Jenrry Mejia nails down first big-league save

Mets shortstop Ruben Tejada (11) backs up second
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Mets shortstop Ruben Tejada (11) backs up second baseman Daniel Murphy (28) who catches a fly ball for the out on the Washington Nationals' Jayson Werth during the fifth inning of a game at Nationals Park on Sunday, May 18, 2014.(Credit: AP / Alex Brandon)

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WASHINGTON - By the end of Sunday, Jenrry Mejia could be well on his way to becoming entrenched as the Mets closer.

Manager Terry Collins has said that Mejia must prove he can handle pitching on consecutive days to assume the open job. Saturday, the righthander completed the first step, nailing down his first career save in the Mets' 5-2 win over the Nationals.

Now, Collins must determine whether Mejia can be called upon Sunday if needed in the series finale.

"It's in play," Collins said of using Mejia. "But I'll find out more tomorrow how he feels."

Mejia handled the pressure of the ninth with no issues, working around Jayson Werth's leadoff single to record a scoreless frame.

"It feels the same," said Mejia, who had never attempted to close out a major-league game.

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With a three-run lead, Collins saw an ideal spot to audition Mejia, who the Mets believe can be an effective closer.

"There can't be a better scenario," Collins said. "We've got a three-run lead, it's a save situation, it's the ninth inning, we've got to find out. We've got to see this kid, how he's going to handle it."

While Mejia is willing to pitch for a second straight day, he stopped short of saying he'd be ready. "I don't know yet," he said. "Let's see how I feel tomorrow."

 

Extra bases

Ruben Tejada's modest improvement over the last week has been enough to buy the embattled shortstop a second chance. Even though prospect Wilmer Flores started Saturday against the Nationals, Tejada will likely see the majority of the playing time at short.

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