The Mets had only 14 hours from the last out against the Nationals on Sunday night to the first pitch against the Reds on Monday afternoon, and they managed to pull off a 5-0 win in Cincinnati. This game felt more like the last time they were in Cincy than where they were last year on Labor Day.
On this holiday last year, the Mets were locked into an epic battle with Washington. Despite facing Max Scherzer and a deficit, the Mets pulled out a victory, and David Wright gifted fans with an euphoric fist pump. A few weeks later, the Mets were in Cincinnati and clinched the division. The next day, Terry Collins rested almost all of the starters for the finale, which led to quite an interesting lineup. They won that game, as well, in convincing fashion, and one year later the 2016 Mets would need some of that same magic.
The team did not get to its hotel in Cincinnati until after 3:00 AM, so with the late travel, Collins decided to rest Jose Reyes, Asdrubal Cabrera, and Yoenis Cespedes. Addison Reed and Jeurys Familia were also unavailable out of the bullpen since they both worked the final innings against Washington. Newly-recalled Matt Reynolds got the start, even though he had the worst travel plans and got to Cincinnati well after everyone else. The sleep deprivation did not affect him much in this game, as he lined an opposite field home run in his first at-bat against starter Robert Stephenson in the third inning.
Besides Reynolds, the lineup as a whole might have been a tad sleepy against Stephenson, who pitched 5.1 innings and struck out nine. The only other person to get to him was Kelly Johnson, who belted his 10th home run of the year in the fifth to give the Mets a 2-0 lead. Wilmer Flores also had a few hits off of the Reds’ rookie starter, but he had nothing to show for it after he was thrown out twice trying to take an extra base on those hits.
Those baserunning mistakes could have cost the team since it was a tight ballgame through six innings. Bartolo Colon, who flew ahead of the team, played Houdini and kept the Reds off the board, even though they had a runner on third with less than two outs in two separate innings.
The first threat came in the third after the Mets had just taken a 1-0 lead on the Reynolds home run. Eugenio Suarez singled leading off the inning, and Tucker Barnhart followed with a double. With runners on second and third and nobody out, Colon worked out of it via a strikeout of Stephenson, a line out to third by Jose Peraza, and a fly out to right by Zack Cozart.
The next crisis Colon faced was in the sixth, when Hernan Iribarren hit a pinch-hit leadoff triple. Colon got lucky one batter later when Peraza lined out to Jay Bruce, but Iribarren did not tag up on the play. Colon went to work after that, getting two foul outs to first sandwiched around a Joey Votto walk. That was it for Colon, who gave the Mets a much-needed six-inning start and left with the 2-0 lead.
The Mets’ offense woke up once both starters were out of the game. They scored three runs in the seventh, and Reynolds was again in the middle of things when he singled to drive in Travis d’Arnaud. Asdrubal Cabrera pinch hit with a single to drive in James Loney, and Alejandro De Aza hit a sacrifice fly to bring in Reynolds for their fifth run of the game.
It was up to the bullpen to keep the shutout going that Colon started. Hansel Robles pitched the seventh and only allowed one hit, but Jerry Blevins allowed two runners to reach base in the eighth. Fernando Salas finished the eighth and pitched a clean ninth to secure the victory.
This was an important win to have with so many regulars out of the lineup. If the Mets want to make they playoffs, they will need to continue to get contributions from unexpected places. Also: Wilmer, get out of second gear.
SB Nation GameThreads
Win Probability Added
Big winners: Bartolo Colon +36.2%, Matt Reynolds +16.5%
Big losers: Jay Bruce -12.3%
These aw3s0mest play: Zack Cozart fly out in third.
Teh sux0rest play: Hernan Iribarren triple in sixth.
Total pitcher WPA: 40.2%
Total batter WPA: 9.8%
GWRBI !: Alejandro De Aza