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Curtis Granderson ties and wins game in extras with two solo home runs

The outfielder had one very dramatic night.

MLB: Minnesota Twins at New York Mets Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports

When Byron Buxton hit a towering home run into the second deck in left field to give the Twins a one-run lead in the top of the eleventh inning, it didn’t seem at all like the Mets were going to win on Saturday night. But Curtis Granderson single-handedly changed that feeling by first tying the game with a leadoff home run in the bottom of that inning and then hitting another solo home run, with two outs against a left-handed pitcher, in the bottom of the twelfth to give the Mets a walk-off win.

Between those two plays, Granderson changed the Mets’ odds of winning by about as much as any one player can in a game of baseball. His +76.8% WPA, the metric that measures changes in the expectation that a team will win a game, isn’t a Mets record but is among the top fifty single-game marks in team history—though Baseball-Reference has him at +74.8 as opposed to Fangraphs’ +76.8.

Granderson himself hitting two home runs didn’t seem all that improbable, but the Mets’ offense had tried lulling everyone to sleep over the course of the first seven innings of the game. After Ervin Santana threw three perfect innings to begin the game, Yoenis Cespedes broke up that bid with a two-out single in the fourth. But in the fifth, the Mets had runners on first and second with one out. Rene Rivera struck out, and pinch hitter Kelly Johnson—the first of many substitutions in the game—popped out to shortstop to end the inning.

With Granderson up in the bottom of the sixth and two outs, Asdrubal Cabrera made an ill-advised attempt to take second base on a pitch that bounced in front of home plate, where former Mets backup catcher Juan Centeno picked it up and threw him out easily at second. On the upside, Cabrera helped make up for that mistake by making a spectacular jumping catch on a ball hit very hard by Brian Dozier to begin the top of the seventh.

If the Mets’ bottom of the sixth was frustrating, their bottom of the seventh was doubly so. T.J. Rivera hit a two-out double, and the Twins opted to intentionally walk James Loney to get to Rene Rivera. The Mets pinch hit for Rivera with Alejandro De Aza, who drew a walk to load the bases. Terry Collins pinch ran Ty Kelly for the slow-footed Loney at second base and sent Michael Conforto to the plate as a pinch hitter. Conforto promptly struck out.

What made all of those situations especially frustrating was that the Mets were only down 1-0 since the top of the fourth inning. But they finally tied the game in the bottom of the eighth, with the Twins having gone to the bullpen after the Mets got Ervin Santana’s pitch count up. Jose Reyes led off with a single and moved to second on a wild pitch. He moved to third on a ground out by Asdrubal Cabrera, and he scored when Yoenis Cespedes singled up the middle.

All along, the Mets had gotten pretty good pitching. Seth Lugo wasn’t as sharp as he looked in his previous starts, as he issued four walks and struck out only two. He gave up just one run on a solo home run off the bat of Eddie Rosario in the fourth inning, and he now has a 2.35 ERA on the season. The Mets’ bullpen was good, too, as Josh Smoker threw a scoreless sixth, Fernando Salas a scoreless seventh, Addison Reed a scoreless eighth, and Jeurys Familia a scoreless ninth. Smoker led all Mets pitchers in the game with three strikeouts, but every Mets reliever struck out at least one.

As the Mets continued to fail to score, Hansel Robles pitched a scoreless tenth, too, but he faltered in the eleventh, serving up the aforementioned moonshot of a home run to Byron Buxton. He got through the rest of the inning unscathed, which set things up for Granderson.

The left-handed-hitting Granderson rarely hits home runs to the opposite field, but he sent a ball rattling around the fencing above the orange line on the fence in left field to tie the game. That was all the Mets did in the inning, but Josh Edgin joined his fellow bullpen members in throwing a scoreless inning—with a strikeout—in the top of the twelfth. And with two outs in the bottom of the inning, the Twins turned to lefty Ryan O’Rourke. Granderson’s home runs against left-handed pitchers haven’t been rare as his opposite-field home runs, but still, he defied to platoon disadvantage and hit another solo home run, this one a signature shot into the seats in right field to give the Mets one of their more unexpected wins of the season.

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What’s WPA?

Big winners: Curtis Granderson, +76.8% WPA, Jeurys Familia, +12.0% WPA, Josh Edgin, +12.0% WPA, T.J. Rivera, +10.9% WPA
Big losers: Hansel Robles, -21.0% WPA, Jay Bruce, -17.7% WPA, Michael Conforto, -15.6% WPA
Teh aw3s0mest play: Curtis Granderson’s walk-off home run in the twelfth, +47.0% WPA
Teh sux0rest play: Byron Buxton’s go-ahead home run in the eleventh, -35.8% WPA
Total pitcher WPA: +25.4% WPA
Total batter WPA: +24.6% WPA
GWRBI!: Curtis Granderson