This game kind of felt like two games in one, even though it only went eight innings due to the doubleheader rules.
The first part of this game was defined by the pitching. An absolute heavyweight fight between the best pitcher in baseball, Jacob deGrom, and Corbin Burnes, a pitcher who has been lights out in 2021. Ironically, the both pitchers got off to various types of slow starts.
deGrom served up a solo home to leadoff hiter Luis Urías, a no doubt shot that put the Brewers ahead 1-0. He got out of the rest of the inning unscathed, a sign of what was to come for (most) of his start.
The Mets immediately had their ace’s back, starting with a double by Brandon Nimmo. Francisco Lindor singled him home, placing a 61.7 MPH blooper perfectly between the third baseman and the left fielder. The Mets looked like they had an even bigger inning in their locker, as Pete Alonso singled after a Dom Smith strike out to put two on. A wild pitch put them both in scoring position, but a Jeff McNeil strikeout and a hard hit ground out by Michael Conforto ended the rally — and for a long time looked like the Mets soiled their only chance against Burnes.
In the second, third, and fourth innings, deGrom and Burnes put their first inning woes behind them and absolutely shoved. deGrom, who seemingly took a bit off his fastball in this one, did not miss the extra ticks in velo, throwing three perfect innings — including getting his 1,500th strikeout of his wonderful career thus far, the second fastest in history behind Yu Darvish. Burnes allowed a single in those frames, but was really excellent and matched deGrom blow for blow. It was a truly fun pitcher’s duel.
The Brewers got to deGrom in the fifth, and did so in a loud way. After Nimmo robbed Avisaíl García of a hit with a diving catch — a play that will loom large in roughly 10-12 words. Jacob deGrom hung a truly bad slider to Jace Peterson did not miss it, depositing it into center field and pushing the Brewers ahead, 2-1. deGrom buckled down again, after that, and got through seven innings with just those two runs surrendered.
The Mets had a pair of annoying innings on the back of that seemingly crushing Peterson dinger. Tomás Nido reached on an error, and deGrom followed that up with a horrific bunt that was popped up for an out. Nimmo hit a can of corn fly ball — except the can hit the floor, off the glove of Christian Yelich, and Nido was forced out at second, having to hold at first. Nimmo subsequently got caught stealing by a mile.
Like I said, annoying.
If the bottom of the fifth was annoying, the bottom of the sixth was downright maddening. After Corbin made quick work of Lindor and Smith, Alonso finally got to him again with a hard hit double. Brewers Legend Billy McKinney came in to pinch run for Alonso, who quickly was moved over to third on an infield single by McNeil. Devin Williams came in to relieve Burnes after a truly good performance, and promptly plunked Conforto to load the bases. Luis Guillorme had a chance to put the Mets ahead, but weakly grounded to the second baseman to put the Mets in The Bad Place, because Josh Hader was coming in. And this is the second part of the game, defined by magic.
Hader, who has worked basically exclusively as a one inning closer now, a starch departure from his previous multi-inning fireman role, has been incredible, running a 0.55 ERA, a whopping 45.5% strikeout rate, and a perfect 20/20 in save opportunity.
After striking out Kevin Pillar, José Peraza sashayed to the plate, and promptly made Josh Hader look like a jabroni. Peraza, who was hitting .462/.563/.923 (good for a 292 wRC+) in high leverage situations BEFORE this at bat, took a middle-high fastball and tattooed it, harshly placing it 390 ft. over the left center field wall, tying the game at two. That’s all the Mets would do that inning, but ruining Hader’s saves streak and keeping the game alive was a great way to spend a half inning.
However, the game was not smooth sailing after that. Edwin Díaz came in in a non-save situation in the top of the eighth, got New Brewer Rowdy Tellez swinging, Jackie Bradley Jr. to ground out, and then promptly forgot where the strikezone was. Tyrone Taylor walked, as did Urías, loading the bases with two outs and putting Díaz in a rough spot. He did not handle it well, hitting Yelich with a fastball and untying the game in the process. He got Willy Adames to strike out, though, keeping the deficit to 3-2.
The Mets needed some magic again, and turned to Dom Smith to pull something out of his hat to get the rally going, this time against soft-tossing lefty Brent Suter. He likely did not want to get hit in both the hand and face with a baseball, but regardless it got the winning run on base. James McCann, who was in the game for Nido when Luis Rojas made his typical bevy of changes late in games, worked a beautiful walk, fouling off pitches left and right and spitting on some extremely close pitches, to really put the Brewers in a bind. McNeil, who was batting around .100 with runners in scoring position (woof) came to the plate and roped a single up the middle. Lindor (who was the free runner) scored easily to tie in, and Smith beat out a horrible throw from Jackie Bradley Jr. in center to walk the Brewers off.
*illar of the game
Villar did not play (though he was heavily involved in celebrating with McNeil), and Pillar got gassed up by Josh Hader. Not a banner day for our beautiful, beautiful *illars. *illar of the game: Neither :(
Win Probability Added
Big Mets winner: José Peraza, +47.3% WPA
Big Mets loser: Luis Guillorme, -23.7% WPA
Mets pitchers: +11.9% WPA
Mets hitters: +38.1% WPA
Teh aw3s0mest play: José Peraza’s game-tying home run, +47.3 WPA
Teh sux0rest play: Christian Yelich’s RBI hit by pitch, -32.5% WPA
SB Nation GameThreads
This game, most definitely, did not feel like two games, and barely felt like one. The Mets had pretty much no answers on offense for Brett Anderson, or anybody the Brewers sent out to pitch in Game 2. Because of that, it was a swift 2-hour, 26-minute affair.
Robert Stock started this game for the Mets after allowing five runs to the Mets back on June 16 when he started for the Cubs. After that, Mets fans were probably bearish on Stock, but he pitched much better this time around. He allowed a two-run homer to Manny Piña in the second, but those were the only runs he surrendered.
Stock lasted four innings, allowing the two runs on four hits with five strikeouts and two walks. He could have gone longer in a nine-inning game, but four innings was plenty for a seven-inning affair. You never want to hang on to a stock too long before it crashes, after all.
Drew Smith came on in relief and pitched two solid innings himself, though he allowed a solo homer to Willy Adames to make it 3-0.
The Mets could not muster anything on offense all night. They didn’t even get a runner in scoring position until the sixth, which was their best chance to score all night. Brad Boxberger came in and boxed himself into a pickle by walking three straight to start the inning. The Mets had the bases loaded and nobody out with the heart of their order due up again, but Boxberger quickly self-corrected and punched out the next three in a row. The Mets stranded the bases loaded and didn’t score a run.
Miguel Castro came on in the seventh just trying to keep the Braves at 3 runs and couldn’t do that; he allowed a two-run homer to Luis Urias to break it open and make it 5-0. Castro’s ERA on the year is now 4.01, and he has looked significantly worse for much of the last month now.
The Mets went down in order in the seventh, ending the game. After the two games today, they sit at 45-38 with a four-game lead in the NL East, a fairly comfortable position to enter a four-game series with the Pirates.
*illar of the game
Jonathan Villar went 0-for-2 with a walk, and Kevin Pillar with 0-for-3 with a strikeout.
*illar of the game: Jonathan Villar, by default.
Win Probability Added
Big Mets winner: Jonathan Villar, +9.3%WPA
Big Mets loser: Pete Alonso -19.3% WPA
Mets pitchers: -13.9% WPA
Mets hitters: -36.1% WPA
Teh aw3s0mest play: Jonathan Villar walked, +12.9%WPA
Teh sux0rest play: Manny Piña hits a two-run home run, -20.6% WPA