The Mets have been the Diamondbacks many times in the past. Many times in recent memory, in fact. They will no doubt be the Diamondbacks in the future, perhaps sooner than later. But at the conclusion of a surprisingly successful 6-3 road trip to Atlanta, Anaheim, and Phoenix, the Mets can thank their lucky stars they are not the Diamondbacks right now.
Twitterer extraordinaire Brandon McCarthy put up Arizona's best starting pitching performance in the series. His competition in this category was hardly stiff, however, and his outing would still prove insufficient to end Arizona's puzzling ineffectiveness at Chase Field.
Anthony Recker started the scoring by taking Brandon McCarthy deep in the top of the second, blasting a cutter into the left field stands. After a quiet third, the Mets struck again in the fourth as Ike Davis singled and Andrew Brown doubled to open the inning. A sac fly from Kirk Nieuwenhuis brought Ike home with the Mets' second run.
After McCarthy recorded another scoreless frame, Brown singled to start the top of the sixth. One out later, Recker doubled down the left field line to put runners on second and third. The Diamondbacks chose to intentionally walk Ruben Tejada, hoping the next batter, Dillon Gee, would bounce into a double play. The strategy was foiled when Gee hit a hard shot to first that clanked off of Paul Goldschmidt's glove. Aaron HIll snagged the carom, so Arizona was able to record the out at first, but the Mets scored their third run on the play anyway.
The Diamondbacks turned to the bullpen after that, but McCarthy was the least of their problems. It's hard to say if Dillon Gee pitched brilliantly or the Diamondbacks were simply too defeated to put up much resistance. Whatever the reason, the Mets' starter cruised through his afternoon, giving the Diamondbacks little hope they could climb back into the game. The righty retired the first 14 men he faced, as Arizona didn't log its first hit until Martin Prado doubled with two outs in the bottom of the fifth. Said double was preceded immediately on the SNY broadcast by Keith Hernandez voicing the P-word, so you suspicious folk out there know who to blame.
Gee made sure that double proved of little consequence by retiring Cliff Pennington on a flyout. He did the same for the Diamondbacks' next hit, thanks to some heads-up fielding. With two out in the sixth, Gerardo Parra dunked a single just in front of Nieuwenhuis in center. Daniel Murphy and Tejada ran out on the play, leaving second base unoccupied. That gave Parra the big idea to stretch his single to a double, but Gee raced toward the bag in time to catch a relay throw from Nieuwenhuis and lay a tag on Parra to end the inning.
Gee did show some signs of faltering the seventh, first allowing a one-out double to Goldschmidt, then permitting Miguel Montero to send a ball to deep right field. Brown snared Montero's drive at the fence, and Gee ended the inning on a Mark Trumbo groundout. The pitcher had expended only a Maddux-like 72 pitches to get through seven innings, but he also has shown the tendency to crumble the third time through an order. So Terry Collins pinch hit for Gee in the top of the eighth, banking on his bullpen and Arizona's offensive futility.
The move worked out, just barely. Kyle Farnsworth took over mound duties in the bottom of the eighth and allowed a one-out single to Prado and a two-out single to Tony Campana. He struck out pinch hitter Eric Chavez looking, with some help from a suddenly larger strike zone that bugged manager Kirk Gibson. (Then again, he always looks vaguely mad; maybe we should just call him Irk Gibson.) Scott Rice was then called on to get the last out in the inning and did so with a groundout by Parra.
The Mets' offense stayed quiet for two innings, despite an appearance from old friend Oliver Perez in the top of the seventh. They then got a boost from some awful Arizona defense. The first batter in the ninth, Eric Young, hit a comebacker to reliever Addison Reed, which Reed lollipopped past first base. Young scooted all the way to third on the error, then scored when Daniel Murphy singled up the middle. Murphy attempted a steal of second, but the generous Diamondbacks granted him an extra base when Montero fired a throw into the outfield. Murphy would score soon thereafter on a David Wright single.
Those runs made the score 5-0 in favor of the Mets, a margin that appeared to be far more than the visitors would need to ensure victory against a team that hadn't scored in 18 innings. But despite the lack of a save situation, Jose Valverde entered the game. When we last saw him, he was giving up a game-tying three-run homer to Raul Ibañez in Anaheim on Saturday night. The location may have changed, but not the results. Three pitches into the inning, Hill went deep, hitting a solo shot to left. Two pitches later, Goldschmidt hit one in almost the same spot, and five-run lead had become a three-run lead.
The Mets' de facto closer recorded a groundout and a strikeout, but as we all know, Valverde gonna Valverde. A Prado single brought the tying run far too close to batting. With Carlos Torres and Daisuke Matsuzaka warming up in the bullpen, Valverde finally recorded the last out on a liner to left field.
They say it is better to be lucky than good. And when your good-itude is questionable, as the Mets' surely is, sometimes luck entails encountering an opponent who is powerfully unlucky.
SB Nation GameThreads
Win Probability Added
Big winners: Dillon Gee, 38.0%, Anthony Recker, 12.3%
Big losers: David Wright, -6.5%, Daniel Murphy, -4.9%
Teh aw3s0mest play: Anthony Recker home run, top second, 11.6%
Teh sux0rest play: Tony Campana single, bottom eighth, -5.3%
Total pitcher WPA: 43.3%
Total batter WPA: 6.7%
GWRBI!: Dillon Gee RBI groundout, top sixth