Even before the Mets’ series opener against the Reds turned into one of the weirdest baseball games you’ll ever see, it felt like the Mets would need to score a whole bunch of runs to win last night in Cincinnati. And the longer the game went on, the higher it seemed like that number would have to be.
Things started well enough. Pete Alonso hit a two-run home run and Jeff McNeil followed that up with a solo home run before the Reds recorded an out in the top of the first. That was it for the scoring in the top of the first, but it was a perfectly acceptable way to start a game, even if it did feel at the time like it was just 25 percent of the runs the Mets would need to win the game.
Over the course of the two innings that followed, Mets starter Jerad Eickhoff and some truly horrendous defense behind him managed to allow seven runs to complete flip the game on its head. Luis Guillorme and Jeff McNeil each completely botched a routine double play, wasting all four of the easy outs hit their way on those two plays. And Guillorme made two more errors on just one play, one that could have possibly been a double play but should have resulted in at least one out. The Mets might as well have played a giant neon sign that read “Francisco Lindor is on the IL” in the middle infield.
Shockingly, neither team scored in the third, but as has been the case all year, the Mets did not give up. Michael Conforto put them within reach with a two-run home run in the top of the fourth. Pete Alonso singled in a run later in the inning to cut the Reds’ lead to one run. And Dom Smith hit a no-doubt home run in the fifth to tie the game.
Eickhoff wound up pitching just three-and-two-thirds innings, but he, Yennsy Diaz, and Miguel Castro combined to keep the Reds from scoring through the bottom of the sixth. And with the game still tied, Castro was sent back out there for the seventh and got two ground outs, gave up just a single, and was pulled in favor of Seth Lugo with a man on first and two outs.
Coming off a brutal outing on Saturday night, Lugo picked up right where he left off, issuing a walk to the first batter he faced and serving up a double to the irritating Jesse Winker. But he escaped the inning without allowing more, which was crucial.
Conforto singled to lead off the top of the eighth, and Dave Jauss—who managed the game and will manage again tonight while Luis Rojas serves his suspension for excessive arguing—pinch hit for Tomás Nido with James McCann. And McCann made him look fantastic by hitting a two-run shot that turned the Mets’ late one-run deficit into an 8-7 lead.
Lugo went back out there for the bottom of the inning and looked much, much better, allowing just a one-out single while striking out the other three batters he faced. The Mets didn’t score in the top of the ninth, but they turned to Edwin Díaz, who was also coming off a disastrous previous outing, for the ninth. And of course, he blew the save.
Luckily, Díaz only allowed the Reds to tie the game with none other than Winker hitting the double that drove in the tying run. But he managed to escape the inning despite throwing a wild pitch that put Winker on third base with two outs.
So the game went to extras. McCann put the Mets back on top with a single in the tenth, but that was it for that inning. And with a depleted bullpen, Jauss turned to Anthony Banda, who most fans probably hadn’t heard of before he was added to the roster or was said to be warming up in the Mets’ bullpen.
Banda immediately gave up back-to-back singles, the second of which tied the game and gave the Reds runners on first and second with nobody out. But a double play and another ground out later, he was able to get the game to the eleventh.
And thank goodness for the top of the eleventh. Jeff McNeil put the Mets back on top with a single, and a few batters later, Kevin Pillar—who had come into the game as a pinch hitter for Lugo in the ninth—hit a three-run blast, giving the Mets some very badly needed insurance runs. For good measure, Conforto hit a solo home run immediately after that, giving the Mets a 15-10 lead. It didn’t necessarily feel like enough, but it felt like they had a chance.
Banda stayed on to start the bottom of the inning. He got an out, gave up an infield single, and gave up a single that brought in the Reds’ eleventh run. With that, Jauss turned to Trevor May in what must have been absolute emergency availability. With two runners on, he first faced Nick Castellanos, one of the Reds’ very best hitters who hadn’t started the game or played at all since being hit on the wrist by a pitch on Friday night. May got him to fly out to deep right field. And he put the game to rest by striking out Mike Freeman to end it.
*illar of the game
With a three-run home run that gave the Mets vital insurance in the top of the eleventh inning, Kevin Pillar took the title easily. *illar of the game: Kevin Pillar
Win Probability Added
Big Mets winner: James McCann, +54.9% WPA
Big Mets loser: Jerad Eickhoff, -49.0% WPA
Mets pitchers: -30.9% WPA
Mets hitters: +80.9% WPA
Teh aw3s0mest play: James McCann hits a go-ahead two-run home run in the eighth, +39.8% WPA
Teh sux0rest play: Jesse Winker hits a game-tying double in the bottom of the ninth, -46.3% WPA