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Bullpen and Bats Bad for Back in Black

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Carlos Carrasco pitched well in his Mets debut, but the Mets failed to capitalize on their opportunities offensively and the bullpen poured gasoline on the fire.

Cincinnati Reds v New York Mets Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

The Mets fell to the Reds 6-2 in the opener of this weekend series at Citi Field. The stadium seemed like it was filled with an extra bit of energy right from the start. At long last, Carlos Carrasco was making his Mets debut. And he was doing so in front of the home crowd, just after the trading deadline when the Mets have added a couple of players and on the night the Mets brought back the black jerseys for the first time in almost a decade.

But on the very first pitch, it was like the wind was taken right out of the stadium when Jonathan India blasted a ball out of sight into the Queens night sky to give the Reds an immediate 1-0 lead. But Carrasco recovered immediately. The next batter Jesse Winker hit a grounder into the hole that Jeff McNeil made a great play on, retiring Winker on a spin throw to first to help right the ship for Carrasco. Carrasco gave up just two more hits total over his four innings of work and one of them was due to an unlucky bounce off the lip of the infield grass that sailed over McNeil, but would have otherwise been an out. The Mets played strong defense in support of their pitchers all night long; Luis Guillorme made a highlight reel worthy leaping grab to rob Eugenio Suárez of a hit in the fourth.

But unfortunately the Mets did not do much on the offensive side of the ball to support Carrasco. Sonny Gray looked vulnerable early, as the Mets led off the bottom of the first inning with two straight hits from Brandon Nimmo and Jeff McNeil to immediately tie the game at one run apiece. Pete Alonso walked and Dominic Smith then singled to load the bases with nobody out. But the Mets failed to take advantage and put up a crooked number; Michael Conforto struck out and Jonathan Villar grounded into a double play to end the inning. It was not the first time in the game the Mets would fall victim to the twin killing and they allowed Gray to settle in after that.

With the Mets not wanting to push Carrasco in his debut, he came out of the game after four innings and 58 pitches, having allowed the solo homer in the first inning but nothing more. He struck out four batters and walked one in his debut. He was relieved by Miguel Castro, who gave up two straight two-out hits to India and Winker, giving the Reds a 2-1 lead. Joey Votto added a run to that lead with a solo homer off Drew Smith the following inning. Votto has now homered in seven straight games.

Meanwhile, Sonny Gray retired the final eleven Mets he faced in order and his night ended after six one-run innings. Michael Lorenzen tossed a 1-2-3 seventh inning for the Reds and Anthony Banda worked around a walk of Votto to pitch a scoreless eighth, striking out all three of the other batters he faced. The Mets then had their best chance to come back in the bottom of the frame against Mychal Givens—a Reds trade acquisition from the Colorado Rockies. James McCann laced a one-out single and then Nimmo walked, putting the tying run on base. But Jeff McNeil popped out to third in foul territory and then Pete Alonso grounded into a force out at third to end the inning.

Banda was asked to pitch a second inning and that is when things got away from the Mets. Suárez led off the top of the ninth for the Reds with a single. The pinch hitter Tyler Stephenson then followed with a double that advanced Suárez to third. Arstides Aquino—also pinch hitting—then hit a liner to center on which Brandon Nimmo made a fantastic diving catch, but Suárez tagged up at third base and scored easily to extend the Reds’ lead to 4-1. India then piled on, launching his second home run of the night to open up a five-run lead for the Reds. Banda retired Winker and Votto on either side of a Kyle Farmer double to end the inning, but the damage was done.

The Mets did manage to build a two-out rally against Amir Garrett in the bottom of the ninth, but ultimately fell short. Jonathan Villar singled and advanced to second on defensive in difference and then advanced again to third on a balk by Garrett. Pinch hit specialist Brandon Drury drove Villar in with a double for the Mets’ second run of the night. Luis Guillorme then worked out a walk and Drury and Guillorme advanced to second and third on a passed ball by the catcher Tucker Barnhart. But Garrett struck out James McCann to put to rest any thoughts of a comeback by the Mets and the game ended with a final score of 6-2.

Rich Hill will make his second Mets start, facing off against fellow lefty Wade Miley in the second game of this three-game weekend at Citi Field, likely with Javier Báez making his Mets debut.

*illar of the game

Jonathan Villar went 1-for-4 with a run scored and Kevin Pillar did not appear in this game, so Jonathan Villar gets the honors for tonight’s game.

Box scores

ESPN
MLB

Win Probability Added

Fangraphs.com

What’s WPA?

Big Mets winner: Carlos Carrasco, +9.4% WPA
Big Mets loser: Jonathan Villar, -18.7% WPA
Mets pitchers: -10.6% WPA
Mets hitters: -39.4% WPA
Teh aw3s0mest play: Jeff McNeil’s game-tying double in the bottom of the first, +13.3% WPA
Teh sux0rest play: Jesse Winker’s RBI single in the fifth, -14.5% WPA

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