If the ultimate goal of the deadened balls and the abbreviated doubleheader games was to limit the length of games, Rob Manfred’s eyes must’ve been popping out of his head during the Mets’ one hour and 54 minute 1-0 win over the Rockies in the first of two games this afternoon at Citi Field.
If you’re going to tell the story of this game, about 95% of things said will in one way or another come back to the winning pitcher: Marcus Stroman. Perhaps six innings pitched wouldn’t be as impressive in a full nine inning contest, but when things are over after seven innings, the bullpen will always appreciate the ability to sit around for 86% of the game. Along with helping himself on the defensive side, Stroman had the quintessential Stroman Start. In his six innings of work, Stroman allowed three hits, no runs, struck out three, and recorded ten ground ball outs compared to only three in the air. I would be remiss if I did not mention Francisco Lindor’s beautiful glove flip in the second inning that erased the man on base and the man at the plate as he started a double play without even needed to be on his feet.
One big, lurking consequence of the game being sped up both artificially and legitimately through what happened in the game, is that there wasn’t very much action between the first pitch from Stroman and the last pitch from Diaz. Of course, that also means that on the other side of the field, the Rockies’ starter German Marquez had a solid afternoon too, even if it wasn’t a winning performance.
German Marquez pitched his way through six innings, which technically counts as a complete game loss due to the wild and wacky nature of the seven-inning rule, matching Stroman’s three hits allowed, besting him with six strikeouts, but ultimately sealing his fate by allowing one earned run in his outing.
Naturally, you may be wondering how that one glaring blemish that put Marquez in the loser’s circle came to be. Well thankfully for you, I am here to tell you that the elusive long ball was the winning strategy for the Mets on this fateful afternoon. Leading off the third inning, Jose Peraza thwacked the very first pitch he saw into left-center field, over the head of Raimel Tapia, over the orange line atop the Citi Field wall, and out of the yard to give the Mets the 1-0 lead they would hold for the win.
I sincerely wish I had more Metsies offensive highlights to bring to your attention, but I am afraid that nothing else of note happened, honestly! Jonathan Villar singled in the first inning before getting erased on a double play, Tomas Nido singled in the fourth inning but never moved beyond first base, and if you really are dying for some man-on-first action, Jonathan Villar reached base again via walk, three batters after Peraza’s homer before he too found himself stuck on the accursed first base.
With most of this game being made up of quiet outs, it only makes sense that I highlight the three most consequential of those 42 quiet outs. Taking over for Marcus Stroman at the start of the seventh inning, Edwin Díaz coaxed a pair of grounders from Brendan Rodgers and Sam Hilliard for the first two outs before striking out Dom Nunez with a 99 mile per hour fastball to lock down his ninth save in nine opportunities and the Mets’ first win in their first opportunity of the day.
SB Nation GameThreads
Win Probability Added
Big Mets winner: Marcus Stroman, +44.9% WPA
Big Mets loser: Francisco Lindor, -11.0% WPA
Mets pitchers: +59.6% WPA
Mets hitters: -9.6% WPA
Teh aw3s0mest play: Jose Peraza’s third inning home run, +15.9% WPA
Teh sux0rest play: Trevor Story’s one-out single in the sixth inning, -6.1% WPA
The second game of the Mets’ doubleheader with the Rockies mostly consisted of Luis Rojas walking a tightrope with Joey Lucchesi and the Mets’ lineup putting together a stronger showing than usual. And most importantly, it all resulted in a win, giving the Mets three wins in their four game series with the Rockies and leaving them in first place in the National League East with a 2.5-game lead over the Phillies and Braves.
Lucchesi walked the first two batters he faced to start the game but managed to escape the inning without allowing a run. And while the second and third innings were clean on paper, he gave up some hard contact in the third that made it seem like the Mets should go to the bullpen, especially in just a seven-inning game.
The Mets had the lead at that point, the result of just one run scoring in the bottom of the first on a ground ball double play off the bat of Billy McKinney after Jonathan Villar walked and Francisco Lindor singled to put runners on the corners to start the inning. They didn’t threaten again in the second or third, the latter of which saw Lucchesi bat for himself, a head-scratching decision at the time.
In the top of the fourth, Lucchesi gave up a single to Ryan McMahon but was able to pick him off for the first out of the inning. And then he gave up another single, got one out on a fly ball to right, threw a wild pitch to advance the runner to second, and issued another walk. With that, the Mets went to Drew Smith, who gave up a single that tied the game at one but got out of the inning without further damage.
The Mets loaded the bases with one out in the bottom of the fourth, but they scratched out just one run once again, as Patrick Mazeika struck out, José Peraza singled in a run, and Cameron Maybin grounded out to end the inning.
Aaron Loup and Jeurys Familia threw one scoreless frame apiece for the Mets to get them the bottom of the sixth with a lead. And they again loaded the bases with one out, this time on a walk by McKinney, a one-out double by James McCann, and Mazeika getting hit by a pitch. Peraza walked to plate the Mets’ third run, and one fairly unlucky out by Maybin later, Brandon Drury also walked to bring the Mets’ fourth run home.
The Mets opted not to go to any of their best available relievers for the save in the top of the seventh—Miguel Castro and Trevor May both came to mind—and used Robert Gsellman, who got two outs but gave up a run in the process. The Mets called upon Jacob Barnes to get the last out of the inning, which he did, giving them a sweep of the Rockies.
It’s entirely possible and perhaps even likely that the Mets were simply saving their best arms for an important series with the Braves this weekend. And with the weather in the entire northeast looking bleak going into the holiday weekend, it would be surprising if there isn’t at least one more game postponed by rain and yet another doubleheader happening later in the weekend as a result.
SB Nation GameThreads
Win Probability Added
Big Mets winner: José Peraza, +20.4% WPA
Big Mets loser: Patrick Mazeika, 12.2% WPA
Mets pitchers: +29.7% WPA
Mets hitters: +20.3% WPA
Teh aw3s0mest play: José Peraza singles in a run to put the Mets ahead in the bottom of the fourth, +17.1% WPA
Teh sux0rest play: Connor Joe singles to tie the game at one in the top of the fourth, -18.9% WPA