The Washington Nationals opened their first home series of the second half on Tuesday night with a thrilling 5-4 over the New York Mets. The Nats appeared to be on their way to a 1-0 win in a game that was well on its way to wrapping up in two and half hours. But a wild series of back-and-forth rallies in the ninth and tenth innings quickly turned this into one of the most exciting games of the season. After blowing a 2-0 lead in the ninth, the Nats would stage comebacks in both the ninth and 10th, walking off on a wild pitch that scored Ryan Zimmerman from third.
The Mets came to town six games back of the NL East leaders and looking to make up some ground, but Ross Detwiler stepped up to keep New York at bay. Washington was coming off a frustrating series finale loss in Miami and Detwiler was fantastic, allowing just five hits in seven shutout innings. He walked no one and struck out four as he quickly worked through the Mets lineup.
Detwiler was countered by Jonathon Niese, who was pretty impressive in his own right. Niese gave up just three hits and one earned run while fanning eight Nationals. Tyler Moore, who's consistently come through during his limited opportunities, ripped a solo homer over the right field wall in the bottom of the fifth that broke the scoreless tie.
Washington would add what looked like an insurance run in the bottom of the eighth against the New York bullpen. Mark DeRosa pinch hit in the pitcher's spot and drew a walk off Josh Edgin, who came on with two outs in the inning. DeRosa would then take second on his first steal of the season, getting a good jump and sliding in under the throw. Stephen Lombardozzi came through with the RBI single, bringing home DeRosa by catching an Edgin offering and pulling a rope to left field.
Tyler Clippard, who had an adventurous save against Miami in his last outing on Sunday, came on in the ninth looking to convert his 15th save of the season. But Clippard would give it away, allowing back-to-back singles to start the inning. After quickly striking out Scott Hairston, Jordany Valdespin would step into the box to pinch hit for Jason Bay.
Valdespin, who had already hit three pinch-hit homers this season off some of the game's best, took an 0-2 offering into the first row in right centerfield. It hit off a fan's hand and then ricocheted off the wall and back into the field of play. After some initial confusion, it was ruled a homer as Valdespin rounded second base and that call was upheld upon replay review.
Facing the Mets bullpen, the Nationals were undeterred and came back in the bottom of the ninth. Bobby Parnell had to face the heart of the Nats order and back-to-back singles by Michael Morse and Adam LaRoche put runners on the corners with only one out. Parnell would bear down and throw nothing but curveballs, striking out Tyler Moore and getting two strikes on Danny Espinosa. Parnell would finally throw a fastball and the Washington second baseman would take it right back up the middle to get Clippard off the hook and tie it at 3-3.
The Mets would take the lead right back, scoring a run off Mike Gonzalez in the top of the 10th. Once again, the Nats offense would get to work right away against another New York reliever. Jhonatan Solano ripped a single to left field to lead off the inning against Tim Byrdak. Lombardozzi would put a bunt down the first base line to move Solano over, giving Bryce Harper the opportunity to even things up again. The rookie phenom came through, taking a Byrdak pitch to the right field wall that scored Solano and landed Harper on third with some aggressive base running.
Terry Collins opted to walk the bases loaded, which worked for the second out of the inning on a LaRoche ground out that led to a force at home. But with two strikes on Moore, Pedro Beato would send one to the backstop and allow Zimmerman to easily score the winning run from third. It was an incredible game, with the Nationals continuing their comeback magic that was a hallmark of the first half of the season.
Washington will go for the series win on Wednesday night with Jordan Zimmermann on the mound. Zimmermann has been incredibly reliable, pitching one quality start after another this season. He'll be opposed by Chris Young.
For all things Nationals, check out Federal Baseball. For the New York Mets perspective, head over to Amazin' Avenue.