Ryan Zimmerman leads the MLB in walkoff home runs among active players with nine. Mr. Walkoff did it again tonight, victimizing LaTroy Hawkins in the bottom of the ninth after Ross Ohlendorf did a stellar job of matching Matt Harvey nearly pitch for pitch, and the offense took advantage of a Mets error to drive in the only run they needed before the ninth. The Nats are now winners of two of three, and back in second place now that the Phillies have lost six straight. They still trail Atlanta by 8 1/2 games, but they have broken the bugaboo of not winning since the All-Star break. Now all they need to do is win before the ninth inning, and they’ll be all the way back, right? They’ll need one heck of a run and one heck of a collapse by Atlanta to make a race of the NL East, but it’s happened before (see 2011). I’m not saying it’s likely, but it’s easier to imagine now that the Nats have temporarily slowed their rapid descent to the bottom of the standings.
Most Important Nationals Hit: Ryan Zimmerman’s walkoff home run (+42.6%)
Matt Harvey had locked the Nats down for eight innings, but the Mets’ bullpen is far from Harvey-quality. Thanks to the Mets’ offense and the bullpen, Harvey has just six wins in 13 starts in which he has allowed one earned run or fewer this season. It was a combination of the two that led to Harvey’s suffering tonight, with Zimmerman putting the Mets out of their misery with his bomb in the bottom of the ninth.
Most Important Nationals Pitch: Juan Lagares‘ foulout (+18.6%)
The Nats’ happy ending almost didn’t happen due to a rocky top of the ninth from Rafael Soriano. He gave up a double to Andrew Brown, and a wild pitch put him on third with one out. After a walk to Ike Davis, Lagares had a shot to take the lead with almost any ball in play short of a popup or double play ball, but he popped up foul to the first base side for the out. Soriano then retired David Wright to escape with the tie.
Champ of the Game: Of course, Zimmerman (+41.4%) takes it. He was 2-4 overall, with an ineffectual sixth-inning single. Harvey (+29.9%) was dominant for the Mets again: 8 IP, 5 H, 0 ER, 1 R, 1 BB. Ordinarily, pitchers who don’t allow any earned runs over eight innings win, but the Mets are not your ordinary team.
Chump of the Game: Steve Lombardozzi (-12.5%) cooled off from his recent hot streak, going 0-3 with a strikeout. For the Mets, Hawkins (-37.2%) recorded just one out before giving up Zimmerman’s game-winner.