Y’know, one of the perks of a 12-2 start is that it all can’t be undone by one putrid inning. The Mets suffered one of those in what for the first time can be said this year is a “terrible loss.”
Jacob deGrom started against favorite Mets punching bag Jeremy Hellickson. deGrom was nothing short of masterful through seven-plus innings. He was touched for a run in the first as Bryce Harper did something few have ever seen before. On the first pitch he saw, he sawed the bat off at the handle. The barrel of the bat went down the first base line and the ball went 390 feet over the right field fence. A busted-bat homer. As has become custom this year, the Mets got the run back right away. With two out in the bottom of the first, Michael Conforto sent a ball to deep left that clanked off the glove of Matt Adams. Todd Frazier followed with squirrelly base hit through shortstop and the game was tied. The Mets grabbed the lead in the third, when Frazier doubled home Asdrubal Cabrera. They padded the lead in somewhat bizarre fashion in the sixth. With one out, Juan Lagares drew a walk. With Jose Lobaton at the plate, he took off for second and easily beat Matt Weiters’ throw. On ball four to Lobaton, Lagares stole third when Washington third baseman Wilmer Difo couldn’t handle the throw. deGrom immediately dropped down a safety squeeze bunt that was butchered by relief pitcher Matt Grace. Lagares scored, making it 3-1, with Lobaton crossing to third. deGrom was forced at second when shortstop Trea Turner made a great play on Amed Rosario’s grounder, turning a base hit into an RBI ground out. The Nationals were reeling and stumbling at this point. In the next inning, Brandon Nimmo hit his second triple in two days and Cabrera knocked him home with his fourth homer of the year, putting the Mets up 6-1. The fans in the stands were giddy, sing-songing Harper’s name. That turned out to be a big mistake.
deGrom had held the Nats down for seven innings, surrendering but three his, striking out 11 and walkinbg one. In the eighth, Moises Sierra singled up the middle. deGrom struck out Michael A. Taylor for his twelfth punch-out of the evening. Turner then battled an eight-pitch at bat for another base hit. That was it for deGrom, having thrown over a hundred mostly quality pitches. Seth Lugo came on and walked Howie Kendrick on four pitches to load the bases. Manager Mickey Callaway was out of the dugout instantly, waving in lefty Jerry Blevins to face the always dangerous Harper. On a 2-1 pitch, Harper pulled another single into right field, knocking home Sierra and Turner and cutting the once-insurmountable lead lead to 6-3. Callaway popped out of the dugout again and brought in AJ Ramos to face Ryan Zimmerman and Pedro Severino. He struck out Zimmerman on four pitches, but wasn’t so lucky with Severino, who singled to left, loading the bases again. Old friend Matt Reynolds pinch-hit in the pitcher’s spot and walked on four pitches, making the score a most uncomfortable 6-4. Callaway then decided to bring in closer Jeurys Familia to end the nonsense. He couldn’t. Difo greeted him with a single to right. Harper and Severino scored and the game was tied. Sierra was plunked on the backside and Familia was in a whole world of trouble with the bases loaded once again. Taylor drew a four-pitch walk and Washington had an improbable lead. Turner finally ended the mayhem with a flyout to Conforto in left.
The Mets had a shot in the eighth as two big hitters came off the bench, but Yoenis Cespedes and Jay Bruce could do nothing against Brandon Kintzler. Kendrick added a measure of insurance for Washington in the ninth, homering off Hansel Robles. The Mets exhausted their last opportunity in the ninth, when, with one out, Cabrera doubled — his fourth hit of the night. With Conforto up, representing the tying run, Cabrera tried to advance on a ball that got away from Severino. It didn’t get far enough away, though, as Severino gunned down Cabrera on a replay-upheld tag at third. Conforto popped up meekly, and that was that.
Go get ’em tomorrow. It’s Zack Wheeler vs. Gio Gonzalez at 7:10 from Citi Field