Avoid The Sweep -April 18, 2018-

2 nights ago, after an Asdrubal Cabrera homerun made the score 6-1 over the Nationals, the Mets were on top of the world.

The Mets lost that game, thanks to a catastrophic bullpen meltdown, and lost the next game as well. Suddenly, their historic winning streak was a distant memory, and they were in danger of being swept at home to a depleted Nationals team.

It was up to Steven Matz to salvage the series. Matz, who has had an up and down season, was greeted rudely by the Nationals in the top of the 1st.

He struck out Trea Turner to get things started, but then allowed a single to Howie Kendrick and walked Bryce Harper. Ryan Zimmerman was next and worked the count full. He took the next pitch he saw over the left center wall and it was 3-0 Nats.

Moises Sierra followed with a single and we had a mound visit with 1 out in the first inning. Never a good sign. Matz struck out Michael Taylor and then picked off Moises Sierra and the inning was over.

Whatever was said during that mound visit worked, because it was smooth sailing for Matz after the early trouble. He retired the next 9 batters in order, which was great to see. Little did he know that would be the end of his night.

In the bottom of the 4th, the Mets finally found some offense. Asdrubal Cabrera led off with his 6th double of the year. Jay Bruce struck out, and Todd Frazier followed with a walk. Adrian Gonzalez took the second pitch he saw for a single and the Mets were on the board. 3-1.

They cut the lead to 3-2 after a Ryan Zimmerman throwing error. Mickey Callaway decided to strike while the iron was hot and sent Brandon Nimmo to hit for Steven Matz. Interesting call as Matz had really settled down and it was only the 4th inning. Maybe Callaway realized he should have let Nimmo hit the night before instead of Jose Reyes and was overcompensating.

Brandon Nimmo was hit by a pitch, loading the bases. Amed Rosario was next and swung at a pitch way out of the zone, hitting into a double play. Hard to remember a play which sucked the life out of the stadium more than that double play. Amed Rosario’s struggles continue. That was all the Mets were able to muster off Tanner Roark as well.

Paul Sewald entered, attempting to the keep the game at 3-2. Sewald was fantastic retiring the first 6 batters he faced.

In the top of the 7th, Sewald allowed a lead off single to Ryan Zimmerman. Well, it should have been a single but a Jay Bruce misplay turned it into a triple. Really not looking forward to watching Jay Bruce play right field for the next 3 years if we’re being honest. A Moises Sierra sacrifice fly extended Washington’s lead to 4-2.

The Mets went quietly in the 7th. Jose Reyes pinch hit for Sewald and grounded out to the pitcher. 0-18. That was the end of the line for Washington starter, Tanner Roark. Aside from the 4th inning, the Mets could not do anything against him. The Mets would need to do their damage against the Nationals bullpen.

AJ Ramos pitched the 8th inning, retiring the side in order. In the bottom of the 8th inning the Mets went to work.

Conforto, Cespedes and Cabrera all hit singles, creating a bases loaded situation with no outs. Jay Bruce popped up in foul territory, momentarily stopping the proceedings. Todd Frazier was next and he singled up the middle, tying the game at 4.

It felt like a brand new ball game, as Wilmer Flores stepped up to the plate. Citi Field groaned as Flores struck out on a pitch that was above eye level. Juan Lagares came up as a pinch hitter given a chance to be the hero with 2 outs. He delivered.

That gave the Mets a 6-4 lead. That inning was so necessary. You hate to see losses like the one suffered on Monday night fester, and regaining the lead in a game that started so poorly was so huge. The inning wasn’t over though.

Amed Rosario and Michael Conforto drew back to back walks, extending the lead to 7-4.

Then Yoenis Cespedes came up to the plate.

BANG! GAME OVER!

Avoiding the sweep and salvaging this series was obviously paramount. A 6-4 win would have been great. Yoenis Cespedes sent a message with that grand slam and we won the game with style. Great to give the Nationals something to remember. Monday’s loss knocked us down but we got back up.

If that’s a sign of things to come for Cespedes, then good times are ahead. He’s been struggling mightily, but to his credit, all of his hits and RBIs have been very timely. We all know it’s only a matter of time before he gets going, so maybe last night was the beginning.

How great has Juan Lagares been? In limited time, he has provided stellar defense, which we’ve come to expect. The offense has been a pleasant surprise, as he’s posted a .452 on base percentage to go along with his fantastic .407 batting average.

Sewald was the unsung hero of this game. He came in and gave the Mets 3 innings of outstanding relief, keeping the team in the game.

Steven Matz settled down after his rough 1st inning. Callaway had a very quick hook and removed him after only 4 innings. With Lugo, Gsellman and Sewald at his disposal, Callaway will not be shy to remove the back end of the rotation from games. It worked out, but Matz has to do better.

The Mets won 11-5. The 5th run came in the top of the 9th, as Ryan Zimmerman hit his 2nd homerun of the night of Seth Lugo. This is a little concerning. That’s a couple appearances in a row now where Lugo has been touched up.

The Mets travel to Atlanta, where they will play 4 games. They head to St. Louis and San Diego after that. The Mets may miss Freddie Freeman who was struck in the wrist with a fastball last night. Matt Harvey gets the start tonight.

LGM

 

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