Gut Reaction: Mets 4, Pirates 3 (10 innings) (6/26/18)

When a team gets bad off-the-field news, the game on the field becomes secondary. When the sobering news of Sandy Alderson’s cancer diagnosis and leave of absence was announced, tonight’s game took a back seat. Early on, it appeared as a series of squiggly lines and jumbled emotions.

Steven Matz squared off against Chad Kuhl, and while Matz was all business out there, Kuhl could not keep his cool. The Mets started the first with a base hit by new leadoff man Jose Bautista. After two outs, he chugged to second on the first of many Kuhl wild pitches, while Asdrubal Cabrera was drawing a walk. Another errant delivery sent them to second and third while Wilmer Flores was hitting. This proved fortunate, as Flores wormed a single under the gloves of both David Freese at third and Jordy Mercer at short. Bautista scored easily, but there was a play on Cabrera. Left fielder Austin Meadows’s throw was off the mark, however, and Cabrera scored, as well, with Flores alertly taking second on the throw home and third when catcher Elias Diaz’s throw sailed into short center. We hadn’t seen heads up play like this in two months, never mind two runs in an inning! Kuhl would throw another wild pitch before his night was through.

It was a different story for Matz. He was blowing through the Pittsburgh lineup like a Kansas twister. He allowed only one base runner through four innings, hitting Meadows with a fastball in the first. He completely lost his mojo in the fifth, though. Freese singled and Diaz doubled to start the inning. First baseman Jose Osuna scooted a ball through the infield as Freese scored. Gregory Polanco hit a rope to left center to tie things, and wasn’t it dirty pool for the Pirates to tie the game when Sandy Alderson has cancer? After a visit from pitching coach David Eiland, Matz settled down to leave those runners aboard. Matz was able to last into the seventh, when Polanco rather rudely deposited a ball into the right-centerfield seats. Michael Confrorto — probably the best draft pick of Alderson’s Mets tenure — returned the favor, blasting one onto the batters’ eye in left center.

There we stood, through an eighth inning which saw the benches empty, due to extreme silliness. With one out, Meadows walked against Anthony Swarzak and second baseman Josh Harrison dropped a perfect bunt to the third base side, beating it without a throw. Jeurys Familia replaced Swarzak at that point, and Freese hit a roller to short. Jose Reyes made a strong throw to Cabrera, but Harrison made a clean, strong slide disrupting Cabrera’s throw. Familia started woofing at Harrison, who barked back and out came the players, coaches, trainers, etc. It was all nonsense in the end, but it helped add to the surreal nature of this night. Once order was restored, Familia walked Diaz and with the bases now jammed, got Osuna to ground out to Cabrera.

Familia surrendered a base hit in the ninth, but that was all. The Mets went away silently in the bottom half. Tim Peterson threw nine pitches, retiring the Pirates in order in the top of the tenth. In the bottom half, Conforto led off with a walk, Todd Frazier hit a gounder though the infield for a base hit. After Cabrera couldn’t get a bunt down, Flores hit a shot down the third base line for the ballgame, the Mets’ fifth win in the month of June.

It kinda doesn’t matter.

Tomorrow, Zack Wheeler will face Ivan Nova in the rubber game of the series.

7 comments for “Gut Reaction: Mets 4, Pirates 3 (10 innings) (6/26/18)

  1. TexasGusCC
    June 27, 2018 at 1:44 am

    Two things:

    This was John Harper’s tweet tonight: “Sad day for Alderson, but honorable decision to step down paves way for Mets to move forward with a new GM (perhaps from outside the organization) who will need to act boldly to rescue franchise.”

    I kind of felt that also before I saw the press conference, thinking this illness may be an opportunity to bow out gracefully. But when I saw Alderson and heard about the operation, it hit differently. It was the first time I had ever seen Sandy Alderson humble, even teery. I wish him well and hope to see him in the Mets in some capacity because he brings a “no nonsense” approach this team lacked.

    The second point was Familia woofing at Harrison after what was a very clean slide and to the letter of the law. Harrison didn’t appreciate it, but I loved it! I loved that someone, anyone, showed a pulse. I loved that someone, anyone, stood up for a teammate even though they were wrong to be so irritated. It was great to see someone, anyone, stir things up a bit.

    Earl Weaver, Billy Martin and Lou Pinella would get into arguments and toss half the dugout onto the field just to fire up their team if they looked dead that night. We haven’t seen the Mets even sneeze in two months. Way to go Familia! That’s leadership people: actions. The Mets talk of leaders who don’t do a thing, but just seem to have the title. But for one night, Familia said FU to proper procedure and stirred things up a little. I hope Callaway was taking notes. He doesn’t need to become a hot head, but stirring things up when your team is feeling sorry for itself couldn’t hurt. Maybe Familia helped wake a sleeping roster.

  2. TexasGusCC
    June 27, 2018 at 2:11 am

    Most walk off RBIs since 2014:
    Wilmer Flores: 9
    Josh Donaldson: 7
    Albert Pujols: 6
    Bryce Harper: 6
    Mark Trumbo: 5

    — New York Mets Stats (@NYMStats) June 27, 2018

    Wilmer has the same number of walk off RBIs as DW and Derek Jeter: 9

    DW has those 9 in 6,869 PA.
    Wilmer has those 9 in 1,753 PAs.
    Derek Jeter has 9 in 12,602 PAs.

    The compilation

    Wilmer Flores walk off RBIs:
    Sac fly on September 8, 2014
    Single on May 26, 2015
    Single on June 15, 2015
    Homerun on July 31, 2015
    Fielders choice on August 13, 2016
    Homerun on July 22, 2017
    Homerun on April 15, 2018
    Sac fly on May 19, 2018
    Single on June 26, 2018

    — New York Mets Stats (@NYMStats) June 27, 2018

    • MattyMets
      June 27, 2018 at 7:24 am

      Charlie, nice post and Gus, great additions. I love the Flores stats. This is one reason fans love him (but Chris F doesn’t get it). I’m a David Wright fan of course, but I never thought of him as a clutch player. In his hey day, I recall more big hits coming from other players – Delgado, LoDuca especially.

      The news and the delivery of Alderson’s update are very sad and it was eye opening to see him take so much responsibility for the team’s misfortune. Could it possibly be a rallying point for the team? I also like that Familia mouthed off and triggered something. Even if this team does nothing this year, it would be a lot more fun to watch a team with a little fire in its belly.

      • Chris F
        June 27, 2018 at 12:15 pm

        99% of the time Flores is picking dandelions and playing terrible baseball and negatively impacting the team. Yes, hes a 1 tool player…no doubt about it, and for a few occasions per year the limelight is bright.

        However, occasional heroics is not a reason to hold down a roster spot or deflect the agony of a career bWAR of 0.5.

  3. Pete In Iowa
    June 27, 2018 at 11:00 am

    I certainly will keep Sandy in my prayers and extend best wishes for a full and speedy recovery.

    I just don’t understand what Callaway was thinking by bunting Cabrera in that spot. Even if it works out, you know they would walk Flores to bring up (4 K’s on the night) Smith against the lefty. Why not take three shots instead of two to get home the winning run?
    I guess maybe Callaway was thinking Mesoraco would pinch hit for Smith, if he was thinking that far ahead. I can only hope so, because bunting there made absolutely no sense. Thank goodness it all worked out.

    • June 27, 2018 at 12:13 pm

      Hell, Pirate pitchers were so wild last night, Callaway might have been banking on another wild pitch.

    • eric (santa monica)
      June 27, 2018 at 4:43 pm

      Read that Cabrera tweaked something on the Harrison slide and was bunting on his own.

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