Lyon started Zimmerman with a tough slider, which he took for ball one. The confrontation had all but been decided.
“I’m in the driver’s seat right there,” Zimmerman said. “Once he misses there, I know he doesn’t want to miss again, because then he’s really behind with the bases loaded and nowhere to go.”
Lyon had little choice but to leave a fastball over the plate, and Zimmerman pulverized it. The ball rocketed to the left-center field gap. Bolting on contact, Rendon scurried around the bases and scored without a throw. Three base runners high-fived at the plate, Harvey quietly fumed in the home dugout and the Nationals had tied it at 4.
In the ninth, Werth led off with a liner to left-center, and he stretched it into a double with a headfirst slide. Desmond followed with a smash down the line, which hopped over the bag. Werth walked home and Desmond, who earlier had committed his first error in 60 games, had pulled the Nationals ahead.
Before Harvey left, Desmond had provided the entirety of the Nationals’ offense. The Nationals had yet have a runner reach base after four innings. Harvey got two more quick outs to start the fifth, striking out Werth with a slider. Desmond could not check an awkward swing when Harvey threw him a first-pitch curveball.
Mets catcher John Buck called for another curve. Harvey threw it inside and at Desmond’s knees. He crushed the baseball off the face of the upper deck in left field.
“I was just basically sticking to my approach,” Desmond said. “Go up there, see the white ball and swing. Didn’t work on the first pitch. But it did on the second.”
Eleven of Desmond’s 14 home runs this year have either tied the game or given the Nationals a lead. The latest made it 1-1 in the fifth.
It gave them hope until they stormed through the Mets’ bullpen in latter innings. Once they had grabbed the lead, Johnson gave the ball to the deposed closer, who now fills in when $28 million free agent Soriano is unavailable. Storen handled the ninth with just nine pitches.
“Especially on the road, that’s when it gets fun,” Storen said. “That’s the best. You kind of silence the crowd a little bit. They always have their pump-up music montage on when I come in. As much as I like to hear my own song, I like to hear their music as well.”
Storen joined the handshake lines with Desmond and Zimmerman and the rest of the Nationals. They still need another a few wins to start rolling in the right direction, but they had just captured their biggest win yet.
“Until our next one,” Zimmerman said.