A pair of Mets, one former and one former/current, provided most of the game’s offense. No Met except Jose Reyes could get the bats going as the Amazins fell in a narrow 3-2 loss to drop the four-game series.
MURPHY’S LAW (IS THAT HE MUST KILL THE METS)
After a weekend in which Noah Syndergaard left yet another game and Matt Harvey’s season ended, the Mets needed one of their young aces to get through a game unscathed by injury. Steven Matz managed to do that on Sunday, but not much more.
Matz entered the game coming off of his best start since late May, pitching seven innings while allowing two runs in a tough loss to the Marlins on Tuesday. Matz’s fastball was popping at its usual 95 from his first pitch to Trea Turner to start the game, but he didn’t have a great feel for the pitch to start off, as Turner sent Juan Lagares to the warning track for a deep first out on the next offering. Jayson Werth grounded a single to right field two pitches later to put a runner on first for Daniel Murphy.
Matz was understandably careful around Murph and his .352 TAv for the first few pitches. The lefty only offered soft stuff, managing to work the count to 1-2 after a slider wide and two well-placed curveballs. Matz then wasted another curve in the dirt and missed with a fastball up and away before making what would be the most decisive pitch of the game, hanging a curveball up and over the plate. Murphy didn’t miss, blasting the ball into Citi’s right field upper deck for his 17th home run of the year.
While this wasn’t all the offense that the Nationals would need, it would prove to be the game’s biggest WPA moment and win expectancy shift. Matz worked through some more .325+ TAv hitters in Bryce Harper and Wilson Ramos, inducing a shallow fly ball from Harper and a three-pitch strikeout from Ramos, but the Mets were already down 2-0.
Thankfully, they weren’t facing some 95+ mile per hour Stephen Strasburg or Max Scherzer heat but rather the soft underbelly of the Nationals’ rotation in Gio Gonzalez. Jose Reyes promptly took advantage of this by turning around a 2-1 fastball to left center for his second home run of the series, putting the Mets back within one. The Mets continued to mount a challenge in the inning, as Gonzalez walked Wilmer Flores and allowed a single to Asdrubal Cabrera, but he worked out of it after striking out Juan Lagares on a full count. That was just about the best they would look at the plate all day, as only one Met batter would even so much as touch second base the rest of the day.
The Nationals gave Matz some trouble in the second inning, putting runners on first and second, but Matz escaped after Lagares corralled another Turner fly ball on the warning track. Matz wasn’t so lucky in the third. He walked Jayson Werth to start the inning, the second of a season-high four free passes Matz doled out during the game, bringing up Murphy again. Werth ran on a 2-2 pitch when Murphy grounded the ball to Reyes, eliminating the double play and allowing Werth to reach second on the groundout. Matz then walked Harper, during which time Werth swiped third.
Ramos clubbed a ball to the gap in right field, scoring Werth. Harper got himself stuck in a pickle and was thrown between third and home, and Ramos only got to first base, but the Nationals were now up by 2. Matz would settle down somewhat, striking out Anthony Rendon and pitching four shutout innings to end his outing.
Reyes answered in the bottom of the third by smacking another home run, this time a scorching line drive down the left field line that put the Mets within one again. But that was everything they would get, and would only put 4 more runners on base the rest of the game, all isolated runners that were stranded at first. The Mets didn’t make it easy on Gonzalez, making him throw 108 pitches in 5.2 innings, but he held and handed it off to Tanner Roark, who needed just 25 pitches to breeze through 2.1 innings, and Jonathan Papelbon, who gave up a two-out single to Travis d’Arnaud, but struck out Alejandro De Aza one batter later to end the game.
-Murph just loves to crush his old team, as he hit his 7th home run of the season against the Mets.
-Jose Reyes’ multi-homer game was his first in the blue and orange since September 27, 2011.
-After the All-Star break, the Mets will resume with Game #89 in Philadelphia on Friday, July 15.
Photo credit: Anthony Gruppuso – USA Today Sports