The Mets’ lineup on Wednesday night was so many things it was expected to be and not what it has been thus far in 2020.
It answered when faced with a deficit. It hit with runners in scoring position. It was highly productive from top to bottom, produced three home runs and was the biggest reason the Mets prevailed over the Nationals, 11-6, at Citi Field to halt a two-game skid.
The 11 runs is the club’s season high, surpassing their output in an 11-10 loss in Atlanta, and the three homers also equaled a club high. Seven starters had hits and six drove in runs as the Mets’ offense prevented newly-minted starting pitcher Robert Gsellman from taking a loss in his first start since 2017.
Pete Alonso had a two-run home run, two doubles and three RBIs, Dominic Smith had a home run and two RBIs and Brandon Nimmo had a homer among his three hits that opened a four-run first inning, which erased a three-run deficit and put the Mets ahead to stay. The homers by Alonso and Smith came back-to-back in a five-run sixth that broke open the game.
Michael Conforto had a two-run double for the other two runs in the sixth and Wilson Ramos and Andrew Giminez added run-scoring hits.
Mets relievers also fared well with six pitchers combining for seven frames of three-run ball. Jeurys Familia threw two scoreless innings and Chasen Shreve and Dellin Betances each tossed a scoreless inning, with Betances striking out the side.
The Mets came into the game with a decision to make because righthander Michael Wacha is out with right shoulder inflammation. Instead of a stop-gap measure like using a relief pitcher as an opener, the club opted to begin converting reliever Robert Gsellman into a starting pitcher and manager Luis Rojas said he would be one for the remainder of the season.
Gsellman came up as a starter and was the Mets starting pitcher in 29 of his first 33 appearances, in 2016 and 2017, going 11-9 with a 4.60 ERA.
“We came up with (Gsellman) because he had the experience of doing it, we feel he has the repertoire and, given the circumstances, he can fall right in into place,” Rojas said. He added that it was a better option than a bullpen game and that Seth Lugo – who desires to be a starting pitcher – is too valuable in the many relief roles he performs.
His first turn in the rotation since Sept. 27, 2017 began quite badly but ended reasonably well.
In the first inning the righthander gave up three runs and four hits with the big blow the first of Juan Soto’s two home runs, a 466-foot three-run blast that landed by the concession stands atop the second deck in right field. But Gsellman retired the last five Nationals batters he faced as he pitched two innings with 33 pitches. Because of the Mets’ four-run first, he actually exited with a lead after retiring the Nats in order on 13 pitches in the second inning.
Rojas said before first pitch that the Mets were looking to get 45-60 pitches from Gsellman and that the Mets would add to his workload with each subsequent turn in the rotation. He had made only one appearance this season after starting it on the Injured List with triceps tightness, throwing a scoreless inning of relief on Aug. 8.
Nimmo’s homer started the road back from a 3-0 deficit. Conforto took a two-out hit-by-pitch and scored on Alonso's double to right-center field. Smith followed with a run-scoring double to right and Gimenez brought him in with a single to left for a 4-3 lead. Ramos’ run-scoring single in the third made it 5-3.
Conforto’s two-run double was the first big blow by the Mets in the sixth. Alonso and Smith followed him by going deep. It was the first back-to-back home runs of the season for the Mets.