J.D. Davis delivered a tiebreaking two-run single in the eighth inning and rookie Pete Alonso contributed three hits and two RBIs as the new-look New York Mets improved to 2-0 with an 11-8 victory over the Washington Nationals on Saturday.
As chants of “Let’s go, Mets!” or “Where is Harper?” emanated from groups of New York fans in the stands, the Nationals fell to 0-2 without former slugger Bryce Harper.
Jeff McNeil had four hits for the visitors. Alonso doubled twice and also had a couple of nice stretch plays at first base in the second game of his major league career. He is one of the young components of a reconstructed roster under agent-turned-GM Brodie Van Wagenen.
Another offseason acquisition, former Nationals catcher Wilson Ramos, added two hits and two RBIs and scored three runs.
And to top it off, new closer Edwin Diaz picked up his second save with one pitch by getting Kurt Suzuki to fly out to left with a man on in the ninth after Seth Lugo let a seven-run lead shrink to three.
Much earlier, Stephen Strasburg, whose fastball never topped 94 mph, and Noah Syndergaard, who reached 99 mph, left with identical lines: four runs on seven hits in six innings. This one came down to the bullpens, and while neither fared all that well, Washington’s rebuilt one really flopped.
Justin Wilson (1-0) threw a perfect seventh to earn the win for the Mets.
Nationals reliever Trevor Rosenthal (0-1) was booed off the mound after entering a 4-all game in the eighth and allowing all four batters he faced to reach base in his return from Tommy John surgery.
Rosenthal led the majors with 93 saves over the 2014-15 seasons for the St. Louis Cardinals but last appeared in a regular-season game in August 2017. He was signed by Washington as a free agent based on an offseason workout and still can throw the ball 100 mph, but he gave up three singles and a walk and failed to get an out against New York.
Rosenthal heard it from locals in the crowd — yep, two games into 2019, they’re jeering the home team in D.C. — as he gave way to Kyle Barraclough, another new reliever, acquired from the Miami Marlins in a trade. His Nationals debut was every bit as inauspicious: Before throwing a single pitch in his new uniform, Barraclough was called for a balk, forcing home a run. After finally getting a couple of outs, he served up Alonso’s second double of the day, which drove in a run to boost New York’s edge to 8-4.
The Mets tacked on another three runs off relievers Matt Grace and Wander Suero in the ninth.
After all of 11 batters against Strasburg, the Mets had accumulated four runs, five hits — three for extra bases — and a walk.
After Jeurys Familia loaded the bases in the eighth, Julio Lugo came on and got pinch hitter Matt Adams on a fly ball to the warning track.
The highlights for Washington were Juan Soto’s three hits and pair of two-out RBIs, along with rookie Victor Robles’ homer. But Robles also had a couple of bad jumps on balls to center field, made a too-hard throw that missed the mark and got picked off first by Syndergaard for his second baserunning gaffe in two games.
SCHERZER VS. HARPER
Harper’s return to Nationals Park as a member of the Phillies will come against Max Scherzer on Tuesday. In a tweak to the early season plan manager Dave Martinez discussed during spring training, Scherzer will start the opener of the two-game set against Philadelphia. That means Scherzer will have thrown two of Washington’s first four games. Originally, the three-time Cy Young Award winner was going to pitch Wednesday; that game now will be started by Anibal Sanchez.
In Sunday’s series finale, LHP Patrick Corbin will make his debut for the Nationals, who signed him to a $140 million, six-year contract. The Mets start RHP Zack Wheeler, who is 4-8 with a 4.37 ERA against Washington over his career.