The first thing that struck me about tonight’s action is the lineup that the Mets put out there against Washington tonight. You saw it if you saw our awesome game preview. (Don’t mind me being insecure.)
Andres Gimenez at short, Luis Guillorme at second, and Billy Hamilton making his Mets debut in center (wearing number 21 which looks weird on anybody that isn’t nearly as big as Lucas Duda, so … anybody.) I noted that it had to be the best up the middle trio on defense that the Mets have had in a long time, perhaps since the days of Rey Ordonez, Edgardo Alfonzo, and Jay Payton in center. (But as I was reminded, they put out a pretty good trio in 2005 when they had Carlos Beltran in center, Jose Reyes at short, and the immortal Anderson Hernandez at second.) Considering how rangeless the Mets have been in the middle infield, and how challenged they’ve been to find a true center fielder since Juan Lagares had arm surgery, this was bound to be a treat.
Now the challenge was for a lineup like this, with Gimenez hitting 6th, Guillorme batting 8th, and Hamilton batting 9th (poor slumping Wilson Ramos being put behind Gimenez in the 7th spot) batting against Scherzer, you go into the game thinking that you have to make a sacrifice to the baseball gods to have any chance to put multiple runs on the board against him. But when Scherzer left due to injury after one inning tonight (seemingly a hamstring injury), it seemed like things evened out a bit.
The defense started with a seemingly innocuous play in the second, when Astrubal Cabrera hit a topper up the middle. Most shortstops the Mets have had would have made this play. But Gimenez got to that ball quicker than most Met shortstops would have, and made the play as easy as pie, as opposed to what is normal around here which is to get the runner by an eyelash, perhaps with a replay review at the end. The speed and anticipation that Gimenez had is something to see. Defensively, he already looks polished.
Then in the fourth with the score 2-1 Mets after Guillorme drove in a run on a single in the top of the inning, Juan Soto (who made his 2020 debut after being on the COVID list), tried to take third. Michael Conforto threw a rocket to Gimenez covering third, and he stayed with the tag as Soto tried a swim slide. Again, not a spectacular play by Gimenez, just polished and smart.
On the next play, if up the middle defense isn’t enough for you, check this out …
That’s how you know it might be your night.
After Dom Smith’s double off Sean Doolittle made it 3-1 in the 7th, Luis Guillorme got into the act, making a nice play on a backhand to take a hit away from Eric Thames to end the inning. In the 8th, Hamilton stayed with Kurt Suzuki’s lead off line drive and picked it out of the lights, where a center fielder like Nimmo might have let it drop in front of him. Then Guillorme made an even better play off Trea Turner than he did off Thames to end that inning.
Now let’s not forget about Rick Porcello and Seth Lugo. None of this great defense matters if Porcello gets shelled as he did in his first couple of starts. But Porcello was sharp and efficient, going seven innings and throwing just 81 pitches (56 for strikes). Lugo went the last two, and was extremely sharp throwing 15 strikes in 19 pitches to notch the save. I was a little worried about Luis Rojas going to Lugo when Porcello threw seven strong, but my guess is that he wanted Lugo to start an inning instead of coming in to a mess like he did on Friday against the Braves. Plus, you always worry about rust, as Lugo had four days of rest. But he was as good as you can hope for to end a very crisp 3-1 victory against the Nationals.
So the Mets will enjoy a day off tomorrow before they start an important August series against the Miami Marlins. Yes, an important August series against the first place Miami Marlins. They’re now 4-1 and leading 2-0 in the second game of their double header vs Baltimore. I never thought I would prioritize a Marlins/Orioles game in August, but here we are eight months into 2020. It would fit that in this COVID tinted world, the Miami Marlins might make the playoffs, therefore becoming America’s Darlings.
And you know they will because Jeter.
Today’s Hate List
- Erick Fedde
- Sam Freeman
- Wander Suero
- Javy Guerra
- Derek Jeter