Far from it.
The Mets tagged the Washington Nationals closer for a blown save in his first outing this season in April. They beat him here in May. They know they have his number.
He doesn’t intimidate them. Not at all.
“We felt that the whole inning,” Mets third baseman Todd Frazier told Yahoo Sports after the game. “Dom Smith was telling us the whole time we got up in the ninth inning, we’ve got him, we’ve got him before, let’s get him again. You go up to the plate no matter what the score is, you have a shot.”
By the time this game ended, with a scorched two-out RBI single to right field from Michael Conforto that resulted in a postgame celebration in which he lost his jersey, the Mets had shown why there’s no fear when they see Doolittle enter.
Four runs. Six hits. A third blown save.
And, most importantly, a 7-6 walk-off win to begin this critical three-game series.
“This is a special group of guys. We’re putting the whole thing together,” Conforto said. “We got to keep it going.”
Without putting too much significance in one August game, Friday’s affair could be one of those games that both teams look back on as a turning point in their season.
The Nationals had their closer on the mound with a 6-3 lead and a chance to win the first game of this series in a playoff-like atmosphere.
The Mets, who had steamrolled bad teams, seemed like they were about to lose their first game against real competition.
Doolittle has been quite good this year for the Nationals, but he entered the game having allowed six runs to the Mets in 5 1/3 innings.
They usually force him to elevate his fastball, and do damage.
Frazier, who insisted he was not lying, said that he told Amed Rosario, due up seventh in the inning, that he would get an at-bat against Doolittle.
Perhaps some of that is just due to Frazier’s overzealous New Jersey personality, but it also reveals how the Mets don’t view Doolittle entering as a sign the game is over.
“Last time Nationals were here we got a [game-winning hit] vs. Doolittle,” said Mets infielder J.D. Davis, who homered off Strasburg. “We were confident even if he was coming in that at least we would try to put up competitive at-bats.”
The rally actually started with a play that might not have seemed all that important at the time, but loomed rather large later.
Davis beat a ball into the ground that rolled down the third-base line, and it somehow stayed fair, resulting in a leadoff double.
That double had an expected batting average of .070 per BaseballSavant.com.
“I thought I fouled it off right at [third base coach Gary DiSarcina],” Davis said. “I noticed it going down third base and it stayed fair. Took off running.”
Perhaps this game ends differently had that ball actually hit DiSarcina. But, the Mets had their opening. And they capitalized.
Wilson Ramos followed with a single to bring up Frazier, hitless on the night.
Frazier got ahead in the count, 2-1, and Doolittle made a massive blunder, firing a 94-mph cookie down Broadway. And Frazier was ready.
The third baseman hit a towering drive to left that stayed just fair, and the Mets had tied the game at 6-6. They had rallied against Doolittle for a third time.
The remaining crowd at Citi Field erupted.
Frazier watched the ball stay fair, tossed his bat, pumped his fist, and began his trot after the biggest hit of his Mets tenure.
“It’s something special,” Frazier said. “You try to drive guys to get on base. First pitch, I got out my shoes a little bit, I said, ‘calm down, be nice and easy.’ Got a pitch to hit, kept it just fair and hear the roar of the crowd.
“That’s the answer you get when you do something like that.”
The Mets produced two more hits — including a two-out base knock by Rosario — to set the table for Conforto, a streaky hitter who is one on of his hot tears.
He battled Doolittle to a 2-2 count, and when Doolittle tried to beat him with an inside fastball, Conforto turned on it, lining it over Adam Eaton’s head in right field.
As Conforto’s teammates mobbed him, Pete Alonso, who homered off Strasburg in the fourth inning, ripped off his jersey.
Doolittle has allowed more runs to the Mets this year (10) than all other MLB teams (nine), and owns a 15.00 ERA against the Mets.
“I didn’t know what to do,” Alonso said. “I just ripped his jersey off.”
The Mets have now won 14 of 15 games, none more impressive than Friday.
They were just three outs from hearing about how they hadn’t beat anyone good. That their run was just due to an easy schedule. That they showed their true colors.
Then, one of the game’s best closers entered. Only to the Mets, he may as well be some middle reliever. They are not afraid.
If anything, Doolittle is the one who should be afraid of them.
“When guys’ shirts come off, it’s probably a pretty good day,” Mets manager Mickey Callaway said. “That was a good one.”
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