By Scott Mandel
There is always an unsung player who shows up big in baseball pennant races or post-season games. The guy you least expect to play the hero on the biggest stages of the sport.
Luis Guillorme? New York Mets reserve infielder has now taken his place alongside such previous luminaries as Al Weis of the 1969 Mets, Brian Doyle of the 1977 Yankees and Gene Larkin of the 1991 Minnesota Twins. All of whom came up big when nobody in the ballpark had a right to expect that from them.
Guillorme picked a perfect time for his first big league homer — a tying shot leading off the eighth — J.D. Davis added a go-ahead sacrifice fly and the Mets worked their magic again, beating the Washington Nationals, 4-3, Saturday night at Citi Field for their eighth straight victory.
The Mets have won 15 of 16 and are on their best roll since a 16-1 run in 1990. They pulled within a half-game of Washington for the first National League wild card and will try for a three-game sweep Sunday.
Juan Soto put Washington ahead, 3-2, with his second home run of the game in the eighth inning, but Guillorme, a backup infielder, countered against Fernando Rodney with his first connection in the bottom of the inning. Guillorme entered with a .192 average in 56 major league games.
After two more Mets reached against Rodney (0-5), Daniel Hudson relieved. He got one out, intentionally walked slugger Pete Alonso, and then Davis hit a drive to deep right field that brought in newcomer Joe Panik for the tiebreaking run.
Wilson Ramos, celebrating his 32nd birthday, hit a two-out drive to right-center, but Victor Robles made a leaping catch against the wall to end the inning.
It was the second consecutive blown save for Washington’s bullpen. On Friday night, Sean Doolittle allowed four runs in the ninth inning of a 7-6 loss.
Soto hit a two-run drive in the first inning against Noah Syndergaard, and the 2-0 lead held until Davis and Ramos put fervor into Flushing with consecutive solo shots off Patrick Corbin in the fourth.
Soto struck again in the eighth against Seth Lugo (5-2), ending the reliever’s string of 14 consecutive scoreless appearances. Lugo got two outs to tie the Mets record with 26 consecutive batters retired before Soto hit a no-doubter to right field.
Soto has 24 homers this season, and the 20-year-old already has four career multihomer games.
Lugo also pitched the ninth as All-Star closer Edwin Díaz warmed in the bullpen.
With the Mets making an improbable charge for a playoff spot, fans lined up outside Citi Field five hours before the first pitch and many stood and clapped for lineup introductions as if it were opening day. Soto’s first-inning drive quickly quieted things down.
Davis and Ramos brought fans back to their feet in the fourth. Davis has four homers in his past seven games, and five of his 14 connections this season have been against the Nationals.
The Mets have hit multiple homers in eight consecutive games, breaking a franchise record set this June. Corbin had allowed just two homers over his previous eight starts combined, and he had given up 0.79 homers per nine innings since the start of 2018, trailing only Syndergaard and Jacob deGrom among major league starters.
Syndergaard, pitching to Ramos for the first time since June 15, threw seven innings of two-run ball with five strikeouts and seven hits allowed. He faced one over the minimum in his final four innings, and he completed seven for the sixth straight outing.