Michael Conforto is out hurt as of last week, Brandon Nimmo since Tuesday, and Jeff McNeil for at least a day Wednesday. So the Mets’ entire righty-crushing starting outfield is sidelined by a variety of injuries for periods of uncertain length, a bad development at a bad time for a team that has struggled to score consistently.
That’s a problem, probably, but one for another day. On Wednesday night, in the Mets’ 6-1 win against the Nationals, the backups backed up the Mets’ frequent claims of talented depth with two big hits with two outs in the bottom of the eighth.
Juan Lagares, suddenly the Mets’ everyday centerfielder again, came through with a three-run double that gave his team its first lead of the night. Moments later, Rajai Davis — making his Mets debut after arriving from Triple-A Syracuse in the third inning — crushed a three-run homer.
That makes three straight wins for the Mets (23-25) since their team meeting Monday.
“You know you want to be the man,” Lagares said. “So stay ready.”
The eighth-inning excitement came against Washington closer Sean Doolittle, who was attempting a four-out save. He threw 12 pitches to four batters as the game flipped quickly.
Doolittle inherited two runners and hit Carlos Gomez with a pitch to load the bases. Lagares cleared them. Wilson Ramos was walked intentionally, which brought up Davis, who took batting practice before the game — in Allentown, Pennsylvania, where Syracuse played.
The Mets nearly came back against Doolittle last week in Washington. This time, they finished the job.
“You know this guy is throwing fastballs,” manager Mickey Callaway said of Doolittle, who throws more than 90 percent fastballs. “When he gets it down enough, you can hit it. When he gets it up, you have to have a little discipline and lay off of it, which is very hard to do. So you have to capitalize when he gets it down just enough where you can get the barrel on it, and we did that.”
Doolittle told reporters: "I'm really frustrated. I'm disgusted with myself and I let the team down."
That all served as the game-deciding epilogue to a duel between last year’s NL Cy Young Award winner, Jacob deGrom, and the runner-up, Max Scherzer.
DeGrom allowed one run and two hits in six innings, striking out eight and walked three. His only mistake came on his fourth pitch, a fastball on the inside edge of the plate that Adam Eaton pulled off the face off the upper deck in rightfield.
After that, deGrom mostly cruised. He retired the next 11 Nationals until Matt Adams led off the fifth with a single. A two-walk, 29-pitch sixth inning, during which deGrom became angry with plate umpire Ryan Blakney, cost him the chance to pitch deeper.
“I wanted some pitches that weren’t strikes,” deGrom said with a smile, realizing he was wrong. “That was my frustration. I looked at them, they were off [the plate].”
Said Callaway: “He gave a look, said what he had to say and settled back down and got the outs. And that’s fine.”
Scherzer was a tick better this time. He fired six shutout innings, scattering four hits and two walks and striking out nine. He averaged nearly 20 pitches in the first five innings, which helped the Mets get into the Nats’ majors-worst bullpen.
“If you can’t get to him, that’s how you get to him,” Callaway said. “If you’re not going to score off of him, you have to make him throw some pitches.”
Robinson Cano had an MRI on his tight left quadriceps after leaving the game following the third inning. The Mets didn’t have the test results immediately after winning. On his groundout to shortstop to end the third, Cano grimaced as he approached first base. Adeiny Hechavarria replaced Cano at second.
The Mets go for the four-game sweep in a noon game Thursday.
“When you win, you have a different air about you, a different confidence,” Callaway said. “I’m definitely feeling that.”