The New York Mets won the rubber game of a road series this afternoon for the first time in the 2010 season. Better late than never I suppose. The win over the last place Washington Nationals put the Mets 9 games ahead of said Nationals with 22 games remaining making the wholly unpalatable thought of the Mets finishing in last place less likely. It also gave the Mets a 7-8 record so far against Washington thus allowing for the possibility (however remote) that the Mets could have a winning record against their division opponent this season. All that’s required of the Mets is to sweep the final 3 games of the season against Washington at Citi Field. Easy as pie. As for other division foes the Mets will finish with a losing record against Florida no matter what being 6-10 currently with 2 games remaining. Their fate with the Braves and Phillies, like that with the Nationals, lies in their own hands. They are 7-8 against the Braves with 3 games remaining at Citi Field, and are 6-6 against the Phillies with 6 games remaining, 3 each in Philadelphia and New York.
Here’s how the Mets put themselves in the enviable position today of possibly having a winning record against 3 of their 4 division opponents. Mets starter R.A. Dickey and Nationals starter Livan Hernandez both started off with 2 scoreless innings. Then in the top of the 3rd inning Dickey helped his own cause with a 1-out single. He moved up to 2nd base on a single by Angel Pagan. Luis Hernandez then doubled driving home Dickey and moving Pagan to 3rd base from where he scored on a Carlos Beltran sacrifice fly to give the Mets a 2-0 lead after 2 1/2 innings. The Nats tied it up in the bottom of the 5th when the home run bug bit Dickey again. Dickey has given up only 12 home runs this season in 22 starts but has allowed 7 in his last 7 starts including the 2-out, 2-run blast by Wilson Ramos that tied the game at 2 runs apiece.
The game remained tied until the top of the 7th. Josh Thole led off with a walk. 8th place hitter Ruben Tejada sacrificed Thole to 2nd bringing up the pitcher’s spot and unleashed the fury of dueling managers. Mets manager Jerry Manuel angrily sent out left handed pinch-hitter Lucas Duda to face the right handed starter Hernandez, so Nationals manager Jim Riggelman viciously countered by bringing left handed reliever Sean Burnett into the game. Not to be outdone, the irascible Manuel growled “checkmate” and called on right handed pinch-hitter Nick Evans to hit for Duda. Evans then doubled to drive in Thole giving the Mets a 3-2 lead. Elmer Dessens, Bobby Parnell and Pedro Feliciano combined to shut out the Nationals through the 7th and 8th innings then Hisanori Takahashi tossed a scoreless 9th for his 5th save. Final score New York Mets 3, Washington Nationals 2.