The Mets have been a slightly above .500 team since the start of June. They have been a downright bad offensive team for at least a couple weeks now. Good teams will go through rough stretches, and the Mets are still solid bets to make the postseason. But there’s no doubt that some amount of frustration has been building amongst the fanbase as the Braves have continued to chip away at the division lead. Losing a series to the lowly Reds would certainly have brought a lot of fans to a tipping point, and for a while it looked like they might do just that. But a late rally sent the Mets to extra innings, and the offense finally broke through with five runs in the tenth to give the Amazins an 8-3 victory to take the series.
After giving one of their most pitiful offensive performances of the season in yesterday’s 1-0 loss, the Mets quickly showed that at the very least, tonight wouldn’t be quite as awful an outing for the bats by scoring in the first. Brandon Nimmo got on with a hit-by-pitch against Reds starting pitcher Graham Ashcroft. After the next two batters were retired, Pete Alonso and Jeff McNeil hit back-to-back two-out singles to get on the board. So there would be at least some small glimmer of offense on this night—despite the fact that plenty of frustration was still to follow.
David Peterson came into this game having had a string of solid starts. In particular, his command seemed to be on the upswing, as he avoided walking any batters in each of his last two starts. Those advances unfortunately did not continue today, as Peterson had one of his quintessential frustrating starts. After overcoming some trouble in the first inning (in which he hit Jonathan India with a pitch to leadoff the frame—the first sign of trouble with his command, and which ultimately led to India leaving the game), Peterson gave up the lead in the second, as following a one-out walk to Matt Reynolds, Nick Senzel hit a two-run home run to left field to make it 2-1. More trouble followed an inning later, as a leadoff single by Brandon Drury was followed by a stolen base and a wild pitch to send him to third, and he would then score on a one-out double by Kyle Farmer to make it 3-1.
The Mets managed to get another run on the board in the top of the fourth. Dominic Smith led off with a double to center field, and following two outs which almost ruined yet another scoring chance, Tomás Nido hit a little flare on a broken bat which landed in right field for an RBI single to cut the lead to 3-2. Unfortunately, Peterson had yet another rough inning in him for the bottom of the frame, as he walked the first three batters he faced. Thankfully for him, one of those runners was erased on a pickoff play by Nido, but that poor display resulted in Buck Showalter removing Peterson before he could finish the inning, with his final line—3.2 innings, 4 hits, 5 walks, 7 strikeouts, 3 runs—being a real disappointment given the strides he had shown previously.
Adonis Medina came on to replace him, and he recorded an out to end the inning. It was the beginning of a pretty stellar outing for a guy who has struggled to find consistent footing on the major league squad this year. Medina would wind up throwing scoreless three innings in total, giving up just one hit (a one-out single to Nick Senzel which resulted in an out when McNeil threw him out trying to stretch it into a double) and one walk. That walk ended Medina’s night, but his effort kept the Mets in the ballgame. Colin Holderman came on to replace him and pitched 1.1 scoreless innings of his own.
The Reds bullpen—which, like the rest of the team, is dreadful—threw 4.1 scoreless innings last night. After Ashcroft finished six innings of two-run ball, the Reds bullpen came on and again held the Mets scoreless for the next two innings. As has been the case often in this stretch of futility for the offense, they’ve managed to put together some hits and some scoreless opportunities, but the clutch hits continued to elude them. Thus the Mets entered the ninth inning with eleven hits but only two runs, and Hunter Strickland coming on to try to secure the series victory for the Reds. Given the offensive struggles that the team had been enduring, it was hard to have much faith in the team to make a comeback, and the prospect of losing two of three to the Reds seemed all but inevitable.
Mark Canha pinch-hit for Nido to leadoff and popped out softly for the first out. Nimmo then came up and, after getting to two strikes, poked an opposite-field single to left to give the Mets a baserunner and a sliver of hope. Starling Marte then came to the plate and similarly fell behind in the count. But on a 1-2 count, he socked a ball down the third base line. It was ruled a fair ball by the third base umpire—a somewhat dubious call upon review, but one which was not eligible to be reviewed—and Nimmo came home on the RBI double. Alas, Lindor and Alonso recorded weak outs on the next two pitches that Strickland threw, so the prospect of taking a lead was quickly dashed. But after so much offensive futility, tying the game and breathing some life into the squad was huge in and of itself.
Adam Ottavino came on for the bottom of the frame and pitched a glowing 1-2-3 inning with two strikeouts to send the game to extras. Dauri Moreta came on in the tenth for the Reds, and Ender Inciarte pinch-ran for Alonso as the ghost runner at second. After a McNeil flyout to center for the first out, Smith came up and quickly erased the fears that some Mets fans probably felt that the offensive woes would continue in extras, as he hit a double down the right field line to score Inciarte. Of course, as the away team in extra innings with the ghost runner, you’d ideally like to score more than one run to feel secure heading into the bottom of the inning. Eduardo Escobar flew out right field for the second out, and Moreta intentially walked Luis Guillorme to bring James McCann—who entered the game after Nido was pinch-hit for—to the plate. Given McCann’s offensive woes, it seemed like the Mets might have to settle for just the one run. Instead, the beleaguered Mets catcher came through with one of his biggest hits in recent memory, lining a single to left to score Smith from second and make it 5-3. And then, to put the finishing touches on one of the best offensive innings for the Mets in some time, Nimmo socked a three-run homer to right field to make it a five-run frame and give the Mets an 8-3 lead.
While it was no longer a save situation, Edwin Díaz still got the call for the bottom of the tenth. And despite being a lower-leverage situation than he might have expected, he still shut the door completely, striking out the side to put the Reds down without so much as a whimper. With that, the Mets secured a much-needed victory. The offensive struggles the team has endured in recent times is still a concern, but the five-run inning hopefully gives the team something to build on as they prepare to face a hot Marlins team.
SB Nation GameThreads
Win Probability Added
Big Mets winner: Starling Marte, +28.5% WPA
Big Mets loser: Jeff McNeil, -22.5% WPA
Mets pitchers: +25.5% WPA
Mets hitters: +24.5% WPA
Teh aw3s0mest play: Starling Marte game-tying double in the ninth, +37.3 WPA
Teh sux0rest play: Nick Senzel two-run homer in the second, -17.9% WPA