Of the two lenses through which to view the Mets’ 6-5 walk-off seesaw win Tuesday against the Nationals, one friendly to the victors and the other less so, Mets fans, for all they’ve been through in recent days and seasons and decades, would be forgiven for defaulting to the latter.
The optimistic lens highlights the Mets’ stickto-tiveness, seeing as they scored five runs in the final three innings. Amed Rosario beat out a two-out grounder to shortstop for a walk-off single. Pete Alonso launched a game-tying homer in the eighth. J.D. Davis smacked a pinch-hit, opposite-field, three-run homer in the seventh.
The Mets persevered and were rewarded, it’s easy to think. They never quit fighting, as manager Mickey Callaway so often likes to say.
The negative lens makes the Mets’ beleaguered bullpen more prominent. The Mets needed all those late-inning offensive dramatics because Jeurys Familia and Daniel Zamora combined to allow a pair of runs in the eighth. An inning earlier, Zack Wheeler began the seventh at 99 pitches and gave up a two-run homer to Brian Dozier on pitch No. 113. Callaway said Wheeler might not have been still in the game under more ideal bullpen circumstances, such as if the Mets had a healthy Seth Lugo and/or a rested Robert Gsellman.
The Mets (22-25), of course, picked the optimistic lens. This was their second win against Washington (19-29) in as many days to open a critical homestand.
“Today,” Alonso said, “was a hell of a win for everybody.”
Added Davis: “We’re resilient. I know that’s only two wins, but it’s a big two wins for us right now.”
And Callaway, sticking to his script: “These guys have never given up. Hey, we’ve had bad games where we haven’t gotten a ton of hits, a ton of runs, whatever. But I’ve never seen them give up. And tonight was another case.”
Rosario’s game-ending play got an assist from Jeff McNeil. As Rosario sent a bouncer right at Trea Turner, McNeil — starting on second base — decided to loiter near the bag instead of running to third, slightly obscuring Turner’s view of and throw to first base.
“Just maybe try to get in the line of the throw,” McNeil said. “I don’t want him to drill me or anything, but kind of stand there and he has to work around you a little bit. Make it a little tougher.”
Callaway was convinced that Rosario, the Mets’ fastest runner, was somehow even quicker than normal in his 90-foot sprint.
“Mickey is definitely right,” Rosario said through an interpreter. “I don’t know if it was because of the situation, but I felt like I got it to another gear at that point.”
Alonso lugged a cooler full of red Gatorade to the middle of the field to douse Rosario.
“You gotta throw the Gatorade on someone to celebrate a walk-off, right?” Alonso said. “There’s no other way.”
The teams’ total of nine runs in the final three innings turned everything else to a footnote.
McNeil played rightfield for the first time. Wheeler finished seven innings and allowed three runs, Dozier’s blast joined by a Juan Soto solo shot. Washington righthander Erick Fedde, who early this month was in Double-A learning how to be a reliever, cruised through five innings in a spot start. He allowed one run and four hits through five innings (61 pitches).
Some days, getting shutdown by a fringe pitcher would have been the story. But not for these modicum-of-momentum Mets.
“We’re coming out and we want to snowball good days together,” Alonso said. “Today was definitely a really good day for us. Same plan for tomorrow.”