The Mets’ game against the Reds last night wasn’t a must-win situation, but given the events of the 24 hours that preceded it, a win was strongly preferable.
On Friday, the Mets made one trade before the deadline, bringing in Javier Báez and Trevor Williams from the Cubs. But the team could have used more help, especially in the rotation or bullpen, and it seemed that way even before it was announced that Jacob deGrom was being shut down for two weeks because things had gotten slightly worse with the inflammation in his right elbow. And to top things off, the Reds beat the Mets with ease on Friday night.
On Saturday night, though, the Mets’ recent acquisitions—except for Williams, who was optioned to Syrcause—were front and center. Rich Hill got the start, and Báez played shortstop and was slotted into the cleanup spot.
Hill and Reds starter Wade Miley swapped zeroes through the top of the third, and the Mets got on the board first. The scorching-hot Brandon Drury led off with a double, Hill bunted him over to third, and Jonathan Villar drove him in with a single. The Mets’ offense went silent immediately after that, as Pete Alonso grounded into an inning-ending double play and the team didn’t score through the bottom of the fifth.
The Reds, however, started scoring promptly in the top of the fourth. With two outs and a runner on first, Hill issued a walk and served up a no-doubt home run to Eugenio Suárez, giving Cincinnati a 3-1 lead. And in the fifth, Hill surrendered another home run, a solo shot off the bat of Kyle Farmer.
Given the Mets’ struggles at the plate, that deficit seemed substantial. But Villar drew a leadoff walk to start the bottom of the sixth, and Alonso singled to put two men on with nobody out. Unfortunately, Villar got picked off second, the fourth time he’s been picked off this season, with this one coming in the worst of spots for the Mets.
One out later, though, Báez introduced himself to the crowd at Citi Field with a no-doubt home run of his own, cutting the Reds’ lead to one run on what could have been a game-tying home run if Villar had managed to remain on second base.
The Mets’ bullpen had taken over in the top of the sixth and blanked the Reds the rest of the way. Yennsy Diaz pitched the sixth, Jeurys Familia got the seventh, and Seth Lugo started the eighth. Things got a bit hairy at that point, with Lugo giving up a leadoff single and just barely keeping Joey Votto in the park on a ball that turned out to hit the wall and result in a very well-struck single.
Still, runners were on the corners with nobody out. Lugo started to find his way out of the inning with a strikeout. Then he struck out another. Luis Rojas turned to Aaron Loup for the final out of the inning, and Loup made an easy pickoff throw to first, as Votto had started toward second base way too early. Alonso took that throw and wisely saw that he could retire Farmer, who was caught between third and home, instead of Votto—ending the inning and ensuring that the Reds could not score a run on the play.
After a silent bottom of the eighth that included a pinch hitting appearance for the ice cold Michael Conforto, which ended with a weak ground out, Trevor May got the top of the ninth and threw a scoreless inning.
In the bottom of the ninth, Jeff McNeil drew a walk to start the inning. But Báez and James McCann both struck out. The Reds called up Sean Doolittle to face Dom Smith, a move that backfired, as Smith fell behind in the count but did an excellent job of recovering, hitting a game-tying single up the middle. That was it for the Mets’ scoring in the inning, but it was enough.
Edwin Díaz made things interesting in the top of the tenth, first throwing a wild pitch that advanced the free runner from second base to third. He followed that up with a walk. But like Lugo before him, Díaz notched back-to-back strikeouts to vastly improve the situation. And he induced a well-struck ball to center off the bat of Tyler Naquin, a ball that went almost exactly to where Kevin Pillar was standing.
Fittingly, Pillar was the Mets’ free runer on second in the bottom of the inning, having made the final out of the ninth. With former Mets prospect Luis Cessa on the mound, Drury wasted no time, hitting a single to right on which Pillar easily scored to give the Mets a walk-off win.
-illar of the day
Considering the fact that Villar drove in a run in the game and Pillar scored the winning run, this might seem a bit harsh. But Villar’s mistake on the bases was massive, and the only thing Pillar did to be in the position to score that run was make an out to end the bottom of the ninth. -illar of the day: Neither
Win Probability Added
Big Mets winner: Edwin Díaz, +47.5% WPA
Big Mets loser: Rich Hill, -26.3% WPA
Mets pitchers: +36.0% WPA
Mets hitters: +14.0% WPA
Teh aw3s0mest play: Dom Smith hits a game-tying single in the bottom of the ninth, +42.5% WPA
Teh sux0rest play: Eugenio Suárez hits a three-run home run in the fourth, -36.1% WPA