The Mets hit the field on a cold and rainy Sunday afternoon, looking to salvage a game from a listless series against the Milwaukee Brewers and to avoid falling below .500 for the first time this season. Steven Matz was entrusted with that task and he was more than up to it and deserved a better fate than he received, but all was made well in the end.
He was opposed by the epitome of a Mets’ missed opportunity, Gio Gonzalez, the pitcher with the most Citi Field wins by an opponent. He had a most eventful first inning, surrendering a bizarre triple to Pete Alonso with one out — a long fly that missed going out of the park by about a foot, on which left fielder Ryan Braun ended up wearing a fan’s beer. It was the first triple of Alonso’s MLB career. Then Robinson Cano was hit in the hand, same as he was in St. Louis last week, but was again denied first base because the umpire deemed it a swinging strike. Cano had to leave the game and Juan Lagares inherited an 0-1 count as a pinch hitter. He would work out a walk. That brought up Todd Frazier who worked a nine-pitch at bat before singling in the Mets’ first run. Wilson Ramos hit into a double play to get Milwaukee out of it, Gonzalez having thrown 25 pitches.
The newly hot Brandon Nimmo led off the second with a scratch hit up the middle. Amed Rosario whacked a hanging curve off the right centerfield wall for double, scoring Nimmo. That was it for the second, Rosario left on third. For his part, Matz only allowed a couple of infield hits through three innings — helped out in the third by a sparkling double play turned by Jeff McNeil, now at second base, owing to Cano’s early exit. He got his first safety of the year leading off the fifth, but was erased when McNeil was robbed of a hit by right fielder Ben Gamel, who had just entered the game when the formidable Christian Yelich had to leave with what’s being called lower back discomfort. The corpulent Matt Albers relieved Gonzalez in the bottom of the sixth and cruised through the Mets’ order.
Matz made one mistake when he came back out for the seventh and he paid dearly for it. He surrendered a hit to Gamel leading off, but the powerful Braun followed by popping one up to Keon Broxton in right. Jesus Aguilar struck out as Gamel stole second, the first Brewer of the day to make it that far. That brought up Mike Moustakas who deposited a flat slider on a 2-1 pitch over the centerfield fence to tie the game and take the starch out of what had been an enthusiastic crowd. Jacob Barnes came in for the Brewers to shut down the Mets’ offense and came pretty close to doing just that. He struck out Nimmo to lead it off, but Rosario hit a long fly that Gamel manhandled for a two-base error. Michael Conforto got an intentional pass pinch hitting for Broxton. Dominic Smith was announced as the pinch hitter for Matz; the Brewers countered by bringing in a lefty, Alex Claudio. J.D. Davis, in turn, pinch hit for Smith and delivered a clutch base hit to give the lead back to New York. McNeil drew a conventional walk to bring up Alonso with the bases loaded. That would be all for Mr. Claudio. Rookie Aaron Wilkerson relieved him and struck out Alonso and got Lagares on a bad-luck comebacker.
Seth Lugo came in to protect the regained lead in the eighth and struck out the side. Wilkerson stayed in for Milwaukee and was treated rather rudely by the hosts. Frazier’s bid for an insurance homer was pulled down a few yards short, but Ramos singled and Nimmo drew a walk. Rosario flew out. Conforto, in his first real at bat, drew a standard walk. Newly arrived Tomas Nido hit for Lugo and poked a two-run double to the opposite field to give the Mets some much needed breathing space. Edwin Diaz got Lorenzo Cain on a grounder, struck out Gamel and had Braun line out to McNeil for his eighth straight save.
The Cincinnati Reds arrive at Citi Field tomorrow, Tanner Roarke taking on Zack Wheeler in the opener of a three game set.