On a day that started beautiful and ended rainy and cold, the Mets pulled out a 4-2 win over the Diamondbacks to complete a three game sweep. Fittingly, the game followed a similar pattern for the Mets, starting well with Jacob deGrom on the mound before disaster struck in the middle innings. Things mostly worked out in the end though, as the bullpen continued it’s recent excellence and the offense contributed just enough to get the win.
The Mets actually managed to break their habit of leaving their ace out to dry in this one, though deGrom did play a roll in getting the rally going. In the bottom of the third, James McCann led off with an opposite field single (with his mom, grandma, and twin sons on screen). deGrom followed with a picture perfect bunt that Diamondbacks third baseman Eduardo Escobar threw away, putting runners at the corners with no outs. A sacrifice fly from Francisco Lindor and an RBI single from Michael Conforto gave the Mets drove in McCann and deGrom, respectively, giving the Mets a 2-0 lead.
On the mound, deGrom didn’t look quite up to his usual level of excellence, as the Diamondbacks made some hard contact on he relied on his defense - most notably, a sparking play from Michael Conforto - to get through the first couple innings. Nevertheless, deGrom is elite even on his off days, and he set down the first 12 batters with a run of four strikeouts in the third and fourth. It seemed he had settled in, something we’ve seem from deGrom in the past.
Unfortunately, this was not the case. David Peralta led off the top of the fifth with a four pitch walk, and a fly ball from Stephen Vogt to follow nearly led to a Mike Cameron - Carlos Beltran level collision in deep right-center between Kevin Pillar and Michael Conforto. Thankfully, the two avoided making any real contact, but the ball did drop in for a double, and another walk loaded the bases with no outs. deGrom did manage to wiggle out of it, inducing a ground ball double play that scored a run and, after a third walk, striking out Daulton Varsho to end the inning, but the Met lead was cut to one.
Those struggles should’ve been a sign that something was wrong. Indeed deGrom never seemed quite physically comfortable on the mound in this one. That issue came to a head in the sixth when, after throwing two warmup pitches, deGrom called for the trainer and left the game. The team described the move as precautionary due to “right side soreness” initially before saying later the tightness is in deGrom’s lower back, and he’s headed for an MRI. Realistically, it’s not catastrophic news, but it sure doesn’t feel good to watch your ace leave the field. Amid those worries, Miguel Castro came in, created a jam, and worked out of it without allowing a run.
In response, the Met offense continue to show up, at least to some degree. Three walks and a hit by pitch led to a free run in the sixth (Patrick Mazeika’s second career RBI!), while an Asdrubal Cabrera error led to another run in the seventh when a Dom Smith single drove in Francisco Lindor. Both times, the Mets left more on the table, as they’ve done at seemingly every opportunity this season, but at least they managed to add something instead of nothing.
Cabrera, the former Met, made up for his error in the next frame, leading off the top of the eighth with a solo home run off Jacob Barnes. Things got dicey soon after, as a one-out double brought the tying run to the plate. With rain falling harder and harder and the bullpen just about taxed to its limit, Luis Rojas turned to Edwin Diaz for a 5-out save. Memories of a 2015, rain-delayed game against the Padres danced through many of our heads, as the game took on a rather ominous feeling. Diaz didn’t help by looking wild and plunking the first batter he faced.
Mercifully, that disaster didn’t repeat itself. A hard ground ball turned into a double play, and Diaz worked around an infield pop-up snafu in the ninth to close out the win. The Mets have now won five straight games, and are undefeated with Patrick Mazeika on the roster (correlation evident, causation...unclear). This series could’ve turned out very differently - if Jeff McNeil and Francisco Lindor fight, Jacob deGrom gets hurt, and the Mets drop their weekend games, we’re likely declaring the season over already. Instead, the clubhouse fight seems to have weirdly bonded the team, deGrom’s injury seems relatively non-catastrophic (knock on wood), and the Mets are looking as good as they have at any point in this still young season.
Oddly, the Mets have yet another week with a pair of off days coming up. They’ll be off tomorrow before playing two against Matt Harvey and the Orioles, then be off again on Thursday. If nothing else, those extra days should hopefully afford the bullpen some time to rest and allow the Mets to re-jigger their rotation to account for deGrom’s (presumptive) absence. At 16-13, they currently sit atop the surprisingly mediocre NL East, and with the rest of the talent on this team they should be able to weather a brief absence from the best pitcher in baseball in the interest of keeping him healthy for the rest of the year.
SB Nation GameThreads
Win Probability Added
Big Mets winner: Edwin Diaz, +15.7% WPA
Big Mets loser: Kevin Pillar, -9.6% WPA
Mets pitchers: +35.8% WPA
Mets hitters: +14.2% WPA
Teh aw3s0mest play: Jacob deGrom bunts for a single in the third, +10.7% WPA
Teh sux0rest play: Stephen Vogt doubles in the fifth, -14.5% WPA