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Javy Báez and bullpen power Mets to victory in Miami

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The newest member of the Mets played an instrumental role in getting the Mets a big win to keep their lead in the NL East.

New York Mets v Miami Marlins Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images

After losing three straight games and seeing their lead in the NL East shrink to 1.5 games, the Mets were able to get back into the win column on Wednesday night. Powered by their mostly reliable bullpen and new acquisition Javy Báez, the Mets scored two runs in the eighth inning to win 5-3.

Carlos Carrasco took the mound for the Mets for his second start of the season and impressed early on, retiring the first seven batters he faced, and stranding a runner on second base in both the third and fourth innings.

It was the Mets who scored the first runs of the game, jumping out to an early lead in the second inning against Marlins starter Zach Thompson. After Dom Smith ripped a double to right, Javy Báez singled, giving the Mets runners at the corners with nobody out. Michael Conforto then walked to load the bases, and Jonathan Villar grounded out, allowing Smith to score the first run of the game.

After Villar, it was Tomás Nido’s turn to plate a run for the Mets, as he grounded the ball to first baseman Jesús Aguilar. Running on the play, Báez sprinted home from third base, leading for one of the more impressive plays at the plate you’ll ever see. As Marlins catcher Alex Jackson went to try and apply the tag to Báez, Báez first reached for home with his left hand, before pulling it back, and reaching around for home with his right hand, scoring the second run of the game for the Mets. Next was the pitcher Carlos Carrasco, who topped a grounder right in front of home. Jogging after hitting the ball, Carrasco was able to reach first safely on an error, which allowed Michael Conforto to score, giving the Mets the 3-0 lead.

In the bottom of the fifth, Carrasco ran into trouble after Jorge Alfaro and Bryan De La Cruz led off the inning with back-to-back singles. Carrasco was then able to record the first out of the inning, striking out Alex Jackson, but then had to face pinch-hitter and former Met Joe Panik. Panik delivered for the Marlins, lining a single right up the middle to cut the Mets lead to 3-1. That was all for Carlos Carrasco, as Luis Rojas went to his bullpen in the fifth after Carrasco was able to throw 62 pitches in his second start. Aaron Loup came on in relief of Carrasco and was able to get Jazz Chisholm to hit a grounder to shortstop. However, the ball was hit so softly that the Mets double play combo of Javy Báez and Jeff McNeil were only able to get the out at second, allowing De La Cruz to score and cut the Mets’ lead to one. Loup then struck out Isan Díaz to escape any further damage and keep it a one run game.

Pitching in the bottom of the sixth, Jeurys Familia was trying to protect a one run lead. The first batter he faced was Jesús Aguilar who had other plans, crushing a 2-1 slider deep to left field to tie the game at 3. Brian Anderson then hit a one-out double, putting the go-ahead run in scoring position for the Marlins, and putting Familia in yet another high stress situation. Familia rose to the occasion, striking out the next two batters he faced, stranding Anderson at second base and keeping the game tied at 3.

In the top of the seventh, the Mets’ offense, which had been quiet so far, had a golden opportunity to take the lead. After Tomás Nido and pinch-hitter Brandon Drury both grounded out, the top of the Mets lineup was able to get to reliever Richard Bleier. On back-to-back pitches, Brandon Nimmo and Jeff McNeil were able to reach base, Nimmo with a single to right, and McNeil with a double to left field. Still maybe not 100% from his hamstring pinch over the weekend, Nimmo was not able to score from first on McNeil’s double, and was held up at third. After the Marlins opted to walk Pete Alonso rather than have him face a lefty, Dom Smith came to the plate with a chance to give the Mets the lead. Swinging at the first pitch he saw, Smith lined one right at the center fielder, ending the inning and leaving three men on base.

Miguel Castro then came on to pitch the bottom of the seventh and continued his recent improvements, giving the Mets a much needed 1-2-3 inning, and keeping the game tied.

Leading off the top of the eighth against Marlins reliever Anthony Bass, the newest member of the Mets Javy Báez had a chance to give the Mets a big hit and that he did. On a 1-2 slider, Báez showed off his impressive strength, flying a ball to the opposite field, which cleared the fence in right for a home run, putting the Mets back in front 4-3. Michael Conforto then singled to left, and after Jonathan Villar and Tomás Nido struck out, J.D. Davis pinch hit for the pitchers spot, looking to keep the inning going. Davis weakly grounded a ball to shortstop Jazz Chisholm that he was able to beat out. Chisholm’s throw to first was a wild one, which allowed Conforto to advance to third on the error and put runners on the corners. The Marlins then made a pitching change, bringing in Steven Okert to face Brandon Nimmo. On a 3-2 pitch, Okert walked Nimmo, and the ball got behind the catcher, allowing Conforto to score a much needed insurance run for the Mets.

With a newly minted 5-3 lead, Drew Smith came into the game to pitch the eighth inning. With Edwin Díaz on paternity leave and Seth Lugo unavailable after pitching two innings the night before, it was up to Smith to get through the eighth unscathed to set up the bottom of the ninth for Trevor May. Smith did just that, not allowing the ball to leave the infield in a 1-2-3 inning.

Looking to grow the lead from two runs in the top of the ninth, Dom Smith singled and Michael Conforto doubled, putting two runners in scoring position, but Jonathan Villar and Tomás Nido both struck out. ending the inning and leaving two more men on base for the Mets.

Given the assignment of closer for the night, Trevor May pitched the bottom of the ninth, and partly thanks to a generous strike three call from home plate umpire Angel Hernandez, May sent the Marlins down in order to secure a much needed win for the Mets.

Box scores

MLB

ESPN

*illar of the Game

Jonathan Villar: Villar drove in a run in the second inning while Kevin Pillar only played two innings on Wednesday as a defensive replacement.

Win Probability Added

Fangraphs.com

What’s WPA?

Big Mets winner: Javy Báez, +28% WPA
Big Mets loser: Jeurys Familia, -12% WPA
Mets pitchers: +36% WPA
Mets hitters: +14% WPA
Teh aw3s0mest play: Javy Báez’s go-ahead solo home run in the top of the eighth
Teh sux0rest play: Jesús Aguilar’s game-tying homer in the bottom of the sixth

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