Heading into this afternoon’s game with the Blue Jays, the Mets had reason to be optimistic. Their new player, recently traded to Rich Hill, started the game for them. Hill, while not quite the pitcher he was half a decade ago, is still a very solid starter. The Mets currently have very few starting options, so the prospect of having a real pitcher starting for them puts them ahead of where they will be tomorrow and Tuesday.
The Mets also faced Ross Stripling, owner of a near-five ERA, who has averaged less than five innings and five strikeouts per start in his last seven. And while the Mets lost Game 2 of the series last night, the offense started to heat up a bit. All signs were pointing to a good day for the Mets, and the game started that way.
Hill, in his first five innings, was everything you could hope a 41-year-old southpaw would be. Hill allowed a baserunner in each of the top five, three times in starting doubles, plus a single and a walk, but neither came to score. 49 shots in five innings with one strikeout and a walk isn’t too bad.
JD Davis and Jonathan Villar combined for a run in the first inning, but the Mets didn’t give Hill too much support. That was until the end of the fifth, when Davis and Luis Guillorme each hit the singles, putting two in play with two out and Hill due. Instead of pinching the blow for him, manager Luis Rojas left him in the game where, after starting the 3-0 at bat, he swung the ball 4 to strike out.
If Hill was a younger or different pitcher, it would only make sense to ride him longer in the game, especially with a double header tomorrow. But Hill is, in essence, a two-time starter in the roster at this point in his career, and he had escaped the bane of big bats at the top of the Jays roster on two occasions. But Rojas left it and immediately regretted it.
After hitting George Springer with a throw, Vladimir Guerrero Jr drilled a long single to the wall in the center, missing just one point with a double due to excellent bare-handed play from Brandon Nimmo. After a march towards Marcus Semien, Hill was pulled for Seth Lugo, who had to navigate on a loaded base, without a tightrope.
It didn’t go well.
Bo Bichette hit a two-run single to tackle Springer and Guerrero and give the Blue Jays a 2-1 lead. Two throws later, Teoscar Hernández hit a ball sharply at Davis in the third and, instead of turning a double play and limiting potential damage, Davis threw home, which Semien beat at home plate, and he didn’t. So there was still no withdrawal and three points tackled.
Lugo would come out of the set without further damage, and the Mets used the bottom of the sixth not only for revenge, but also to gain the advantage.
Unlike his Queens counterpart, Toronto manager Charlie Montoyo pulled his starter after five and brought in former 2021 Met Jacob Barnes. Michael Conforto walked on a walk with one out before Pete Alonso crushed his 22nd homer of the year and tied the game. After a Dom Smith strikeout, Davis walked and Villar scored two runs with two strikeouts in a tied game. Instead of letting Tomas Nido hit in that high leverage point, technically a lower leverage point Hill hit in the last inning, Rojas pulled him for a pinch hitting Jeff McNeil. The move worked, as McNeil netted a brace, tackling the two points and giving the Mets a 5-3 lead.
Jeurys Familia would pitch a scoreless seventh, scoring two strikeouts and not allowing a ball out of the infield. Trevor May started the eighth inning and immediately looked like he didn’t have it today. After a brace from Seimen and sharp singles from Bichette and Hernández, the score was 5-4 without withdrawal. A flight from Randal Grichuk allowed the riders to finish second and third. Lourdes Gurriel Jr was intentionally stepped in to load up the bases and set up a potential double play. Alejandro Kirk, who had already scored two hits in the day, appeared and the Infield Fly rule was brought up for the second out.
Aaron Loup was called in to get the inning final against left hitter Cavan Biggio, and he got his man via a line to Smith on the left.
Edwin Diaz threw the ninth and, aside from a walk for Vlad Jr., hit the side for a dominant save on the 21st.
The Mets host the Braves for a five-game streak starting tomorrow with a double schedule. Marcus Stroman will pitch for a match. Who knows who will launch the other.
* game illar
Jonathan Villar went 2 for 4 with the first RBI of the game, so he gets the go-ahead today.
Chance of winning added
What is WPA?
Winner of the Grands Mets: Jeff McNeil, +29,0% WPA
Big loser of the Mets: Trevor May, -17,6% WPA
The launchers of the Mets: +4,7% WPA
Mets hitters: +45,3% WPA
The aw3s0mest game: Two-point double from Jeff McNeil, + 29.0% WPA
The sux0rest game: Bo Bichette’s two-sleeve single, -20.4% WPA
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Blue bird joke