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Gimenez plays spark plug, deGrom battles in Mets rubber game victory over the Marlins

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Andres Gimenez went 3-for-4 with a stolen base and the bullpen delivered four scoreless innings to back Jacob deGrom and secure the series victory for the Mets.

Miami Marlins v New York Mets Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images

The Mets defeated the Marlins 4-2 to give Jacob deGrom his second win of the year and take the series from Miami. deGrom’s second win wasn’t as easily secured for the Mets’ ace as his first, however. After looking like his usual dominant self in the first inning, he uncharacteristically issued two straight four-pitch walks to lead off the second inning. While he wasn’t exactly helped by the home plate umpire, who called a very poor game behind the plate, he was also missing his spots in a way we almost never see from him and leaning heavily on his breaking pitches while avoiding the fastball.

But as he has so often before when he has struggled, he battled and kept the Mets in the game. With two men on and nobody out, he ran the count full to Marlins catcher Ryan Lavarnway, who flied out to left for the first out. deGrom fell behind again to Eddy Alvarez, who was a thorn in the Mets’ side throughout the afternoon. He finally unleashed a 99mph fastball right down the heart of the plate that Alvarez could not catch up to, running the count full. But on the 3-2 pitch, Alvarez hit a sharp liner to third that J.D. Davis made a fantastic diving play on to keep the ball in front of him. The play saved a run, but Davis had no play at first and the bases were loaded with one out. deGrom escaped the jam by striking out Monte Harrison and inducing a groundout off the bat of Jonathan Villar to end the inning. Both Harrison and Villar had frustrating days with the bat that ended with a pair of golden sombreros.

With deGrom having performed wizardry to keep the game scoreless, it was time for the Mets’ bats to get to work. They were retired quickly by Pedro Lopez in the bottom of the second, but deGrom was equal to the task, settling in and working a quick third inning. The Mets finally broke through in the fourth. Andres Gimenez got things started—as he went on to do all afternoon—with a single and a stolen base to lead off the inning. Lopez then issued two straight walks to Tomas Nido and Brandon Nimmo to load the bases with nobody out. This time it was the Marlins who worked some defensive magic to save a run, as Alvarez made an incredible diving play on a screaming liner off the bat of Jeff McNeil. Gimenez scored on the play, but Alvarez was able to get the out at second base. But, the baseball gods giveth and the baseball gods taketh away; after Pete Alonso—who continues to struggle at the plate—struck out swinging for the second out, Michael Conforto hit a flare to left field that clanked off of Corey Dickerson’s glove as he dove to score another run and make it 2-0 Mets. J.D. Davis then walked for the second time on the afternoon on a questionable 3-2 call, but Lopez was able to limit the damage by inducing a slow dribbler off the bat of Dominic Smith to end the inning.

The Mets added a run in the fourth, thanks to a leadoff double by Gimenez and an RBI single from Nimmo, lengthening their lead to 3-0. His pitch count having climbed to almost 50 after his rocky second inning, deGrom entered the fifth inning knowing it would probably be his last. He began the frame by striking out Villar for his fifth strikeout on the afternoon, but then gave up a single to Jon Berti, who promptly stole second base. deGrom then got Dickerson to ground out for the second out. But one out away from finishing his afternoon, deGrom left a pitch over the plate to Jesus Aguilar and he did not miss it, sending it into the seats for a two-run homer to bring the Marlins within a run. After then giving up a single to Brian Anderson, deGrom was able to strike out Matt Joyce to end the inning and keep the Mets in front.

The Mets squandered an opportunity to add insurance in the fifth. Conforto and Davis hit back-to-back one-out singles, but then Smith was retired on another slow dribbler and Amed Rosario—whose at-bats have been less than stellar lately—struck out swinging at pitches outside the strike zone to bail out Lopez to finish off his afternoon. But they did manage to add an insurance run the following inning. Gimenez found a third unique way to reach base to lead off the frame by dragging a perfect bunt to the first base side off Stephen Tarpley and beating out Aguilar to the bag. Tomas Nido followed with a single, on which Gimenez went first to third, and Brandon Nimmo was hit by a pitch to load the bases with nobody out. McNeil hit a sacrifice fly to center to make the score 4-2. Then the Marlins turned to the righty Mike Morin to face Pete Alonso, which turned out to be a good choice on their part, as Alonso promptly grounded into a double play to end the threat.

But one insurance run proved to be enough for the Mets’ bullpen, which continued its string of brilliance this afternoon. Jared Hughes tossed a scoreless sixth, working around an error by Alonso and a passed ball by Nido with back-to-back strikeouts of Harrison and Villar. Dellin Betances worked around a leadoff walk to Berti in the seventh by inducing a double play grounder from Aguilar. Edwin Diaz—deposed from the closer’s role for now—bent but did not break. He struck out the first two batters he faced, looking quite nasty while doing so, but then surrendered back-to-back hits to Alvarez and Lavarnway to put runners on the corners with two out. But he was able to notch his third strikeout of the frame in Harrison to end the inning and maintain the Mets’ two-run lead.

The Mets went down 1-2-3 against Brian Moran in the bottom of the eighth and Seth Lugo then entered the game to pitch for the second straight day, which is against the usual protocol for the righty. However, he did not throw many pitches last night and having used their other high leverage relievers, the Mets were not left with much of a choice. Lugo made relatively quick work of the Marlins, however. He led off the inning with a strikeout of Villar, but then yielded a walk to Berti on yet another egregious call from the home plate umpire. But Lugo came up big, getting Dickerson to ground into a double play to end the game and give the Mets a 2-1 series victory over the Fish—their first series win of the season. The Mets’ bullpen now holds a 0.82 ERA over the past week.

The Mets will open a four-game series at Citi Field against the Nationals, with lefties Steven Matz and Patrick Corbin facing off in tomorrow night’s contest.

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What’s WPA?

Big Mets winner: Brandon Nimmo, +14.6% WPA
Big Mets loser: Pete Alonso, -13.7% WPA
Mets pitchers: +35.1% WPA
Mets hitters: +14.9% WPA
Teh aw3s0mest play: Michael Conforto reaches on an error by Corey Dickerson, allowing the Mets’ second run to score, +10.0% WPA
Teh sux0rest play: Jesus Aguilar’s two-run homer off Jacob deGrom in the fifth, -16.3% WPA