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Alonso’s walk-off sacrifice fly saves Mets after Familia’s ninth inning meltdown

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Polar Bear Pete was the hero after Familia was the goat.

MLB: Cincinnati Reds at New York Mets Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Mets’ first walk-off win of 2019 could not have come at a better time. After the Cincinnati Reds rallied to score two runs off Jeurys Familia with two outs in the ninth to tie the game, it began to feel like the Mets were setting themselves up for a second straight tough loss. In walked Pete Alonso, who played the role of hero in the tenth inning to pick up his first career walk-off and pick up his teammate.

Before the late-inning heroics, Jason Vargas started for the Mets and turned in a perfectly cromulent outing as he went toe-to-toe with the National League ERA leader. Vargas worked around a Joey Votto one-out double in the first and struck out two batters—one of a season-high five strikeouts for Vargas on the evening—and was able to hold Cincinnati in check for the first five innings.

The Mets got the scoring started in the third inning after going quietly in the first two frames. Amed Rosario led the inning off with a single but was erased on a Juan Lagares fielder’s choice ground out to third. Vargas successfully bunted Lagares over to second, and he advanced over to third base thanks to a wild pitch. With two outs, Jeff McNeil attempted to drag a bunt down the first base line but hooked it foul. The quick-footed McNeil perfectly executed a bunt the second time around and slid head-first into first to beat out Castillo for the base hit.

Mickey Callaway stuck with Vargas for the sixth inning after he completed an impressive six-pitch fifth inning. After retiring Votto for the first out, third baseman Eugenio Suarez drove the first pitch he saw over the left field wall for a game-tying home run to end Vargas’s evening. Vargas allowed three hits and walked three in 5.1 innings of work. It was the third straight start in which he was charged with just one earned run. Callaway turned to Robert Gsellman, who struck out three over 1.2 innings while working around one single and one walk. The Mets pulled ahead in the bottom of the seventh off Castillo, as Todd Frazier hit a no-doubt-about-it home run over the left field wall to give the club a 2-1 advantage.

Prior to the game, Callaway hinted that Familia could be called upon for a six-out save with Edwin Diaz unavailable given his recent workload. Callaway held true to his word, despite Familia’s recent struggles, and went with him to begin the eighth. After Votto led off the eighth with a single, he was double-off first following a Suarez fly ball out on what can only be described as a bone-headed baserunning blunder by the 13-year veteran. Familia recovered to strike out Yasiel Puig to end the eighth. The Mets added an insurance run in the bottom half of the frame, as Michael Conforto contributed a two-out single to drive home McNeil, who hit a lead-off double.

Familia appeared rejuvenated as he begun the ninth with two quick and efficient strikeouts. From there, it was all downhill for the former closer. After walking Jesse Winker, Jose Iglesias hit a single to put the tying run on first base. Reds Manager David Bell elected to pinch hit the right-handed Kyle Farmer instead of a left-handed batter, and he was rewarded with a run-scoring single to bring the Reds to within one. Jose Peraza completed the comeback with a game-tying single to score Iglesias. Callaway finally removed Familia in favor of Zamora, who promptly walked Votto. Drew Gagnon entered and extinguished the threat by striking out Suarez.

After the Mets went down in order in the ninth and Gagnon navigated past a minor threat in the tenth, the Mets broke through for the win in the bottom of the inning. J.D. Davis opened the inning with a double into the left center field gap and advanced to third on a McNeil single. McNeil’s hit was his fourth of the game, giving him five four-hit games in his young career. Alonso drove a 1-2 pitch to the right field wall that was caught by Puig but was deep enough to score Davis without a throw, which secured a much-needed win for the Mets. The victory helped New York pull even in the four-game series after dropping the Monday night contest.

The Mets completed the calendar month with a 13-13 record after winning two out of three games in March. The win puts the second-place Mets a game behind the first-place Philadelphia Phillies and one game ahead of the third-place Atlanta Braves as they begin play in May.

The Mets will kick the month off with the third of four games against the Reds on Wednesday night at 7:10 p.m. Jacob deGrom will take the mound for New York as he looks to turn the page on a month that was mostly unkind to him. deGrom will be opposed by Anthony DeSclafani of the Reds.

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What’s WPA?

Big winners: Jeff McNeil, 30.7% WPA, Drew Gagnon, 28.3% WPA, Todd Frazier, 19.6% WPA, J.D. Davis, 17.6% WPA, Robert Gsellman, 11.8% WPA, Jason Vargas, 11.8% WPA
Big losers: Jeurys Familia, -33.5% WPA, Juan Lagares, -12.9% WPA
Total pitcher WPA: 15.0% WPA
Total batter WPA: 35.0% WPA
Teh aw3s0mest play: Todd Frazier seventh-inning solo home run, 22.5% WPA
Teh sux0rest play: Jose Peraza game-tying ninth-inning single, -35.4% WPA