The New York Mets have stormed back into the National League playoff picture with a completely unforseen 24-10 run. During that stretch, the club has won 11 of their 13 games at Citi Field, with the hometown crowd bringing a noticeable spike in energy that the team has acknowledged as a significant catalyst for their recent success. That trend continued on Tuesday night, as the Mets opened up a pivotal nine-game homestand with victory against the Cleveland Indians behind another solid performance from Steven Matz and some timely contributions from the team’s young hitters before a raucous New York crowd on a Tuesday night.
Matz turned in his third-straight quality start against a tough Cleveland lineup to improve his record on the season to 8-7. As has been the case with each of his last six starts prior to tonight, Matz kept his opponent off the board in the first inning. After following up by retiring the first two batters he faced in the second, Matz served up a fastball to former future Met Jason Kipnis, who deposited the offering into the Coca Cola Corner.
The deficit was short-lived, as the offense got the run back in the bottom half of the frame. Wilson Ramos picked up a one-out single to extend his hitting streak to 14—the longest by any Met since David Wright hit in 15 straight during the 2012 season. The next batter was J.D. Davis, and Just Dingers drove 0-1 pitch over the center field wall—just to the right of the home run apple—to put his team ahead by one.
Staked to the lead, Matz worked around a one-out double from Francisco Lindor and tossed a scoreless third before getting into trouble in the fourth. The inning began with Yasiel Puig reaching first on a fielding error by Todd Frazier. Matz then gave up back-to-back singles up the middle to Jose Ramirez and Jason Kipnis, with the latter tying the game back up at two. Instead of folding like he has done in the past, Matz persevered and retired the next three batters to limit the damage to just the one run. The left-hander’s performance in the fourth proved to be one of the key moments in the victory, as it kept his team in the game and allowed the offense to pour it on from that point on. Matz went on to pitch 1-2-3 fifth and sixth innings and ended up retiring ten in batters in a row.
Meanwhile, the offense benefited from some shoddy defense in the sixth as they took the lead for good. With one out, outfielder Oscar Mercado dropped a routine pop up in shallow left field that allowed Joe Panik to reach second base. After Pete Alonso struck out, Michael Conforto strode to the plate and connected on a 1-2 slider, blasting the go-ahead, two-run home run deep into the bullpen to give the Mets a two-run lead. Ramos followed by reaching on a Lindor error, but he remained stranded at first.
The Mets faced another watershed moment in the seventh. Matz, having retired ten straight, allowed an infield single to Greg Allen before issuing a walk to Franmil Reyes. which ended the lefty’s night. Matz was charged with just two runs (one earned) over 6.1 innings. Matz has not allowed more than three earned runs in any of his last 20 home starts, which is the fourth-longest such streak in franchise history. With Matz out, Mickey Callaway turned to left-hander Justin Wilson to navigate the threat. Wilson tossed three straight cutters to Lindor, getting him to foul off the first one before striking him out on two swings on pitches out of the zone. Wilson then struck out Mercado on a 1-2 cutter to complete his work.
The Mets put the game away in the seventh as they pulverized a pair of Cleveland relievers. The first victim was Adam Cimber, who was tasked with keeping his team within two runs. Frazier greeted him rudely by lining a single down the right field line, and Juan Lagares followed with a walk. After a failed bunt attempt by Rajai Davis, Amed Rosario picked his team up with a run-scoring single into center field.
At that point, Terry Francona had seen enough of Cimber and turned to Hunter Wood. With a new pitcher, the result was the same, as Joe Panik contributed his own run-scoring single to make it a four run lead for New York. Alonso broke the game wide open with a two-run double to make it 8-2. The Mets had one more run in them, as Rajai Davis knocked in the team’s ninth run with an eighth inning double. A combination of Luis Avilan and Paul Sewald closed the game out with scoreless eight and ninth innings, respectively. In his first appearance since May 17, Sewald struck out the side while side-stepping a one-out double. With the win, the Mets now have 13 interleague victories in 2019, which matches the 2010 squad for the most they’ve wins during Interleague Play in a single season. They will have two opportunities to eclipse that total over the next two nights.
The victory helped the Mets improve to 12-2 at home since the All-Star break, and 35-21 on the year. With 25 of their final 37 games taking place at Citi Field, the Mets have a significant leg up on their competition as the club looks to gain ground and do what was thought to be unthinkable just one month ago. The Mets will try to make it two in a row as they turn to Marcus Stroman in the middle game of the series. Cleveland will counter with right-hander Adam Plutko.
SB Nation GameThreads
Win Probability Added
Big winners: Michael Conforto, 24.3% WPA, J.D. Davis, 19.7% WPA, Justin Wilson, 13.0% WPA
Big losers: None!
Total pitcher WPA: 13.5% WPA
Total batter WPA: 36.5% WPA
Teh aw3s0mest play: Michael Conforto two-run home run in the fourth, 29.4% WPA
Teh sux0rest play: Jason Kipnis run-scoring single in the fourth, -12.8% WPA.