The Nationals opened a key homestand this evening needing to play clean baseball and get things off on the right foot.
Three batters into their series opener against the Mets, they couldn’t turn a routine double play. And three batters after that, they gave up a grand slam to a former teammate and fan favorite.
Yep, things are going swimmingly so far tonight on South Capitol Street.
Wilson Ramos’ grand slam off Jeremy Hellickson gave the Mets a 4-0 lead before many in the crowd had even crossed through the turnstiles, a killer blast by the former Nationals catcher at a most inopportune time for the home team. But it was only possible because of yet another play not made by the Washington defense.
With one out and a man on first, Hellickson got Robinson Canó to ground to second. Brian Dozier flipped the ball to Wilmer Difo for one out, but Difo’s throw to first base was way offline and pulled Gerardo Parra off the bag. Parra, a career outfielder forced into first base duties for the injury plagued Nationals, couldn’t pull off an awkward stretch, though umpire Cory Blaser initially ruled Canó out for an inning-ending double play.
The Mets immediately challenged, and for good reason: Parra didn’t secure the ball in his glove. After review, the ruling was overturned, keeping the inning alive. At which point Hellickson melted down.
The veteran right-hander rightfully should have been out of the inning with no damage done, but he didn’t do much to bail out his teammate. After allowing a groundball single up the middle to Pete Alonso, he walked Michael Conforto to load the bases. Then he threw a 1-0 changeup to Ramos, who belted it to left for a grand slam, an especially painful moment for Nationals fans who still miss “The Buffalo.”
Update: Hey, guess what? The Nats were in danger of being no-hit again! They put an end to that madness a bit earlier tonight, though, with Difo lining a single to right to lead off the bottom of the sixth. Victor Robles’ two-run homer off a 98 mph fastball - his third homer off Noah Syndergaard this season alone - got the Nats on the board. But they still trail 5-2 and have plenty of work to do over the final three innings.