The secret to the Mets’ success on offense in 2016 has not been a subtle one. So far, they have frequently come out on top by simply crushing the ball out of the park. They entered play on Monday night in D.C. atop the National League with 60 homers, and they only added to that margin against a very shaky Gio Gonzalez.
The Nationals’ lefty was poor from the get-go, allowing back-to-back singles to Curtis Granderson and Juan Lagares to begin the game after a one-hour rain delay. To his credit, he recovered by striking out both David Wright and Yoenis Cespedes before inducing a ground ball from Neil Walker to end the frame. All of these power threats would get each their vengeance later.
Bartolo Colon also did not appear to be very sharp at the outset. Jayson Werth, Daniel Murphy and Ryan Zimmerman all lined singles against him in the bottom of the first to give Washington an early 1-0 lead. Colon might not have been to escape the first like Gonzalez did, but he turned in a far better pitching performance overall. After the beginning, the big righty, who turns 43 on Monday, allowed just two hits and two walks. The Nationals could not solve Colon in his seven innings of one-run ball.
Meanwhile, the Mets did not take long to rebound against Gonzalez despite a perfect second. With one out in the third, Gonzalez hit Granderson with a pitch and let Lagares reach base on a single to right. Gio wiggled out of trouble in the first with the heart of the order coming up, but he was not so lucky on this occasion. Wright blasted a pitch to left field just over the wall for a three-run homer. The captain was a dismal 5-for-37 with just one extra base hit since his last dinger on May 7, so it was definitely a good sign to see signs of life from his bat. Some critics might think he is dead, but you can just call him David Wight:
Cespedes and Walker also had better at bats than their first appearances, each smacking singles to left field. Asdrubal Cabrera joined the hit parade with a knock of his own to score Cespedes, and a sacrifice fly from Eric Campbell (subbing at first base for the injured Lucas Duda) gave the Mets a decisive 5-1 lead.
Dusty Baker seemed ready to pinch-hit for Gonzalez when an opportunity arose against Colon in the bottom of the fourth inning. However, eighth-place hitter Danny Espinosa popped out to end it, so Baker tried to squeeze one more frame out of him. He chose… poorly.
Gio did strike out Wright to begin the fifth, but Cespedes got to him. The slugger launched a long drive to center field for his league-leading 15th homer of the season. Cespedes now has 45 homers over his last 162 games—not too shabby. Walker then promptly went back-to-back with Cespedes by sending his own drive over the wall in left field. No. 11 on the season for Walker made the score 7-1, and with Colon rolling along, that just about sealed it.
Jerry Blevins and Logan Verrett closed out the night after Colon with two scoreless innings. The game only ended up taking a tidy two hours and 33 minutes after the delay. The Mets will have a shot to move back into first place tomorrow night, though they will need Matt Harvey to step his game up against the daunting Stephen Strasburg.
Photo credit: Tommy Gilligan – USA Today Sports