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Mets parlay a storybook ending into a doubleheader sweep

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Michael Conforto and Javy Báez made some magic in both legs of the doubleheader

Miami Marlins v New York Mets - Game One Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

Game 1:

The Mets and Marlins resumed a game that began on April 11, 2021 in what can only be described as a totally normal and sane way to deal with games that are stopped due to rain. And so, despite playing two games today, this is technically not a doubleheader, due to this game having started four months ago. Sigh.

Taijuan Walker ‘relieved’ Marcus Stroman, entering the game (aka at the start) with one out, one on, and two balls against Jesus Aguilar. Walker got through the inning without the inherited runner scoring but did not have his best stuff today.

In the second inning, Walker gave up three straight hits to Jazz Chisholm, Miguel Rojas, and Bryan De La Cuz, which led to two runs scoring and gave the Marlins the early lead. In the fifth, a hit batsman, a single to Brian Anderson, and a ground-rule double led to the third Marlins run.

The Mets bats continued to be quiet today, but there were signs of life in the fifth inning. Jonathan Villar socked his 16th home run of the season to lead off the inning and put the Mets on the board. Singles by pinch-hitter J.D. Davis and Brandon Nimmo (aided by replay) were followed by a walk to Francisco Lindor to load the bases with just one out.

Sadly, Dominic Smith popped up for the second out, and Pete Alonso struck out on a ball four slider from Marlins starter long reliever Elieser Hernandez. Hernandez allowed just one run over five innings, with five hits, one walk, and four strikeouts.

Heath Hembree relieved Walker in the sixth, and put two men on with walks. Jesus Aguilar, fresh off of exchanging some words with Walker earlier in the game, blooped a hit into shallow right field that scored two runs, but almost was a disaster. Jeff McNeil was running in from second, Michael Conforto came in from deep right, and Alonso in from first, but the ball was dropping fast. McNeil dove for it, Conforto slid into a summersault over McNeil to attempt to avoid hard contact, and Alonso leaped over both to avoid adding a third body to the pileup. McNeil was shaken up, but stayed in the game.

Miguel Castro and Jeurys Familia both were bent, but never broke, in their three innings of scoreless relief, working around hits, hit batsmen and walks to get to the ninth down by just four runs.

And then, the movie script began writing itself.

A one-out walk to Chance Sisco set up a two-run home run from Brandon Nimmo, cutting the lead in half. Francisco Lindor gave the ball a ride to right field, but didn’t have quite enough zip on it, and the Mets were down to their final out.

On the first pitch he saw, Dom Smith shot a ball past the left side of the infield. Pete Alonso then stroked a double, putting the tying runs at second and third. Up next was Javier Báez, whose ‘thumbs down’ schtick had caused ridiculous responses on both sides across all of baseball over the last 48 hours. Báez grounded a ball deep in the gap and beat it out for an infield single, with Smith scoring.

One inning after smashing his bat in frustration, Conforto came to the plate and, essentially, hit the same ball that Smith did, easily scoring Alonso to tie the game. But the ball was booted by catcher-turned-left-fielder Jorge Alfaro, which allowed Báez to score all the way from first, ending the game and (hopefully) the narrative around his hand gestures.

The Mets are always getting quality work from their broadcast booth, but this Gary Cohen call is easily the best of the year, if not the past few.

Box scores

MLB.com

ESPN

-illar of the day

Jonathan Villar hit a solo shot to put the Mets on the board in the fifth, so he gets the nod today.

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Game 2:

After a more than four-hour technically-abbreviated first game, both the Marlins and Mets zipped through the seven-inning second leg of the doubleheader, with a Conforto home run making the difference in the Mets’ 3-1 win.

Alonso flashed an impressive glove on the first pitch of the game after Chisholm sent him diving for the first out. Lewis Brinson and Jesús Sanchez both managed two-out singles off of starter Trevor Williams, but Lewin Díaz popped out to finish the top of the first scoreless after just seven pitches from Williams.

Williams bettered his first-inning effort by setting the Marlins down in order in the top of the second, recording his first strikeout in the process against Sandy León. Conforto led off the bottom of the inning by reaching base after getting hit in the foot, and Báez then received a pleasantly mixed reaction from the crowd before lining out to left field.

Williams needed only 21 pitches to get through the Marlins lineup the first time around despite giving up two hits in the process, though he needed 11 pitches to retire Chisholm in the top of the third before finishing another scoreless inning. J.D. Davis led off the bottom of the third with a single that was promptly erased with Patrick Mazeika grounding into a double play. Williams grounded out to end the inning as the Mets and Marlins completed the first three innings in a brisk 43 minutes.

The Mets broke through with two outs in the bottom of the fourth inning with a deep two-run home run to right field from Conforto, scoring Nimmo from first base. Báez followed with a single and McNeil drove him in with a double to make the game 3-0, which turned out to be all the offense the Mets would need.

Williams gave up his first run in the top of the fifth after giving up a single to Miguel Rojas and an RBI double to Jesús Águilar, where León scored after leading off the inning reaching base via an error. Williams was promptly removed for Aaron Loup, who walked Chisholm to load the bases. He then finished his inning scoreless by inducing a ground ball from Isan Díaz, throwing to Mazeika at home, who then turned the inning-ending 1-2-3 double play.

Seth Lugo got into trouble in the top of the sixth inning as well, giving up a leadoff single to Brinson and walking Sanchez. A groundout to the pitcher advanced both runners, but Lugo finished his work striking out León and Magneuris Sierra back-to-back. After the Mets turned in a scoreless bottom of the sixth, Edwin Díaz set the final three Marlins down in order to earn the save and secure the win.

At the center of the Mets offense once again were Nimmo, Conforto, and Báez, who all deserve great credit for the five-run final inning in game 1 and for scoring all three runs in game 2. Williams, initially an afterthought in the Báez trade, turned the ball over to the bullpen with the lead, doing exactly what he needed to do. Only 48 hours after one of the most bizarre PR disasters in baseball this season, the Mets regained their winning formula and ended an awful August with a silver lining.

Wednesday’s game has already been postponed due to poor weather, so the Mets and Marlins will end their series on Thursday, with Carlos Carrasco taking the hill at 7:10pm against the most overworked starter in baseball, TBD.

Box scores

MLB.com

ESPN

-illar of the day

Jonathan Villar led off and went 1-3.

Win Probability Added

Fangraphs

What’s WPA?

Big Mets winner: Michael Conforto +29.3% WPA

Big Mets loser: Patrick Mazeika -9.5% WPA

Mets pitchers: +30.3% WPA

Mets hitters: +20.2% WPA

Teh aw3s0mest play: Conforto dinger

Teh sux0rest play: Jesús Águilar RBI double

SB Nation GameThreads

Amazin’ Avenue

Fish Stripes