Tuesday, April 25, 2023

Gray, Nationals Shut Out Mets, Spoil Amazin's Homecoming


Jose Butto getting Keibert Ruiz to pop out to third base to end the third inning. Photo by Jason Schott.

The Mets had their homecoming on Tuesday night at Citi Field spoiled by Josiah Gray, who threw six shutout innings to lead the Washington Nationals to a 5-0 win to open their three-game series.

This was the Mets' first home game in 13 days, and they had only played six home games to this point in the season, which is nearly a month old, the fewest in the major leagues.

Despite 17 of 23 games on the road, the Mets entered Tuesday night's game with a 14-9 record, good enough for second place in the National League East. That also includes winning seven of 10 on their recent west coast swing, as they swept the Oakland A's, took two of three from the Dodgers in Los Angeles, and split four with the Giants in San Francisco.

Jose Butto, who won his season debut in Oakland on April 16, got the start for the Mets in what would normally be Max Scherzer's spot. (The Mets ace is serving his 10-game suspension for the sticky stuff found on his hand last Wednesday in L.A.)

Butto retired the Nationals in order in the first inning, but he ran into trouble in the second. Joey Meneses led off with a single down the third base line, but was retired at second as he tried stretching it into a double.

The next batter, Keibert Ruiz, drove one to deep right field for a solo home run to put the Nats on the board.

The Nationals kept it going in the third, as Alex Call and Jeimer Candelario walked, and Meneses followed with an RBI single to make it 2-0 Washington.

Gray cruised through the first four innings, as he just scattered a couple of singles and struck out seven.

The Mets would erupt in the fifth, as Brett Baty got a one-out double, and then after Luis Guillorme popped out to shortstop, Francisco Alvarez singled and Brandon Nimmo walked to load the bases.

That brought up Starling Marte, and he struck out to end the threat. That was part of an 0-for-4 night for the Mets right fielder, who is now just hitting .227 with one home run and six RBI on the season.

By this point, Jimmy Yacobonis, who got the final out of the fifth inning, was pitching for the Mets, and the Nationals pounced in the sixth.

After C.J. Abrams opened the inning with a strikeout, Victor Robles and Call singled, and both came in to score when Luis Garcia doubled. Candelario then struck out for the second out, but Meneses singled in Garcia to open up a 5-0 lead for Washington.

Gray responded by retiring the Mets in order in the sixth to finish his night. His final line was: 6 innings, 4 hits, 0 runs, 1 walk, 9 strikeouts.

The right-hander from New Rochelle earned his first win of the season to improve his record to 1-4 and lower his ERA (earned run average) to 2.93.

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