When the Padres were approaching on the Mets’ schedule, most probably assumed that this depleted Mets roster taking on the mostly full-strength Padres for four games in San Diego, where the Padres rarely lose, would turn out to be yet another disastrous west coast series for the Mets reminiscent of those we’ve seen so often in the past.
So escaping San Diego with a split, and never even looking the least bit outclassed in any game, could be considered something of a best case scenario for the Mets. They were able to manage the split by taking the final game from the Padres by a score of 6-2 on Sunday behind Marcus Stroman.
The Mets jumped out to a lead in the third inning when they took advantage of a Jurickson Profar misplay in center that turned what should’ve been a flyout into a ground-rule double for Jose Peraza. Two batters later, Billy McKinney singled him home to put the Mets up 1-0. In the fourth inning, Dominic Smith blasted a homer to center to put the Mets up 2-0.
Stroman was dealing early, but ran into trouble in the bottom half of that fourth inning. He yielded two hits and a walk, his third free pass in the first four innings, to load the bases with only one out. Webster Rivas came up, and roped the first pitch down the third base line, but Brandon Drury made a great sliding stop to keep it from being extra bases. He reached for third with his hand and tagged the bag, then threw it to first from his knees to get the ridiculous double play and keep the Padres off the board. That wound up being the play of the game, and one of the best defensive plays of the season for the Mets so far.
Stroman settled down after that as the Mets added another run in the 6th on a Pete Alonso RBI single to go up 3-0. In the bottom half, Fernando Tatis Jr. bounced a ball back to Stroman, who, being as good of a defender and as unbelievably cool as he is, gobbled it up and stylishly flipped it to his throwing hand. That’s where the coolness ended. He then spiked the throw to first that Alonso completely missed as it went behind him, allowing Tatis to advance to second. Then, trying to hold back his throw to second, Alonso spiked a throw of his own that went straight down and off to his left, rolling down near the Padres dugout. That allowed Tatis to go to third.
All in all, Tatis wound up at third on a ball he hit 30 feet after the Mets made not one, but two throwing errors. That was the only real appearance of LOLMets today, though, and it didn’t come back to bite them. Tatis scored on a groundout, but Stroman still retired the next three hitters and didn’t allow the Padres to capitalize on the wild play.
In the top of the seventh, Peraza made the curious decision to bunt for a hit with two outs and the pitcher on deck. At only 80 pitches, there was some thought that Luis Rojas might pinch hit for Stroman to get a hitter at the plate. But Rojas kept Stroman in, who instantly ripped a double into the left field corner. Peraza scored from first, and Stroman got his run back by himself. The Mets led 4-1 as Stroman milly rocked at second base.
Stroman got through the 7th with no issue, and finished his day without allowing an earned run. He struck out seven and walked four. He didn’t have his best command, but had good enough stuff to work through it and get out of a few jams. He lowered his ERA to 2.41 on the year.
James McCann added a two-run homer in the eighth to put the Mets up 6-1, and that pretty much put the game out of reach there. Trevor May had a little trouble in the ninth and allowed a run, but got helped by a great diving play by Francisco Lindor to get through the inning and seal the victory.
That this Mets team has kept its head above water and was able to manage a split with one of the best teams in baseball is no small feat. The entire team is contributing to wins and the pitching is carrying most of the load. The Mets maintain their 3.5 game lead in the NL East, a division lead they’ve held for nearly a full month at this point.
SB Nation GameThreads
*illar of the Game
Win Probability Added
Big Mets winner: Marcus Stroman +27.2% WPA
Big Mets loser: Francisco Lindor -4.7% WPA
Mets pitchers: +32.0% WPA
Mets hitters: +18.0% WPA
Teh aw3s0mest play: Dominic Smith hits a solo home run, +11.7% WPA
Teh sux0rest play: Fernando Tatis Jr. reaches on a fielding error, -0.93 % WPA