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Mets vs. Pirates: Another day, another loss in extras

This time the agony was prolonged for fourteen innings.

Gregory Fisher-USA TODAY Sports

The Mets' ineptitude against the Pirates continued on Saturday night, as the Amazins lost 5-3 in fourteen innings.

Things did not start well for the Mets. With two outs in the first, Jon Niese faced Andrew McCutchen. The lefty pitched carefully to the face of the Pirates franchise, and with a full count, he let a 93 mph fastball loose. Niese was convinced the pitch was a strike, so much so that he started walking off the mound. But home plate umpire Bob Davidson—whose strike zone tonight made the G train look steady and consistent—felt differently, and McCutchen was given first base.

It was one of those times that it seemed like something bad was going to happen. Niese is like the Incredible Hulk: you won’t like him when he’s angry. Case in point: Aramis Ramirez was the next batter, and Niese, still upset, threw him a first pitch fastball that the veteran slugger smacked over the left field fence.

Niese made only one other mistake, which came in the third inning when he gave up a homer to Gregory Polanco. He expended a lot of effort but escaped a jam in the sixth to finish his night on a strong note. He struck out five and scattered the same amount of hits over the course of his work. Nevertheless, when he left the game, the Mets were down 3-0, primarily because the offense could get nothing going against Charlie Morton.

Morton had an ERA well above four for the year, so naturally, the Mets made him look like the second coming of Roy Halladay for the first six innings of the game. The Amazins managed only two hits off of him during that span, both of them from Yoenis Cespedes.

But later in the game, the Mets came back from the dead. It started when Juan Uribe willed the Mets on to the board with a mighty swing of his club, hitting a solo homer that made the score 3-1. A batter later, Travis d’Arnaud reached on a throwing error by Ramirez, and he was gloriously brought home by Michael Conforto's two-run home run that tied the game and took the wind out of the Pirates’ sails.

After both teams failed to score in the eighth, the Pirates were held scoreless again in the ninth thanks to Jeurys Familia and the missile-launcher otherwise known as Yoenis Cespedes’s right arm. With one out, Sean Rodriguez foolishly tried to stretch a double into a triple and was easily thrown out by the Mets left fielder, and Familia struck out pinch hitter Pedro Alvarez to get out of the inning. Sadly, the Mets got nothing in the bottom half of the ninth and so the game headed into extras for the second straight night.

Déjà vu was delayed when Hansel Robles came on and pitched a scoreless tenth, eleventh, and twelfth. His first time throwing three innings all season could not have gone better. Perhaps his shining moment came in the tenth during a nine pitch at-bat that not only culminated in a McCutchen strikeout, but also allowed the Mets to double off Jung-Ho Kang at first to escape the inning. Unfortunately for the Mets' offense, the Pirates bullpen also refused to waver over that span. Their best opportunity came in the twelfth, when pinch hitter Lucas Duda walked and Ruben Tejada singled with two outs to bring up Wilmer Flores, who struck out swinging to send the Mets back out to the field.

Sean Gilmartin pitched a scoreless thirteenth, but the hope for a Mets victory dissipated in the next inning. Francisco Cervelli started things off with a double. After that, Starling Marte advanced him and made it first safely when Daniel Murphy decided to go big or go home and made an ill-advised throw to third. Next batter Chris Stewart then plated the first Pirates run since the third inning with a single into center, and Rodriguez drove in an insurance run in the next at-bat to make the score 5-3.

The Mets escaped the inning fairly quickly after that, but other than a Kelly Johnson double, they failed to make Mark Melancon sweat in the bottom half of the inning, giving the Pirates their fifth win over the Mets this season.

SB Nation GameThreads

* Amazin' Avenue GameThread
* Bucs Dugout GameThread

Win Probability Added

Mets vs. Bucs, 8/15

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Big winners: Hansel Robles, +34.3% WPA; Michael Conforto, +28.3% WPA
Big losers: Sean Gilmartin, -31.8% WPA; Curtis Granderson, -23.1% WPA
Teh aw3s0mest play: Michael Conforto homer, bottom seventh
Teh sux0rest play: Francisco Cervelli double, top of the fourteenth
Total pitcher WPA: +8.1% WPA
Total batter WPA: -58.1% WPA
GWRBI!: Chris Stewart