WASHINGTON — In nearly a month since his arrival in the major leagues, Amed Rosario has been almost exactly as advertised. From his seemingly effortless range at shortstop to his rawness at the plate, both his talent and his inexperience have been on full display.
One more dimension to his game also has emerged. Big moments barely faze him, as he showed in the Mets’ 6-5 victory over the Nationals on Sunday in the first game of a split doubleheader. His two-out home run on an 0-and-2 pitch broke a 5-5 tie in the eighth inning.
The homer was the highlight of a long day that ended with a 5-4 loss to Washington in the nightcap. Brandon Nimmo hit a two-run homer for the Mets (57-73), but their bullpen melted down in the sixth.
Chasen Bradford walked in the go-ahead run with the bases loaded. It came after Hansel Robles walked three straight, the last also with the bases loaded to force in the tying run.
“You can’t walk guys in the big leagues like that, three guys in a row,” Terry Collins said. “You’ve got to go get them.”
With that, the Mets took the kind of defeat tinged in bitterness that they had avoided with Rosario’s help in the opener.
The Mets took a 5-0 lead on a three-run homer by Asdrubal Cabrera and a two-run shot by Wilmer Flores, but the Nationals tied it in the seventh. Then Rosario belted his fourth homer since his promotion, and in the ninth, the Mets received a perfect relay from Juan Lagares to Cabrera to Travis d’Arnaud to prevent the Nationals from tying the score. That ended the game.
“I don’t worry about home runs, but he goes up there to swing and he’s dangerous,” Collins said of Rosario. “He plays the game the whole game and he plays to win. It’s fun to see.”
As expected, Rosario, 21, has struggled with his plate discipline. In 93 at-bats, he has struck out 28 times and walked twice. It’s a ratio that must improve, and with the season already lost, the Mets hope that development takes place now.
“It was pretty tough for me at the beginning,” Rosario said through his translator. “I came from a league where I wasn’t seeing pitches come at me this fast. But I’ve adjusted and I think I’m doing better.”
Rosario has shown a bit more pop than he displayed in the minors, and his homers have come at opportune times. Three have come in the eighth inning or later, and two of them have given the Mets the lead.
In the first inning, Cabrera hit his first homer since July 16, ending a stretch of 136 at-bats without one. Two innings later, Flores established a single-season career high with 17 homers.
The Mets caught a break in the ninth. With pitcher Edwin Jackson pinch running at first base, Daniel Murphy laced a double to right-center and rightfielder Travis Taijeron had trouble picking up the ball.
Jackson, who had slowed down while pulling up at third, broke for home. But Lagares fired to Cabrera, who made a perfect relay. The play survived a video review, with the Nats contending that d’Arnaud blocked the plate and Collins arguing that Dusty Baker waited too long to request a review.
It was Rosario who gave the Mets a lead to protect. With the score tied and two outs in the eighth, Joe Blanton got ahead 0-and-2, but Rosario made his propensity to swing an advantage. When Blanton fired a 91-mph fastball high in the zone, Rosario made good enough contact to power the ball over the fence in center.
Said Collins: “Another huge hit for us for sure.”