Mets Rally, Only to Lose to Nationals on Walk-Off Homer

Mets Rally, Only to Lose to Nationals on Walk-Off Homer

WASHINGTON — If Zack Wheeler, the Mets’ third starter, needed any reminder that his 10-1 record during the second half of last season meant nothing in the new campaign, the Nationals were happy to provide one on Sunday.

With the Mets on the verge of collecting a series sweep, Wheeler surrendered a single on his first pitch. By the bottom of the third inning, he gave up a three-run homer to Nationals shortstop Trea Turner. Wheeler, whose fastball topped out at 98 miles per hour, was removed from the game after the fifth, having given up four earned runs.

“I think I just got a little fastball-happy,” he said.

It was a mistake that Mets reliever Justin Wilson repeated in the ninth. While the Mets had rallied to tie the game at 5-5 in the eighth, it was another fastball, this time from Wilson in a full count, that Turner rerouted into the stands for a walk-off win, 6-5.

The Mets (2-1) lost the game but won the series. Manager Mickey Callaway maintained that his team’s late rally left the Nationals (1-2) a message.

“They have no doubt that no matter what the score is, we’re not going to lay down,” Callaway said.

In defeat, the Mets posted 13 hits, but they left nine runners on base.

It took until the eighth for Mets to find a rhythm on offense, with a series of productive singles. To start the rally, Robinson Cano, Michael Conforto and Amed Rosario all singled, with the only out coming on a pop-out by J. D. Davis.

Rosario’s single drove in Cano, Wilson Ramos, pinch-hitting for Tomas Nido, drove in Conforto, and Juan Lagares drove in Rosario. In all, the Mets had five singles in the inning.

“Everybody’s contributing, and we feel that’s going to continue to happen,” Callaway said.

One Met remained hot at the plate throughout. For the second straight day, Pete Alonso, the rookie first baseman, singled in his first at bat and doubled in his second. He also collected another walk and drove in a run, further establishing himself as the No. 2 hitter in a lineup that lacked power and consistency last season.

“This guy is playing with everything he’s got,” Callaway said.

Plenty of Mets found a way to affect the game. If it wasn’t Davis striding in to second for a stand-up double, it was center fielder Keon Broxton stealing two bases. Left fielder Brandon Nimmo collected his first hit after starting the season 0 for 7.

There were changes to the lineup before the game, too. Jeff McNeil, who was 4 for 5 in Saturday’s win, did not start. Ramos, an All Star catcher, was also on the bench. His absence was noticeable in the first inning when his replacement, Nido, was charged with an error on a throw to second.

The Mets made mistakes they avoided committing in their first two games.

Wheeler and Wilson insisted they learned from theirs, and vowed not to repeat them.

“I’m just beating myself up for falling into that little groove of fastball happiness,” Wheeler said.

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