Michael Conforto had himself a day in the Mets’ 9-4 victory over the Orioles at Camden Yards yesterday afternoon. He got started right away, greeting John Means rudely with a one-out, two-run homer in the first inning that put the Mets ahead 2-0. After being handed an early lead, Michael Wacha made quick work of the Orioles in the bottom of the first inning, retiring them 1-2-3 to begin his second start back from the injured list.
Things got rocky for him after that, however, as his command was inconsistent through the rest of his outing. After retiring Renato Nuñez on a grounder to third, Wacha gave up a scorcher off the bat of Pedro Severino that sent Jake Marisnick careening face-first into the center field wall as he tried to catch the ball, bringing back shades of Aaron Rowand. Marisnick was unsuccessful in his pursuit and Severino reached third base with a triple. Surprisingly, Marisnick seemed none the worse for wear. He was checked out by the trainer—presumably for concussion symptoms—and sported a bleeding cut on the bridge of his nose where his glasses cut into him on the impact, but he remained in the game.
Things unraveled a bit for Michael Wacha from there. Rookie Ryan Mountcastle drove in Severino with an RBI single to cut the Mets’ lead in half. Rio Ruiz then flied out to center for the second out, but Pat Valaika—who the Mets seemed incapable of getting out this series—singled, moving Mountcastle to second. Wacha then lost the plate, throwing a wild pitch to advance Mountcastle to third and walking the light-hitting Andrew Velazquez to load the bases. He got ahead of Cedric Mullins 0-2 and just when it seemed he might escape the inning without further damage, he hit Mullins with the next pitch to force in the tying run. To his credit, Wacha retired the scorching hot Anthony Santander on a popup to shallow right field to finally put the inning to bed and preserve the tie game.
But the long inning elevated Wacha’s pitch count and the Mets likely did not want to push the envelope in his second start back from the injured list. After giving up a leadoff single in the third inning to Jose Iglesias, Wacha retired the next three batters in quick succession—two of them via the strikeout—to end his day on a positive note with the game still knotted at two runs apiece. With Robert Gsellman named the next day’s starter, it was left to David Peterson to shoulder the burden of long relief and keep the Orioles off the board and the Mets in the game.
And he did so admirably. He worked around two singles in the bottom of the fourth to put up a zero in his first inning of work. The Mets answered by taking the lead in the top of the fifth. Amed Rosario led off the inning with a rare walk. Both Jeff McNeil and J.D. Davis failed to get him home, but (as was the theme of the day) Michael Conforto came through with a two-out double to put the Mets ahead 3-2. Peterson put up another goose egg in the bottom of the inning, allowing a two-out walk, but nothing else.
John Means began the top of the sixth inning by getting the red-hot Robinson Cano to ground out to second base for the third straight time on the afternoon. But then Pete Alonso launched a baseball to the second deck in left field, just inside the foul pole. It was just the fifth home run to reach that second deck in Camden Yards history. That ended Means’ afternoon on a sour note, as he continues to struggle in his sophomore season following a breakout rookie campaign in 2019—much like Alonso, incidentally. Travis Lakins entered the game in relief of Means and retired the next two batters to end the inning and keep the game close.
The game didn’t stay close for long, however. Peterson retired the Orioles 1-2-3 in the bottom of the sixth inning and the Mets tacked on a run in the top of the seventh on yet another Conforto RBI double. Rosario began the inning by legging out an infield single. Then with one out, Lakins hit J.D. Davis with a pitch; Davis flipped his bat in disgust before making his way to first base, still feeling the after effects of being hit in the hip with a pitch during Sunday’s doubleheader. Orioles manager Brandon Hyde then turned to his recently deposed closer, Cole Sulser to face Conforto and Conforto made him pay for that choice by driving Rosario home. The inning could have been an even bigger one for the Mets, but J.D. Davis was thrown out trying to scramble back to third base after opting to not try to score on Conforto’s double.
Peterson again retired the Orioles 1-2-3 in the bottom of the frame and the Mets blew the game open in the eighth. Sulser was tasked with this inning as well, but the righty who had performed so well for the Orioles in the early season saw his stock continue to fall. Robinson Cano led off the inning with a double and Andres Gimenez replaced him at second base as a pinch runner. Pete Alonso then walked to put two men on. Sulser got Wilson Ramos, who did ultimately collect two singles of his own, to pop out to first base for the first out, but Jake Marisnick then singled to score Gimenez and make the score 6-2. Rosario lined out to short for the second out, but Jeff McNeil then sent a well-struck ball up the middle that ticked off Valaika’s glove into no man’s land, scoring Alonso.
That was it for Cole Sulser, who was succeeded by righty Evan Phillips. His first inherited runner immediately scored on a passed ball by Pedro Severino. He then allowed a single to none other than Michael Conforto, which scored McNeil and opened up a 9-2 lead for the Mets. Todd Frazier—who went hitless out of the cleanup spot in his return to the Mets—then grounded out to end the inning. In fact, Frazier was the only member of the Mets starting lineup, which collected 14 hits in all, to go hitless on the afternoon.
That should be all there is to the story, but even a blowout in the Mets’ favor isn’t without its Metsy moments. Miguel Castro made his Mets debut against his former team and pitched a scoreless bottom of the eighth that featured a sparkling defensive play by Amed Rosario on a ball hit in the hole to the third base side of short in which he made a long throw across his body to retire Severino at first. But that was where the sparkling defense ended. The Mets went down quietly against Phillips in the top of the ninth and Justin Wilson was given the ball to finish things out for the Mets. He gave up a leadoff single to Valaika and Velazquez followed with an infield hit. Wilson struck out the next two batters swinging, but then Jose Iglesias smacked a single, which the Mets followed with two consecutive throwing errors—a wild throw to first base that got away and then a second wild throw back to the cutoff man, which was boxed around the infield a bit. Two runs scored on the play, narrowing the Mets’ lead to 9-4. Wilson did not allow things to get out of hand, however. He struck out former Met Dilson Herrera to end the game and secure the victory for the Mets.
The Mets return to Citi Field this afternoon to play a makeup game against the Yankees. Robert Gsellman has been given the start for the Mets, while J.A. Happ will take the mound for the Yankees.
SB Nation GameThreads
Win Probability Added
Big Mets winner: David Peterson, +28.6% WPA
Big Mets loser: Jeff McNeil, -10.4% WPA
Mets pitchers: +25.9% WPA
Mets hitters: +24.1% WPA
Teh aw3s0mest play: Michael Conforto’s two-run homer in the first inning, +15.5% WPA
Teh sux0rest play: Michael Wacha hits Cedric Mullins with a pitch to force in a run and tie the game in the second inning, -9.8% WPA