Despite a frustratingly inconsistent strike zone that flared up throughout the game, the New York Mets persevered and knocked off the Colorado Rockies on Saturday night to even up their series at a win apiece.
Mike Winters made a lot of enemies last night with some head-scratching calls behind the plate. From Amed Rosario to Todd Frazier to Dominic Smith, many Mets hitters had a bone to pick with the home plate ump. Finally, Mickey Callaway took the frustrations of his team out on Winters, who promptly ran him from the game in the bottom of the fifth. From that point on, the Mets were able to take the lead and never looked back.
Steven Matz got the call in the middle game of this series and battled through a high pitch count to give his team six solid innings to earn his fifth victory of the season, which matches Zack Wheeler for the team lead. Matz struck out five batters through two innings as he mostly relied on his curveball to put opposing hitters away.
After the Mets failed to score in the first, they broke through in the bottom of the second. Frazier was hit by a Jon Gray curveball to start the inning off. After Rosario struck out swinging, Carlos Gomez connected on a two-run home run to right-center field that carried over the wall and just past the outstretched arm of Ian Desmond. With the long ball, the Mets tied a franchise record with 15 consecutive home games with a home run, which they’ve accomplished in 1996 and in 2006 at Shea Stadium.
The Rockies stormed back in the third to tie the game at two. Tony Wolters walked to lead off the inning, and Gray bunted him over to second. Charlie Blackmon, who entered the game with eight hits in 12 career at-bats against Matz, lined an opposite-field single to drive Wolters home with Colorado’s first run. Trevor Story followed with a single but was erased at second on a David Dahl fielder’s choice. With runners at the corners and one out, Nolan Arenado beat the shift with a single to the right side of the infield, which brought home the tying run. Matz was able to induce a double play to end the frame.
The Mets jumped ahead again in the third. After a Smith double play erased a leadoff walk to Pete Alonso, Michael Conforto walked and Wilson Ramos singled to put runners at first and third with two outs. Frazier followed with a single to score Conforto. Rosario was called out on strikes with a pitch that was well outside of the strike zone, which was part of the inconsistent zone that eventually led to Callaway’s ejection.
Colorado immediately answered by pushing a run across in the fourth. Brendan Rogers got things started with a one-out single. Wolters followed with a single to right that should’ve resulted in runners on the corners. Conforto threw to third to try and catch Rogers, who had already slid in safe. From there, Frazier threw to second to cut down Wolters, but the throw went off Jeff McNeil’s glove and dribbled into shallow center field. Rosario recovered the errant throw, but Rogers had already crossed the plate with the tying run. An error was charged to Frazier, giving the Mets a league-leading 46 on the season.
Matz bounced back with a scoreless fifth but sat at 101 pitches after striking out Arenado and Daniel Murphy. Despite the high pitch count, he was left in for the sixth and gave up a leadoff single to Desmond. After striking out Rogers and hitting Wolters on the elbow, he faced his counterpart Gray, who failed to move the runners over with a sacrifice bunt. With the difficult Blackmon at the plate and two outs, Matz buckled down and struck him out swinging on his 120th pitch of the afternoon and, in the process, matched a career high in pitches thrown in a start. It was also the second time in his career that Matz struck out ten or more batters in a game.
The Mets’ offense was able to string a run together in the bottom of the frame to get the lefty a victory. Ramos led off with a double on a ball that got past Blackmon in right field. Frazier picked up a single to put runners on the corners with nobody out. With Colorado playing their middle infielders at double play depth, Rosario hit into a double play that allowed Ramos to cross the plate for the game-winning run.
Seth Lugo relieved Matz to begin the seventh and was at his best while facing the most dangerous part of the Rockies’ lineup. Like Matz, Lugo used his curveball as an effective put-away pitch, striking out Story and Dahl to begin the inning. He followed by getting Arenado to ground out to finish the frame. He remained on in the eighth and pitched a 1-2-3 inning to complete his evening.
The Mets added an insurance run in the bottom of seventh with an unusual home run. Alonso led off the inning by hitting a towering fly ball to left that appeared to hit off the top of the left field wall. Dahl retrieved the ball and appeared to gun down Alonso at third base, but the umpires ruled that the ball had hit off the facing of the M&M sign. A noticeable dent all but confirmed that the ball was a home run, and the video replayed officially resulted in a home run call. It was Alonso’s 21st home run, which set a new rookie record for most home runs by a Met rookie before the All Star break while putting him just two home runs behind Christian Yelich for the league lead. Alonso now sits just five home runs behind Darryl Strawberry, who set the club’s rookie mark with 26 in 1983.
The Mets turned to Edwin Diaz in the ninth, who worked around a leadoff single to close out the game and pick up his 14th save of the season. The Mets will look to win the rubber game tomorrow afternoon as they send Noah Syndergaard to the mound to face off against Jeff Hoffman. Sundays have not been kind to the Mets, as they’ve won just two out of eight Sunday contests in 2019. The Mets will also look to improve on their 2-6 record in rubber games.
SB Nation GameThreads
Win Probability Added
Big winners: Todd Frazier, 28.4% WPA, Carlos Gomez, 16.1% WPA, Seth Lugo, 15.3% WPA
Big losers: Dominic Smith, 14.3% WPA, Amed Rosario, 11.8% WPA
Total pitcher WPA: 16.8% WPA
Total batter WPA: 33.2% WPA
Teh aw3s0mest play: Carlos Gomez second inning two-run home run, 18.3% WPA
Teh sux0rest play: Tony Wolters fourth inning single and Todd Frazier error, -16.2% WPA