The Mets really tried to win Monday on Opening Day, but they just could not overcome their bullpen. The relievers blew lead after lead and simply insisted on giving the game away to the Nationals, 9-7 in 10 innings.
The Mets got things started in a hurry. Eric Young, playing second base for Daniel Murphy who is back in Florida for the birth of his first child, struck out leading off the bottom of the first. Lagares and David Wright both singled to put runners on first and third. Curtis Granderson struck out in his first Mets at bat. But Andrew Brown, getting the start because Chris Young was out with a quad strain, crushed a Stephen Strasburg pitch over the wall in left to give the Mets a 3-0 lead.
But the Nationals answered right back in the top of the second against Dillon Gee. Bryce Harper led off with a walk. Ian Desmond hit a grounder to Wright, who threw to Young for the force at second. Harper slid a little late and Young’s shin smashed right into Harper’s head. He looked a bit dazed but was able to stay in the game. The slide effected Young’s throw and Desmond was safe at first. Adam LaRoche followed with a long home run to right that may have reached the Shea Bridge to cut the lead to 3-2.
The Mets added a run in the bottom of the inning. Travis d’Arnaud walked and Ruben Tejada singled. Gee sacrificed to put runners on second and third. Young them hit a liner to right, good enough for a sacrifice fly to bring d’Arnaud home to make it 4-2.
After that it turned into a pitchers duel, through the sixth inning, anyway. Gee retired the next 15 batters after the home run before allowing an infield single with one out in the seventh. A walk put runners on first and second with two outs. Terry Collins chose to leave a tiring Gee in, and Anthony Rendon took advantage with an RBI double down the right field line to make it a 4-3 game. Then Gee was done. Carlos Torres came in with runners on second and third and promptly walked Nate McLouth on four pitches to load the bases. That was his only batter; Scott Rice came on to face lefty Denard Span. He also issued a four-pitch walk to tie the game at four. Rice was lifted in favor of Jose Valverde, making his Mets debut. He was able to strike out Ryan Zimmerman on a full count to end the inning and keep the game tied.
Gee went 6.2 innings, allowing four runs on four hits with five strikeouts and two walks. He took a no-decision in his 100 pitch Opening Day outing.
Meantime the Mets could not get to Strasburg anymore. He lasted six innings, striking out 10 Mets while also taking a no-decision.
Valverde followed his seventh inning heroics with a one-two-three eighth, striking out two batters.
Lagares came through in the bottom of the eighth with a solo homer into the Party City deck to give the Mets the lead, 5-4.
Bobby Parnell came on for the save attempt, his first appearance since neck surgery prematurely ended his 2013 season. Desmond lined his first pitch into center for a single. LaRoche popped up for the first out and Parnell struck out Rendon for out number two. Pinch hitter Danny Espinosa walked on a 3-2 pitch to put runners on first and second. Span singled on the first pitch to tie the score at five. With runners on second and third, the Mets chose to pitch to Ryan Zimmerman. He flew out to center to end the inning.
The Mets did not score in the bottom of the ninth so it was off to extra innings, where Jeurys Familia performed like the rest of his bullpen mates (except for Valverde). Two soft singles put runners on first and second with no outs in the 10th. A passed ball off of d’Arnaud’s glove moved the runners to second and third. He struck out Harper but Desmond hit a sacrifice fly to give the Nationals a 6-5 lead. John Lannan came on for his Mets debut; it did not go well. He walked LaRoche to put runners on first and third. Rendon then put the game away with a three-run shot and a 9-5 lead.
Espinosa grounded out to end the inning on a close play at first, but Nationals manager Matt Williams challenged the call. They went to the video replay and the call was upheld.
Juan Lagares walked with two outs in the tenth and Wright followed with a two-run blast to left to make it a 9-7 game. But Granderson struck out for the third time to end the game.
Mets lose a disappointing Opening Day, 9-7.