WASHINGTON — One of the turning points in Thursday afternoon’s contest could have easily turned out bad for the New York Mets, but the team’s dogged attention to detail — one of the hallmarks of this year’s team so far — resulted in one of the zaniest sequences of the season, as well as two outs recorded, and sent the Mets on its way to another series victory.
Taijuan Walker threw seven scoreless innings while Mark Canha drove in three runs after a day off yesterday as the Mets defeated the Washington Nationals 4-1 in the rubber game of a three-game set at Nationals Park on Thursday afternoon. The win marked the ninth series victory this season for the Mets in 10 series this season, and they have yet to lose a series so far on their way to building baseball’s largest division lead amongst first-place teams.
Last season’s promising start to the season crumbled in a late-season collapse under erstwhile manager Luis Rojas, but Buck Showalter’s Mets continue to be one of the surprises in baseball, and a couple of their new acquisitions made huge contributions to the latest victory. After the Mets loaded the bases by drawing three walks from Nationals starting pitcher Joan Adon in the first inning, Canha fisted a fastball over the shortstop and into left field for a two-run single with two outs that put the Mets on the board early.
In the bottom of fourth inning, Juan Soto led off with a double to right that hit off the top of the high wall. The next batter, Josh Bell, grounded a ball to third baseman Luis Guillorme, who noticed Soto breaking for third on contact forced Soto into a rundown. Soto was retired at third when Walker caught the last throw of the rundown and made the tag, and the two colliding as Soto tried to slide into third made for a hairy situation for the Mets with the pitcher being involved in the rundown and, with Walker on his knees, having to throw to second to retire the advancing Bell.
Walker’s throw went to right field, but new right fielder Starling Marte had already crept down toward the infield to back up the play before Walker’s errant throw, and Marte was rewarded when he retrieved the ball and threw a strike to third to retire Bell, who tried to advance after Walker’s throw.
Tomás Nido had an RBI single in the top of the fourth inning to give New York a 3-0 lead, and Canha drove in his third run of the game when he homered off reliever Steve Cishek in the top of the ninth. Soto’s solo home run off closer Edwin Díaz in the ninth inning was the only run of the game for the Nationals.
*Editor’s note: Above the byline is the photo gallery from Thursday afternoon’s game, with all photos taken by DC-area photographer Yusuf Abdullah. After clicking on the first photo to enlarge the picture, make sure to press the left and right arrow buttons to scroll through the rest of the pictures. There are 19 pictures in total.