Can you believe what you just saw? If you watched the entire 9 innings of this game you saw things you have never seen before in a baseball game. Have you ever seen anything like Bryce Harper‘s home run when he snapped his bat into two pieces or a 6-run 8th inning to snatch this game from the jaw’s of defeat. The Nationals made mistakes, and the Mets made more. The Nationals finally took advantage of the other team’s mistakes and sent a dirty dozen to the plate in the decisive 8th inning. Clubhouse manager Mike Wallace and staff will have to work late tonight on all of those dirty jerseys. Trea Turner’s jersey was covered in grass from dives on shifts in the outfield grass and head-first slides. There were a lot of blood, sweat, and tears shed in this game.
“I thought we battled the best we could,” Bryce Harper said. “Got into their bullpen, had some great at-bats and scored some big runs when we needed to.”
Circle April 16th, 2018 on your calendar and put a gold star on it. You could watch games for years and never see a Nationals comeback like this. The vaunted Mets bullpen not only allowed 2 inherited runners to score, but then gave up 5 more runs in 1 2/3 innings of work when Mets manager Mickey Callaway burned through 5 relievers to get 5 outs. The Mets bullpen entered the game with an incredible 1.51 ERA and finished the game at a 2.28.
“That was big,” Dave Martinez said. “Super big. I’m not going to sit here and lie. I said the boys are fired up. Hey, a testament to them. They don’t quit. They are going to keep battling and you saw that today. Each and every one of those guys played with unbelievable heart today.”
When you win, most of the mistakes made in the game can be swept under the rug, but some cannot be forgotten and have to change like playing Matt Adams in left field and keeping Ryan Zimmerman in the clean-up spot in the line-up. In the 8th inning, a dozen batters of record came up to the plate. Every one of them got on-base safely at least one-time via a hit, hit-by-pitch or walk except for Ryan Zimmerman who struck-out. He has now left 41 runners on base (LOB) and his RISP batting average fell to .095.
“Winning is a lot better than losing,” Trea Turner said it was fun. “I think winning in general is good, but winning the way we did tonight is a little bit more special.”
Sure, plenty of players made mistakes as baseball is a game of imperfection. In this game, mistakes were made in the form of traditional errors by Howie Kendrick and Matt Grace. Other mistakes sometimes are not scored errors like Wilmer Difo who dropped a throw during what should have been a caught stealing, and Difo had the same scenario in the 9th inning and slapped the tag on Asdrubal Cabrera for the 2nd out in the 9th inning.
You have to take advantage of second chances and Michael Taylor did the same with the bat in the 8th inning when he got up for the second time in the inning and worked a bases loaded walk to put the Nationals up for good. Matt Adams misplayed a ball in left field and in his second chance he threw a relay throw to Trea Turner who threw out the runner at the plate assisted by a great diving tag by Matt Wieters who didn’t reach base in the game and was later replaced by Pedro Severino. Once again Wieters exemplified the mantra that if you aren’t hitting, what are you going to do to help your team win?
This game was started as a pitcher’s duel by Jeremy Hellickson and Jacob deGrom. The Nationals pulled Helli at the 4 2/3 mark and Martinez used ever reliever not named Sean Doolittle and Sammy Solis. In fact, it was Brandon Kintzler who got a well-earned “hold” getting Yoenis Cepedes, Wilmer Flores, and Jay Bruce. It was Ryan Madson who earned the save for his second of this young season.
“That’s like the team of last year that you’re always in it,” Ryan Madson said. “Hopefully it’s the start of it, and you can win every game that you play.”
For Martinez, this win was much needed as it reinforced what he has been preaching to his team for weeks now. Pick the star of the game and it has to be Bryce Harper. After him good luck picking someone. Moises Sierra, Pedro Severino, and even Matt Reynolds came up big as replacement players late in the game.
“For them and for us — it’s a big pick-me-up,” Martinez said. “I told them all along, ‘look we’re going to do this, we’re going to snap out of it and when it happens it’s going to be really fun’. You saw it happen and it was fun. You saw it. That dugout was electric.”
The official attendance for this game was 22,829 during this cold-weather game, and by the time the middle of the 8th inning turned to a 7-to-6 Nationals lead — CitiField began to empty out to where there were only a few thousand fans remaining for the Mets half of the 8th inning. The “7 train” leaving the Willets Point Station must not have made for a pleasant trip home for the Mets fans who left after top of the 8th inning. For those who left happy before the 8th inning arrived home to see the shocking news reports.
More great news for the Nats: Victor Robles won’t need surgery. No tear in his elbow. Still gonna be bit of a rehab, but the year isn’t lost.
— Dan Kolko (@masnKolko) April 17, 2018
Baseball once again showed us that you never give up until the final out even though the Nationals were 0-for-236 in their history before this game when behind 5 or more runs after the 7th inning. Sleep well tonight and hopefully Dave Martinez’s team comes back tomorrow to Citifield as believers — but it appears they already were believers and never gave up hope.
“We have a manager in there who believes in us” —— Bryce Harper