Friday, September 2, 2022

Mets Swat Nats To Open Labor Day Weekend Series

Pete Alonso being greeted by Daniel Vogelbach after his sixth-inning home run. Photo by Jason Schott.

The Mets, with home runs from Pete Alonso and Eduardo Escobar, plus two RBI from Tomas Nido, beat the Washington Nationals, 7-3, on Friday night at Citi Field in the opener of their three-game weekend series.

The Mets have now won three straight, and they improve to 85-48, which is 37 games over .500, the highest mark since they finished the 1988 season 100-60. They maintain their three-game lead in the National League East over the Atlanta Braves (82-51), who beat the Miami Marlins, 8-1. 

This game begins a stretch for the Mets in which they play 16 straight games - and 24 of the final 30 regular season - games against sub-.500 teams. Entering Friday night, the Mets had a record of 45–18 against teams with a record below .500, which gave them a winning percentage of .714 against sub-.500 teams, third-highest in Major League Baseball.

David Peterson entered this one with a record of 7-3 with a 3.21 ERA (earned run average), and was coming off a shutout of the Colorado Rockies last Saturday night. It is very significant that, even as the Mets have gotten all their starters back, Peterson made this start, with the added benefit that it also gave their five other starters an extra day of rest.

David Peterson pitching to Victor Robles in the second inning. Photo by Jason Schott.

Mets Manager Buck Showalter said, in his pregame press conference on Friday afternoon, of what he knew of Peterson coming into the season, and how much he’s grown, “I knew has left-handed and tall, to start off with, and then to be honest with you, I looked at his numbers and knew a lot of people thought highly of him. and was anxious to see him in the spring, and went into it with an open mind. Was curious to see what his secondary stuff was going to be like, how he was going to fend himself against right-handed hitters, which is what he's going to see a lot of here. You know, good left-handed pitchers up here, starters, they have one thing in common, out pitches to get right-handed hitters out, and so far, he's done that. This is a guy who has answered a need and a very important role for us in a lot of ways. At every turn, even when guys have gone down, Pete's been there. It's not easy, but sure better work than not being up here." 

Peterson is a reflection of how deep the Mets’ pitching staff is, and Showalter spoke of that, “It's one of the things that's allowed good teams, the Dodgers, you know, the Astros, everybody's had issues, even Tampa, they've had a lot of people down; it's a given. If you look back through our rotation, just about everybody's been on the disabled list at some point; it's just part of the gig. Obviously, depth's very important, but it's got to be quality depth. It's one thing to have people to do it, but can they get people out, and let you maintain a level of consistency. I've said many times, there's nothing worse than a team going out there, going, 'how much is enough, how much is enough.' Good pitching makes leads matter becuase, regardless of what you want to say about the previous series (with the Los Angeles Dodgers), we pitched with them. That was key because it's a given they're not going to give up a whole lot of runs, you would think, on the surface."

The Mets got on the board first against Washington starter Josiah Gray, who entered with a record of 7-8 and a 4.67 ERA, in the second inning. Jeff McNeil led off with a single, and with one out, Eduardo Escobar crushed one into the second deck in right field for a two-run home run. It was the Mets’ third baseman’s 13th home run of the season, to go along with 46 RBI.

Eduardo Escobar being greeted by third base coach Joey Cora on his home run. Photo by Jason Schott.

Eduardo Escobar and Tomas Nido get ready to bump elbows after Escobar's home run. Photo by Jason Schott.

Peterson cruised through the first two innings, but was greeted by a triple from Victor Robles to open the third.

Robles scored when Tomas Nido tried to pick him off third base when Lane Thomas struck out, and the throw got away from Escobar, and that made it 2-1 Mets.

Because the ball was in the dirt, the strikeout was not completed, and Thomas reached first base. Joey Meneses walked and Luke Voit singled to load the bases, and Peterson escaped trouble by striking out Nelson Cruz and getting a grounder to shortstop from Keibert Ruiz. 

The Mets got the run back in the fourth. Daniel Vogelbach led off with a walk, followed by a double for McNeil, his 35th of the season.

After Mark Canha grounded out to third, Washington walked Escobar intentionally to load the bases. Tomas Nido followed with a sacrifice fly to center field to bring in Vogelbach and make it 3-1 Mets. However, Robles threw McNeil out at third to end the inning.

In the fifth, Meneses got a one-out single and came into score on a single by Alex Call, who pinch-hit for Cruz, with two outs, and that made it 3-2 Mets. Peterson then picked Call off first to end the inning.

The Nats kept it going in the sixth, as Luis Garcia got a one-out single and came all the way around as Ildemaro Vargas laced a double, his second of the night, up the left-center field gap, and that tied it at 3. 

That was all for Peterson, and Mychal Givens came on to get the final two outs of the sixth and keep it tied.

Peterson’s final line was: 5 1/3 innings, 8 hits, 3 runs (all earned), 1 walk, with 6 strikeouts.

The Mets returned the favor in the bottom of the sixth, as Pete Alonso blasted one to left for a solo shot, his 32nd of the season, to make it 4-3. 

Pete Alonso being greeted by third base coach Joey Cora as he rounded the bases on his home run. Photo by Jason Schott.

Vogelbach followed with a walk, and McNeil singled to knock Gray out of the game.

Steve Cishek came in from the Washington bullpen, and Canha greeted him with a single to load the bases. Tyler Naquin went in to run for Vogelbach at this point, and that would prove big, as Escobar hit a sacrifice fly to right to bring him in and make it 5-3 Mets.

Canha wound up being thrown out at second base trying to tag up, turning it into a double play.

Nido made up for that, as he laced a single to right field to bring in McNeil, giving the Mets catcher two RBI on the night. 

Nimmo followed with a liner over Robles' head in center field, and he raced all the way to third for a triple, which brought in Nido to make it a four-run sixth inning and open up a 7-3 lead for the Mets.

That was Nimmo’s 500th career hit, with 129 of them coming this season. The triple was his sixth of the year, which ranks him third in Major League Baseball.

Givens, who earned his first win as a Met and improve his record on the season to 7-3 (they acquired him from the Cubs at the trade deadline), worked around a walk to Voit to pitch a scoreless seventh inning.

Joely Rodriguez pitched a scoreless eighth, in which he struck out two and surrendered a hit; and Seth Lugo also struck out two and gave up a hit in a scoreless ninth to close it out.

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