Extrapolate the Mets' current record over a full season and the result is something like 86 wins. Wild Card or not, 86 wins would mean an unquestionable success of a season for a team with modest preseason hopes. However, a baseball team's actual record a quarter of the way through a season isn't too useful for projecting through game 162. Other imperfect-but-worthwhile indicators suggest that it's not easy to finish with 86 wins when allowing more runs than you score, as the Mets have done so far this season. In short, if the Mets continue to play as they have, great things should not be expected going forward. But none of that mattered tonight, as the Mets won a one-run game to help them in the W-L column but not the run differential column. Hey, maybe they can win close ones and lose only blowouts. Maybe the Mets are destined to be the 2007 Diamondbacks-type exception to the rule. Don't bet on it, but hope on it if you like.
R.A. Dickey had arguably his best game of the season tonight and he needed just 88 pitches to do it. He struck out 11 and walked none in seven strong innings, allowing one run on five hits. Yes, it's the Pirates, but a 76% strike rate and 16% swinging-strike rate are worthy of celebration against any MLB team.
The game was moving swiftly as Dickey traded quick innings with also-impressive Pirates starter James McDonald until the bullpens went to work. Andres Torres pinch-hit for Dickey to lead off the eighth inning with the score tied 1-1. It was a curious move for several reasons -- Dickey was terrific, the Mets' unimpressive bullpen could use some rest, Torres? -- and it appeared to be poor process, poor results as the struggling Torres struck out against Pirates reliever Juan Cruz. But Mike Baxter followed with a double to set the game-winning rally in motion. Kirk Nieuwenhuis then walked, bringing up the scorching-hot David Wright. Strikeouts have been rare for Wright of late, but he K'd in this spot. Lucas Duda was next, and he came through with a single to drive in Baxter, giving the Mets a 2-1 lead. Pedro Alvarez then made an error on a Daniel Murphy ground ball to allow Nieuwenhuis to score a much-needed third run.
Jon Rauch started the eighth inning, and it looked like he might finish the frame without allowing a run until Murphy was unable to catch a pop-up to shallow right field off the bat of Andrew McCutchen with two outs. This allowed Jose Tabata, who had doubled earlier in the inning, to score. It was a tough play for Murphy but he did get a glove on it. You'd like to see him make that play. You'd also like to see the right fielder make the catch but Duda isn't turning into Endy Chavez. Tim Byrdak made his daily appearance, striking out Alvarez to end the inning. Byrdak is on pace for 98 appearances. He will also sign with the Yankees at some point for two years, $8 million right before blowing out his arm forever. Frank Francisco sent the Bucs down 1-2-3 in the ninth inning to clinch game two of the series for the Metsies.
Jon Niese starts the rubber game against Charlie Morton on Wednesday at 12:35 pm. Rob Johnson will likely play, so tune in to watch Josh Thole's potential future backup.
SB Nation Coverage
* Traditional Recap
* Box Score
* Amazin' Avenue Gamethread
* Bucs Dugout Gamethread
Win Probability Added
Big winners: R.A. Dickey +24.6% (as pitcher), Lucas Duda +22.4%
Big losers: David Wright -13.0%, Ike Davis -8.6%
Teh aw3s0mest play: Lucas Duda RBI single in the eighth inning +27.9%
Teh sux0rest play: Andrew McCutchen RBI single in the eighth inning -9.8%
Total pitcher WPA: +42.1%
Total batter WPA: +7.9%