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The New York Mets finished their first sweep of the season this past weekend over the rival Nationals in Washington D.C., to bring their record to 7-1 in this young season.
The Mets have now won five straight games, due in part to timely hitting and great pitching performances out of their bullpen.
The Mets handled Washington fairly easily in the Nationals home opener on Thursday, winning the game 8-2. New York's hitters handled pitcher Stephen Strasburg well, putting up four runs on the Nationals pitcher. In a 4-2 game in the top of the seventh inning, outfielder Jay Bruce delivered a grand slam for his first home run of the season to put the game out of reach.
Outfielder Michael Conforto made his season debut in that Thursday game, well ahead of schedule after he started the season on the disabled list. Conforto, a 2017 all-star, had surgery to repair a torn capsule in his right shoulder. It was first expected that Conforto would return in early May but was able to return for the third series of the season. Conforto contributed to that Thursday win hitting a tie-breaking two run home run off of Strasburg.
Jacob DeGrom started the Thursday game for the Mets, and once again, he didn't have his best stuff. Despite not having a true ace like performance, DeGrom showed the competitor that he is, getting out of tough inning after tough inning, culminating with him getting out of a bases loaded, no out jam in the bottom of the sixth. After loading the bases on consecutive four pitch walks, DeGrom shut the next three hitters down, ending the inning with a three pitch strikeout of Trea Turner.
After an off day on Friday, the Mets came back on Saturday with a 3-2 victory, thanks in large part to a bounce back performance from starting pitcher Steven Matz. In five innings of work, Matz struck out eight Nationals hitters while surrendering just one unearned run.
Down one run in the top of the seventh, Asdrubal Cabrera delivered a game tying double off of reliever Brandon Kintzler, who also surrendered the grand slam to Bruce on Thursday. Todd Frazier delivered an RBI groundout to give the Mets a 3-2 lead and they never looked back. Closer Jeurys Familia came on for a five out save and didn't allow a base runner.
The series finale came on ESPN's Sunday Night Baseball and it was certainly a prime time worthy game. After a first inning two-run homer by Bryce Harper gave the Nationals the lead, it seemed like it would be a long night for the Mets in the nation's capital. Nationals starter Tanner Roark seemed to be in complete control through the first two and two-thirds innings.
With two outs in the third inning, Roark walked the bases loaded, running full counts on all three batters. On his first pitch to Mets first baseman Adrian Gonzalez, Roark surrendered a grand slam, giving the Mets a 4-2 lead. The home run was Gonzalez' first as a Met. A Cabrera home run in the fifth inning extended the Mets lead to 5-3
Starting pitcher Matt Harvey went five innings, giving up four earned runs, and striking out two. While it wasn't as impressive as his first start of the season, Harvey did what he had to do to keep the Mets in the game.
Robert Gsellman came on in relief of Harvey. Gsellman gave up the game tying run in the seventh inning, his first run allowed of the young season.
Relievers AJ Ramos, Jerry Blevins, Seth Lugo, and Jacob Rhame went four innings combined, without allowing a run. In the last week, Mets relievers have pitched 34.1 innings, struck out 41 batters, and only allowed five runs.
Juan Lagares led off the 12th inning with a pinch hit single. Following a sacrifice bunt by Amed Rosario, the Nationals decided to intentionally walk Conforto, to set up a double play situation for Yoenis Cespedes. It had been a rough night for Cespedes before that at-bat, going 0-5 with three strikeouts. However, Cespedes delivered a broken bat single to drive in Lagares and give the Mets a 6-5 lead.
Rhame came on to pitch the bottom of the 12th, with Familia unavailable, to get his first career save. After giving up a two-out double to Wilmer Difo, putting the tying run in scoring position, Rhame kept his composure and got Adam Eaton to ground out to third, completing the sweep.
It's still early April but the Mets now sit 3.5 games up on the National League East, with a 7-1 record, the best eight game start in franchise history, while the Nationals sit at 4-5.
The Mets now travel to Miami to take on the Marlins, while the Nationals stay at home in the cleanest city in America, at least on Monday morning.