It was an emotional day at the ballpark when, before the game, Sandy Alderson announced he was stepping away from the team for health reasons. With some perspective, there was still a game to be played, and it fittingly ended with a Wilmer Flores walk-off and a 4-3 Mets victory.
Sandy Alderson and Flores will forever be linked in Mets lore for that night in 2015. First it was Flores’s tears on the field, then Alderson announcing there was no trade, and of course a couple of days later THE Wilmer walk-off against the Nationals.
Flores’s flair for the dramatic has not gone away since that magical July night. He now has nine walk-off RBIs in his Mets tenure tying him with David Wright for the club record. Overall, it was a big day for Flores who also put the Mets on the board in the first.
Chad Kuhl was wild and set the Mets up to score more than one run in an inning. A single, a walk, and two wild pitches set up second and third with two-out for Flores. He squeezed a single through the infield which scored both runners.
At first Steven Matz took that slim lead and ran with it. He held the Pirates hitless through four innings, but a leadoff hit in the fifth unraveled him a bit. He gave up four consecutive hits to start the inning which tied the game at two. He did limit the damage and settled down after that hiccup. He retired the next eight batters but hung a curveball to Gregory Polanco in the seventh, which Polanco did not miss. With one swing of the bat the Pirates held a 3-2 lead and Matz’s strong outing was left tarnished a bit. His final line was seven innings, three runs, seven strikeouts, and zero walks. It was a nice bounceback for the lefty who struggled in Coors during his last outing.
With the way this offense has struggled at home, you would be forgiven if you assumed 3-2 would be the final score. Michael Conforto, however has been heating up at the plate and he tied the game in the bottom of the inning with a blast of his own.
Since it is still the Mets they made things interesting in the eighth. Anthony Swarzak recorded only one out and left runners on first and second when Jeurys Familia was summoned into the game. He induced a ground ball from David Freese but a hard, clean slide by Josh Harrison prevented Asdrubal Cabrera from turning the double play. Familia took exception to the slide and the benches cleared but no punches were thrown. After the brief squabble, Familia got back to work but walked the next batter to load the bases. Jose Osuna then grounded out and the crisis averted.
Neither side scored in the ninth so it was off to extras innings for these two ballclubs. Tim Peterson got the top of the tenth and despite a well-struck ball by Freese he retired the side in order.
Michael Conforto led off the bottom of the tenth with a walk and Todd Frazier followed with a single. Much has been made recently about the Mets’ inability to bunt, and Asdrubal Cabrera did not put any concerns to rest. He popped up his first bunt attempt but catcher Elias Diaz dropped it. Given a second chance, Cabrera then popped up to the pitcher who did not miss. All was forgiven and forgotten when Flores sent everyone home happy with a single down the line to bring home Conforto with the winning run.
With everything that has gone wrong this season, this was definitely a feel-good win and hopefully one that made their general manager smile.
SB Nation GameThreads
Win Probability Added
Big winners: Wilmer Flores +34.8%, Jeurys Familia +30.4%, Michael Conforto +29.8%, Tim Peterson +13.1%
Big losers: Dominic Smith -13.7%, Jose Reyes -11%
Teh aw3s0mest play: Wilmer Flores single in tenth
Teh sux0rest play: Gregory Polanco home run in seventh
Total pitcher WPA: +28.5%
Total batter WPA: +21.5%
GWRBI!: Wilmer Flores