Alonso, Mets fall apart in 8th inning; drop series finale to Nationals

Mets Nationals 4/10/22
Apr 10, 2022; Washington, District of Columbia, USA; Washington Nationals designated hitter Nelson Cruz (23) rounds the bases in front of New York Mets first baseman Pete Alonso (20) after hitting a home run during the first inning at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: Scott Taetsch-USA TODAY Sports

Nelson Cruz drove in three runs and the Washington Nationals mounted an eighth-inning comeback to defeat the Mets 4-2 on Sunday afternoon in D.C. to salvage the fourth and final game of a series that saw New York take the first three.

Trevor Williams and poor defense ultimately blew a 2-1 lead in the bottom of the eighth after a Maikel Franco single put runners on the corner with no outs. Lucius Fox, making his MLB debut, proceeded to lay down a bunt that was fielded by Pete Alonso with ample time to get Yadiel Hernandez out at home, but he underhanded it to catcher Tomas Nido — the lack of velocity of the delivery allowing the Nationals’ runner to slide home safely. 

Alonso’s defensive struggles struck again when a double-play ball hit to the first baseman was destroyed when his throw to second base pulled shortstop Francisco Lindor off the bag, loading the bags with one out. 

After getting Juan Soto on a fielder’s choice, Cruz snuck a single up the middle to score two and take the lead for good.

It spoiled Carlos Carrasco’s day as he starred in his first start of the season, retiring 15 consecutive batters after early troubles to go 5.2 innings, allowing just one earned run on two hits with five strikeouts and zero walks over 72 pitches. 

One of Carrasco’s largest issues last year was pitching in the first inning, posting an ERA of 13.50 in the opening frame last year — and it plagued him once again on Sunday.

After setting the first two men down, Carrasco was taken out of Nationals Park by Nelson Cruz to put the hosts on top. It was the 41-year-old DH’s first home run of the season and the 450th of his career, becoming just the 40th player in MLB history to reach that number. 

True to form, however, the veteran right-hander stabilized, retiring 15 consecutive batters before getting lifted after the fifth inning. It continued the high-end form displayed by Mets starters so far this season, posting a 1.59 ERA through 22 innings of work over New York’s first four games.

Carlos Carrasco Mets
Apr 10, 2022; Washington, District of Columbia, USA; New York Mets starting pitcher Carlos Carrasco (59) pitches against the Washington Nationals during the first inning at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: Scott Taetsch-USA TODAY Sports

Lead-off hits from Mark Canha and Jeff McNeil had the Mets brewing in the third inning, but following a Tomas Nido strikeout, Brandon Nimmo lined out to first base for an inning-ending double play to get Fedde out of the jam. 

Francisco Lindor wasn’t so forgiving as he equalized things in his lead-off at-bat of the fourth inning, pulling his first home run of the season into the Nationals bullpen.

Their timely two-out hitting continued when — with runners on first and second — Mark Canha’s liner popped out of the glove of a sliding Juan Soto in right field to give New York the lead. It was Canha’s sixth hit in just eight at-bats with the Mets. 

Further opportunities were had to tack on insurance, including a seventh inning that saw both Jeff McNeil and Nido get on. But reliever Sean Doolittle — who replaced Fedde — set down Nimmo, Lindor, and Canha in order.

With one out in the seventh inning, a Josh Bell walk by Chasen Shreve was the first Nationals baserunner yielded by Mets pitching since the first inning, but he was thrown out by Nimmo trying to steal second to end the frame just two batters later. It was an inexplicable attempt, especially considering his last stolen base attempt came in 2019 and his last successful steal came the year before.

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