The Mets win an absolutely WILD game in Washington D.C. by a score of 8-7. The Mets (77-61) trailed to Washington (71-67) by a score of 7-1 entering the seventh inning, but scored six runs to tie, and Kirk Nieuwenhuis hit a pinch-hit solo home run in the 8th inning against Jonathan Papelbon to put the Mets ahead for good.
The Mets got off to a rough start, in an important game for Matt Harvey. After striking out Jayson Werth to lead off the game, he allowed a single to Anthony Rendon, then coaxed a pop-up from Bryce Harper. What followed, however, were consecutive first pitch singles to Yunel Escobar, Clint Robinson, and Ian Desmond to give Washington a 2-0 lead early.
In the top of the 2nd, the Mets struck back with a long home run by David Wright to make it 2-1. In the bottom of the inning, Harvey walked Michael Taylor on a 3-2 pitch to lead off the inning. After a sacrifice bunt by Jordan Zimmermann, Jayson Werth struck out, but Anthony Rendon singled on a line drive to left field to score Taylor and make it 3-1. Rendon, however, was thrown out by Michael Conforto trying to stretch the single to a double.
The Mets wasted a 1-out triple by Curtis Granderson in the 6th inning, an inning that chased starter Jordan Zimmermann (Matt Thornton was brought in to face Daniel Murphy with two outs – he got him to fly to center to end the inning). In the bottom of the 7th, the wheels came off for Harvey and the Mets. A lead-off single for Escobar, a walk to Robinson, and a misplayed sacrifice bunt by Ian Desmond loaded the bases with no one out. Harvey had a play at third base on the bunt, but fumbled the ball and threw too late (a play he could have been charged an error on). He followed by striking out Wilson Ramos. Michael Taylor then lined a single up the middle, with the third base coach holding the second runner. The ball skipped by Yoenis Cespedes, who did not block the ball with his body, and all four runners scored, including Taylor. The Nationals had a 7-1 lead and Harvey was chased from the game. Erik Goeddel came in and struck out pinch hitter Trea Turner, allowed a double to Jayson Werth, and struck out Anthony Rendon to end the inning.
The top of the seventh inning will go down in Mets history. Blake Treinen started the inning for the Nationals. After a lead-off single by David Wright, Lucas Duda flied out and Travis d’Arnaud popped out. The Mets followed with ten straight batters reaching base as follows:
- Michael Conforto walks, David Wright to 2nd
- Wilmer Flores singles, David Wright scores, Michael Conforto to 3rd Mets 2, Nationals 7
- Pinch hitter Kelly Johnson replaces Erik Goeddel, Nationals bring in lefty Felipe Rivero. Mets counter with pinch hitter Juan Uribe. Uribe walks, Wilmer Flores to 2nd.
- Curtis Granderson walks, Michael Conforto scores, Wilmer Flores to 3rd, Juan Uribe to 2nd Mets 3, Nationals 7
- Pitching change: Drew Storen replaces Felipe Rivero
- Yoenis Cespedes doubles on a line drive down the left field line. Wilmer Flores, Juan Uribe, and Curtis Granderson score. Mets 6, Nationals 7
- Daniel Murphy walks
- Wild pitch, runners advance to 2nd and 3rd
- David Wright walks
- Lucas Duda walks. Yoenis Cespedes scores. Daniel Murphy to 3rd. David Wright to 2nd. Mets 7, Nationals 7
- Travis d’Arnaud lines out to right field.
Reliever Addison Reed entered for the Mets, struck out Bryce Harper, and worked around a 1-out single by Yunel Escobar by getting Clint Robinson to ground out and Ian Desmond to strike out. In the top of the 8th, Nationals manager Matt Williams FINALLY brought in his best reliever, Jonathan Papelbon, in a non-save situation. However, with 2 outs and nobody on, pinch hitter Kirk Nieuwenhuis channeled his inner Omir Santos to do this:
The Mets had the lead for the first time of the night, and turned over to the capable hands of Tyler Clippard and Jeurys Familia. Clippard had an easy 8th, getting Wilson Ramos to fly out and striking out Michael Taylor and Danny Espinosa.
The 9th inning held a bit more drama. A lead-off single by Jayson Werth was followed by the odd decision for Anthony Rendon to bunt him over. Mind you: Anthony Rendon finished fifth in NL MVP voting last season. After Familia fell behind 3-1, Williams inexplicably left the bunt on. Rendon, an inexperienced bunter, bunted directly to the charging Lucas Duda who got the easy force-out at 2nd base. Familia lost Bryce Harper to a walk, but then got Yunel Escobar to ground into a game-ending 5-4-3 double play.
WOW. I’m fairly young, but the only game I can think of that even resembled the drama and comeback of that game is last year’s AL Wild Card game between Kansas City and Oakland. Cespedes, with the key misplay in the 6th, remedied himself with a big 3-run double the following inning. Reed and Clippard looked fantastic, and Familia slammed the door after working around trouble. The Mets got another 3 2/3 scoreless innings from their bullpen. What a win for this team.
What gets lost is Harvey’s disappointing performance, but when a team can come back for a win like this, it doesn’t hold nearly as much weight. As Ron Darling said in tonight’s broadcast, this is the type of game where Matt Harvey takes the team out for dinner. By a quick check of Fangraphs, the Mets at one point had a 0.8% chance of winning this game.
The win puts the Mets 6 games ahead of Washington in the standings with 24 games left to play, good for a magic number of 19.
- Kirk Nieuwenhuis (.308)
- Jeurys Familia (.179)
- Lucas Duda (.156)
- Tyler Clippard (.131)
- David Wright (.111)
- Yoenis Cespedes (.100)
- Curtis Granderson (.099)
- Matt Harvey (-.280 on the mound, -.045 at the plate)
- Michael Conforto (-.145)