The New York Mets (76-61) defeated the Washington Nationals (71-66) by a score of 8-5 on Monday afternoon in DC, extending their first place lead in the NL East to 5 games.
In the biggest start of his career, Jon Niese was unable to pitch out of the 4th inning. After tossing 3 scoreless innings, he fell victim to Mets-killer Wilson Ramos, who crushed a curveball to left field for a grand slam. For the 3rd straight start, Niese allowed a 5-run inning. He pitched a total of 3.1 innings, allowing 5 earned runs on 7 hits and 3 walks, while striking out 1.
Carlos Torres relieved the struggling Niese, and pitched well for 1.1 innings allowing 2 hits and a walk while striking out 1. However, with two outs in the 5th, Torres was removed from the game due to a strained left calf. He fielded a soft ground ball between the mound and first place and after he made a nice glove flip to first for the out, he started limping and walked off the field under his own power, albeit limping heavily.
Erik Goeddel came in and induced a groundout to end the 5th. He was removed from the game with 2 outs in the 6th so lefty Dario Alvarez could face Bryce Harper with the game still tied 5-5 at that point. In his first appearance in 2015, after falling behind 3-0 against the possible MVP, Alvarez struck Harper out with a 3-2 slider to end the inning. He earned the win for the afternoon.
Hansel Robles pitched a perfect 7th inning and struck out two. One of those strikeouts was against Ryan Zimmerman, who was caught looking at a 97mph fastball. Robles quick pitched Zimmerman who was in the box (and looking up) but Robles got it in there before Zimmerman was really ready. It was executed perfectly and it got an “I’ll remember that” stare from the veteran Zimmerman.
He stayed in to pitch the 8th and pitched another perfect inning, striking out two more. He quick pitched Michael Taylor which earned him another stare, but another strikeout. Robles was magnificent today, hitting 99 mph a few times with his running fastball.
Jeurys Familia came in for the save with the Mets leading 8-5. He allowed a base hit to Werth to start the inning, but that just made him angry. He struck out Anthony Rendon looking with an 89 mph slider, struck out Bryce Harper with a 96 mph splitter, and then struck out Ryan Zimmerman with a 95 mph splitter. Yes, those splitters were really thrown that hard. This was his 37th save of the year.
The Mets jumped to an early lead against Max Scherzer, with solo home runs by Michael Conforto and Kelly Johnson in the 2nd inning. Yoenis Cespedes then added another home run (surprise, surprise) in the 4th to give the Mets a 3-0 lead.
After the Nationals scored 5 runs in the bottom of the 4th inning on Ramos’ grand slam and a Werth double, the Mets fought back a little bit when Curtis Granderson lined a double down the right field line to score Ruben Tejada and trim the lead to 5-4 in favor of Washington.
The 7th inning was too much fun. Wilmer Flores led off the inning with a base hit. Ruben Tejada then got a bunt down, however pitcher Blake Treinen threw a bullet to second base to get Flores by a hair, leaving a runner on first with one out. A pitching change brought in a lefty to face Granderson, who had a great at bat and earned a full-count walk. The Nats brought in righty Casey Janssen to face David Wright, who lined a base hit to center field, scoring Tejada and giving the Mets a 6-5 lead.
Lefty Matt Thornton was then brought in, and soon after allowed a sac-fly to Daniel Murphy to give the Mets a 7-5 lead. Then Yoenis Cespedes unsurprisingly doubled to right field and scored David Wright from first, who got in right before the tag at home and celebrated with an enormous fist pump, as did I. Mets lead 8-5!
The bullpen retired 12 straight batters before Jayson Werth led off the 9th inning with a base hit against Familia. The bullpen has been an area of concern recently, but in a big game they really stepped up and delivered.
I have never seen anyone with a repertoire as virtually unhittable as Jeurys Familia; Not even close. He threw the probable MVP a 96 mph splitter, which he flailed at and missed by about 3 feet. Bryce Harper is now 0-6 in his career against Familia.
Yoenis Cespedes is amazing. After going 3-5 with a home run, 2 doubles, 2 RBIs and 2 runs scored, he has now hit 11 home runs in 17 games, and has a .674 slugging percentage since joining the Mets.
The Mets will send Matt Harvey (12-7, 2.60 ERA) to face the Nationals and Jordan Zimmermann (12-8, 3.38 ERA) at Nationals Park Tuesday at 7:05pm.