The Mets triumphed over the Orioles 7-6 in a ping-pong affair at Citi Field. For the second game in three days, the Mets erased an early deficit in the later innings. But unlike Monday’s game against the Phillies, the Mets held on for the victory this time, bailing out yet another mediocre starting pitching performance.
Rick Porcello lasted just four innings in his outing, giving up a staggering ten hits in all. The Orioles got right to work off Porcello in the first. Cedric Mullins led the game off with a single and advanced into scoring position on a groundout. Renato Nuñez then stroked a looping single just over the head of a jumping Robinson Cano to drive him in for the first run of the game. DJ Stewart and Ryan Mountcastle, who were not retired a single time by Mets pitching on the night, then hit back-to-back singles to plate another run and put the Orioles up 2-0. Porcello was able to stop the bleeding there by getting Rio Ruiz to pop out to first and Hanser Alberto to bounce out to second to end the inning.
The second inning began with a play that will absolutely be overlooked in light of what Michael Conforto did later in the game, but it proved to be a run-saving play as well. Chance Sisco led off the inning by smoking a ball into the right field corner, which Conforto got to quickly and threw a bullet to second base to nab Sisco. Then, with two outs, Cedric Mullins hit a single up the middle that would have scored Sisco had he been on second base. Mullins also stole second base, but Porcello struck out Jose Iglesias to get out of the inning unscathed.
The Mets broke through against Jorge Lopez in the bottom of the second inning. Dominic Smith laced a leadoff double and Pete Alonso legged out an infield hit with one out. Jeff McNeil then hit a single to drive in Smith and cut the Orioles’ lead in half. The Mets had the potential to put together a big inning, but Lopez registered back-to-back strikeouts of Andres Gimenez and Robinson Chirinos to escape the jam.
The Orioles hit Porcello hard in the third inning and added three runs to pad their lead. The rally started with a DJ Stewart infield hit down the third base line, against the shift. Mountcastle followed with a single and then Ruiz and Alberto smacked back-to-back hits to give the Orioles a 5-1 lead. Sisco then hit another ball hard to deep right, but luckily it was right into the glove of Conforto. The inning ended on another hard-hit ball—a sharp grounder by Valaika on which Robinson Cano made a smooth sliding play to bail out Porcello and avoid the doors being blown off for the second straight night.
Porcello had his first easy inning in the fourth, retiring the Orioles in order, but he had thrown so many pitches at that point that his evening ended after just four innings of work. Meanwhile, the Mets cut the deficit again in the bottom of the fourth thanks to an Alonso two-out single followed by a two-run homer by the resurgent Jeff McNeil that made the score 5-3.
Chasen Shreve entered the game in the fifth inning in relief of Porcello and was greeted rudely by a solo homer off the bat of the seemingly unstoppable DJ Stewart. J.D. Davis then double-clutched, as he is known to do, on a grounder by Mountcastle that allowed him to reach base safely. Shreve then walked Ruiz to put two men on with nobody out, but retired the next three hitters in order to avoid further damage and keep the Mets in striking distance.
And strike they did. With two outs in the fifth inning, Conforto launched a solo homer to get the Mets within two and make the score 6-4. Lopez then walked Davis to bring the tying run to the plate. With lefties coming up, Orioles manager Brandon Hyde turned to southpaw Paul Fry, who gave up a single to Dominic Smith. The ball was bobbled in the outfield, which allowed Davis to reach third base. Robinson Cano then singled to drive in Davis and cut the Orioles’ lead to just one run. Alonso fouled out to the catcher to end the inning with the Orioles clinging to their lead by the skin of their teeth.
Jared Hughes had an adventurous sixth inning in relief. Jose Iglesias led off the frame with a fly ball to left, on which Jeff McNeil made a fantastic diving catch, as he slid toward the foul line and into the wall in foul territory. Hughes had no command over his pitches and walked Nuñez, then hit back-to-back batters to load the bases. Luis Rojas then turned to lefty Justin Wilson to face Rio Ruiz, who incidentally has better numbers against lefties than righties this season. Ruiz then got a hold of one that surely would have cleared the bases if not for a miraculous play by Michael Conforto in deep right field—one of the best catches you will see all season. Wilson extended both arms in the air in salute, knowing that Conforto had just “saved the day,” as Gary Cohen put it. According to Statcast, the play had a 20% catch probability, but even that feels high.
The Mets kept the momentum going, tying the game at six runs apiece on an Andres Gimenez one-out solo home run in the bottom of the sixth, which closed the book on Paul Fry’s rough night on the mound. Dillon Tate replaced him and induced groundouts from Chirinos and Brandon Nimmo to end the inning and keep the game tied. Justin Wilson stayed in to pitch the seventh and worked around yet another hit by pitch to toss a scoreless inning. In the bottom of the inning, Tanner Scott also hit a batter (Conforto), but retired the next three Mets in order to send the game to the eighth still knotted at six.
Jeurys Familia got into some trouble in the top of the eighth when he gave up a two-out walk to Stewart. A sharp grounder off the bat of Mountcastle then took an unfortunate bounce right off the second base bag for a base hit, which sent the pinch runner Mason Williams to third with the go-ahead run. However, Familia promptly retired Ruiz on a comebacker to the mound to end the inning.
Pete Alonso then dealt the decisive blow to lead off the bottom of the inning—a go-ahead solo homer off Hunter Harvey to give the Mets a 7-6 lead. Harvey managed to avoid a bigger inning, in part thanks to Gimenez getting caught stealing with one out.
So Edwin Diaz was given a one-run lead to protect. Hanser Alberto led off the ninth with a single and Mets fans braced themselves for a movie they have seen countless times before. But Diaz’s stuff was working and he was backed up by his defense. Sisco hit a grounder to the hole between first and second, on which Luis Guillorme—substituted into the game for defense—made a fantastic sliding play and threw from his knees to get Sisco. Diaz then struck out Pedro Severino on some of the nastiest pitches he’s thrown all season. He then got Mullins to pop out to short to earn his third save and secure the victory for the Mets, lowering his season ERA to 1.89.
All told, this was arguably the best defensive game the Mets—a team who has struggled so mightily with defense in the past—have played all season. It also featured some big-time homers and clutch relief pitching. Not a bad Wednesday night at Citi Field.
The Mets have a much-needed off day, hitting the road to face the surprising second-place Blue Jays in Buffalo with their ace on the mound, as Jacob deGrom continues his quest for his third-straight Cy Young Award, facing off against Chase Anderson.
SB Nation GameThreads
Win Probability Added
Big Mets winner: Pete Alonso, +27.0% WPA
Big Mets loser: Rick Porcello, -34.2% WPA
Mets pitchers: -1.0% WPA
Mets hitters: +51.0% WPA
Teh aw3s0mest play: Pete Alonso’s go-ahead solo homer in the eighth, +27.1% WPA
Teh sux0rest play: Rick Porcello surrenders an RBI double to Rio Ruiz in the third that stretches the Orioles’ lead to 4-1, -16.4% WPA