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Todd willing, Zack Wheeler and the Mets take the rubber match from the Giants

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A trio of homers and seven strong innings from Wheeler led the Mets to victory.

MLB: San Francisco Giants at New York Mets Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

Even though the Mets had brought two runs across the plate with their first two batters of the afternoon, their 7-3 victory over the Giants ended up being a tense battle. When it was all said and done, these two light-hitting teams had tallied five home runs between them.

After an impressive first inning in which Zack Wheeler struck out a pair on his way to a perfect half, the Mets came to the plate trying to string together a few hits and secure themselves a series win. Exceeding expectations, Amed Rosario sent the fourth pitch thrown by Shaun Anderson just over the glove of Steven Duggar and over the fence in center to give the Mets a quick 1-0 lead. As the crowd began to die down from the excitement of the lead off home run, Dominic Smith joined the party by sending the fourth pitch that he saw into the seats by the Shea Bridge to put the Mets up 2-0 with no outs recorded.

After a Pete Alonso walk and a Michael Conforto single, the Mets looked poised to tack a few more runs on the board and put the Giants away before they got a chance to bat again. This ultimately was not to be as Todd Frazier lined out and Adeiny Hechavarria grounded into a double play to end the rally as quickly as it had begun.

While no hits of substance occurred in either of the next two innings, one out made by the Giants was particularly exciting for the Mets faithful. With a short no-hitter being worked on by Zack Wheeler, Steven Duggar sent a fly ball towards the 370 mark on the wall in left center and Juan Lagares traversed, leaped, and caught the ball, almost throwing himself through the padded doors of the wall in the process. While a no-hitter never came to be, Lagares’ catch did have that special feel to it.

After those two quick innings for Wheeler and Anderson, the two teams put their bats to work again as they hit in the fourth inning. Michael Yastrzemski led off with a single for the Giants before being replaced by Pablo Sandoval on a fielder’s choice. Seven pitches deep into a battle with Brandon Belt, the lefty got the upper hand over Wheeler and bonked a ball off of the green M&M in left field to tie the game at two runs apiece. Following a walk and a fly ball, the Mets came up with hopes of untying the score. They got off to a pretty good start as Hechavarria and Lagares smacked a pair of singles with one out, but Tomas Nido quickly grounded into a double play to immediately end that threat.

After yet another quiet inning for the dueling righties, the Giants ended up scoring their third and final run of the afternoon. In the midst of his renaissance (pandassance?) Pablo Sandoval worked a full count against Wheeler and send the eighth pitch he saw deep into the empty seats of the Coke Corner to give the Giants a 3-2 advantage in the sixth.

Sandoval’s home run was the last run and the last hit given up by Wheeler in his seven strong innings. Overall, through seven innings of work, Wheeler only allowed three runs on three hits with one walk and six strikeouts on the ledger. Across the field, Shaun Anderson recovered from a shaky first inning to get through six innings while only allowing three runs on six hits.

They didn’t respond in the sixth, but in the seventh, the Mets used a dizzying amount of pinch hitters to keep the line moving and even things up. After allowing a walk to start the inning, Bruce Bochy, in his last game at Citi Field, pulled Shaun Anderson and brought in Reyes Moronta to try and hold the delicate lead. Tomas Nido welcomed Moronta to the game by singling and bringing up the pitcher’s spot with none out. In a bizarre move to say the least, Mickey Callaway sent Carlos Gomez to the dish in Wheeler’s place to put down a sacrifice bunt. While the plan might’ve been odd, the execution was solid as Gomez dinked a high bunt to Sandoval at third and moved the pair of runners into scoring position.

With his second move of the inning, Callaway pulled Amed Rosario into the dugout and sent Jeff McNeil up with hopes of the knobless swinger tying things up. Unsurprisingly, McNeil blooped a single to the opposite field and Lagares came around to score and start a whole new ballgame at 3-3. With Tony Watson coming into the game, Callaway made his third substitution of the inning and brought J.D. Davis in to hit for Dominic Smith. This tactic did not work as well as the previous two as Davis almost immediately grounded into an inning-ending double play.

In the eighth inning, the Mets went right back to work against the Giants’ bullpen as Pete Alonso welcomed Mark Melancon into the game with a single to left before getting thrown out at second on Michael Conforto’s liner to first base. After stealing second on a mildly scary play, Conforto jogged home as Todd Frazier looped a home run into left field on a one-handed swing from his front foot to give the Mets a 5-3 advantage. The rally didn’t stop there as Adeiny Hechavarria followed Frazier’s home run with a single before coming home on Juan Lagares’ double to left. In the catcher portion of the inning, Nido grounded out and Wilson Ramos made his way to first on a four-pitch walk to bring the top of the lineup back to the dish. Jeff McNeil did his thing as he laced another run-scoring single, this time to right field, to expand the lead beyond save territory with the Mets’ fourth run of the inning and seventh overall.

After Pete Alonso wasn’t able to get anything done with the bases loaded to end the eighth, Jeurys Familia came into the game after the Mets slugged Edwin Diaz out of a save opportunity. To the delight of many, the good version of Familia made an appearance, striking out two of the three hitters than he faced en route to a perfect ninth inning to close the Mets’ 7-3 victory.

The Mets say goodbye to the Giants before welcoming the Colorado Rockies to Citi Field for a three-game series starting tonight, as Jacob deGrom faces off against Antonio Senzatela.

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What’s WPA?

Big winners: Todd Frazier +20.8% WPA, Jeff McNeil +18.7% WPA, Juan Lagares +14.1% WPA
Big losers: J.D. Davis -20.9% WPA
Total pitcher WPA: +2.0% WPA
Total batter WPA: +48% WPA
Teh aw3s0mest play: Todd Frazier’s go-ahead homer, +29.7% WPA
Teh sux0rest play: Brandon Belt’s fourth inning game-tying homer, -22.5% WPA