There’s something special happening in Queens. Tonight, Taijuan Walker, a free-agent who received exactly one offer this off-season, pitched yet another gem for the Mets. The offense did just enough, and Seth Lugo, though stretched, did not break, as the Mets took game two of their first of four straight four game series, 3-2.
Walker got off to a bit of an unlucky start in the top of the first inning. An opposite field poke from Joc Pederson started things off for the Cubs. Walker then hit Kris Bryant on the hand, putting two on without recording an out or giving up any hard contact. However, Walker stranded both, as well as WIlson Contreras, who reached on an infield hit, by striking out Javier Baez, Anthony Rizzo, and Ian Happ.
After shutting down the Cubs in the second, Walker gave up an opposite field, line-drive home run to Baez with a man on to give the Cubs a 2-0 lead. However, in the bottom of the inning, the Mets go both runs back. After Cubs starter Alec Mills walked Jonathan Villar with one out, a Francisco Lindor fielder’s choice swapped runners on first. Dominic Smith was fooled by a pitch and was way out in front, but the ball was inside-outed to the empty left side of the infield. With Smith on second and Lindor on third, Pete Alonso lined a ball up the middle, scoring both runs.
From there, Walker was locked in. After allowing a Happ single to start the fourth, Walker wouldn’t see another baserunner for the rest of the game. On the night, Walker struck out 12, a new career high, walked none, and gave up two earned runs over five hits. Walker’s two-seam fastball, especially against lefties, was his best pitch tonight, which he used to great effect.
The Mets had numerous scoring opportunities after the two-run third, but only cashed in once. Pete Alonso hit a sacrifice fly in the bottom of the fifth with the bases loaded, scoring Jonathan Villar, putting the Mets up 3-2.
Seth Lugo relieved Taijuan Walker in the eighth inning, and shut down the Cubs on just nine pitches. Due to the low pitch count, Lugo went back out for the ninth. And that is where things got dicey.
Lugo’s velocity and control were both down from what he had going on in the eighth inning, and it was plain to see. With one out, Lugo gave up a hard-hit single to Wilson Contreras, who was pulled for pinch runner, and former Met, Jake Marisnick. When pinch hitter Eric Sogard drove a ball into the gap, another former Met, Cubs’ third base coach Willie Harris, tried to push the envelope and waved Marisnick around third to attempt to tie the game.
Harris likely didn’t account for Kevin Pillar cutting off the ball in the gap and throwing a bullet to Luis Guillorme. Nor did he anticipate Guillorme throwing a strike to James McCann, who held the ball and tagged Marisnick out before he could get his hand in to score. And so, the Mets avoided the game slipping away through some good, fundamental fielding, as well as Lugo putting a little extra cheese on his last pitch, striking out Sergio Alcantara to put the game in the books.
Kris Bryant left the game in the second inning with a right hand contusion. He is currently day to day.
Tomorrow, Jacob deGrom takes the hill for the Mets against journeyman Robert Stock. You don’t want to miss it.
*illar of the game
Jonathan Villar scored the decisive, winning run, but OF DOOM’s defensive prowess helped gun down the tying run at the plate. That’s a tie, baby.
Win Probability Added
Big Mets winner: Seth Lugo. +26.0% WPA
Big Mets loser: Kevin Pillar, -14.7% WPA
Mets pitchers: +44.3% WPA
Mets hitters: +5.7% WPA
Teh aw3s0mest play: Pete Alonso’s two-RBI single in the third inning, +20.6% WPA
Teh sux0rest play: Javier Baez’s two-run home run, -21.3% WPA