The Mets entered this series with a record of 70-39. The Reds entered this series with a record of 44-63. Astute observers will note that the former record is significantly better than the latter. I mention this not to pile on our friends from Cincinnati, but rather to note the simple but true fact that a good team (say, a team with a 70-39 record) should beat a bad team (say, a team with a 44-63 record) more often than not.
Even with that simple acknowledgment, it must be said that what the Mets did over these past three days was impressive. They did not trail at any point throughout these past 27 innings. Their offense and pitching impressed in equal measure, as they outscored the Reds 21-5. And coming off the heels of a major series victory against their division rivals, the Mets avoided the threat of a trap series, maintained their season-high momentum, and continued to demonstrate why they are legitimate World Series contenders this year. Heading into an off-day before they take on the also-hot Phillies, the Amazins put the finishing touches on a sweep of the Reds with a dominating 10-2 victory.
T.J. Zeuch was the starter for the Reds this afternoon, making his 2022 major league debut after alternating between the majors and minors over the past few seasons. T.J. Zeuch has put up a 6.70 ERA in thirteen minor league starts this year. He’s been better since the Reds signed him earlier this year, but the point remains: T.J. Zeuch is the kind of pitcher that a good major league team should have no problem disposing of. And dispose of him the Mets did. They scored early on against him, with all three of the first Mets batters reaching base—the last on a Pete Alonso RBI single. They’d score another run in the inning on a sacrifice fly from Jeff McNeil, and that was still just the beginning. Three more runs would come home in the second inning—two on an single by Francisco Lindor (who tied a Mets record for RBIs in a season from a shortstop with 81, and with fifty games still remaining in the season) and one on a single by folk hero Daniel Vogelbach. Then for good measure, they added another run in the third inning when Tyler Naquin, who’s been an extra-base hit machine since joining the Mets, socked a solo homer to right field against his former team to put the Amazins up 6-0. By the time Zeuch left the game after four innings—in addition to putting up six runs against him, the Mets did their usual business of taking good at-bats and seeing a lot of pitches—his only comfort was that he was beaten by a team that is simply firing on all cylinders right now.
Taijuan Walker, meanwhile, came into today’s game trying to rebound from his worst start of the season. In his last game against the Braves (which, incidentally, is the last game the Mets lost), he was unable to record a single out past the first inning, giving up seven hits and eight runs while striking out none. His start today was a mostly successful comeback, as he gladly accepted the early runs the Mets gave him and prevented the Reds from making any legitimate comeback attempt. The only meaningful blemish of his day came in the fourth inning when he gave up two runs—the first on a Joey Votto RBI double, and then later in the frame when he surrendered a sacrifice fly to Jake Fraley. Beyond that, while he perhaps walked a few too many (three in six innings, an uncharacteristically high number for him), Walker gave up only those two runs and secured a quality start.
Back to the Mets offense for a second—what, you didn’t think their day would be done when T.J. Zeuch left the game, did you? Reiver Sanmartin was the first pitcher to come on out of the bullpen for the fifth inning, and while he recorded the first two outs of the inning, the Mets still scored a run on him thanks to a double from aforementioned extra-base hit machine Naquin and an infield single from Luis Guillorme which was thrown into the stands. Still, while Sanmartin probably wasn’t thrilled with his outing, it didn’t compare to the hurting the Mets would put on Ian Gibaut when he came out for an inning of work in the following frame. The top of the order greeted him as he came in, and the first five—yes, five—batters of the inning all reached base in some form or another. The big hits of the inning came via back-to-back doubles off the bats of Vogelbach (which scored two, with Alonso being thrown out at the plate on an overly aggressive bit of baserunning on a slightly errant throw) and McNeil (which scored Vogelbach from second). Those hits brought the score to 10-2, officially turning the game into a laugher.
The Mets didn’t score any additional runs in their final two innings at the plate, but it hardly matters. Seth Lugo, Trevor Williams, and Adonis Medina handled the last three innings without much trouble to finish things off and secure the victory and the sweep. The Mets have now won at least six straight games for the third time this season, and they have an absurd 15-2 record over the past seventeen games. Their lead in the NL East will either stay at seven or move up to eight, depending on the results of tonight’s Braves game. And while beating the Reds might not be quite as impressive as taking four of five against their division rivals was, the Mets will face a number of equally bad teams in the final fifty games of the season, and if they can handle those teams as effectively as they handled this one, they will not only handily win the NL East, but they may give the 1986 record of 108 wins a run for its money. All told, the team and its fans have a lot to be happy about as they head into a much-deserved off-day.
SB Nation GameThreads
Win Probability Added
Big Mets winner: Francisco Lindor, +18.3% WPA
Big Mets loser: Brandon Nimmo, -1.9% WPA
Mets pitchers: +12.4% WPA
Mets hitters: +37.6% WPA
Teh aw3s0mest play: Pete Alonso RBI single in the first, +13.8% WPA
Teh sux0rest play: Joey Votto RBI double in the fourth, -4.1% WPA