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Churve With Verve

In his first start on a big league mound in almost two years, Joey Lucchesi gave the Mets their best pitching performance of the season so far.

New York Mets v San Francisco Giants Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

If you had Joey Lucchesi being the first Mets pitcher to go seven innings this season on your bingo card, well, congratulations. In his first start in the majors back from Tommy John surgery, Lucchesi threw seven shutout innings for the Mets in their 7-0 victory over the Giants in San Francisco, giving the Mets’ ailing and overtaxed pitching staff exactly what they needed.

The Mets got on the board in second against Anthony DeSclafani thanks to a trio of singles from Daniel Vogelbach, Brett Baty, and Luis Guillorme. The game remained a tight pitcher’s duel until the fifth, with the Mets turning multiple pretty looking double plays thanks to one of the best defensive middle infield combinations in the game in Francisco Lindor and Luis Guillorme. The Mets broke through against DeSclafani in the fifth when Guillorme led off the inning with a single and advanced to second on an attempted bunt hit by Brandon Nimmo. Jeff McNeil then hit a dribbler in front of the plate, but in a rush to throw him out, Giants catcher Joey Bart flung a throw that struck McNeil in the back and went down the first base line, allowing Guillorme to score the Mets’ second run of the night. Pete Alonso then unloaded a two-run homer—his league-leading tenth of the season—to dead center to give the Mets a 4-0 lead.

It was after being staked with that lead when Joey Lucchesi really got cooking. In the bottom of the frame, he worked around a single, striking out the other three batters he faced to bring his strikeout total up to six for the night. Buoyed by yet another double play turned by the Mets in the sixth to quicken his path through that frame, Lucchesi—not normally a third time through the order sort of guy—took the mound again for the seventh and struck out the side. All told in his seven innings of work, he allowed no runs on four hits, striking out nine Giants and walking two; he was simply dominant. What an incredible return for the churve.

In the meantime, Sean Hjelle was called upon for long relief for the Giants after DeSclafani’s night was done after six innings of work. Hjelle befuddled the Mets at first, silencing the offense with three strikeouts in seventh and a quick 1-2-3 eighth. But, the Mets piled on to blow the game open in the top of the ninth, adding three runs on five singles and a hit by pitch—all coming after there were two out and nobody on in the inning.

Brooks Raley tossed a 1-2-3 eighth inning for the Mets with two strikeouts and with the game safely in hand in the ninth, the Mets sat David Robertson down and turned to the freshly activated Tommy Hunter instead. Hunter worked around a single to pitch a scoreless ninth to secure the victory for the Mets, who are now 7-1 on their West Coast road trip.

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Win Probability Added

What’s WPA?

Big Mets winner: Joey Lucchesi, +32.4% WPA
Big Mets loser: Francisco Lindor, -9.3% WPA
Mets pitchers: +35.0% WPA
Mets hitters: +15.0% WPA
Teh aw3s0mest play: Pete Alonso’s two-run homer in the fifth, +15.0% WPA
Teh sux0rest play: Brett Wisely’s leadoff single in the third, -4.5% WPA