Michael Conforto’s shirtless centerfield celebration wouldn’t have been possible without Todd Frazier’s euphoric three-run, game-tying home run just a few at-bats earlier.
“Oh man, it’s something special,” Frazier said after his homer off Nationals closer Sean Doolittle in the bottom of the ninth inning Friday sent shockwaves through Citi Field and set up the Mets’ 14th win in 15 games.
“You heard the roar of the crowd,” he said. “That’s the answer you get when you do something like that.”
Ahead 6-3, the Nationals turned to Doolittle — a lefthanded closer — for the save. Mets manager Mickey Callaway said he liked the matchup with three righthanded hitters leading off the frame.
J.D. Davis doubled. Then Wilson Ramos singled to put runners on the corners. When Frazier stepped to the plate, he had one thing on his mind. He said he “pretty much” was trying to hit a homer in that spot.
“It’s one of those things where we’re down three,” he said. “I’m not trying to bunt. I’m not trying to move guys over. I’m trying to find a gap or lift one deep.”
After Frazier connected, he stood still momentarily to watch the ball’s flight. He then flipped his bat, raised his arms slightly and looked to the Mets dugout before beginning his trek around the bases. He said he wasn’t positive it was fair.
“I wasn’t 100 percent because usually those balls, they bite a lot more,” he said. “But it stayed true. It stayed fair by a lot more than I thought. It’s one of those where you don’t really feel. Those kind of home runs, you square it up perfect.”
From Callaway’s vantage point in the dugout, he knew it was gone.
“It’s fair the whole time,” said Callaway, who responded by turning around to slap hands with bench coach Jim Riggleman. “I was right there, kind of in line with it. I knew it was fair the whole time.”
An already energized crowd from Marcus Stroman’s spunky first home start elevated to another decibel level when Frazier connected. Stroman couldn’t contain himself, either. “I ran down in my boxers,” he said.
In the thick of the NL wild-card hunt, the Mets responded to criticism that their hot streak came against lesser teams by handling a division rival ahead of them in the standings. The Mets are now just 1 1/2 games behind the Nationals for second in the NL East.
Said Frazier: “You don’t feel like you’re out of a game when you’re on a run like this.”