by Paul West
There’s an old expression you may have heard: snatching victory from the jaws of the defeat. That’s what the Mets did tonight, and it couldn’t have been more perfectly timed. Showing the resilience that’s fueled their red-hot start, the Mets came back from what looked like an impending spirit-crushing loss–and they did it n spectacular fashion, with contributions from up and down the lineup and capped by a stadium-rocking grand slam from Yoenis Cespedes.
Make no mistake: this game was an enormous test of their aforementioned resilience. Against the backdrop of a spirit-crushing loss which recently did occur–on Monday when Jacob deGrom’s strong start was wasted when the Mets gave up a 6-1 eighth-inning lead–and a 5-2 loss last night, the Mets were down 4-2 with six outs to go and facing a Citi Field sweep at the hands of the Nationals. They left the bases loaded with starter Tanner Roark on the ropes, and it began to seem like they had wasted their best chance.
Then came a nine-run eighth inning, in which the resurgent Juan Lagares punched in the go-ahead run; Michael Conforto walked in a run after a tenacious at bat, and Cespedes–who’s spent much of the season looking lost, except for a couple of well-timed bloop singles–offered his most well-timed hit thus far, and it was no bloop. It was a canonating, bases-clearing blast, vaulting the score to 11-4 and sending chills down the spine of Mets fans.
If the Mets hold serve through the end of the season and beyond, this will be an inning they point to as a pivot point.
The Nationals were on the verge of a confidence-building, momentum-driving sweep in opposing territory; instead, they leave Citi Field with a bad taste in their mouths, only having gained one game in the standings. The Mets’ divisional record continues to improve, and bear in mind: they’re not even fully clicking yet. This 13-4 start is all the more impressive because it hasn’t been as dominant as the win-loss record might imply. It’s involved multiple come-from-behind victories in the latter innings of games, and timely hits from Brandon Nimmo and a walkoff homer by Citi Field folk hero Wilmer Flores. It’s happened despite deGrom and Noah Syndergaard, the team’s twin aces, not exactly in full command of their stuff. It’s happened at home, on the road, and on nights when the bats have been quiet.
It’s also proof that these Mets aren’t a mirage.