Entering play tonight, the Mets owned an MLB-best 25-6 record when scoring first. Gary Cohen and Ron Darling brought up that fact when the Mets got ahead early in this game, with the two joking that this meant they could pack up and go home for the evening, knowing full well what the outcome would be. However, the Baltimore Orioles flipped the script on the Mets, taking the opener of the two-game set 10-3.
As mentioned, New York jumped out to a quick lead against young left-hander Bruce Zimmermann, who seemed like he might not be long for this game with his early struggles. Francisco Lindor worked out a walk in a hard-fought at-bat to give the Mets the first baserunner of this ballgame. After James McCann struck out, Pete Alonso strode to the plate and launched a line drive home run that left the ballpark faster than you could say “Two run lead”. The ball left the bat at 111.2 mph and tied him or 24th on the team’s all-time home run list with 77 long balls. It was also his seventh road homer of the season against just one at Citi Field. Dominic Smith followed with a single, but the Mets would not get another run in the inning (and only managed two more in the game).
David Peterson took the mound in the bottom half of the frame, once again with an early lead to work with, and got in immediate trouble. After retiring Cedric Mullins—a rare feat, as of late—Trey Mancini reached first on an infield single that very easily could have been scored an error by the inexperienced first baseman McCann. After walking Anthony Santander, reigning AL Player of the Week Ryan Mountcastle hit what seemed to be a double play. The first baseman was initially called safe at first, but every conceivable angle showed him to be out.
After an overly-lengthy replay, the umpiring crew inexplicably concluded that Mountcastle was safe. What followed over the next two innings was a candid and important discussion between Cohen and Darling on the flaws in replay system as it pertains to pace of play and the current state of the game. At one point, Cohen emphatically declared, “What is the point of having review if they don’t even get the calls right? It’s pathetic. It’s just pathetic. Just take the whole system and throw it in the garbage.” In the end, Peterson recovered to retire Freddy Galvis and escape the inning unscathed.
At this point in the game, the Mets’ bats went silent. Following Alonso’s homer, Zimmermann retired nine in a row before walking Kevin Pillar in the fourth. He finished his start having retired 13 of the 14 batters he faced after falling behind while striking out seven Mets over five innings of work.
Mets’ pitchers were not so lucky. The Orioles, fresh off dropping 18 runs on Cleveland in their Sunday victory, stormed back against Peterson in the second. Baltimore’s first three batters in the second reached base, with Pedro Severino getting things started with a bloop single to center field. Noted Mets Killer Maikel Franco drove a double into the right-center field gap—a theme that would repeat itself in this game—and Pat Valaika followed with a double of his own over the outstretched glove of Villar and down the left field line to tie things up. Mullins, who at one point had hits in nine consecutive at-bats over the weekend, doubled in the gap to bring in the go-ahead run.
Things didn’t go much better for the young left-hander in third inning. Peterson gave up a one-out double to Galvis, a single to Severino that hit off Villar’s glove, and a double to Valaika that went over Smith’s glove in left to plate Baltimore’s fourth run. Peterson wouldn’t make it out of the third, which is progress from his last start but still another disappointing, subpar effort from the 25-year-old. Robert Gsellman took over and gave up a rocket to Ryan McKenna, but Kevin Pillar made a nice diving play in center to save the team from further damage.
Gsellman, who entered play tonight with a 2.42 ERA in 22.1 innings, was hit hard all night by the Orioles, as he didn’t look anywhere near as effective as he had at any point this season. In the fifth, Gsellman surrendered a leadoff double to Mullins and a single to Mancini which beat the shift and brought in another Baltimore run. In the sixth, he gave up a single to Galvis, walked Severino, and then surrendered an absolute bomb of a three-run home run to Franco to blow the doors off this game. In hitting the ball into the second deck in left field, Franco became only the sixth person in Camden Yards history to reach that level, and only the third member of the home team. Alonso was the last player to do so during last year’s season. Gsellman finished the frame, but he saw his ERA climb to 3.65 after being charged with four earned runs over 2.1 innings.
Jacob Barnes replaced Gsellman in the sixth and didn’t fare much better. After striking out Mancini to lead off the inning, he was victimized by three straight hits. First came Santander’s double, which was the seventh two-bagger on the night for Baltimore. That was followed by a Mountcaste single, which brought in the ninth run of the night for the Orioles, and a single from Galvis, which represented his third base knock of the night. Barnes escaped the inning with only the one run against his record, but it took him 35 pitches to get there. Drew Smith pitched the seventh and worked around a two-out walk to record a scoreless inning of work, the first zero posted by Mets pitchers since the first inning. Things didn’t go as well for Smith in the eighth, as he surrendered a leadoff homer to Santander for the tenth run of the game.
Offensively, it was a slow march to the finish line for the Mets. After Zimmermann was lifted following his five solid innings, the bats could do little against Baltimore’s bullpen. Against Hunter “Not Matt” Harvey in the sixth, the Mets got a one-out single from McCann—only their third hit of the game—but Alonso promptly grounded into a double play to end that threat. Against Tyler Wells, they went down 1-2-3 in the seventh and went down quietly again in the eighth. Against Travis Lakins Sr., the first two Mets were retired before Alonso hit his second homer of the game to bring the Mets to within seven. Smith would go down swinging, however, to end the game and the long-shot comeback attempt.
The Mets will aim for a series split on Wednesday night in the series finale. In a rematch of the May 12 contest at Citi Field, Taijuan Walker will go up against Matt Harvey. The Mets are 4-4 on their current road trip, so Wednesday night’s game will decide whether it is a winning or a losing trip.
*illar of the Game
Kevin Pillar: Made a nice diving play to save two runs in the third and also drew a walk.
Win Probability Added
Big Mets winner: Pete Alonso, +14.5% WPA
Big Mets loser: David Peterson, -32.8% WPA
Mets pitchers: -43.1% WPA
Mets hitters: -6.9% WPA
Teh aw3s0mest play: Pete Alonso first inning home run, +14.5% WPA
Teh sux0rest play: Pat Valaika two-run double in the second, -12.0% WPA
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