Wednesday, December 7

Mets take first game of doubleheader against Nats to stay alive in NL East race


For now, the Mets’ hopes of capturing the 2022 NL East title are still alive. But they’re on life support.

The Mets defeated the Washington Nationals 4-2 in the first game of a doubleheader on Tuesday afternoon at Citi Field, moving to within one game of the Atlanta Braves in the division standings. The Braves lost to the Miami Marlins in Game 1 of their three-game series at loanDepot Park on Monday night and the second game of their final regular season series started at 7 p.m. on Tuesday.

The defending World Series champs need only one win or one Mets loss to clinch the division and receive a bye into the NLDS.

“Stay tuned,” manager Buck Showalter said. “We’ve got to see how the circumstances change in the next hour or two. We’ll see.”

Brandon Nimmo went 3-for-5 with a two-run double and a solo home run to help lead the Mets (99-61) over the Nationals (55-105). Jeff McNeil continued his quest for the National League batting title going 2-for-3 with a walk and a run scored. He now leads all MLB hitters with a .328 average. Los Angeles Dodgers first baseman Freddie Freeman is three points behind him and has a chance to catch up with two games against the Colorado Rockies and their league-worst pitching staff.

Carlos Carrasco pitched well, but he wasn’t exactly dominant in his final audition for a postseason roster spot. He went four innings and faced two batters in the fifth, allowing a two-run homer to Washington’s No. 9 hitter, catcher Riley Adams.

“I don’t know how that guy hit that ball right there,” Carrasco said. “The wind was blowing out like crazy today. But we won the game. That’s what we were looking for.”

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He went four innings (plus two batters), allowing two runs on five hits, striking out three and walking one.

“Carlos wasn’t happy with his last outing or two so I know tonight meant a lot to him,” Showalter said.

Carrasco could have gone deeper into the game but knew he was going to be somewhat limited. With a rested bullpen coming off of a rainout Monday, the Mets were conservative with his use. Drew Smith, David Peterson, Adam Ottavino (6-3) and Edwin Diaz blanked the Nats the rest of the way. Diaz recorded his 32nd save of the season.

“He gave us what he had,” Showalter said. “In a little different situation, we probably would have let him continue but we had a lot of people available and they did the job for us.”

Nimmo’s big hit came in the second inning when he hit a two-run double off of Cory Abbott (0-5) with two outs to score Mark Canha and Tomas Nido. McNeil scored on a sacrifice fly in the third and Nimmo’s solo home run came in the fourth, also off of Abbott in his final inning of work.

It was a much better offensive showing for a team that struggled to score runs all weekend in Atlanta, but the situational hitting still leaves something to be desired. The Mets stranded nine runners. However, they were forced to battle wind, rain and an extremely wet field throughout and played excellent defense to keep the lead intact.

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