NEW YORK -- The Mets and Nationals found themselves in a slugfest on Thursday night at Citi Field. When it was over, New York edged out Washington, 9-8, in the series finale, to break its four-game losing streak, the longest during Buck Showalter's managerial tenure in Queens.
The Mets now play an important four-game series against the Braves, starting Friday night in Flushing.
The Mets went into the bottom of the eighth inning down 8-7. But they came back and took the lead off right-hander Mason Thompson. With one out, Pete Alonso doubled to right-center field to score Starling Marte and tie the score at 8. Jeff McNeil followed and tripled over the head of right fielder Lane Thomas to score Alonso, giving New York the one-run lead it needed to secure the victory.
“It shows a lot about this team,” McNeil said. “To get knocked down there, we gave up the lead and to be able to come back in the bottom of the eighth, that was big. We took some big-time ABs that inning. … It shows what this team is made of. That is the kind of baseball we are used to playing.”
Thompson, who pitched three scoreless innings on Tuesday, felt the Mets were in a more offensive mindset on Thursday night.
“I think when I was falling behind, not getting ahead and not putting them in a defensive mindset, I think it was easier for them to settle in and put together a better at-bat,” Thompson said.
Right-hander David Robertson retired the Nationals in order in the ninth to pick up his fifth save of the season.
Perhaps no one was happier about the victory than third baseman Brett Baty, who had the best game of his career. The Mets’ No. 2 prospect, according to MLB Pipeline, went 3-for-3 and hit his first home run of the season. It was a tie game in the bottom of the fourth when Baty swung at an 0-1 pitch from right-hander Trevor Williams, sending the ball over the right-center-field fence to give the Mets a 2-1 lead.
“I was seeing the ball well tonight, swinging at the right pitches. I battled all game. Luckily, we came out on top,” Baty said. “We had a conversation today about the next man stepping up and having each other’s back. It really showed tonight.”
Before the heroics, with New York leading 7-3, the Mets’ bullpen was roughed up in the top of the eighth inning. Right-hander Tommy Hunter and lefty Brooks Raley hit a combined three batters in the frame, and then the bubble burst when Raley allowed a grand slam to CJ Abrams to give Washington an 8-7 lead.
“You don’t see three hit-by-pitches coming,” Showalter said. “Our guys are trying to throw it in there. You see a lot of hit-by-pitches, especially when you see cold weather [55 degrees at first pitch]. We can talk about why a lot of that is happening at the rate it is. But I don't think anybody wants to hear it. That was unforeseen.”
Hunter didn’t have any excuses for hitting two batters in the game. He was hoping that the Mets would let him finish the inning, but he had a tough time getting hitters out.
“I tried. Unfortunately, the ball didn’t go our way during that time,” Hunter said. “Hitting those first two guys is not something I should be doing. You have to be a little better.”
However, winning fixed all for the veteran reliever, allowing him to feel better about his tough outing.
“Winning is very difficult to do in the big leagues,” Hunter said. “So any time that you do, you celebrate it. No matter how your day goes, you know at the end of the day, it’s what happens to the team. You high-five everything, you keep your chest up, you keep your chin up and attack the next day.”
McNeil indicated that the victory was important, not just in the record book, but because the Mets built some much-needed momentum for when they face the first-place Braves on Friday.
“One of the top teams in the division, it’s a big series.” McNeil said. “It was huge tonight to get this 'W'. We are starting to swing the bats like we know we can. We are going to use that going into tomorrow. It’s going to be a battle.”