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Mets rally in the eighth for a comeback win in Arizona

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Zack Wheeler had one bad inning, but kept the Mets in the game and Seth Lugo and Robert Gsellman held the lead.

MLB: New York Mets at Arizona Diamondbacks Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

The Mets beat the Diamondbacks 5-4 in comeback fashion in the first of a three-game set in Arizona. Zack Wheeler faced off against Jon Duplantier, who was making his first major league start in place of the injured Luke Weaver for Arizona.

Duplantier found himself in trouble in the second when he surrendered a leadoff walk to Michael Conforto and a single to Wilson Ramos to put runners at the corners with nobody out. Todd Frazier then hit a foul ball that clanked directly off the mask of home plate umpire Jim Wolf, forcing him out of the game. Although Duplantier threw some pitches during the interim to stay warm, the delay resulting from the change of umpires seemed to throw him off his groove. Frazier strode back to the plate with an 0-2 count on him, worked the count back full, and then smacked a single to center to plate the game’s first run. Adeiny Hechavarria followed with a long double that hit high off the wall in center field, narrowly missing a home run, giving the Mets a 3-0 lead.

Duplantier retired the next three batters in a row, two of them on ground balls, to escape further damage. It was the ground ball that would be Duplantier’s saving grace all evening, as the Mets left nine total runners on base, failing to open up a wider lead.

The Diamondbacks scratched a run back in the bottom of the second off Wheeler. Christian Walker led off the inning with a single and then Tim Locastro hit a high chopper to third that he was able to beat out for an infield hit. Nick Ahmed narrowly missed an infield hit of his own, but Todd Frazier made a nice barehanded grab on the slow roller to retire him at first, advancing the runners. Alex Avila then hit a grounder to second that scored Walker to put the Diamondbacks on the board, but Wheeler was able to get Duplantier to strike out to end the inning.

The Mets got their first two men on base in the third, but the rally promptly died thanks to a double play grounder off the bat of Conforto, the Mets’ second double play of the evening. Wheeler had his first 1-2-3 inning in the third and Duplantier responded with his own in the top of the fourth. Wheeler hit a leadoff double in the fifth inning but the Mets were unable to drive him in. Wheeler logged another 1-2-3 inning in the bottom of the frame and appeared to be cruising, but things unraveled rather quickly for him in the sixth. Ketel Marte led off the inning with a solo homer down the right field line. Wheeler then retired Eduardo Escobar via the strikeout, but Adam Jones then blooped a single to right field. Christian Walker then delivered the costly blow—a two-run, go-ahead homer that put the Diamondbacks in front 4-3.

To his credit, Wheeler then bounced back to retire the next five batters in succession. After finally putting the sixth inning to bed, he batted for himself in the bottom of the sixth against Archie Bradley and laid down a sacrifice bunt that put Juan Lagares, who hit a bloop single to lead off the inning, in scoring position, representing the tying run. Rosario then flied out to center, but Dominic Smith worked out a walk to put the go-ahead run on base. Pete Alonso grounded out to third, however, to end yet another Mets threat. With the Mets bullpen taxed and his pitch count still relatively low, Wheeler went back out to the mound for the seventh and finished strong, tossing a 1-2-3 inning with two strikeouts. He struck out nine batters in total on the night and did not walk a single batter.

The Mets’ bats rewarded Wheeler’s perseverance by taking the lead in the eighth, which got him off the hook and ultimately would earn him the win. Matt Andriese got two quick outs and it looked much like a night where the Mets would go down quietly after losing the lead. However, a strange series of events followed that resulted in the Mets reclaiming the edge in the game. Frazier reached out and dunked a 1-2 pitch into shallow left field for a bloop single. Hechavarria followed with a single of his own to put runners at the corners.

J.D. Davis then pinch hit for Juan Lagares and hit a hard comeback chopper to the mound that deflected off of Andriese’s glove and Ketel Marte was unable to redirect himself in time to make the barehanded play. Frazier scampered home with the tying run. Carlos Gomez then pinch hit for Wheeler and hit a hard grounder down the third base line. The Diamondbacks ball guy picked the ball up, thinking it was foul. However, there was no third base umpire present due to home plate umpire Jim Wolf’s exit earlier in the game. The second base umpire had ruled the ball fair from his vantage point 90 feet away and Gomez had to settle for an interference ground rule double. Hechavarria scored to put the Mets ahead 5-4, but the umpires reviewed the play to determine whether J.D. Davis would have scored as well if the ball guy had not interfered with the play. They decided that they could not say for certain that Davis would have scored and made him stay at third base. Andriese was able to get Rosario to fly out to prevent further damage.

But the Mets now had a very skinny lead to protect and given the recent bullpen meltdowns, the optimism with the Mets now in front was cautious at best. In a huge boon for the Mets relief corps, Seth Lugo was activated from the injured list ahead of the game and was immediately tasked with a high leverage situation. He was vintage Seth Lugo. It should have been an entirely stress-free inning, but with one out Eduardo Escobar hit a fly ball to dead center that Carlos Gomez, newly switched into the game after pinch hitting for Lagares, misjudged and allowed to sail over his head for a triple.

However, Lugo got a huge out when he induced a pop out from Adam Jones for the second out. After Lugo fell behind in the count to Christian Walker, Mickey Callaway decided that he did not want to let Walker punish the Mets again and called for the intentional walk. Lugo then induced another pop out from Locastro to work his way out of trouble and preserve the lead.

The Mets had a chance at an insurance run in the ninth when Michael Conforto smacked a two-out double to the gap in right-center off Greg Holland in the ninth, but the Mets were once again unable to cash in, as Wilson Ramos grounded out to end the inning. With Edwin Diaz unavailable for the second straight day after being used heavily during the Mets’ previous two series, Callaway turned to Robert Gsellman, who has also had quite a lot of work in Lugo’s absence, to get the save in the ninth. The bottom of the Diamondbacks order was due up and Gsellman got a quick first out, getting Ahmed to fly out to left. However, he then walked the eight hitter Avila to put the tying run on base. But Gsellman bounced back, retiring the pinch hitter Carson Kelly on a popup and Jarrod Dyson on a fly ball to shallow right field to notch his first save of the season and complete the comeback victory for the Mets.

The Mets kick off the month of June with a marquee matchup of Jacob deGrom facing off against Zack Greinke in the second game of this three-game series in Arizona.

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What’s WPA?

Big winners: Carlos Gomez, +27.2% WPA, J.D. Davis, +23.1% WPA, Robert Gsellman, +20.0% WPA, Adeiny Hechavarria, +16.4% WPA, Seth Lugo, +14.1% WPA
Big losers: Amed Rosario, -20.5% WPA, Zack Wheeler, -20.4% WPA, Pete Alonso, -13.2% WPA
Total pitcher WPA: +13.7% WPA
Total batter WPA: +36.3% WPA
Teh aw3s0mest play: Carlos Gomez’s go-ahead double in the eighth, +27.2% WPA
Teh sux0rest play: Zack Wheeler gives up a two-run homer to Christian Walker in the sixth, -32.5% WPA