NEW YORK — Baseball seasons are complicated emotional experiments, daring those who care about their outcomes to see dreams through reality, to absorb failure while still expecting to succeed, to balance long-term views with short-term objectives — and most of all, to know when to worry and when to trust that the sport’s invisible hand will pull everything back where it belongs in the end. Confidence does not come from perfection but from knowing that imperfection does not have to be fatal.
As the Washington Nationals beat the New York Mets, 8-6, in the most dramatic victory of their young season, with their biggest comeback to win since 2016, that invisible hand finally seemed to give the would-be World Series contenders a much-needed poke. For the first time all season, the Nationals looked like a group that could pick itself up. For the first time all season, they looked like a team ready to fight back.
When the Nationals began the eighth inning Monday night trailing the Mets 6-1, they sat in a confounding sort of purgatory. Some thought they were dead. Others thought they were doomed. They were more Bad News Bears than World Series contenders.
By the eighth inning Monday, one of their relievers had literally kicked a ball so far that a run could score. Another gave up a triple and a homer to the first batters he faced. The Nationals were on the verge of losing their fourth straight game to their division rivals, on the verge of plummeting to seven games back in the National League East.
Then, five runs down to a team that had lost just two games all season, they scored six. Their stunning eighth-inning rally included hits from Moises Sierra, Trea Turner and Pedro Severino, capped by a game-tying, two-run single from Wilmer Difo and a go-ahead, bases-loaded walk drawn by Michael A. Taylor. That stunning eighth-inning rally changed the entire feeling of their season — which, of course, is still just 17 games old.Bryce Harper rounds the bases after his first-inning home run, his eighth of the season. (Jim Mcisaac/Getty Images)
“You never want to get too far in a hole,” Turner said. “Early in the season, it’s definitely overplayed sometimes . . . but you don’t want to get too far behind and have to play catch-up all year.”
By the eighth inning, they trailed by five, and Bryce Harper had driven in the only run — a broken-bat home run against Jacob deGrom. After the game, rumors swirled that the bat already had been broken when deGrom’s fastball severed it, but perhaps that makes the story more impressive. Harper still hit the ball 406 feet to right-center field.
“He started flexing when he came in,” Washington Manager Dave Martinez said. “I said, ‘Yeah, you’re strong.’ ”
But even Harper, herculean though he has looked lately, seemed unable to pull the Nationals out of their spring stupor.
He tried his best, driving in two runs with a bases-loaded single with one out in that eighth inning. But so many rallies have died when those behind him couldn’t continue them. This time, they continued the rally — “they” being a group of unlikely heroes cast into duty by injuries that have made comebacks necessary so often but so hard to stage. After Harper’s single, Ryan Zimmerman struck out looking. He is struggling, which is part of why so many rallies have sputtered early.
But this time, Severino followed with a two-out single. Matt Reynolds walked. The Mets brought in closer Jeurys Familia to face Difo. Difo, playing because Anthony Rendon is hurt and Howie Kendrick is already filling in for Daniel Murphy at second base, singled to tie the score. Moises Sierra, who started the inning with a single and was playing because Adam Eaton is on the disabled list and Brian Goodwin’s wrist is sore, got hit by a pitch to load the bases. Rallies such as that are not easy to stage and become more difficult when the lineup is missing three all-star-caliber players. The Nationals staged it anyway.
Source : https://www.washingtonpost.com/sports/nationals/nationals-rally-past-mets-8-6-and-stop-the-bleeding/2018/04/16/d3037c4e-4188-11e8-bba2-0976a82b05a2_story.html859