The Washington Nationals, this year’s pre-season favorite to represent the National League in the World Series discovered to their dismay that the road to the playoffs may have to go through Flushing, New York.
That is where the young and dangerous New York Mets play their home games. And it is where the team from the nation’s capital got swept over the past three days.
The Mets have had a dynamic pitching staff all season, but virtually no offense. General Manager Sandy Alderson used the past seven days to acquire some veteran offensive help. He traded for Juan Uribe and Kelly Johnson, two capable hitters, early last week.
Graphic via fredericksburg
And then, as the trading deadline neared, Alderson acquired a big-time hitter, Yoenis Cespedes. The three new players provided an instant energy boost to the struggling Mets. And, perhaps more importantly, they excited the fan base.
Game one took place Friday evening. Mets ace Matt Harvey took the mound against Geo Gonzalez, a tough left-hander that often gives Mets hitters trouble.
Harvey, true to his reputation, was almost unhittable for seven innings. His team scored one run which was driven in by Wilmer Flores, the team’s young shortstop who had openly wept a couple of days earlier when he thought he had been traded.
The trade, which would have sent him to Milwaukee, fell through, and Flores, now a fan favorite after his show of emotion and desire to remain a Met, hit a hard, run-scoring single to delight the crowd.
But, Washington ties the score in the eighth inning. The game continued to the 12th inning with tension mounting on both side. Flores came to bat in the Mets half of the inning. And in hard-to-believe storybook fashion, he clubbed a home run to win the game by a score of 2-1.
Game two took place Saturday evening and pitted another Mets ace, Jacob DeGrom, against young hurler Joe Ross. DeGrom gave up two first inning runs and nothing more over six gritty innings. Ross held every Mets batter in check except for one, Lucas Duda.
The big first baseman hit a solo home run in the fourth inning and another in the seventh inning to tie the score. Once again, tension mounted as both teams realized the importance of the game.
In the Mets half of the eighth inning, Curtis Granderson led off with a double. After Murphy bounced back to the pitcher, the Nationals elected to intentionally walk newly-acquired Yoenis Cespedes and pitch instead to Lucas Duda. It was a mistake because the Mets left-handed slugger doubled to drive in the go-ahead and eventual winning run.
Mets fans were thinking “sweep” on Sunday when rookie pitcher Noah Syndergaard took the mound for the home team. He gave up a first inning home run, but the home team came storming back in the third inning when Curtiis Granderson slugged a two run home run, Daniel Murphy followed with a solo round tripper and Lucas Duda finished the barrage with another two-run home run.
The final score was 5-2 in favor of the squad from Flushing. The sweep pulled them into a first place tie with the visiting Nationals. With three game still to be played in Washington and three more slated for Flushing the race for divisional honors figures to go down to the wire.
It figures to be exciting … very exciting.
Graphic via goldstar