The Mets came back from a 4-0 deficit to defeat the Cincinnati Reds, 9-4. (Box Score)
The Mets couldn’t capitalize on early scoring opportunities against Matt Latos (ND), though they had baserunners in each of the first 5 innings against the right hander. In fact, they stranded runners all game long. They were only 1-12 with runners in scoring position until the 8th inning.
In the 2nd, with one out and Daniel Murphy at third and Ronny Cedeno at the plate, Terry Collins chose to call the safety squeeze. Cedeno laid it down, but Murphy felt he couldn’t score from third. Even with the light-hitting Cedeno, you have to trust that he can swing away and put the ball in play to bring in Murphy with less than two out.
In the 3rd, Duda struck out again with Kirk Nieuwenhuis and David Wright on base with two out.
R.A. Dickey runs into trouble
Then the wheels came off in the 5th, as Dickey lost control of his knuckler, hitting Ryan Ludwick and walking Todd Frazier. He then surrendered a run-scoring double to Ryan Hanigan, and a sac fly to Latos, following a 9-pitch at bat. Then catcher Mike Nickeas whiffed on a knuckleball that went to the backstop, allowing Hanigan to score from third. How badly does Mike want Josh Thole back after trying to catch R.A. today?
The spark of a comeback
In the 5th inning, with another opportunity with two outs and men on base, Duda finally broke through and doubled to right to drive in Andres Torres and Wright. That cut the Reds’ lead in half.
The Reds appeared to be on the verge of doing more damage off the Mets’ starter in the top of the 6th – they had runners at second and third with none out. But Votto, the runner at third, tried to tag and score on a foul popup to Murphy, and was gunned down by the Mets’ second baseman.
Matt Latos ran out of gas in the bottom of the 6th, his fastball occasionally dipping below 90 MPH. He walked Ike Davis to lead off, then surrendered a single to Cedeno.
Mike Nickeas ran the count full before dropping down a bunt off of relief pitcher J.J. Hoover, but Frazier couldn’t vacuum it up. He bobbled the ball for an error, and the bases were loaded with nobody out. Pinch-hitter Mike Baxter followed with a sacrifice fly to cut the lead to 4-3. But the Mets could capitalize no further, as Torres popped out, and Nieuwenhuis struck out.
The comeback takes flight
In the 7th, the Mets loaded the bases AGAIN with none out against fireballing lefty Aroldis Chapman. A sac fly by Justin Turner (batting for Davis) brought home David Wright to tie the game. It was the first earned run surrendered by Chapman this season.
After a strikeout by Cedeno, Scott Hairston (batting for Nickeas) walked on Chapman’s 32nd pitch of the inning. But Baxter, remaining in the game on a double-switch, struck out looking to end the inning. Though the game was tied, it was another lost opportunity to do more damage.
Bobby Parnell (W, 1-0) pitched a scorless inning in the top of the 8th, then the Mets got another baserunner in the bottom half off of reliever Logan Ondrusek (L, 3-1). Rob Johnson, in the game after Nickeas was pinch-hit for, surprised everyone by bunting for a base hit.
David Wright obliged by drilling a double over the head of center fielder Drew Stubbs to drive him in to give the Mets the lead. It was the 5th time Wright had reached base.
Following an intentional walk to Murphy, Turner blooped a single to left center to knock in Wright. Then Ronny Cedeno surprised everyone again by hitting a 3-run homer to left. It was a surprising 5-run rally all the way around.
Unsurprisingly, Frank Francisco struggled in the 9th, allowing a walk and a double with 2 outs, putting runners at second and third, but then induced a groundout to end the game.
This was a huge game, not only because the Mets would look foolish wearing all those hockey jerseys on the plane after a 3-game losing streak, but they’ve lost in painful ways of late. They’ve appeared on the verge of undoing the good work they’ve done so far.
But they finally figured out a way to score all those baserunners they always get, and finally busted open with a big rally in the 8th. Great contributions by everyone on the team, including those coming off the bench (Baxter, Turner, Johnson), and those filling in for injuries (Cedeno).
And yes, the bullpen (Jon Rauch, Parnell, and Francisco) shut out the Reds.
Now it’s on to Toronto for a series against a tough Blue Jays team, eh?