Back to their winning ways, the Mets improved to 13-4 and remained in first place in the National League East.
“We just went out and took it,” Mets Manager Mickey Callaway said. “That’s all I can say. It was totally different than what happened the other night. We went out there and the players in the clubhouse took that game.”
The huge comeback also helped Callaway avoid possible criticism for a risky move he made in the fourth inning, pulling starting pitcher Steven Matz for a pinch-hitter after Matz had retired 10 batters in a row. The Mets were trailing by a run at the time, and Callaway felt the urgency to make the move then. Unfortunately, the move did not result in a run. But when asked to defend the move, Callaway said it was only partially motivated by the desire to drive a run in. He cited the fact that Matz had thrown 33 pitches in the first inning, a workload which Callaway believes almost always catches up to a pitcher.
Matz appeared to stew on the bench after the decision, but later said he understood the reasoning behind it.
“I definitely understand,” he said. “I think Mickey would understand I wouldn’t be happy. As a competitor you want to go out there and go as deep in the game as you can.”
The win also erased a big night for Ryan Zimmerman, the Nationals first baseman, who had a hand in all of Washington’s runs: He hit two home runs, tripled, knocked in four runs and scored twice. Washington starter Tanner Roark appeared destined to make that stand up.
Roark limited the Mets to two runs and two hits in seven strong innings, but the Mets attacked the Washington bullpen in the eighth — especially relief pitcher Ryan Madson, who had been effective in the Nationals’ win the previous night.
Michael Conforto led off the pivotal inning with a single, and Cespedes and Asdrubal Cabrera followed with hits to load the bases before Frazier came to the plate. The night before Madson had struck out Frazier with two outs and runners on base in the seventh inning, but this time Frazier lashed a ground ball up the middle, scoring Cespedes and Cabrera. He said he made adjustments after the strikeout against Madson on Tuesday.
“One of the ugliest at-bats I ever took was yesterday,” he said, explaining how he backed off the plate a little bit more to account for the sink on Madson’s pitches, which helped him get into a favorable 3-1 count before striking an important blow.
Madson intentionally walked Adrian Gonzalez and struck out Wilmer Flores, but Lagares roped his double into right field to put the Mets ahead. By the time Cespedes came to the plate, the Mets already led by three runs, and his homer added to the festive atmosphere already filling the stadium.
“That inning was unbelievable,” Callaway said.
The grand slam was the sixth of Cespedes’s career (five of them with the Mets) and the third of the season already for the Mets, who came from behind to win for the eighth time in 17 games. Frazier said their ability to erase deficits comes from their belief that, as long as they are within four runs, one swing of the bat can get them back into the game.
On Wednesday it took a lot more than one swing, but as Frazier’s knowing look toward Henley suggested, that is what made it so much fun, at least for the Mets.
“That’s the excitement we bring,” Frazier said.