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Like Day and Night

Technically, Sunday afternoon’s Mets win over the Nationals [1] was the day half of a day-night doubleheader, but you’d be excused for confusion in that the day game itself proceeded like day and night from a Met perspective. Maybe that was appropriate at the end of a week that commenced with a solar eclipse.

DAY BREAKS: Asdrubal Cabrera homers with two Mets on. Wilmer Flores goes deep with one Met on. Tommy Milone has a 5-0 lead and pitches like he wants to make the Nationals regret ever giving up on him. Through four innings, Tommy and the Mets are cruising.

NIGHT FALLS: Milone’s revenge fantasy predictably disintegrates in the fifth, an inning he can’t get out of. No decision for Tommy, but a decent choice by Terry Collins when he replaces his Quadruple-A starter at the first sign of trouble with Hansel Robles. Robles, or El Peñaco as he wishes to be marketed, was indeed The Rock of the pen for Collins, getting the Mets through the fifth with the 5-1 lead he was handed.

PITCH BLACK: Out went Robles after two-thirds of an inning for no glaringly apparent reason. In came a parade of relievers whose Players Weekend nicknames did not endear them to us as they began the process of giving back the rest of the Mets’ lead. Eventually — and we do mean eventually, for this game lollygagged like there wasn’t one right behind it waiting to use the field — the Nationals tied it at five. In the midst of giving back runs, the Mets stopped scoring them. Assisting the Nationals’ pitchers was home plate umpire Andy Fletcher, who called strikes not even Marvin Miller would have wanted authorized. For example, Brandon Nimmo twice took ball four with the bases loaded in the sixth only to have Fletcher rule the pitches otherwise. As darkness descended on the Mets’ chances, it wasn’t like you couldn’t have seen this reversal of fortunes coming. The Mets are used to getting totally eclipsed at Nats Park.

A RAY OF LIGHT: Amed Rosario swung at a ball up above even Fletcher’s imagined strike zone and connected in the eighth for a home run that put the Mets back ahead, 6-5. It was a prodigious blast by a genuine prodigy. Amed’s defensive prowess shared center stage with his bat in the bottom of the inning when he bailed out Jerry Blevins (the pitcher of record who’d hit Daniel Murphy to start the inning) and AJ Ramos (who proceeded to string a tightrope across the scoreboard by loading the bases with two out). Matt Wieters, who left his running shoes in his locker along with his normal uniform, grounded a ball to Rosario’s right. No Met shortstop since the brief heyday of Ruben Tejada would have made a successful play. Rosario, however, is the next-generation model and he did. Threw a little high, but Wieters is torpid, and besides, reeling in the occasionally wayward throw is what Dominic Smith is for.

SUNBURST: Ramos, Collins’s 44th pitcher of the game (thus explaining why he suddenly wears 44), returned to his tightrope in the bottom of the ninth. He retired the inning’s first two Nats — including ex-Met Alejandro De Aza, who compared vengeful notes with Tommy Milone and proceeded to improve on them by tripling, doubling and driving in the tying run on a sac fly — but then Junior gave up a single to Adam Lind. Lind was pinch-run for by pitcher Edwin Jackson…one of those details which seems worth noting, if you don’t mind a little foreshadowing. Murph, the grandmaster of getting even, was up next. Murph hadn’t to this point in the series registered a base hit versus his former club. Yeah, like that was gonna remain the case. Of course Murph shot a ball right of second, all but destined to split the gap between Juan Lagares in center and Travis Taijeron in right. One of them is a Gold Glove outfielder. One of them decidedly is not and is never going to be. Guess whose glove touched the ball first without picking it up. Murph definitely had himself a double. Jackson maybe had himself the tying run.

But only maybe. Let’s hear Gary Cohen tell it:

“Murph has twenty home runs for the year. And he hits one up the middle, that’s a base hit. Jackson around second, he’ll go to third. It goes under the glove of Taijeron! Picked up by Lagares, Jackson trying to score! The relay by Cabrera to the plate…Jackson is…OUT and the BALLGAME IS OVER! Jackson thrown out at the plate to end the ballgame! Taijeron mishandled it in right, so they sent Jackson home, Lagares picked it up, got it to Cabrera, [who] threw a strike to d’Arnaud, out at the plate, and the Mets hang on to win, six to five! Wow!”

There’s a whole other game ahead of us tonight, so let’s leave it at “Wow!”