As Francisco Lindor rounded the bases on his ninth-inning home run on Sunday, chants of "Let’s Go Mets!" could be heard at Nationals Park.
Thankfully, Lindor did not offer a thumbs-down salute as he crossed the plate.
An absurd week — even by Mets standards — came to a positive end as the Mets outlasted the torn-down Nationals, 13-6, to take three of the first four games of a five-game series.
The Nationals’ front office may have given up on the season with their deadline deals, but the second-tier players they have left have not. Washington battled the Mets for the fourth straight game, coming back from a four-run deficit against Taijuan Walker to tie it at 6 in the fifth inning.
It still was 6-6 in the eighth when Patrick Mazeika drove in the go-ahead run. It wasn’t one of Mazeika’s patented 18-foot fielder’s choices, but rather a line-drive sacrifice fly to center that drove in Javier Baez.
Lindor’s leadoff homer in the ninth opened the door to a six-run inning capped by Kevin Pillar
’s grand slam.
Baez went 4-for-4 with a home run and two RBIs. Lindor finished 1-for-3 with two walks and two runs.
"It feels great to be hot at the plate right now," Baez said. "Hopefully I can keep it going."
As for his childhood friend, Baez said: "He’s Francisco Lindor, you know? He’s just got to do him. He’s done it for many years."
Lindor and Baez have put themselves back into the good graces of Mets fans. That’s why it was surprising when manager Luis Rojas didn’t start either in a 4-3 loss in the second game of Saturday’s day-night doubleheader.
Rojas talked about keeping both players healthy after they recently came off the injured list and said the rest aided their productivity on Sunday. Fine, but the Mets now have 25 games left, still are 3 1⁄2 games out of first place and trail two teams.
On Sunday, the Mets did not pick up ground on first-place Atlanta or second-place Philadelphia, both of which won.
It was a week ago Tuesday when Baez and Lindor apologized under duress from the front office for giving boo-bird Mets fans a thumbs-down salute.
Baez then scored the winning run as the Mets came back from four runs down in the ninth to beat Miami. He also lost an earring during the ensuing celebration. Even though team personnel — including president Sandy Alderson — scoured the grass and dirt in front of home plate, Baez confirmed on Sunday that the bauble was never located.
"It’s all right," he said. "What can we do about it?"
On Wednesday, news broke of acting general manager Zack Scott’s arrest in White Plains early Tuesday morning for driving while intoxicated. The Mets placed Scott on administrative leave on Friday, the same night they needed 10 innings to beat the Nationals, 6-2.
The morning after that game, owner Steve Cohen posted his latest love note to the players, writing: "There was a lot to like in how the team executed last night. Good, solid, heads up baseball. Fun to watch."
Not sure if fans who watched Edwin Diaz blow a two-run lead in the ninth before the Mets scored four in the 10th would agree. But Cohen has been a syrupy cheerleader ever since he criticized his hitters in a Tweet heard ’round the world on Aug. 18.
"It’s hard to understand how professional hitters can be this unproductive," Cohen wrote then. "The best teams have a more disciplined approach. The slugging and OPS numbers don’t lie."
The Mets lost seven of nine after that rip job, but that’s when they were playing the Dodgers and Giants. Since facing only the Marlins and Nationals, they have won eight of nine.
Perhaps the rookie owner will learn that Steinbrenner-esque motivating missives work better before your team plays a bottom-feeder.
The Mets have one more game against the Nationals and three in Miami before they host the Yankees next weekend. As the Yankees showed in losing two of three to the dreadful Orioles, the Mets should not fear their city rivals, not if Lindor and Baez are at their best.
After the game, Cohen’s itchy Twitter fingers were at it again.
"Where are the Twitter ‘experts’ complaining about Baez now," he posted. "They must be away for the weekend."