The Mets' Daniel Vogelbach, celebrates his grand slam with Pete...

The Mets' Daniel Vogelbach, celebrates his grand slam with Pete Alonso during the fifth inning of the team's game against the Nationals at Nationals Park on Wednesday in Washington. Credit: Alex Brandon

WASHINGTON — Highlights were aplenty for the Mets in their 9-5 win over the Nationals on Wednesday, but the one that changed the game the most — and the one that might have been most satisfying, given their plans the rest of the season — came in the top of the fifth. 

Daniel Vogelbach recorded his first home run and his first RBIs with his new team by walloping a grand slam to rightfield off just-inserted reliever Jordan Weems. 

“It’s always good,” he said, “to hit home runs.” 

The effects of that blast were several. First, it helped the Mets improve to 66-38 and up their NL East lead to 3 1/2 games heading into a five-game, four-day series with second-place Atlanta. Second, it was enough to get ace Max Scherzer, who had been lightheartedly chirping at Vogelbach about being a singles hitter, to quiet down. And third, it provided another signal that, yeah, the Mets’ plans for their newly paired designated hitters might work. 

With Vogelbach facing righthanded pitchers and Darin Ruf facing lefthanded ones, the Mets think they can use those two roster spots to create one fearsome spot in the lineup, either or both sometimes serving as much-needed protection for Pete Alonso. 

Consider: Vogelbach has a .270/.382/.536 slash line against righties. Ruf, who joined the Mets on Wednesday but did not play, hits .252/.364/.523 against lefties. 

“If you look at their track record and why they were acquired, it’s pretty obvious what we expect,” manager Buck Showalter said. 

 

Both players are under the Mets’ control for next year, too, so this arrangement may not be just for the next two or three months. 

The key to excelling in a platoon role? 

“Taking advantage of the opportunities you get,” Ruf said. “It’s important to be ready to go.” 

Vogelbach added: “When you’re out there, you put together good at-batts, you prepare every single day. When you’re asked to do something, it’s for the best interest of the team.” 

In nine games with the Mets, Vogelbach has reached base in 16 of 34 plate appearances. 

“It’s easy to feel comfortable when you come into a team like this,” he said. “Not just the players on the field, but the players off the field. It’s an easy clubhouse to come into . . . and it makes you feel welcome.” 

In the ninth, the Nationals (36-70) scored five runs charged to Mychal Givens, who made his team debut after being traded from the Cubs on Tuesday. Earlier, Pete Alonso lined a two-run homer to center off Anibal Sanchez (4 1/3 innings, five runs), Jeff McNeil collected three doubles and Brandon Nimmo had three hits. 

Chris Bassitt (8-7) tossed seven shutout innings, lowering his ERA to 3.61. He navigated around six hits and a walk — with the help of three ground-ball double plays — and struck out four. Frustrated by his season-high four walks last time, he sought to let the defense do the out-getting work this time. That featured Luis Guillorme, who made multiple smooth plays at third base. 

“He should win a Gold Glove,” Bassitt said. “In my opinion, Guillorme has the best glove in the infield in the big leagues.”