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Davis, Conforto come through in the eighth as Mets top Yankees

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The Mets used another big eighth inning to overcome an early deficit and come away with a win.

MLB: New York Yankees at New York Mets Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The Subway Series can often be a tedious affair, especially when the New York Mets are performing poorly while the New York Yankees are back to dominating baseball. However, when the Mets are able to pull off victories in these instances, it makes the series a little less tedious. That’s exactly what happened on Tuesday night at Citi Field, as the Mets used another solid offensive showing in the eighth inning to defeat their Bronx counterparts.

Zack Wheeler fared much better against the Yankees this time around after getting knocked around for nine runs (five earned) on 10 hits over 4.2 innings in his June start at Yankee Stadium. He worked around a one-out walk to Aaron Judge in the first to pitch a scoreless, but ran into trouble in the second as the Yankees jumped ahead by two runs. The inning began with three straight hits from Didi Gregorius, Edwin Encarnacion, and Gleyber Torres to score the first run of the game and place runners at the corners.

After retiring Brett Gardner on a sharp grounder to the left side of the infield, Wheeler faced opposing pitcher James Paxton with a chance to get out of the inning with just the one run against him. Paxton had other plans, as he dropped down a perfect bunt right down the third base line that Wilson Ramos retrieved and tossed to first to retire Paxton. In doing so, Ramos neglected to check on Encarnacion, who broke for home as soon as Ramos released the ball, and he arrived without a throw for the second run. Wheeler recovered to end the inning with just the two runs against him.

Wheeler, who at this point in the season is mostly auditioning for other clubs as the Mets will look to unload the soon-to-be-free-agent him prior to the July 31 deadline, settled into a groove the rest of the way and never faced another serious threat from the Yankees’ potent lineup that just scored 29 runs in two games in London. After surrendering three straight hits to begin the second, Wheeler retired the next nine batters he faced, including four strikeouts. His streak ended in the fifth, when Brett Gardner led off with line drive single to center. After Paxton laid down another perfect bunt to get Gardner into scoring position, Wheeler retired DJ LeMahieu before striking out Judge to end the frame.

Wheeler again served up a leadoff hit in the sixth, this time in the form of a scorching double off the bat of Aaron Hicks that careened off the center field wall for a double. Wheeler recovered to strand him at second and complete the inning with 109 pitches. With the right-handed Torres leading off the seventh, Mickey Callaway stuck with his right-hander despite the high pitch count. On the seventh pitch of the at-bat, Wheeler tossed a 3-2 slider to strike out Torres swinging on his final pitch of the evening. Wheeler ended with 116 pitches, which is two shy of his season high and four shy of his career high. Callaway substituted the recently-reactivated Justin Wilson into the game, who needed just nine pitches to retire Gardner and Gio Urshela in his first appearance since May 6.

While Wheeler was putting forth another quality start, the offense was mostly in repose against the same Paxton whom they treated quite rudely at Yankee Stadium on June 11. Though the first five innings, the Mets mustered six singles but failed to put a run on the board against the Yankees’ left-hander. Michael Conforto was a main culprit early on, as he grounded into an inning-ending double play in the second after Todd Frazier and Robinson Cano began the frame with back-to-back singles. The team’s next-best chance came in the fifth, when Amed Rosario and Jeff McNeil each picked up their second hits of the contest to put runners on first and second before Pete Alonso struck out.

The Mets finally broke through in the sixth on an opposite-field JD Davis solo home run to cut the team’s deficit in half. The club had a chance for more after Cano singled and Wilson Ramos walked, but Conforto hit into his second double play of the evening to fall into a 1-for-24 rut.

After failing to score in the seventh, the real fun started in the eighth, much like in Sunday’s win against the Atlanta Braves. After the Yankees exhibited stellar defense earlier in the game, the inning kicked off with an error by LeMahieu which allowed Alonso to reach first safely. Davis followed with a thunderous double that got past Hicks in center field and rolled to the wall, allowing Alonso to cross the plate with the tying run. After Frazier struck out, Adam Ottavino issued an intentional pass to Cano before serving up a single to Ramos to load the bases.

Sensing danger, Aaron Boone called on Zach Britton to extinguish the flames, but he ended up fanning them instead. Up came Conforto, who up until this point in the game had accounted for five outs in just three at-bats. With a change to redeem himself against a tough left-hander, Conforto drove a double past Gardner to score the two go-ahead runs. The Mets were unable to add any breathing room after Rosario and Adeiny Hechavarria grounded out, but the damage was already done.

Edwin Diaz entered in the ninth, looking for his 18th save of the year and his second straight after a string of rough outings. The pesky Gregorius got things started with a single, but Diaz employed his filthy slider to strike out Encarnacion. Diaz then got Torres to fly out to left for the second out before striking out Gardner to end the game and secure the victory. In the win, the Mets ended the Yankees’ MLB record 31-game home run streak while continuing their own Citi Field homer streak with the Davis sixth inning dinger.

Despite the win, the team still finds itself eight games below .500 and 11 games out of the National League East race, although the second Wild Card spot is still within their grasp if they can truly start to rely on their bullpen with the return of Wilson, Luis Avilan, and Jeurys Familia. While that remains to be seen, the back-to-back wins are a nice change of pace after the team blew a number of very winnable games late last month. The Mets will call on Jason Vargas in tomorrow’s series finale as they look to sweep their cross-town rivals and win the season series.

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What’s WPA?

Big winners: J.D. Davis, 44.2% WPA, Robinson Cano, 11.2% WPA, Wilson Ramos, 10.2% WPA
Big losers: Todd Frazier, -11.2% WPA,
Total pitcher WPA: 13.5% WPA
Total batter WPA: 36.5% WPA
Teh aw3s0mest play: J.D. Davis eighth inning run-scoring double, 36.5% WPA
Teh sux0rest play: Gleyber Torres second-inning single, -13.8% WPA