On a muggy day in New York City, the Mets looked terrible at the plate through eight innings and trailed by three runs before plating four in the bottom of the ninth to beat the Cubs. For the past couple of weeks, it's felt like the Mets were out of games much earlier than the ninth inning. Today's win was a good reminder that baseball games—even those featuring these Mets—aren't over in the fifth inning.
Jeremy Hefner had a good start, though it was truncated by the Mets' necessity for a pinch hitter in the bottom of the fifth inning. He struck out five, walked one, and allowed three runs, just one of which was earned. In the top of the first, the Cubs singled three times against Hefner, plating one run on the third single to put Chicago on the board.
But Hefner kept the Cubs scoreless until things got wacky in the fifth. With two outs and nobody on, Hefner gave up a single to Starlin Castro. He then walked Nate Schierholtz. Alfonso Soriano hit a hard ground ball to David Wright at third base, and Wright snagged it before looking to second and throwing way over Daniel Murphy's head at first base. With the baserunners advancing, Murphy threw the ball well wide of home plate, allowing Castro to score easily and Schierholtz to come all the way around from first. It looked like this. The Cubs were up 3-0, and what little wind may have been in the Mets' sails felt like it had been taken out.
Although the Mets continued to flail at the plate, the team's bullpen threw four scoreless innings to keep the game within reach. Carlos Torres, who was recently recalled at the expense of Collin McHugh's 40-man roster spot, threw two scoreless innings. David Aardsma and Bobby Parnell threw a scoreless inning apiece, sending the game to the bottom of the ninth with the Mets still down by three.
Marlon Byrd led off the inning with a monster home run into the second deck in left field. It was his eleventh home run of the year, and he now has a very respectable .346 wOBA on the year. Lucas Duda drew a walk, and John Buck singled. Terry Collins opted to have Omar Quintanilla put down a sacrifice bunt, a perplexing choice given the fact that two of the slowest runners in baseball were on the basepaths.
Kirk Nieuwenhuis came up to the plate, though, and drilled a three-run home run that hit the signage on the front of the Pepsi Porch. After eight-and-a-half innings of uninspiring baseball, the Mets had pulled off a very improbable win.
The Mets begin a five-game series in Atlanta tomorrow night. Dillon Gee, who has been excellent of late, takes the mound opposite Tim Hudson at 7:10 pm EDT.
SB Nation Coverage
* Amazin' Avenue Gamethread
* Bleed Cubbie Blue Gamethread
Win Probability Added
Big winners: Kirk Nieuwenhuis, +68.8% WPA
Big losers: Omar Quintanilla, -16.9% WPA
Teh aw3s0mest play: Kirk's walk-off home run, +73.1% WPA
Teh sux0rest play: Dammit Mets in the fifth, -20.1% WPA
Total pitcher WPA: -6.1% WPA
Total batter WPA: +56.1% WPA
GWRBI!: Kirk Nieuwenhuis