Man, what a difference five games can make. A few short days ago, the Mets’ season seemed over almost before it’d even begun, with the team sitting at a 20-23 record and no end to the struggles in sight. Now, however, the Mets have had a string of exciting games in which they’ve battled back from deficits and gotten clutch performances when they needed them. We got two of those games today, the second of which concluded with a 2-1 victory and secured a sweep of the Cleveland Guardians.
Justin Verlander started for the Mets looking to rebound from a rough start against the Tigers in his last outing. His night did not get off to an ideal start, as José Ramírez socked a two-out solo homer into the second deck of right field to give the Guardians a 1-0 lead in the first. While watching the Mets fall behind in the first inning yet again was frustrating, everything else about Verlander’s outing was anything but, as the veteran ace provided his best start yet for his new team. After that first inning homer, he allowed just two more baserunners in his outing, and the Guardians never put up another serious threat to score more runs against him. Furthermore, in a game when the team desperately needed to give its bullpen a breather, Verlander became the first Mets pitcher to throw eight innings in a game this season. It was the kind of performance that the Mets were counting on when they signed former Cy Young winner this past offseason.
Shane Bieber, meanwhile, took the mound for the Guardians, and the other former Cy Young winner appearing in this game was equally dominant. For several innings, he allowed only a few scattered singles and held the Mets scoreless, and for a long while it seemed like we could potentially be in-store for another frustrating low-scoring defeat. But the Amazins finally got on the board in the bottom of the sixth inning, when Francisco Lindor led off the frame with a lead-off home run to left field to tie things up. Still, they failed to get anything else going against Bieber, and he entered the bottom of the eighth inning of the game looking to match Verlander with eight one-run innings and send the game tied into the ninth.
But the Mets had other plans. Francisco Álvarez led off the frame with an opposite field single, and was quickly removed from the game so Starling Marte could pinch-run for him and add some speed on the bases. That decision paid off shortly, as with one out in the inning, Marte was running on a pitch to Lindor, and a check-swing dribbler rolled past the shortstop hole that was opened up as Gabriel Arias went to cover second. That put runners on first and second with one out, and Jeff McNeil then got the go-ahead run in with a long fly-ball to left field that scored Marte.
Despite the fact that he pitched in the first game of the doubleheader, Brooks Raley came on to close things out for the Mets. He retired the first batter on a very nice play fielding a bunt to the first base side, but he then plunked Amed Rosario with a pitch to put a runner on for Ramirez and put the fear of God into Mets fans’ hearts. But there was no reason to fear, as Ramirez grounded the second pitch of the at-bat right to shortstop, and the infield turned the double play to close out the game.
With that, the Mets now sit at 25-23 and have won five games in a row. The team will enjoy a day off tomorrow before heading to Chicago to face off against the Cubs. May the good vibes continue to roll then.
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Covering the Corner
Win Probability Added
Big Mets winner: Justin Verlander, +33.8% WPA
Big Mets loser: Pete Alonso, -17.8% WPA
Mets pitchers: +48.4% WPA
Mets hitters: +1.6% WPA
Teh aw3s0mest play: Francisco Lindor game-tying homer in the sixth, +20.2% WPA
Teh sux0rest play: José Ramírez solo homer in the first, -11.2% WPA