NEW YORK — Washington ace Max Scherzer dominated the Mets on Wednesday, but New York won one crucial battle. The Mets drove up Scherzer's pitch count and he only lasted six innings, which forced the Nationals to use their bullpen – which has a league-worst 6.61 ERA – to get the final nine outs. Odds were, the Washington pen was going to crack sooner or later. And it did. “He goes seven a lot and seven or more a lot. If you can’t get to him, that’s how you get to him," Mets manager Mickey Callaway said. "If you’re not going to score off of him, you got to make him throw some pitches. That’s the game plan going in."Juan Lagares, with his team down a run in the eighth, cleared the bases with a double to the left-center gap off Nationals closer Sean Doolittle. Rajai Davis, who was called up when Brandon Nimmo hit the injured list, smoked a three-run home run off Doolittle in his first at-bat with the Mets. "Like I always say, I just keep working hard and stay positive and try to take advantage of every opportunity," Lagares said. The late fireworks led the Mets to a 6-1 victory over the Nationals. New York has now won three in a row and can sweep Washington on Thursday. Davis became the 11th player in Mets history to hit a homer in his first at-bat with the team. Robinson Canó did it on Opening Day. "Everybody loves Raj," Callaway said. "He's the man."
On Wednesday, the Mets sent Nimmo to the injured list and Jeff McNeil was out of the lineup with left hamstring tightness. Michael Conforto remains sidelined as he recovers from a concussion. Then Canó hurt his left quad running out a grounder in the third inning.For much of the night, it did not look like the remaining parts of a battered group had enough gas to overcome Scherzer. The Mets almost wasted a terrific outing from their own ace. Over six shutout innings, Scherzer allowed just four hits and two walks. He fanned nine Mets.But he threw 109 pitches and could go no longer. On the other side, Jacob deGrom dazzled with six innings of one-run baseball. He gave up a first-inning home run to Adam Eaton but allowed one hit the rest of the way.
One important moment came in the sixth, when deGrom showed his ability to bounce back. He had issued consecutive walks with one out, but recovered by striking out Juan Soto swinging before getting Matt Adams looking to end the inning and keep his team afloat. "It started with fastball location," deGrom said. "I was able to locate both sides of the plate and then had a good feel for my slider."In the eighth, Adeiny Hechavarria – in the game for Canó – doubled and Todd Frazier walked. Carlos Gomez was hit by a pitch before Lagares brought all three home. Not long after, Davis introduced himself to the crowd in a loud way, stamping a victory with a big fly.
Instead, Scherzer shined and it looked as if the Mets would fall flat. For as much as this group talks about fight, it has backed it up the last two games. The Mets desperately need wins, but injuries have made it difficult. Their outfield is decimated and the infield took a blow when Canó slowed up on his sprint to first base. The Mets haven't helped themselves with their inconsistency to this point in the season, but the injuries have forced their creative hand. Before the game, Mets manager Mickey Callaway talked about possibly using Dominic Smith in left field and perhaps allowing Edwin Diaz to get four outs. The Mets, who were swept by the Marlins and fell five games under .500, are now two wins away from even. "Nobody wants to have a road trip like we had, but to come here and win the first three is big," deGrom said. "Just keep going out there and playing baseball. Entering the game, deGrom and Scherzer had faced off three times. DeGrom was 2-1 with a 2.37 ERA, while Scherzer was 1-2 with a 3.66 ERA.DeGrom's performance seemed like it wouldn't matter. Then the Mets attacked a bad Washington bullpen. “When you win, you have a different air about you, a different confidence," Callaway said. "I’m definitely feeling that part of it."