It's one game. The first of 18 head-to-head match ups between the Mets and the Nationals. Nothing is won in April. But at least for today, after the Mets' 8-2 victory, New York showed that a division many thought Washington had sewn up before a single pitch was thrown in 2018 is very much up for grabs.
In front of the capacity crown on hand at Nationals Park for the Nats' home opener, New York announced their presence with authority. Twice in the first four innings, the Mets fought back from one-run deficits. Michael Conforto's 5th inning, opposite field dinger off Stephen Strasburg gave the Amazin's a lead they'd never relinquish, and Jay Bruce provided the dagger with a full count, two out grand slam off Brandon Kintzler.
The message the Mets were sending was simple: This year, we're going to fight.
It's easy to discount this as an early season blip, and that's fair. It's just as likely that this is a meaningless April game than a harbinger of things to come. But in a season that just feels different already, this win resonates.
It's Jacob deGrom loading the bases with no one out, only to escape from his own jam, punctuated by a strike out of Trea Turner. It's Bruce taking a close 2-2 pitch, getting the benefit of the call, and immediately cashing it in with a crushing blow. It's Robert Gsellman going strike out crazy out of the bullpen, and Hansel Robles looking like a useful piece, and it really not mattering if Amed Rosario is in the lineup on this one particular day or he isn't. The Mets seem to have an attitude that whoever's number gets called, that's who's going to step up. It's incredibly refreshing to see.
The National League East is going to be a battle, folks. And Thursday was the Mets taking the first step to show that they plan on being in it until the very end. Whether it amounts to anything or not remains to be seen, but thus far, the orange-and-blue is showing they don't plan on running from anyone.
Not only did it seal the victory, Yoenis Céspedes' monster grand slam taught Mets fans a lesson worth remembering this season: Don't panic over a couple of losses. Not with this team.