of course, but in the wake of the previous night’s marathon, manager Dusty Baker also gave a night off to Ryan Zimmerman, Anthony Rendon, Matt Wieters and Howie Kendrick. deGrom had little trouble against the Washington scrubs, going seven and two-thirds, surrendering five hits, one walk, one earned run and striking out ten.
It took the Mets until the eighth to widen that 1-0 lead, when Lagares smoked a line drive double past right fielder Andrew Stevenson. Matt Reynolds — Cespedes’s replacement in left — hit a grounder up the middle to knock Lagares in. Cabrera then hit a booming double over the head of Michael Taylor in center. Smith hit a long fly to our old friend Alejandro De Aza in left to open the lead to 3-0.
The Nats got a run back in the bottom of the eighth, when, with two outs, Stevenson hit a long double off the wall in left and third baseman Adrian Sanchez singled to right. That brought up Daniel Murphy, the lone regular in the starting lineup. Collins came and got deGrom, waving in Jerry Blevins, who got Murphy to wave at a 1-2 pitch in the dirt, averting further trouble.
The Mets added some padding in the ninth off reliever Joe Blanton, a two-out single and stolen base by Nimmo and a line drive base knock by Lagares. A. J. Ramos came in to nail down the win and just couldn’t do it easily. Adam Lind greeted him with long home run over the centerfield fence on the first pitch. Wilmer Difo hit a double down the right field line. That brought up Taylor as the tying run. He hit a pop fly to the infield for the first out. That brought up the pitcher’s spot and Baker sent up Mets’ tormentor Rendon to pinch hit. He walked, bringing up Wieters pinch hit for catcher Jose Lobaton, representing the winning run. Wieters drew a walk and this game looked like it was circling the drain. Kendrick — having come in on a double switch earlier — was next and he hit a sinking liner to right that Nimmo grabbed with a terrific catch and everyone had to hold. Ramos froze Stevenson on a slider for strike three to end things.
It’ll be Robert Gsellman vs. Gio Gonzalez tomorrow afternoon.