It was a game that featured both the Mets’ expected preseason strengths — superior starting pitching and timely hitting — and one of its most pressing worries: the bullpen.
Apart from Harper’s first-inning homer, a 406-foot blast into the Mets bullpen hit with a bat that snapped on contact with the 96-mile-per-hour fastball, deGrom had tamed a Nationals lineup that was without Daniel Murphy, Anthony Rendon and Adam Eaton.
Playing without Jay Bruce, who a had flare-up of plantar fasciitis in his left foot, and Yoenis Cespedes, given the night off, the Mets answered Harper’s home run with six unanswered runs.
Frazier, who is batting .313, singled in one run in the bottom of the first and doubled in another in the third. The Mets added two more in the sixth without getting a hit, and then Cabrera, hitting .356 with a 1.041 on-base-plus-slugging percentage, belted his fourth home run of the season in the seventh to make it 6-1.
But once deGrom left the game, having allowed two singles, it all caved in on the Mets. Lugo walked Howie Kendrick to load the bases. Callaway then called upon Blevins, his left-handed specialist, to face the left-handed hitting Harper. That resulted in a two-run single, a lead cut to 6-3, and another call to the bullpen, for Ramos. He began well, striking out Ryan Zimmerman, but allowed a single to Pedro Severino, loading the bases once again. Ramos then walked pinch-hitter Matt Reynolds to force in the Nationals fourth run of the game.
That prompted Callaway to bring in his closer, Familia, who surrendered a single to Wilmer Difo, bringing home two more runs and tying the game. With no one up in the pen, Callaway was forced to stay with Familia, who hit Moises Sierra with a pitch, loading the bases yet again, and then walked Michael Taylor, forcing in the go-ahead run. The inning only ended because a screaming line drive by Trea Turner happened to be hit right at Mets left-fielder Michael Conforto.
The Nationals added their eighth run on a solo home run by Kendrick off Hansel Robles leading off the ninth.