WASHINGTON -- Jason Bay called it "epic." R.A. Dickey labeled it as "justified." Two words used to describe Jose Reyes' eighth-inning explosion Wednesday night that could easily apply to the Mets' thrilling 6-3 comeback victory over the Nationals.
Like the hopped-up Jose Reyes, who slammed his helmet and had to be restrained after a triple was wrongly taken away at third base, the Mets pushed past the breaking point for their sixth straight win.
Fueled by Reyes' emotional outburst, they first rallied to tie the score at 2 in the eighth inning on Daniel Murphy's pinch-hit home run off Tyler Clippard. After the Nationals jumped ahead 3-2 in the bottom half on Wilson Ramos' sacrifice fly, the Mets rebounded with four more runs in the ninth for what undoubtedly was the biggest win of the young season.
In fact, manager Terry Collins saw it as something much deeper. Not only did the Mets pull to 11-13 on the season, they may have gained more ground in the self-esteem column.
"I know there's fight in this team," Collins said. "We talked all spring training long, you can't keep getting kicked around for two years and not have some anger. Hopefully games like tonight bring that out and show we're not going to give up."
Reyes supplied the anger. Although he is the Mets' most explosive player, rarely does the shortstop blow up on the field as he did in the eighth inning. With the Mets trailing 2-1 and one out, Reyes launched a deep drive into the left-centerfield gap. It was triple territory and he never broke stride before diving headfirst into third ahead of Rick Ankiel's throw.
Jerry Hairston kept a tag on Reyes, but it seemed pointless -- until third-base umpire Marvin Hudson called him out. Reyes yelled at the umpire in what might have been his wildest argument as a Met, slamming his helmet while jumping up and down. He even had to be restrained by third-base coach Chip Hale, who continued the argument until Collins arrived.
The replays showed that Reyes' hand never left the base, despite Hairston's best efforts to shove him off with his glove, and Hudson must have felt guilty. Usually a helmet slam is cause for an instant ejection.
"I went a little crazy there," Reyes said. "The third baseman was yelling that I came off -- but I never came off the base. I always hold onto the base with my hand."
Said Collins: "I tell you one of the things I like -- it may come back to bite us -- but his passion to play, his energy. I think it's contagious. The rest of the guys bought into it tonight."
Starting with Murphy, who immediately followed Reyes' tirade with a tying home run into the rightfield bleachers. The Mets were fired up over the whole Reyes episode, but Murphy stayed cool -- "I couldn't come unglued there," he said -- and the Mets rode that momentum in the ninth.
The Mets loaded the bases in the ninth inning with no outs, and with no righthanded hitters left on the bench, Collins sent up Chin-lung Hu, who delivered the tying sacrifice fly off Sean Burnett. Josh Thole followed with an RBI groundout, and after Reyes was intentionally walked, Murphy ripped a two-run double to right.
After Reyes slid across the plate, he popped up, spread his arms wide and pointed back toward Murphy as the Mets' dugout erupted. It was a more controlled gesture than his animated argument, but there was no more need for shouting by then. The Mets got their point across.
"It's a good win," Murphy said, "but they're all good. We're trying to get to 100 and we're a step closer."
Triple digits might be a little ambitious for this club. But with the fight -- and emotion -- they showed Wednesday night, the Mets refuse to be counted out in April.