The Mets traveled to Minneapolis feeling a little bit better about themselves, having taken two of three from the lowly Miami Marlins. They would face a much sterner test against the powerful Twins, sporting baseball’s third best record. They’d send Steven Matz to the mound in an attempt to subdue the Twins’ potent offense.
They got off to a promising start, with Jeff McNeil and Michael Conforto clubbing base hits off Michael Pineda to begin the game. Pete Alonso struck out, but Pineda unfurled a wild pitch with Robinson Cano batting, which moved the runners to second and third. Cano brought McNeil in with a sacrifice fly to center, helped out by a horrible throw by Max Kepler. Another wild pitch, this one to Wilson Ramos, sent Conforto to third. Ramos hit a slow grounder to second baseman Jonathan Schoop that clanked off the glove as Conforto came home. But it’s tough to keep a solid hitting team like the Twins down for very long. Schoop homered over the left field wall in the third and Minnesota drew even in the fourth when Eddie Rosario singled, C.J. Cron doubled and Kepler grounded out. Matz then bore down to strike out Miguel Sano. Schoop got the free pass, but ended the inning on a misbegotten steal attempt. That would become significant in the top of the fifth.
With one out, Amed Rosario shot a double down the left field line and moved over to third on another wild pitch from Pineda. After a rare McNeil strikeout, Conforto broke the tie with his third single of the night. Amazingly, given the Mets’ season-long bullpen woes, manager Mickey Callaway decided four innings was enough for Matz, turning the ball over to Robert Gsellman in the bottom of the inning. He got off to an inauspicious start, walking beleaguered catcher Jason Castro and hitting Jorge Polanco in the foot. He was bailed out when Marwin Gonzalez hit a bullet to Alonso, who snagged it and stepped on first for a big double play. After Nelson Cruz walked, Callaway waved in the lefty Luis Avilan to face Eddie Rosario, who rolled out to Cano. After the Mets went out in order in the top of the sixth, Avilan started the bottom half getting Cron to pop out and inducing a ground out by Kepler. Avilan walked Sano, though, prompting Callaway to wave in — gulp! — Jeurys Familia to face Schoop. Schoop grounded weakly to short and Familia had escaped.
The Mets could do nothing against Twin’s reliever Zach Littell in the top of the seventh and Justin Wilson shut down the Twins in the bottom of the inning. Conforto broke the string with another base hit off Blake Parker in the eighth. Alonso walked, bringing up Cano in a critical spot. Parker threw one away, moving both runners up. Cano then hit a high bouncer back to the mound. Parker trapped Conforto in a rundown and new catcher Mitch Garver threw out Alonso trying to go to third, a 1-5-2-5 double play. Seth Lugo came on for the eighth and gave up only a one-out single to Eddie Rosario. Parker stayed in for the ninth and got the first two outs, but walked Todd Frazier. With that, he was replaced by Matt Magill, who struck out J.D. Davis. Edwin Diaz — gulp! again — came in for the bottom of the ninth. He struck out Sano. He got two strikes on Schoop before Schoop had to leave the game with a rib muscle strain. Luis Arraez ran the count up to 3-2, hit a bushel of foul balls and ended up drawing a walk. Garver — who hit a crushing homer off Diaz at Citi Field back in April — hit a solid single to left. Polanco lifted a fly to center. That brought up Gonzalez, who hit a bleeding grounder to Frazier at third — no play anywhere. Nelson Cruz now came up with the bases loaded. On 3-2, after a foul into the seats, Cruz popped up another foul which Frazier cradled, just in front of the visiting dugout. An exciting satisfying win.
It’s Jason Vargas vs, Martin Perez tomorrow afternoon in the finale of this abbreviated series.