WASHINGTON -- In a five-game series packed with rallies, comebacks and extra innings, the Nationals’ finale against the Mets on Monday afternoon at Nationals Park was fitting. After both teams proved a deficit was nothing but a number until the final out, the Nats clinched the last "W" of the division matchup, 4-3, in walk-off fashion.
“They play for 27 outs,” manager Dave Martinez said. “Finally, we got a bounce that went our way.”
The Nats trailed, 3-2, entering the ninth inning. After Alcides Escobar and Josh Bell drew walks off Edwin Díaz, Andrew Stevenson continued to come up big in the series by lining a game-tying single to right field to drive in Escobar.
Carter Kieboom, who was struck out by Díaz in a key moment of Friday’s extra-innings loss, got his redemption by dribbling a ground ball up the middle that evaded the Mets’ defense and plated Bell for the winning run. It was the Nationals’ sixth walk-off victory of the season and Kieboom’s first walk-off hit of his three-year career.
“I knew I was the fifth batter up in that inning … and I knew if there was any way we were going to win this, I was going to come up to bat with two men on,” Kieboom said. “The more times you get into those situations, the better off you are and the more comfortable you get.”
Achieving a walk-off win is significant in itself, but the battles of the four-day series made this victory even more special for the Nationals. On Friday, they trailed 2-0 heading into the ninth and forced extras, only to lose, 6-2, in 10 innings.
Sunday’s matinee went to the Mets, who scored six runs in the ninth inning to squash a Nationals comeback, 13-6.
“It’s pretty hard to describe, honestly,” Kieboom said. “To swing the bats the way we did all week, and then to come up short, and to finally pull one out there at the end, it’s awesome.”
Throughout the weekend’s wild ride, the Nats received significant contributions from Stevenson, who entered the day with the fourth-best pinch-hitting average in the league. The on-call outfielder plowed into home plate to score the game-tying run on Friday, hit a game-tying homer on Saturday and collected the game-tying RBI on Monday.
“I try to just mellow out,” Stevenson said of high-pressure moments. “The way I kind of look at it is, a pitcher’s in more of a jam than I am, for the most part. I think in that situation, it’s to my advantage, so I shouldn’t be the one feeling the pressure here … I think I’m at my best when I’m just relaxed at the plate and going up there with a good plan.”
The Nationals head to Truist Park on Tuesday for another division showdown with the Braves. Their overworked bullpen will be better rested thanks to starter Patrick Corbin. The southpaw threw seven innings for only the fifth time this season, while allowing three runs off 11 hits and one walk, with four strikeouts. The Nats only had to make one call to the ‘pen, where Kyle Finnegan held the Mets scoreless in two innings of relief.
“These guys have been playing hard,” Martinez said. “I know their effort has been there, day in and day out. It’s good to see us come back, get a victory, and now we get to go on a plane and relax a little bit and go to Atlanta and try to go 1-0.”