The Mets operated on battery power Thursday and looked very good doing it.
Starting pitcher David Peterson and starting catcher Tomas Nido gave the Mets everything they would need as they rolled to a 8-2 victory over the Nationals at Citi Field. The Mets salvaged a split of the four-game series with Washington, have won four of their past six games and stand 9-11 with one third of this compressed 2020 season in the books.
Nido, the backup catcher getting the start in a day game after a night game, had a grand slam and a two-run homer for a career-high six RBIs. Both home runs went over the fence in leftfield. The two-run shot came in the fourth inning and broke a 1-1 tie to put the Mets in the lead for good. The grand slam, off highly-regarded rookie Seth Romero in his big-league debut, came in the fifth inning and broke open the game.
Before Thursday, Nido’s signature game was last May 25, when his walk-off homer beat the Tigers. Asked which day was better, he replied “I want to say today was probably top.
“For me, the walk-off was awesome, but I never really had two home runs in a game, especially a grand slam,” said Nido, who entered the day with five homers in 243 at-bats. “Today was a little more special.”
Peterson allowed only one hit and one unearned run in five excellent innings as he improved to 3-1 with a 2.91 ERA in four starts. He threw just 74 pitches before exiting with what manager Luis Rojas called “shoulder fatigue.” Peterson called the discomfort “nothing to worry about.”
Leftfielder Jeff McNeil had to be carted off the field in the first inning as he made a spectacular inning-ending catch to strand two runners in scoring position and collided with the wall. Rojas said McNeil had an X-ray and MRI and was diagnosed with a knee contusion (bruise). He described McNeil’s status as day-to-day and suggested he would not need to go on the injured list. Billy Hamilton hit in the No. 3 spot in the order for McNeil in the bottom of the inning and played centerfield with Brandon Nimmo moving to leftfield.
The run off Peterson came in the first inning, a result of Nido's throwing error. Dominic Smith pulled the Mets even in the second inning with a one-out solo homer to center. In the last seven games in which he started, Smith is batting .296 with three home runs and seven RBIs; his four homers and 12 RBIs are both team highs.
Pete Alonso went 2-for-5 and had a run-scoring single in the eighth; he has batted .333 with eight RBIs in his last nine games. Brandon Nimmo had a leadoff double in the first to extend his streak of reaching base to 34 games and Michael Conforto extended his hitting streak to 10 games with a single in the fifth inning.
After Peterson exited, Jared Hughes pitched two innings of relief, allowing Washington star Juan Soto’s fifth homer and fourth of this series. Edwin Diaz pitched a scoreless eighth, his sixth straight appearance without allowing a run. Brad Brach allowed the Nats to load the bases in the ninth but kept them off the board to finish the game.
Nido came out of last season with a career .187 batting average and spent much of the offseason working to improve as a hitter. Before Thursday. he’d batted .308 in the four games he started.
“Six RBI, it's a big day for him and it's paying off, all the hard work that he's done at the plate,” Rojas said.
“It just feels good to be able to help the team win,” Nido said. “It's not about myself, you know? At the end of the day – no matter what I do – if I don't help the team, that stings more than if I do good and we lose.”