The New York Mets played host to the divisional rival Washington Nationals for the first time in 2016. There was very little good, a lot of bad, and quite a bit of ugly.
Game 1: Syndergaard vs Scherzer
Following a sweeping at the hands of the Rockies in Colorado, the Mets headed home to Citi Field, sending Noah Syndergaard to the mound in hopes of righting the ship. With question marks surrounding the effectiveness of many of the other Mets starters, Thor went out and continued to dominate as he has all season long. He stymied a dangerous Nationals lineup with seven scoreless innings, striking out 10 in the series opener.
At a time when reigning National League MVP Bryce Harper has been drawing walks at a Barry Bonds-esque pace, Syndergaard challenged the Nationals right fielder directly. After Jayson Werth reached base with a two-out single in the sixth, Syndergaard fell behind Harper 3-0 before throwing the 1-2-3 of a sinker, changeup, and slider to strike him out. It was smooth sailing for the 23-year-old righthander, who continued to show he lives for the limelight performances.
At the plate, the Mets continued their offensive woes. They mustered only four hits, three coming off of Max Scherzer in his 6.1 innings of work. Picking up from his incredible 20 strikeout performance last time out, Scherzer added another 10 punchouts to his tally on Tuesday night. While his strikeout prowess continued, so did his tendency to give up the longball. As has become Mets tradition this season with only scoring via home run, Curtis Granderson opened up the scoring by driving the first pitch he saw in the bottom of the first over the wall for his 7th of the year. Michael Conforto added a solo shot of his own in the third inning.
Two runs was all the Mets could string together, but it turned out to be plenty. Addison Reed and Jeurys Familia pitched scoreless innings in the 8th and 9th to shut the door and give the Mets a much needed 2-0 victory. Syndergaard moved to 4-2 on the year.
Game 2: Colon vs. Gonzalez
It was a day to forget for Bartolo Colon. Child support lawsuit and secret family case notwithstanding, Colon entered Wednesday’s matchup not giving up consecutive walks since 2007. He had not walked five batters since 2005. Both streaks came crashing to a halt as Colon issued five walks and five hits in only 4.2 innings, giving up three runs. The walk plague did not end with Colon’s departure, as the bullpen allowed six more in relief. The Mets allowed 11 walks for the first time since 2012.
Anthony Rendon drove in two in the 5th. Murphy grabbed another RBI in 7th on a sacrifice fly that could have been a lot worse had Juan Lagares not channeled shades of his 2014 Gold Glove campaign. The center fielder raced back to the warning track and made an over-the-shoulder catch a la Willie Mays, holding the Nationals to one run on the play. Unfortunately, the spectacular catch was the lone bright spot with the Cespedes home run for the Mets faithful Wednesday night, as the Nationals took the second game of the series 7-1 on the back of 6.1 strong innings out of Gio Gonzalez. Gonzalez allowed five hits and a walk while striking out five, with the only blemish being the home run. As Gonzalez advanced to 3-1 on the year, Colon fell to 3-3.The Nationals opened up the scoring in the third, when ex-Met and playoff hero Daniel Murphy hit a ball that got past a diving David Wright down the third base line, driving in Jayson Werth. Yoenis Cespedes tied the game in the 4th with his 13th home run of the year, but that would be the only offense the Mets would muster, collecting only six hits on the night.
Game 3: Harvey vs. Strasburg
The rubber game of the series sent a struggling Matt Harvey to the bound, hoping to rebound from a series of rough starts. Mets broadcaster set the stage for the night by opening the broadcast by saying players are judged in baseball by how they respond to hitting rock bottom. While fans hoped this would finally be the day the Dark Knight climbed out of Bane’s prison that has been the 2016 season, Harvey fell further down.
In what was the shortest outing of his career, Harvey left after just 2.2 innings, giving up a career high nine runs (six earned) on eight hits with only two strikeouts. After surrendering a two-run homer to Murphy in the 1st, everything unraveled in the third inning.
Harper got the first hit of his career against Harvey, breaking an 0-for-21 streak. Harper then stole second, prompting Harvey to intentionally walk Murphy to face the slumping Ryan Zimmerman with the bases loaded and only one out. Harvey got the ground ball he needed, but Asdrubal Cabrera botched the transfer, allowing everyone to reach safely. The train finally became derailed when Anthony Rendon hit a line drive in the next at bat to left field that Conforto misjudged and dropped, bringing home Harper and Murphy. Harvey was never able to escape the inning, as a single from Wilson Ramos and a triple from Ben Revere brought home the rest of Washington’s nine runs and sent Harvey packing to a smattering of boo’s from the New York crowd.
Beyond a single off the bat of Cabrera in the 2nd that brought home Cespedes, the Mets offense again continued to find its footing. Stephen Strasburg continued his stellar 2016 so far, giving up six hits in six innings and striking out 10 en route to a 7-0 record. Harvey dropped to 3-6 as his ERA ballooned to 5.77, leaving many scratching their heads as to what is wrong with the once lights-out ace.
The Mets look to fix their offensive woes as the Brewers come to town for a three game set. Wily Peralta takes the mound for Milwaukee on Friday night against Steve Matz, who makes his return to the rotation after being skipped due to forearm soreness
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