Mets 9, Nationals 8: CJ Abrams’ clutch grand slam not enough

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22-year-old CJ Abrams hasn’t had the most powerful bat this season — and neither have the Nationals as a whole. Abrams went into Thursday night with just one homer on the night while Washington had 12 homers all season.

But, the Nats homered twice Thursday night, with Alex Call socking a solo homer in the third inning to put Washington on the board. Washington was then down, 7-4, in the eighth inning — with already a run to their name in the inning — and up came Abrams.

Abrams fouled off the first pitch from Brooks Raley, before launching a 406-foot grand slam into the glove of the Nats’ bullpen catcher to give them an 8-7 lead.

“It’s awesome to see him come through like that. And like I said, his teammates were I think a lot more excited than he was in the dugout. So it’s a big moment for him, hopefully he keeps it going.”

— Nats manager Dave Martinez on Abrams’ grand slam

Washington now had the sudden opportunity to grab their first road series sweep since late 2019 in what had the potential to be the most special series of the Nats’ season, but, the Nats’ bullpen had other plans.

Trevor Williams went five innings in his fifth start of the season, yielding four runs on nine hits and two walks, including a three-run fourth inning that included a Brett Baty leadoff solo homer and a Francisco Lindor two-run double.

After Williams worked around a two-hit fifth, on came Erasmo Ramirez out of the bullpen — he served up three runs via four New York hits to make it 7-3 New York.

Washington grabbed a run on Luis Garcia‘s sac fly — his second RBI of the day after notching an RBI single in the sixth — before Abrams’ grand slam which gave them an 8-7 lead. Mason Thompson was summoned on to follow up Hobie Harris‘ 1-2-3 seventh and set Kyle Finnegan up for the save, but instead, Finnegan was brought on prematurely.

Thompson entered the night with a dominant 0.96 ERA on the season in 10 relief outings, but Starling Marte led off the eighth with a single and a one-out Pete Alonso double tied it at 8 apiece. Jeff McNeil would proceed to deliver a go-ahead, game-winning RBI triple that gave the Mets their 9-8 lead.

Finnegan was brought on to stop the bleeding, which he was able to: he punched out Daniel Vogelback before retiring the side on Mark Canha‘s groundout, stranding McNeil at third and keeping it a one-run deficit going into the top of the ninth.

Washington would go down 1-2-3 in the ninth though, mooting Finnegan’s efforts to keep it a one-run affair and giving them their 15th loss of the season — instead of handing themselves their 10th win of the 2023 campaign.

“It’s frustrating. Didn’t get ahead of the guys. That’s been the main focus all year. Just didn’t get ahead of them tonight and I paid for it.”

— Thompson on giving up the lead in the eighth

The Nats look ahead to their upcoming series against the Pirates as they return home for the weekend before hosting the Cubs for another home set.

“We played really, really well. We went down, we come back. CJ with a big grand slam. But, hey, they got nothing to be ashamed about. We played hard for this whole week. So let’s go home and keep playing the way we’re playing. It’s been a great week. And I really believe that these guys are playing with a lot of energy. They believe in each other. They believe in themselves. And they’re playing really well.”

— Martinez said of Washington’s effort

Friday @ 7:05 p.m. ET: Chad Kuhl vs. Rich Hill

Saturday @ 1:05 p.m. ET: Patrick Corbin vs. Vince Velasquez

Sunday @ 1:05 p.m. ET: Josiah Gray vs. Johan Oviedo

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