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Pillar and bullpen power Mets to victory over Cubs for a third straight night

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Jacob deGrom left the game early due to injury, but the Mets were able to win thanks to their bullpen and a certain —Illar.

Chicago Cubs v New York Mets Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

On a beautiful June evening at Citi Field, the Mets beat the Cubs for a third straight night behind an impressive pitching performance from Jacob deGrom and the Mets bullpen.

After deGrom exited his previous start last Friday early with flexor tendinitis, he took the mound tonight on normal rest. deGrom waisted no time to show the Citi Field faithful he was feeling no effects of that injury, as he struck out Joc Pederson to open the game. After Anthony Rizzo hit a long out to the right field warning track, deGrom struck out Javier Báez, for a 1-2-3 first.

In the bottom of the first, Jonathan Villar led off the inning with a walk, and then stole second base. While stealing second, the throw from home caught Villar in the ear. Though he remained on the ground for quite a bit of time, Villar wound up staying on the base paths, and played the whole game. After Villar was moved over to third by Francisco Lindor, and Dominic Smith was hit by a pitch, the Mets were threatening with runners on the corner and one out. Instead, Pete Alonso grounded into an inning ended double play, as the Mets squandered their first opportunity of the night.

Jacob deGrom made quick work of Ian Happ and Patrick Wisdom to start the top of the second, striking out both batters. deGrom did have trouble putting away Rafael Ortega, as it took him 11 pitches to do so, in what was a battle between the two players. deGrom was finally able to get Ortega out, throwing a backdoor slider for a strikeout looking.

After leaving runners on base in the bottom of the first, the Mets offense was able to get going in the bottom of the second. After a Billy McKinney walk, Kevin Pillar ripped a double to deep right, scoring McKinney and making it 1-0. Pillar later advanced to third after a Luis Guillorme fly out, and Jacob deGrom came up to bat with a runner on. And because deGrom has proved to do it all countless times this season, on a 3-2 pitch, deGrom singled to right field, giving him his sixth RBI of the year, and giving the Mets the 2-0 lead.

The top of the third inning is where things started to go south for Jacob deGrom. While he struck out the side yet again, giving him three perfect innings and eight strikeouts (including seven strikeouts in a row), it became quite clear deGrom was taking more time than usual in between pitches and was not comfortable, starting during Eric Sogard’s at bat.

In the end, deGrom’s night was over after three superb innings due to right shoulder soreness. He lowered his ERA to 0.54, but now questions surrounding his health will linger. For what it’s worth, after the game, deGrom and manager Luis Rojas said initial tests of the strength of deGrom’s shoulder were encouraging.

While SNY cameras were showing deGrom going down the tunnel and Sean Reid-Foley warming up in the bullpen, Dominic Smith continued his recent hot streak, hitting a solo homer into the Coca-Cola Corner and making it 3-0 Mets. Reid-Foley came on in the top of the fourth and gave up a homer to Anthony Rizzo, but otherwise pitched two terrific innings.

Pitching in his first game of the season, Cubs starter Robert Stock ran into a lot of trouble in the bottom of the fourth. After walking Sean Reid-Foley to load the bases, Stock then walked Francisco Lindor to give the Mets another run. Dom Smith then grounded out to first, which scored Tomás Nido and made it 5-1 Mets.

The final Mets run of the night came in the bottom of the fifth thanks to a Kevin Pillar solo homer, giving him two RBI’s on the night. Following Sean Ried-Foley in the bullpen was Miguel Castro, Aaron Loup, and Trevor May who all pitched terrifically, not allowing a single hit. These performances were particularly noteworthy as Castro had not pitched since this past Friday due to a stiff neck, and May has struggled out of the bullpen as of late.

Drew Smith came out in the top of the ninth, looking to cap off an excellent night for the Mets bullpen. Instead, he gave up a one-out walk to Patrick Wisdom, which gave way to a two-run homer from Rafael Ortega. This got Edwin Diaz warming up in the bullpen, but Smith was able to record the second out. However, Sergio Alcantra kept the game alive with a single up the middle, causing Luis Rojas to bring in Edwin Diaz to get the 27th out for the Mets. Diaz did just that, getting Wilson Contreras to fly out to center field, and improving the Mets record to 20-6 at Citi Field this season.

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*illar of the Game

Kevin Pillar: For his RBI double and solo home run, and also for always rocking the mask on his face so well.

Win Probability Added

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What’s WPA?

Big Mets Winner: Kevin Pillar, +15.1% WPA
Big Mets loser: Pete Alonso, -13.8% WPA
Mets pitchers: +18.2% WPA
Mets hitters: +31.8% WPA
Teh aw3s0mest play: Kevin Pillar’s RBI double in the bottom of the second, +13.3% WPA
Teh sux0rest play: Anthony Rizzo’s solo home run off of Sean Reid-Foley, -8.1% WPA