NEW YORK - The Mets led the Nationals 6-1 after seven innings. Their lead was based on timely hits, power strikes, costly mistakes by the Nats and a vintage pitching performance from right-hander Jacob deGrom.
It all seemed like a night for the Mets again until Moisés Sierra battled deGrom to a single to begin the eighth for Washington.
Then the Nats produced their most dramatic comeback to date, scoring six runs on five hits in that eighth frame. The Mets had to employ five pitchers in the inning.
The Nationals came back to win in an 8-6 shocker.
“That was big, super big,” said Nationals manager Davey Martinez. “I’m not going to sit here and lie, I said the boys are fired up. Testament to them, they don’t quit. They’re going to keep battling and you saw that today. Each and every one of those guys play with unbelievable heart today.
“It’s the quality at-bats that they had. Nobody was trying to do too much. They were all trying to stay in the middle of the field like we talk about, and they put good at-bats together.”
Sierra’s hit to begin the fateful eighth inning comeback was followed by a one-out single from Trea Turner.
The Nats had forced deGrom from the game. A walk to Howie Kendrick, a two-run single by Bryce Harper, and suddenly the Nats trailed 6-3. A single from Pedro Severino and a bases-loaded walk to pinch-hitter Matt Reynolds scored another run to make it 6-4.
“For me personally my at-bat, knowing I need to have a great at-bat there, I was just trying to concentrate on the moment itself, get a good pitch to hit and I was able to do so and produce for the team,” Sierra said of his single to start the frame, through team interpreter Octavio Martinez. “It was very big for us. I think it’s going to help us and give us energy. It was very emotional. I was very excited to be a part of it.”
“The biggest thing with that at-bat is I never want to strike out, I want to make sure I put the ball in play,” Difo said via Octavio Martinez. “Hopefully, hit it hard and I was able to do so and help the team and produce there in that moment. So I was very happy and fortunate.”
A Kendrick homer in the ninth inning finished off the scoring, 8-6. Ryan Madson pitched a scoreless ninth for his second save.
The Nats sent 12 men to the plate in that game-changing eighth, scoring six runs on five hits with three walks and a hit by pitch. The Mets wasted four relief pitchers in the frame.
It was the Nats second comeback win of the season.
“It’s huge,” Harper said. “We got to come in here and play some good baseball. We faced some good pitchers that inning.”
“I thought we battled the best we could,” Harper said. “Got into their bullpen, had some great at-bats and scored some big runs when we needed to.”
Turner finished 2-for-5 with a run scored.
“It was fun. Winning is a lot better than losing,” Turner said. “I think winning in general is good, but winning the way we did tonight is a little bit more special.”
Right-hander Jeremy Hellickson gave the Nats a shot by keeping them in the game. He allowed only two runs on seven hits through 4 2/3 innings.
The Mets appeared to put the game away by being aggressive in the sixth and displaying their power in the seventh.
Against left-hander Matt Grace, New York scored two runs without the benefit of a hit. In the sixth inning they put pressure on Grace. After a walk to Juan Lagares, the center fielder stole two bases - his first two steals of the season.
Grace lost Jose Lobaton to a walk. DeGrom’s sacrifice to the left of Grace was booted and then kicked by the southpaw, allowing Lagares to score. Lobaton scored on Amed Rosario’s fielder’s choice to second base.
In the seventh against A.J. Cole, Brandon Nimmo tripled and Asdrúbal Cabrera crushed a two-run shot over the right field wall.
The Nats began the scoring in the first on a line drive off the bat of Harper over the right-center field wall.
The home run was made even more unforgettable because Harper strong armed it out of the park on a broken bat, left holding only the handle when the rest of the bat ricocheted back off the netting next to the Mets dugout along the first base side.
“I had barreled it pretty well,” Harper said. “It just broke and kept going.”
“It was impressive,” said Turner. “There’s rumors that it was already broken beforehand. So I’m curious to see the tape to see if he hit it on the barrel or off the end of the bat, whatever it maybe. But nonetheless, impressive.”
“That doesn’t surprise me at all,” Difo added. “He’s got a lot of strength behind his swing and when he hits the ball right it’s going to go anyways. He definitely has the power for it.”
So, in a series where the Nats needed to get off to a good start, they did just that with a stunning late inning comeback for their first win over the Mets in 2018.
“Everybody’s happy,” Harper concluded. “Coming in here playing a good Mets team, got the ‘W’ tonight. To be able to come back and fight and do the things we need to do is huge. I thought we did a great job as a club going up there being confident, having good at-bats, and won a ball game.”