Jenrry Mejia stomped on the grass and crossed his arms, part of what has become his routine celebration after a save. And this time he added an extra flourish, motioning as if he were reeling in a fish.
The gesture appeared pointed at the Nationals' Ian Desmond, who made the final out in the Mets' 4-3 win Friday night.
Did Mejia go too far this time? "We'll try to settle him down a little bit," manager Terry Collins said. "But gosh, it's a big win for us against a first-place team. There's no reason not to be excited."
Before Friday night, the Mets had dropped 12 straight games to the Nationals at Citi Field, and those games hadn't been particularly close. The Nationals outscored the Mets 80-23 in that span, an average margin of victory of 4.75 runs.
The difference showed in the power department. The Mets were outhomered 31-6. And it was a homer that again put the outcome in doubt Friday night. Anthony Rendon bashed a solo shot to tie the score at 3.
But in the fifth, Juan Lagares ripped a double down the leftfield line that allowed Eric Young Jr. to score from first.
Dillon Gee had been the last Mets pitcher to beat the Nationals at home, and he repeated the feat Friday night. He allowed nine hits in 51/3 innings but held the Nationals to three runs.
Gee left a mess for Carlos Torres, who entered with a 4-3 lead, one out and runners on first and second. But Torres got Asdrubal Cabrera to hit into a double play. Jeurys Familia worked a scoreless eighth ahead of Mejia, who survived Denard Span's leadoff single in the ninth for his 26th save.
The Mets beat the Nationals at Citi Field for the first time since June 30, 2013. It had been the longest such streak in club history. But after the game, the focus shifted toward Mejia's celebrations. Said Collins, "I want these guys to have some fun."
The Nationals, for their part, didn't seem fazed. Manager Matt Williams dismissed the theatrics, saying "everybody's got their thing." Desmond said he never noticed the gesture.
Span did, though. "That wasn't called for," he said. "No need for that. But hey, let them do what they want to do. We'll do what we do and just play hard and leave it on the field."
But as has been the case all season, Mejia said nobody has raised the issue with him. "It's not personal to anybody," he said. "If you say something to somebody, you're [showing] them up. But I don't say nothing to anybody."
That's not to say opponents haven't noticed. Earlier this year, Pablo Sandoval got a hit off Mejia and mocked his signature celebration when he reached base. The Cubs' Starlin Castro did the same, making the closer's gesture when he touched home plate.
Mejia shrugged. He had been beaten. "What can I do?" he said. "I was laughing. I can't do anything. I just kept pitching."
The next day, Mejia said he and Castro laughed about the incident. He even challenged Castro to be more emphatic. Said Mejia: "If you're going to do it, do it for real.''