WASHINGTON — In splitting a doubleheader with the Nationals on Saturday, winning the opener, 5-1, and losing the nightcap, 6-2, the Mets had a troubling trend emerge: Only Francisco Lindor is hitting.
Lindor represented effectively the entire offensive effort in the first game, going 3-for-4 with two homers and all five RBIs.
In the second game, Jose Peraza’s two-run homer in the seventh (and final) inning saved the Mets from being shut out for a third time in four games. They rallied enough to force Nationals closer Brad Hand to the mound, but they stranded the potential tying run, Pete Alonso, on deck.
In their past 35 innings, the Mets have scored seven runs, most of which came via Lindor’s burst.
"It’s just a little blip," said Alonso, who had a pair of 1-for-3 efforts. "Overall, we’re still in first place by I don’t know how many games [four] and we’re eight games above .500 and we’ve been playing some really great baseball."
In the afternoon, Lindor had a two-run homer in the first, an RBI single in the third and another two-run homer in the fifth, all against Washington righthander Joe Ross.
That was by far Lindor’s best game with the Mets (36-28). Perhaps the Mets’ coldest regular hitter on the year, Lindor has his average up to .220 and OPS up to .681.
"We know this is the type of offense he can create," manager Luis Rojas said. "You get a day like this and you go, OK, here we go, this is it. Let’s see how it keeps translating game to game."
Added starting pitcher David Peterson: "He works his [butt] off. Everyone knew it was coming."
And Alonso: "He’s a superstar. I’m really happy for him."
Lindor explained that he liked the first home run, which he hit to left-center, more than the second, which he pulled to rightfield.
"The first homer gave me a little more satisfaction because it is showing me that the work I’m putting in is working," he said. "I stayed through that ball and I was able to get it out of the stadium. That’s something that, as I continue to learn how to be a better hitter, was very satisfying."
Peterson contributed a second solid start in a row, holding the Nationals (32-36) to one run and two hits in 4 2⁄3 innings. Trea Turner had both hits, including a fifth-inning double to end an 11-pitch at-bat, Peterson’s last. Aaron Loup allowed an RBI single by Juan Soto, the only run charged to Peterson.
Rojas said he pulled Peterson when he did because of his high pitch count (season-high 94), the hot weather (80 degrees and humid) and his busy day on the basepaths (reaching on a hit-by-pitch and double).
"He’s feeling it," Rojas said. "The last couple of outings, for him to feel his secondary [pitches], it’s important. He’s been a one-pitch pitcher at times, and that’s when he has struggled. For him to have a repertoire behind his fastball is huge. He did it again today."
Peterson’s double, ripped to right-center off Ross in the fifth inning, was his first career hit.
"It was an awesome feeling," he said. "I feel like a full baseball player today."
The Mets used a quartet of high-leverage relievers — Loup, Miguel Castro, Seth Lugo, Trevor May — to nail down the win. That left them shorthanded in the second game, which was a bullpen game.
It was close to over by the time long relievers Robert Gsellman (one run, two innings) and Sean Reid-Foley (five runs, 1 2⁄3 innings) were done with it. Kyle Schwarber hit a homer off each righthander.
Lefthander Jon Lester took a shutout into the seventh inning before allowing Peraza’s homer. He finished six innings-plus with six strikeouts and no walks.
"You gotta like how our approach was," Rojas said. "This is the approach that has been giving us a chance to win some games."
Alonso added: "[Lester is] a savvy veteran with great baseball IQ. He spotted up a lot of pitches and he had a great outing today. Good for him."
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