So far, in this early portion of the 2018 season, you can say with a fair amount of certainty, this edition of the New York Mets is tough as nails. If they trail in a game, it isn’t for very long. Such was the case this cold afternoon in Washington.
Steven Matz started against Gio Gonzalez and the two inconsistent lefthanders matched up perfectly, neither allowing a run through the first four innings, though Matz got some great help from his defense. In the bottom of the second, Matz got two quick strikeouts — his fourth and fifth consecutively, for the record — before walking Brian Goodwin. Goodwin immediately stole second, one of a spate of stolen bases against Matz and catcher Travis d’Arnaud this afternoon. Nationals catcher Pedro Severino then looped a base hit right in front of charging centerfielder Juan Lagares, who scooped up the ball and fired an absolute seed on a fly to d’Arnaud to nail Goodwin at the plate.
The game remained scoreless until the bottom of the fifth when the Nats took advantage of a throwing error by third baseman Todd Frazier which allowed centerfielder Michael A. Taylor to reach first. He moved to second on a bunt by Goodwin and scored on a hump-backed base hit by Severino. But these Mets answer opponent scores like an unconscious reflex. In the top of the sixth, Frazier hit a long one-out double off the right field wall. d’Arnaud then roped a base hit to left center for the tie. In the bottom of the sixth, the always dangererous Bryce Harper finally struck a big blow for Washington, sending a mammoth blast to the opposite field off Hansel Robles for a 2-1 Washington lead. But here came the Mets again.
In the top of the seventh, Amed Rosario led off with a single up the middle. Asdrubal Cabrera then stroked a double into the right field corner. The Nats made a perfect relay play — Harper-to-Howie Kendrick-to-Severino — but Rosario slid in under the tag at the plate and the game was tied again. Cabrera alertly crossed to third, making a late break on a groundout by Yoenis Cespedes. He would score when Frazier hit a chopper to Kendrick at second and — reflexively — the Mets had the lead.
It was now up to the bullpens to finish it and once again, manager Mickey Callaway pulled all the right levers. He brought right hander Jacob Rahme on to face Matt Reynolds — who had replaced Anthony Rendon, wrongly tossed from the game by rabbit-eared plate umpire Marty Foster. Reynolds grounded out. Callaway next waved in lefty Jerry Blevins to face Harper, who walked, thanks to some more shenanigans with the strike zone by Foster. Wasting no time, Callaway replaced Blevins with Jeurys Familia. Harper promptly stole second, Washington’s fifth theft of the day. Familia got Ryan Zimmerman on a comebacker and induced Kendrick to ground out to second, ending the threat. Familia stayed around for an uneventful ninth and the Mets could put another win in Washington in the books.
Tomorrow, it’s Matt Harvey vs. Tanner Roarke on an ESPN 8:00 PM national telecast.