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Nationals overcome six-run deficit in ninth inning as Mets’ bullpen melts down

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The Mets and Nationals played one of the wildest games you’ll see this season. It was fairly normal through seven innings, with the Mets leading 4-2. It was even higher scoring than expected, considering Jacob deGrom and Max Scherzer started.

In the top of the eighth, the Mets tacked on an insurance run thanks to a Jeff McNeil solo homer, making it a 5-2 game. The Nationals answered back in the bottom half of the eighth, closing the gap to one run when Juan Soto went yard with a runner on base.

Seemingly putting the game out of reach, the Mets hung a five-spot in the top of the ninth. Lefty Roenis Elías served up a leadoff homer to Brandon Nimmo, then gave up a single to Joe Panik — both left-handed hitters. Daniel Hudson replaced Elías, but proceded to walk Todd Frazier, then gave up a two-run single to Jeff McNeil followed by a two-run home run to Pete Alonso. The Nats went into the bottom half of the ninth trailing 10-4. FanGraphs listed their win probability at 0.3 percent.

Paul Sewald began the inning, allowing a leadoff single to Victor Robles. Robles scored on a one-out double from Trea Turner. Turner moved to third on an Asdrúbal Cabrera single. Sewald would face one more hitter, serving up an RBI single to Anthony Rendon to make it 10-6. Lefty Luis Avilán entered, yielding a single to Juan Soto, the only batter he faced, to load the bases. With the game back in high-leverage mode, manager Mickey Callaway brought in Edwin Díaz, who has had a forgettable 2019. He proceeded to fork over a two-run double to Ryan Zimmerman to make it 10-8. The game then ended when Kurt Suzuki did this:

Suzuki’s walk-off three-run homer was not only a big swing in the game, it was huge in the standings. The Nationals were in danger of losing more ground to the Braves, who beat the Blue Jays on Tuesday. They would have fallen to 7.5 games back in the division. The Nats also would have given up some ground in the NL Wild Card race, entering the night holding the first Wild Card by 3.5 games over the Cubs, who lead the Mariners 5-0 as of this writing. The Mets, meanwhile, entered Tuesday trailing the Cubs by four games in the Wild Card. That will likely be five games shortly. They are fighting for the second Wild Card with the Phillies (who won on Tuesday), Diamondbacks (leading), and Brewers (won).

The Nationals have inquired about Kris Bryant

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The Washington Nationals, fresh off signing Stephen Strasburg to a $245 million deal, are now turning their attention to their third base hole. Jon Morosi of MLB.com reports that they have made inquiries to the Chicago Cubs about trading for Kris Bryant.

Emphasis on the word “inquiry” because it’d be premature for the Cubs to trade Bryant at the moment, even if they are reported to be considering the possibility.

Bryant and the Cubs are awaiting word from an arbitrator about Bryant’s years-old service time grievance. If Bryant wins, he becomes a free agent after the 2020 season. If the Cubs win they control him for two more years. The team may or may not choose to trade him in either case as they are reportedly trying to cut payroll, but the price for him will vary pretty significantly depending on whether or not the acquiring club will receive one or two years of control over the former MVP.

For Washington, this would be a means of replacing free agent third baseman Anthony Rendon. Or, perhaps, the inquiries are a means of creating a tad more leverage for the Nats as they talk to Rendon’s agent about re-signing him.

Which, in the past, the Nats said they could not do if they also re-signed Strasburg, though I suspect that’s just posturing too. They may not want to spend big money to keep their World Series core together, but they can afford it. They’re going to see, I suspect, an eight-figure uptick in revenue by virtue of being the defending World Series champs. They are poised to receive a significant payout as a result of recent rulings in their own multi-year dispute with the Orioles and the MASN network. They are, of course, owned by billionaire real estate moguls. All of that taken together means that, if they choose to, they can bring back Rendon. Assuming he chooses to come back too.

But, if that doesn’t happen, they appear to be giving themselves options at the hot corner.