The Mets’ defense had been at or near the forefront of three losses in the past week.
It returned to the spotlight again Sunday but for all the right reasons.
The Mets turned in a sterling day defensively, punctuated by Albert Almora Jr.’s highlight-reel catch in center field, to help keep Taijuan Walker’s ledger clean in a 4-0 win over the Nationals at Citi Field.
“I think this was really refreshing and good momentum toward the next series,” Almora said after making his first start of the year.
The Mets got contributions from gloves and arms all over the field after a tough week for the defense, in which it had committed six errors in two games against the Cubs and another in Saturday’s loss to the Nationals. The Mets entered Sunday having allowed 16 unearned runs, the second-most in the majors.
But Sunday, they were only saving runs, led by Almora’s grab that had everybody in awe.
With runners on the corners and two outs in the sixth inning, Kyle Schwarber cracked a fly ball to center field. Almora’s teammates thought it was going to be a home run off the bat, but he raced back to the warning track and leaped to make the catch before crashing into the wall.
“That was such a sexy catch,” Pete Alonso said. “I got so fired up. I hope that’s on ESPN tonight.”
Almora said he knew that, as long as the ball didn’t go over the wall, it was going to end up in his glove.
“With two outs like that, it was going to be really difficult for me to not catch that ball if the ball stayed in the ballpark,” he said. “So I was going to leave it all out there.”
In the third inning, the Mets had executed a perfect relay to nab Victor Robles trying to stretch a double into a triple. Michael Conforto tracked down the ball in the gap and fired it to cutoff man Jonathan Villar, who one-hopped a perfect throw to J.D. Davis for the tag on Robles at third base.
“You use that video to teach, if you want to [see] how we want it done,” manager Luis Rojas said.
Francisco Lindor added a nice grab on a line drive to shortstop in the fifth inning, and Alonso later ended the game in fitting fashion, making a diving stop to his right and throwing to Edwin Diaz for the final out.
“It was obviously gratifying to see the guys play like they played today,” Rojas said. “I think we had some struggles in some games, but we bring the confidence every day that we’re going to be a good defensive team. That’s what we brought into today.”