NEW YORK - More on some little things that may have been lost in the shuffle during Monday night’s 5-3 loss to the Mets, plus the latest ruckus between Adam Eaton and Todd Frazier:
* It wasn’t the difference in the game, but the insurance run the Mets scored in the bottom of the eighth was plenty significant. And it came about in large part because of the Nationals’ inability to do some little things right.
Trying to keep their deficit at one run, Joe Ross struck out Frazier but then walked Carlos Gomez, this moments after Gerardo Parra couldn’t snag a foul popup along the first base dugout rail. Parra was charged with an error.
Now with one out and Gomez on first, Ross made multiple pickoff attempts, including one that was close enough for the Nationals to challenge the call. Replay officials in Manhattan ruled the original call stood, saying there wasn’t sufficient video evidence to overturn it. Finally, Ross threw away a pickoff attempt, the ball bouncing away as Gomez raced to take second base.
Why was that important? Because it put Gomez in position to advance to third on Juan Lagares’ ground ball to the right side, then to score on Dominic Smith’s two-out RBI single to center (on the very first pitch thrown by Tony Sipp, making his first appearance off the injured list).
All of a sudden, a one-run deficit was a two-run deficit, which forced the Nationals to approach the top of the ninth very differently.
* Speaking of the top of the ninth, the Nats needed two runs to tie the game instead of one, but they still gave themselves a chance against Mets closer Edwin Díaz, who plunked leadoff man Victor Robles and then gave up Yan Gomes’ third single of the night.
That left runners on the corners with two out and Eaton at the plate. Eaton, who had been 0-for-4 with two strikeouts and a double play, took ball one. Then on Díaz’s next pitch, Turner took off from first base.
The thinking was sound: Turner, who got a great jump, was trying to get himself (the tying run) into scoring position. If he got there, a simple single by Eaton likely would’ve tied the game. The problem: Eaton swung at that pitch and flied out to left field to end the game.
“I figured he was going to go,” Eaton said. “To be honest with you, I knew I was going to get a (fastball). The first slider, he threw for a ball, so I was gearing up for a heater. I was going to, hopefully, do some damage in the gap. I just caught it a little deep. It didn’t work out.”
Did Davey Martinez want Eaton swinging at that particular pitch in that particular situation?
“I’m not going to say that I didn’t want him swinging, but he saw (Turner) going,” the manager said. “He had base stolen easily. Would I have liked for it to have been second and third with him up? Yeah.”
* OK, about Eaton-Frazier Round Whatever: These two have had a feud going since they were teammates with the White Sox in 2016. They jawed at each other during a game here at Citi Field last season. And they did it again Monday night after Eaton grounded into an inning-ending double play in the third inning.
As the Mets jogged off the field, Frazier chirped something toward Eaton, who was standing near first base. Eaton chirped back. New York left fielder J.D. Davis, who was actually closest to Eaton, tried to break things up, as did first base umpire Mike Estabrook.
Nothing much actually happened, but Eaton had plenty to say afterward.
“Gosh, who knows what goes through that guy’s mind?” the outfielder said of Frazier. “He’s chirping all the way across the infield. He must really like me, cause he wants to get my attention - it seems - like every time we come into town. He really cares what I think about him.
“I don’t know what his deal is. If he wants to talk to me in person, or have a visit, or what it is. But he’s always yelling across the infield at me, making a habit of it. He’s one of those guys who always says it loud enough that you hear it but can’t understand it. So, he’s making a habit of it. I ignored him a couple times chirping coming across, but I had it to the point where ... you got to be a man at some point. So I turned around, had a few choice words with him.
“It’s funny. Was walking towards him, he didn’t really want to walk towards me. But as soon as someone held him back, then all of a sudden he was really impatient, like trying to get towards me. Just being Todd Frazier. What’s new?”
Frazier, approached by reporters in the Mets clubhouse, wouldn’t go into any detail about the incident, twice saying: “It was nothing.”
Eaton clearly didn’t think it was nothing. And the veteran outfielder is surprised this feud continues.
“Yes, absolutely,” he said. “He’s very childish. I’m walking with my head down, play’s over, I’m walking away. I can still hear him. I’m a 30-year-old man with two kids, got a mortgage and everything. He wants to loud talk as he’s running off the field. At the end of the day, I got to be a man about it. I tried to stay patient with the childishness, but it is what it is. I’ve got to stand up eventually.”