On a night when the Mets somehow figured out how to get value for Matt Harvey, they couldn’t figure out a way to get Jason Vargas to only pitch the even-numbered innings.
For the third start in a row, Vargas gave up a passel of runs early. The first inning started with bloop singles by Jose Peraza and Scott Schebler and Joey Votto getting hit by a pitch. Before you could sit down, the Reds had the bases loaded and nobody out. Eugenio Suarez followed with a two-run single and Vargas was behind again. After Scooter Gennett flied out, Adam Duvall hit into a double play, sparing further bloodshed. Vargas was able to pitch around a leadoff triple by Tucker Barnhart in the second, but in the third, a one-out walk to Votto, a Suarez double and a Barnhart single accounted for two more runs. Vargas pitched a clean fourth.
While all this was going on, Cincinnati starter Luis Castillo (Oh! That name…) was mowing down Met after Met. He retired the first 14 he saw, before Amed Rosario singled in the fifth. Rosario was immediately double-switched out in the bottom of the fifth, Wilmer Flores taking over third, Jose Reyes shifting to short and Seth Lugo taking over on the mound. From here, that move was questionable; at the moment, the Mets were carrying three catchers — Tomas Nido, who started, Jose Lobaton and Devin Mesoraco, who was acquired this evening in the aforementioned trade of Harvey. Why Mickey Callaway didn’t make use of that advantage and switch out the anemic-hitting Nido is a mystery.
Shows how much I know.
Flores hit a long drive over the left centerfield fence to get the Mets on the board with one out in the sixth. After Michael Conforto grounded out, Asdrubal Cabrera singled and Yoenis Cespedes walked. That was all for Castillo, who had been throwing a brilliant game. This was what the Mets wanted, to be able to romp through the Reds’ bullpen. Well, be careful what you wish for. Jay Bruce drew a four-pitch walk from Amir Garrett to load the bases and Adrian Gonzalez got an RBI when he walked on a 3-2 pitch. The game was right there for the taking, but Brandon Nimmo struck out pinch-hitting for Lugo.
Instead, it was the Reds who got to scramble the bullpen. AJ Ramos had replaced Lugo and surrendered two singles, but no runs in the sixth. He started the seventh by surrendering a long double off the right field fence to Schebler. Jerry Blevins came on. Votto hit a deep fly to center and Schebler crossed to third. Hansel Robles replaced Blevins, and dropped napalm on this game. Suarez hit a looping single to left to make it a 5-2 game and Gennett launched a fastball into the upper deck in right. That was it for the scoring, but for good measure, Robles walked Duvall and gave up a single to Barnhart. He left the game with an injury on a sacrifice bunt.
Oh, and for the record, Mesoraco struck out in his first at-bat as a Met in the ninth. It seemed fitting.
Getaway matinee tomorrow, Zack Wheeler vs. Sal Romano