Tonight’s game between the New York Mets and the San Diego Padres was billed as the highly-anticipated rematch between rookies Pete Alonso and Chris Paddack. By the end of the night, it was Robinson Cano, the 15-year major league veteran, who stole the show and helped lead the Mets to a victory to open up their six-game home stand.
On the mound, Paddack faced off with 36-year old Jason Vargas, with the veteran besting San Diego’s impressive rookie pitcher. After Paddack flirted with a no-hitter in his last start before falling six outs short, he allowed a single to Cano with two outs in the first to put a quick kibosh on any dreams of a repeat performance.
Meanwhile, Vargas flirted with a no-hitter himself, holding the Padres hitless through the first four innings. The left-hander was efficient with his pitches despite allowing four walks on the evening. He struck out four of the first eight batters he faced and sat at 58 pitches with six strikeouts through four innings. In the end, he needed 99 pitches to navigate his six innings of work.
Paddack, meanwhile, matched zeroes with his pitching counterpoint through the first three innings but finally blinked in the fourth. Cano strode to the plate to lead off the fourth and deposited a 2-0 Paddack offering into the Coca Cola Corner to get his team on the board. It was Cano’s first home run at home since hitting one against the Washington Nationals on April 6.
Alonso had three chances against Paddack in the game and picked up a walk in the first and in the sixth while grounding out weakly to third base to end the third. In the end, the drama was much ado about nothing, and chances are that the feud has just about run out of steam as both players continue to go about their business and put together solid rookie campaigns.
Vargas came back out for the fifth with the lead and quickly got himself into a jam. He issued a four-pitch walk to Franmil Reyes to lead off the inning, and surrendered his first hit to Eric Hosmer through the hole on the right side of the infield. With the chance at an unlikely no-hitter behind him, Vargas buckled down and got to work, doing his best Houdini imitation to escape the threat. The veteran pitcher got Francisco Mejia to fly out to center before inducing a force out from Luis Urias. He completed his escape act by getting Paddack to line out to center. He returned for one final inning and worked around a one-out walk to Manuel Margot while striking out two batters.
With the team clinging to a slim one-run, the team got to Paddack again in the bottom of the sixth to get Vargas some breathing room. Alonso led off with a walk before Cano ripped a 1-2 pitch into the team’s bullpen in right field for a two-run home run. It was Cano’s second of the night and his fourth since the All Star break after hitting just four in the first half.
Cano added the exclamation mark on his historic effort in the seventh inning to give his team a five-run lead. The Padres turned to reliever Logan Allen to relieve Michel Baez after Baez took over for Paddack in the sixth. Allen gave up a hit to Jeff McNeil to lead off the frame, but McNeil was gunned down trying to stretch his single into a double. Despite the baserunning blunder, it was McNeil’s second hit of the night and his 38th multi-hit game of the year, which puts him four behind National League leader Ketel Marte of the Pittsburgh Pirates. After Michael Conforto grounded out, Alonso drew his third walk of the evening, which set up Cano to do some additional damage.
Cano drilled a no-doubt-about-it home run on the first pitch he saw, which sat right over the heart of the plate. The ball landed deep into the second deck in right field for the second baseman’s third home run of the evening. In hitting three home runs, Cano became the oldest second baseman to hit three homers in a game, surpassing former Met Damion Easley’s previous mark. Coincidentally, Easley happened to be in the park while serving as a coach for the Padres.
Things got a bit dicey once the bullpen entered, which has been a common theme all season. Tyler Bashlor was the first to get a shot after Vargas entered and breezed through the first two batters he faced. However, he followed that up by allowing a single to Mejia and walking Urias. Mickey Callaway decided to play it safe and went to Gsellman, who got Wil Myers to pop up to end the inning.
Gsellman stuck around for the eighth but got into trouble again. After back-to-back singles put runners on the corners, the right-hander got Manny Machado to pop up to Wilson Ramos for the first out. Hunter Renfroe followed with a sacrifice fly to give San Diego their first run of the night before Reyes struck out to finish off the eighth.
Instead of going to Edwin Diaz in a four-run game, Callaway opted to go with Justin Wilson to begin the ninth. From the first pitch, it appeared that Wilson was off as he issued a four-pitch walk to Hosmer. Wilson followed that up with a walk to Mejia, which finally coaxed Callaway to call on Diaz. The closer retired the next two batters before serving up a double to 20-year-old Fernando Tatis Jr. to help the Padres creep closer. With the tying run at the plate, that was as close as San Diego would get. Diaz got Margot to line out to left field to end the the game and notch his 22nd save of the season.
The win improved the Mets to 24-19 at Citi Field this season and helped take some of the bitter taste from their terrible weekend in San Francisco out of their mouth. The team will look to make it two straight against the Padres on Wednesday night as they turn to Noah Syndergaard in the middle game of the series. The Padres will counter with Dinelson Lamet as they attempt to even up the series.
SB Nation GameThreads
Win Probability Added
Big winners: Robinson Cano, 34.3% WPA, Jason Vargas, 34.0% WPA
Big losers: None!
Total pitcher WPA: 35.7% WPA
Total batter WPA: 10.7% WPA
Teh aw3s0mest play: Robinson Cano two-run home run in the fourth, 14.3% WPA
Teh sux0rest play: Eric Hosmer single in the fifth, -8.6% WPA