The Mets completed their Dog Days slog of 21 games in 20 days the way they began it: with a win. Two four-run innings put a hurt on the Chicago Cubs in this one.
Jason Vargas took on Alec Mills in an afternoon affair, upon completion of last night’s suspended game. Vargas was the beneficiary of some rare Mets offense early. Amed Rosario led off this game with a ground single up the middle. Jeff McNeil forced him out at second, but Austin Jackson singled to left. After Jay Bruce struck out, Michael Conforto drew a walk. Todd Frazier then bombed a 2-0 pitch to the back of the left field bleachers for a quick 4-0 Mets lead. For the most part, Vargas made that stand up. The Cubbies scratched one back in the second. Willson Contreras led off with a double and after Vargas struck out Tommy LaStella, Mills grounded out to second, Contreras crossing to third. Ian Happ then hit a soft infield grounder to McNeil for a base hit and an RBI. All-in-all, Vargas went five-and-a-third innings, giving up four hits and two walks, striking out six — basically, continuing his run of good pitching with nothing on the line. Corey Oswalt, Tyler Bashlor, Drew Smith and Jacob Rhame pitched the rest of the game ably, keeping Chicago mostly at bay for the rest of the day.
The Mets played add-on in the seventh and ninth. After Cubs reliever Randy Rosario got two quick outs to start the seventh, Wilmer Flores singled to left. A ball got by Contreras behind the plate and Flores scooted to second. Rosario knocked him in with another base hit to left. McNeil then drew a walk. That was it for Randy Rosario, as Brandon Kintzler came in on a double-switch. Austin Jackson greeted him with a grounder up the middle and Amed Roasrio scored the Mets’ fifth run. Jose Reyes pinch hit for Oswalt and turned back the clock, hitting a long triple to right center — only Reyes’s third three-bagger of the year. In the ninth, the Mets took advantage of some comical Cubs fielding to tack on two more. With one out, Tomas Nido pinch hit for Drew Smith and bounced one to the mound. It ticked off the glove of pitcher James Norwood. Second baseman Ben Zobrist barehanded it, but threw wildly to first — “a rocket,” according to Ron Darling on SNY — and Nido reached on the error. Conforto singled to left. Nido and Conforto both scored on consecutive singles by Frazier and Brandon Nimmo. Rhame surrendered a two-run homer to rookie Victor Caratini in the bottom of the ninth, mere window-dressing by that point.
Day off tomorrow — finally! — before the Mets head off to beautiful San Francisco. In that 21-game-in-20-day stretch, they acquitted themselves pretty well for a bad team, going 12-9.