This game felt long and eventful, despite its relatively low score of 3-2. At least Jacob deGrom is okay. Maybe. Who knows, he’s throwing baseballs again.
Taijuan Walker was great, for the most part. He threw three perfect innings to start his day, and the Mets offense followed suit by posting zeros of their own — they had runners on in each of the first three innings, most notably when Javier Báez and Dominic Smith hit back to back singles in the second. That threat was squandered when Jonathan Villar smoked a line drive that was caught by the center fielder, and Báez decided to run on contact, got picked off with ease. The double plays played a huge role for the Mets in this loss, as they hit into a whopping five of them in the loss, which is simply, in a word, ridiculous and makes an easily winnable game a loss, regardless of any future pitching changes we will absolutely talk about soon.
The Giants got to Walker in the fourth, when Kris Bryant took a two out, two strike pitch by the big righty and smashed it, hitting it roughly 10,000 feet over the left field wall. The Mets went down easily in the bottom of the frame, and Walker held the Giants in the top of the fifth. The Mets finally woke up a bit in the bottom of the frame, however.
Jonathan Villar worked a one out walk, and Walker, pulling his best Shohei Ohtani impression out of his hat, smoked a single up the middle with two away to keep the inning alive. Brandon Nimmo walked to load the bases. Pete Alonso took a rough at bat, chasing a slider off the plate and rolling it over directly into Bryant’s glove, but the third baseman made a horrific throw, pulling Brandon Belt way off the bag, allowing Alonso to reach first and the Mets to tie the game. Jeff McNeil popped out on the first pitch to end the frame, but the lead was erased.
Walker kept it 1-1 with an efficient one, two, three sixth inning, and the Mets actually kept the bats warm in the bottom of the sixth. Michael Conforto singled, and Báez got him over with a weak ground ball to the first baseman. Dominic Smith, facing a lefty, smashed a double into the right field corner, making it 2-1. Villar would single him to third, but Patrick Mazeika, you guessed it, rolled into a double play, ending the rally.
And then, oh boy, the seventh inning happened [dramatic piano keys start playing].
Bryant reached on a fielding error by Villar to lead off the inning, and Alex Dickerson hit a cheap single, falling in between Jeff McNeil and Michael Conforto. Then, with back to back lefties coming up and two runners on with no outs, Luis Rojas pulled Walker for Aaron Loup, who has been a shutdown reliever.
The move is absolutely going to be maligned, but there was definite logic behind it. Walker, who was facing the heart of the order for the third time in the game, was surrendering a whopping .276/.324/.500 line the third time through this season. Aaron Loup has been excellent, surrendering just five earned runs (eight total) in 41.1 innings pitched, and was holding lefties to a .159/.203./159 line with zero extra base hits. Despite the low-ish pitch count (Walker has had issues working past 80-90 pitches this year), the pull was understandable.
It also did not work.
Loup, despite his routine excellence against lefties, hung a bad cutter to Crawford who walloped it into the right field corner, taking away the Mets’ lead before one could blink. Loup continued to struggle, hitting a pinch hitting Austin Slater, though Crawford was inexplicably caught trying to steal third base. Loup struck out Curt Casali, and Tommy La Stella flew out to Smith to end the threat. It was a bad time for Loup to have his worst outing in literally months; just unfortunate timing for every Met involved.
The Mets went down quickly in the bottom of the seventh, Trevor May pitched an solid eighth after giving up a lead off double, and the Mets went in order in the eighth. Seth Lugo got three easy outs in the ninth, and then the Mets came to try and walk it off.
And, of course, it was eventful. Why would it be easy?
Jake McGee, who has been a solid closer all year, walked a tightrope almost from jump. He got Smith to go down swinging, but the rally-that-was-not began. Villar roped a single to center (though he should have been out after Belt dropped a foul pop up), and Brandon Drury reached on an error when the center and left fielder decided to not call each other off and softly bump into each other, jostling the ball to the grass and putting the Mets in serious business. Francisco Lindor, who came in after pinch hitting and stayed in by way of a double switch, popped up a bad fastball, taking a poor at bat, and putting a second out on the board. Nimmo worked a walk, and Alonso came to the plate with two outs and the bases loaded.
Alonso fought off a bevy of tough pitches, but never really looked comfortable against the veteran McGee. He eventually took an inside fastball and tried to fist it over the second baseman, but La Stella camped under it for the final out, ending the rally, and possibly the Mets’ season, in its tracks. A frustrating end to a frustrating August, setting up a likely frustrating season.
-illar of the day
Kevin Pillar did not play, and Jonathan Villar did some good (a few hits) and some bad (an error that led to a run), but Villar wins regardless.
Win Probability Added
Big Mets winner: Brandon Nimmo, +14.2% WPA
Big Mets loser: Pete Alonso, -24.6% WPA
Mets pitchers: -10.8% WPA
Mets hitters: -39.2% WPA
Teh aw3s0mest play: Dominic Smith’s RBI double, +16.6% WPA
Teh sux0rest play: Brandon Crawford’s two RBI double, -30.3% WPA