The tying game: Mets deliver Citi's slickest sweep
By Bill Ladson and Joe Trezza
NEW YORK -- The Mets' first three-homer inning since 2007 sent Citi Field into possibly the biggest ruckus in its history, shooting New York into a virtual tie for first place with a 5-2 win over the Nationals on Sunday night to complete a three-game sweep. Back-to-back third-inning homers from Curtis Granderson and Daniel Murphy sparked an electric atmosphere at the Queens ballpark, where the fans have thirsted for a playoff team since its inception in 2009. The crowd of 35,374 sure felt it finally had the makings of one after Lucas Duda followed Murphy two batters later with his ninth homer in eight games -- a two-run shot that punctuated a season-defining homestand and gave winning pitcher Noah Syndergaard insurance runs to work with.
"We're excited," Mets manager Terry Collins said. "We know we have 50-something [games] to go and have to play those guys six more times, but this is a huge weekend for us. In the scope of things, this was a great homestand for the way we finished it."
The Mets' roster underwent a major facelift since the start of this 10-game homestand, most notably by adding bopper Yoenis Cespedes at the non-waiver Trade Deadline. Cespedes recorded his first Mets hit in the third inning. But it was the incumbent Mets who made the difference this weekend, with Duda leading the way. The slugger followed Saturday's dramatic, heavyweight performance with his 21st homer of the year, Granderson clubbed his 17th and Murphy added his seventh to make a loser of Jordan Zimmermann and cap the Mets' first home sweep of Washington since 2009.
"The electricity in the ballpark going through that was incredible," Collins said. "It was enough to ride to the finish."
Syndergaard settled down after allowing an Anthony Rendon homer in the first, at one point retiring 13 consecutive batters and earning his sixth win. The rookie allowed seven hits and two runs, walked none and struck out nine, including Bryce Harper on a fastball with his 109th and final pitch, which had a perceived velocity of 100.2 mph, according to Statcast™. Syndergaard capped a weekend of dominating performances from Mets starters, who limited Washington to five runs over three games.
"They have three really good pitchers they threw at us," Nationals manager Matt Williams said. "They swung the bat extremely well. They are playing well."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Three's a crowd: New York jetted from behind to comfortably in front in the blink of an eye, needing just three swings to ruin Zimmermann's night. Granderson crushed a hanging 2-2 curveball to give the Mets a 2-1 lead. Murphy sent Zimmermann's next pitch in the second deck in right, projected by Statcast™ to land 426 feet away. Cespedes singled on a 1-0 slider, and Duda clobbered a first-pitch fastball that was well off the plate inside. More >
"I think Duda hit that one off his nipple," Murphy said.
Duda … again? Seriously? The slugger continued his historic homestand. Nine of his last 10 hits are homers, and the only non-homer went for a game-winning double. In the two games hitting behind Cespedes, Duda is 5-for-7 with three homers. He became the first Mets player to hit nine homers in eight games.
Cespedes in center: In what ended up as merely a footnote in New York's powerful third inning, Cespedes singled to left for his first hit as a Met. He later scored on Duda's big fly. Cespedes started in center field for the first time since July 28, 2014. He smoothly handled all of his chances and kept a runner from tagging up in the sixth with a strong throw.
One bad inning for Zimm: Zimmermann ran into trouble in the third inning. After allowing a two-run homer to Granderson, Zimmermann allowed three more runs on four pitches. Duda capped the scoring with a two-run homer. Zimmermann allowed five runs on six hits over six innings.
"I hung a curveball to Granderson. It was a bad pitch," Zimmermann said. "Then I left a fastball middle for Murphy next pitch. The ball Duda hit, I'm not sure how it's physically possible to hit the ball where I put it. I put it where I wanted to. I can't be mad at that pitch. He is probably the hottest guy in baseball right now. For him to hit the ball where he did and where it was located, you just have to tip your cap." More >
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
The last time the Mets hit three homers in one inning they actually lost the game. That was on June 7, 2007, when David Wright, Carlos Delgado and Paul Lo Duca mustered solo shots in a 6-3 loss to Philadelphia.
UPON FURTHER REVIEW
With one out in the first inning, it looked like Rendon hit a double off the center-field wall. But after a crew chief review of one minute and 14 seconds, the umpires ruled it a home run, Rendon's first of the season. It came in his 110th plate appearance.
In the seventh, Jose Lobaton reached after appearing to beat Ruben Tejada's return throw to first following a forceout at second. The Mets challenged, and the call was overturned after umpires found evidence the ball beat Lobaton to the bag, completing a double play. Syndergaard struck out Michael Taylor to end the inning.
WHAT'S NEXT Nationals: The Nationals return to Nationals Park to play a four-game series against the D-backs starting Monday night at 7:05 p.m. ET. Right-hander Doug Fister will get the start for Washington. He pitched six quality innings against the Marlins in his last start for his fourth win.
Mets: The Mets finished a hectic, headline-grabbing homestand 6-4 and in style, and they now own a share of first place in August for the first time since 2008. Bartolo Colon looks to maintain that status quo when he starts against the Marlins at Marlins Park on Monday at 7:10 p.m. ET to begin a six-game road trip.
Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the Time. He also can be found on Twitter @WashingNats. Joe Trezza is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.