By the time Tomas Nido hit his walk-off home run in the bottom of the thirteenth inning at Citi Field on Saturday night, much of the crowd who had arrived early for the Obi Wan Canobi bobblehead had left the increasingly chilly and uncomfortable ballpark. And who could blame them?
Coming off a Friday night defeat at the hands of one of the worst teams in baseball, the Mets just could not make things easy on Saturday afternoon, either. While Jason Vargas was fine in his return from the injured list, the rest of the team couldn’t put the Tigers away or prevent them from coming back.
After Vargas allowed a sac fly in the first, Wilson Ramos tied the game with a solo home run in the second and gave the Mets the lead with a run-scoring single in the fourth. Tyler Bashlor served up a two-run home run to Brandon Dixon to give the Tigers a 3-2 lead in the top of the sixth, but Ramos did the heavy lifting again by hitting a two-run home run of his own in the bottom of the inning to give the Mets a 4-3 lead.
In the eighth inning, though, things didn’t go quite as well as planned. Working his second inning in the game, Robert Gsellman gave up a one-out double and followed that up by inducing a ground out—but one to the right side, allowing the runner on second to advance to third. So for the first time this year, Mickey Callaway turned to Edwin Diaz in the eighth inning, and of course it backfired.
Diaz gave up a game-tying single to JaCoby Jones, the second Tiger mentioned in this recap whose name I had to look up in the process of writing it. It wasn’t a particularly hard single, but it was enough to get the job done.
The Wilson Ramos magic came to an end in the bottom of that inning. After the Tigers botched what should have been an inning-ending double play off the bat of Pete Alonso without getting any outs, Ramos hit into an inning-ending double play.
And then came perhaps the worst in-game move that Mickey Callaway has made as a manager: Alonso was double-switched out of a tie game going into the ninth inning, as Wilmer Font was brought into his spot in the lineup and Dom Smith was placed into the pitcher’s spot to play first. On top of removing his best active hitter from a game that very clearly had a shot at going into extra innings, Callaway was playing with a four-man bench as the Mets carried eight relievers for the game.
Both teams failed to score in the tenth, eleventh, and twelfth innings, though the Mets’ failure in the eleventh was particularly bad. After Tomas Nido, hitting in what had been Alonso’s spot in the order, flew out to start that inning, Ramos drew a walk. Steven Matz pinch ran for him and advanced to second on a Dom Smith single. But Matz did not score when Todd Frazier lofted a soft single well past the Tigers’ shortstop, leaving the bases loaded with one out. And then Aaron Altherr struck out, and Adeiny Hechavarria grounded out to the pitcher to end the inning.
Given the way these things work, though, it was Nido who led off the bottom of the thirteenth and hit the home run that ended the game. The process was awful, the game was a form of torture, and the Mets somehow won. Here’s hoping they make things easier today.
SB Nation GameThreads
Win Probability Added
Big winners: Wilson Ramos, +49.4% WPA, Tomas Nido, +32.6% WPA, Hector Santiago, +24.2% WPA, Wilmer Font, +24.2% WPA, Jason Vargas, +14.4% WPA, Daniel Zamora, +12.1% WPA, Robert Gsellman, +11.0% WPA
Big losers: Tyler Bashlor, -31.7% WPA, Aaron Altherr, -28.6% WPA, Adeiny Hechavarria, -25.6% WPA, Edwin Diaz, -19.4% WPA, Juan Lagares, -11.3% WPA, Pete Alonso, -10.3% WPA
Total pitcher WPA: +34.8% WPA
Total batter WPA: +15.2% WPA
Teh aw3s0mest play: Wilson Ramos’s two-run home run in the sixth, +40.3% WPA
Teh sux0rest play: Brandon Nixon’s two-run home run in sixth, -36.6% WPA