The Mets lost to the Pirates 8-4, ending their seven-game winning streak in Pittsburgh. The Mets’ pitching staff, which had been on fire of late, had their first poor performance in quite a few days. Despite scoring four runs, the Mets also left a lot of men on base, failing to fully capitalize on opportunities to score. And while Steven Matz was strong early, only to have things get away from him later in the game, Trevor Williams was shaky in the early going, but ultimately settled in for the Pirates.
The Mets struck right away in the first inning, staking Matz to an early lead. Jeff McNeil laced a double on the very first pitch he saw from Trevor Williams, as he is wont to do. Michael Conforto then hit the ball hard, but right at the first baseman for the first out. Pete Alonso then put the Mets on the board with a double. Robinson Cano followed with a single, sending Alonso to third. The Mets caught a lucky break on a Wilson Ramos grounder when, after Alonso already broke for the plate, third baseman Jose Osuna not only did not throw home where Alonso likely would have been out, he also did not try to turn a double play, opting to get the safe out at first base. As a result, the Mets found themselves two runs to the good. However, a Todd Frazier pop out to end the inning stranded Cano at third base.
Amed Rosario began the second inning with an infield hit and was sacrificed to second by Steven Matz. However, Rosario was nabbed trying to steal third, killing a potential rally. The Mets scratched out another run in the third, but really could have had more. Alonso and Cano were once again in the middle of the action—they led off the inning with a walk and a base hit, respectively. Wilson Ramos then hit a dribbler right in front of the plate and catcher Elias Diaz, who had a good defensive game behind the plate, had the presence of mind to pounce on it and nab the lead runner Pete Alonso at third base for the first out. J.D. Davis then came through with an RBI double to stretch the Mets’ lead to 3-0. But on the next play, Wilson Ramos was thrown out at the plate for the second out. Rosario then grounded out and Williams was able to limit the damage to just one run.
Meanwhile, Steven Matz cruised heading into the fourth. He allowed just one hit through the first three innings. But the fourth inning unraveled quickly for Matz. He issued a free pass to Bryan Reynolds to lead off the inning and then Starling Marte singled to put two men on. Josh Bell and Jose Osuna followed with back-to-back singles and the Pirates found themselves within a run. Melky Cabrera then delivered the key hit of the inning—a booming double that put the Pirates ahead 4-3. Adam Frazier then grounded out—the only out Matz recorded in the inning—sending Cabrera to third. Elias Diaz then singled to plate the Pirates’ fifth run in the inning. After Trevor Williams sacrificed Diaz to second base, Mickey Callaway came out to the mound to give Matz the early hook after just 65 pitches.
Robert Gsellman entered the game in relief of Matz and did well to put out the fire and keep the Mets in the game. He walked the first batter he faced in Kevin Newman, but then got Bryan Reynolds to fly out to finally end the inning. Gsellman gave the Mets another two stellar innings of relief after that. He faced the minimum over the next two innings, erasing the Pirates’ one baserunner in the fifth on a double play. Trevor Williams did the same, retiring the Mets in order in both the fifth and sixth innings. Despite his early struggles, Williams was able to give the Pirates a quality start.
But there was still plenty of game left to play and the Mets pulled within a run against the Pirates bullpen in the seventh. Francisco Lirano started the seventh inning and retired the first two batters, but then Conforto shot a single the other way against the shift. This chased the lefty Lirano from the game, and Pirates acting manager Tom Prince (David Bell is currently serving a six-game suspension for Thursday afternoon’s fireworks between the Pirates and Reds) opted to go with the right hander Richard Rodriguez to face Alonso. Alonso singled—the third time he reached base in as many plate appearances—sending Conforto to third base. Despite his struggles against lefties, Prince left Rodriguez in to face Cano. It almost worked. Cano hit a soft floating liner toward shallow center field that the shortstop Newman was able to get to, but he let up on his stride at the very last moment, misjudging the ball and letting it just skim over the top of his glove. Conforto scored from third on the error to cut the Pirates’ lead to 5-4. However, once again, the Mets “left money on the table,” as Gary Cohen so adeptly put it. On a 3-0 pitch, Wilson Ramos grounded one into the hole that a lot of hitters would have likely beat out for a hit, which would have tied the game. But because of his slow foot speed, he was thrown out at first to end the threat.
With the back end of their bullpen heavily worked over this winning streak, Mickey Callaway turned to Tyler Bashlor to hold the Pirates where they were. He was not successful. With one out, Bashlor allowed two straight singles and then a decisive three-run homer off the bat of Starling Marte to give the Pirates an 8-4 cushion. Bashlor got out of the inning without allowing any more runs, but the damage had been done.
The Mets did not have much of a comeback rally in them. Amed Rosario—still swinging an incredibly hot bat—managed a two-out single off Kyle Crick in the eighth, but Crick got the pinch hitter Aaron Altherr to strike out swinging to end the inning. Jeurys Familia had a very Familia-like eighth inning. He sandwiched a walk between two fly outs and then allowed a single, threw a wild pitch to advance the runners, and walked another batter to load the bases. However, he struck out Starling Marte to escape the inning unscathed.
Much like the Mets, the Pirates opted to hold onto their best trading chip at the deadline. In their case, it was closer Felipe Vazquez, who retired the Mets 1-2-3 in the ninth inning. Adam Frazier made a nice running grab on a ball off the bat of McNeil that seemed destined to be a bloop hit to lead off the inning in a very similar play that Newman did not make earlier in the game on Cano’s bloop. After that, Vazquez got Conforto to fly out and struck out Alonso to seal the victory for the Pirates and bring the Mets’ winning streak to an end.
“Let’s start another streak,” manager Mickey Callaway said after the game. The Mets will try to do just that tonight in Marcus Stroman’s first start as a Met. He will face off against Chris Archer, against whom the Mets put up a six spot in the first inning last time they faced him.
SB Nation GameThreads
Win Probability Added
Big winners: Robinson Cano, +19.5% WPA, Pete Alonso, +13.8%
Big losers: Steven Matz, -44.8% WPA, Tyler Bashlor, -17.1%, Wilson Ramos, -12.3% WPA
Total pitcher WPA: -53.9% WPA
Total batter WPA: +3.9% WPA
Teh aw3s0mest play: Robinson Cano hits a bloop that is misplayed by Kevin Newman and drops to get the Mets within a run, +12.4% WPA
Teh sux0rest play: Melky Cabrera’s run-scoring double off Steven Matz in the fourth inning, -20.9% WPA