The Mets and Reds are on opposite ends of the National League spectrum, but the Mets were able to send another game to extra innings in the series opener in Cincinnati. While they lost the game, they at least did so in a relatively timely manner.
On paper, the Mets didn’t stand much of a chance in the game. Johnny Cueto isn’t one of the best pitchers in baseball, but he’s still been good this year, and Mets starter Aaron Harang isn’t the pitcher that he was when he used to play for the Reds. Throw in the Reds’ regular starting lineup, and it’s a little surprising the Mets finished nine innings with the score tied.
Harang threw a scoreless first but got into big trouble in the second. With two outs and runners on the corners, Shin-Soo Choo singled to put the Reds ahead 1-0. After he stole second, Harang walked Brandon Phillips to load the bases and walked Joey Votto to plate another run. He got Ryan Ludwick to ground out next, though, and the game did not get out of hand.
The Mets bats’ were mostly quiet against Cueto, but they broke through for a run in the third. Harang led off and reached second base thanks to a throwing error by Todd Frazier on a routine ground ball. The Mets proceeded to load the bases thanks to a bunt single by Eric Young and a walk by David Wright, and Lucas Duda hit a sacrifice fly to score Harang and cut the Reds’ lead in half.
Neither team scored again until the sixth inning, but with two outs and nobody on base, Duda hit a solo home run to tie the game. It was his 15th home run of the season in 359 plate appearances. That’s not a bad home run rate, especially given the state of offense in Major League Baseball this year.
From there, a parade of relief pitchers kept the game tied through the top of the tenth inning. The Mets used Gonzalez Germen, Pedro Feliciano, Frank Francisco, Tim Byrdak, and David Aardsma between the seventh and ninth. Perhaps the most notable moment from that span was Francisco’s botched pitchout that allowed pinch runner Billy Hamilton to easily steal a base in the eighth. The Reds countered with Sam LeCure, Sean Marshall, and Aroldis Chapman. They sent Manny Parra out for the tenth, and he, too, kept the Mets from scoring.
Greg Burke took over for the bottom of the inning and gave up a pair of one-out singles. With runners on first and third and the left-handed Choo due up, Terry Collins turned to lefty reliever Sean Henn. But Choo hit a long walk-off single that was nearly hit well enough to be a walk-off home run.
With that, the Mets dropped the opener to the Reds and slightly increased the odds that they’ll maintain a protected first-round pick in the 2014 draft. Perhaps that’ll make it slightly easier for the team to go out and sign Choo this winter in hopes that he’ll help them win a game in the playoff hunt in the future.
SB Nation Coverage
Win Probability Added
Big winners: David Aardsma, +30.4% WPA
Big losers: Greg Burke, -19.0% WPA, Sean Henn, -18.0% WPA, Tim Byrdak, -17.5% WPA
Teh aw3s0mest play: Lucas Duda’s game-tying home run, +17.6% WPA
Teh sux0rest play: Derrick Robinson’s single to put runners on the corners in the tenth, -19.1% WPA
Total pitcher WPA: +2.0% WPA
Total batter WPA: -52.0% WPA
GWRBI!: Shin-Soo Choo