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A strong start by Seth Lugo helps lead the Mets over the Rays

Lugo outduels Blake Snell as Mets strive to keep faint playoff hopes alive.

MLB: Tampa Bay Rays at New York Mets Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

After necessity granted Seth Lugo his longstanding wish to return to the starting rotation, the experiment got off to a promising start as the ace reliever was stretched out. However, Lugo struggled mightily in his last start in Philadelphia. Tuesday offered a promising bounce back performance

Lugo did surrender a solo home home run to Willy Adames in the top of the second as the Rays jumped to an early 1-0 lead. Robinson Cano answered right back for the Mets, lining a Blake Snell fastball the other way down the line in left to tie the game. The Mets then drew a pair of walks against the wild Snell, but were unable to cash in when Kevin Kiermaier made an excellent throw to nail Pete Alonso at the plate on a Jeff McNeil single, keeping the game tied at 1.

Lugo was excellent thereafter, allowing only a couple of soft singles and a walk through the first six innings. Meanwhile, the slumping Alonso broke out in a big way, lining a laser out to right center for his thirteenth home run of the year in the fourth inning to snap the tie, then lining an RBI single to left to extend the lead in the sixth.

Lugo might have had a chance to complete seven, but Todd Frazier booted a potential inning-ending double play, putting two runners on with one out, causing Luis Rojas to turn to Justin Wilson. After a double steal, Wilson did allow a run to score on a wild pitch, but escaped the inning, preserving the lead for Lugo and the Mets.

It took the Mets one batter to restore the cushion, as Guillermo Heredia’s led off the bottom of the seventh with first hit as a Met—a blast deep over the Great Wall of Flushing in left center. Alonso then capped his night with a a third RBI in the eighth on a groundout, as Chasen Shreve made the most of a more prominent relief role by striking out the side in the eighth before Edwin Diaz closed out the victory with an efficient ninth. The victory kept the Mets at least mathematically in the conversation for a place in this year’s expanded postseason, though they will likely need to win out and/or get a lot of help from the teams ahead of them. But if nothing else, Seth Lugo certainly made a strong case for a role in the 2021 rotation.

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Win Probability Added

What’s WPA?

Big Mets winner: Pete Alonso, +29.0%, Seth Lugo, +17.0%
Big Mets loser: None
Mets pitchers: +30.5% WPA
Mets hitters: +19.5% WPA
Teh aw3s0mest play: Pete Alonso solo home run in the bottom of the fourth, +14.1% WPA.
Teh sux0rest play: Willy Adames solo home run in the top of the second, -11.5% WPA.