After Mets' flubs, Nimmo's walk-off makes everything better

June 15th, 2023

NEW YORK -- Much of the game seemed more like an unraveling.

There were multiple errors. There was a baserunning blunder, a defensive shift violation and a straight steal of home. The Mets were on the wrong side of all of it Wednesday night at Citi Field, looking every bit like the club that had lost nine times in 10 games to tumble down the National League standings. Their mistakes were piling into heaps; the only reason why it might not have felt like rock bottom was because of the Mets’ penchant for consistently finding lower points.

Then , who had been involved in multiple misplays over the previous 24 hours, came to the plate in the 10th inning with a chance to atone. He seized it, sending a walk-off double off the right-field fence to send the Mets to a sorely needed 4-3 win over the Yankees.

“Everything’s better when we win,” Nimmo said. “When you win, you can look back and say, ‘OK, we’ll learn from [our mistakes].’ … When you lose, it’s not really thought of that way. And so everything’s better when you win.”

Had the Mets lost, there would have been plenty for them to tear apart, with the seventh inning at the center of it. The Mets committed two errors in that inning, and that was before Isiah Kiner-Falefa surprised reliever Brooks Raley with the first straight steal of home in a Subway Series game since the Mets’ Roger Cedeño in 2002.

The Mets subsequently tied the game, but Nimmo was thrown out trying to dash back to second base when third-base coach Joey Cora held up Mark Vientos on Starling Marte’s RBI single. An inning later, the Mets were penalized when umpires called Jeff McNeil for a defensive shift violation. (McNeil later contended, with video evidence to corroborate his take, that he had not violated the rule.)

Combined, the mistakes provided ample fodder for anyone looking to disparage the Mets -- something that has happened with increasing frequency over the past few weeks. But then something funny happened: The Mets stopped things right there. Dominic Leone, the fifth man out of the bullpen in relief of Justin Verlander, managed to strand an automatic runner on second base in the 10th. That allowed Nimmo to come to the plate in the bottom of the inning, needing only a single to win the game.

“Nim’s a guy that you trust,” manager Buck Showalter said. “He just keeps firing. Getting a chance to watch him play every day is something I really enjoy. He just cares.”

Not everything, however, has come easily to Nimmo. In Tuesday’s loss to the Yankees, Nimmo failed to glove a line drive that led to the go-ahead run; afterward, he blamed himself for a loss that was objectively not his fault. He didn’t fret as much over his baserunning mistake on Wednesday, mostly because he believes his aggressiveness was warranted in that situation. But a loss, fairly or not, would have again turned the spotlight on him.

So Nimmo did something about it, tagging Yankees reliever Nick Ramirez for a walk-off hit. When he did, his teammates came rushing out of the dugout, pelting him with sunflower seeds and various liquids. His face remained smudged with eye black after the game.

“It happened to one of the best guys out there,” shortstop Francisco Lindor said. “That’s how the game works. He didn’t feel great about yesterday, and I’m sure he didn’t feel good about what happened earlier in the game today. He had his chance, and he didn’t let it go through. I love that.”

Nimmo became the third Mets player to deliver a walk-off hit in extra innings against the Yankees, joining Jason Bay in 2011 and Pete Alonso in 2020. It was the second walk-off hit and the fourth walk-off plate appearance of his career.

Perhaps it will even spark some lasting change in Flushing, where the Mets have been searching for any sort of reason to believe things can improve. Time will tell on that front. In the interim, the Mets will sleep easier knowing they survived another round of mistakes.

“Those are things that we were able to overcome,” Showalter said. “You’d like to see them not happen, but I think sometimes guys are trying so hard to find a way to contribute.

“We scored more runs than they did over the course of the game. It was a big win for us.”