You might have heard that Thursday night had a game six between two upper echelon teams. You know, the sport with the ball, the one where you try and outscore your opponent? Yeah, that one. Only, the one you’re thinking of doesn’t have a man christened Big Sexy doing things that one with that name does: providing light-on-his-feet defense, managing to fashion himself an effective runner, and being reliably efficient with his command. Game six of the season series between the New York Mets and Pittsburgh Pirates was a less-extreme version of game five played Wednesday, a normalized version of what the ideal Mets’ game should be. Similar to the Cubs and their stacked starting rotation, it was the bullpen who let the game get too close for comfort.
Though this wasn’t an 11-run outburst, virtually every Met batter contributed meaningfully to the game’s offensive output. The game began with a Curtis Granderson leadoff home run, his seventh of the season and 17th overall as a Met to break the tie with Jose Reyes for the most in franchise history. Grandy would add a bloop single in the third to advance Colon from second to third after a deep-to-right-field double to add to his 10-for-26 stretch entering the game as part of a seven-game hitting streak.
The only other places in the starting lineup where hits weren’t found in the stat sheet came from Wilmer Flores, who left the game in the third inning after being hit in the hand by a 93 mph fastball, and Yoenis Cespedes, who drew a walk and had two productive outs by way of a sacrifice fly to score Colon in the third and a broken bat out in the fifth to advance Asdrubal Cabrera after a double from second to third.
Elsewhere, the biggest displays of power came from two sources in need of good games. After having not played since June 11, Neil Walker returned to the lineup and snapped a three-game hitless drought with a two-run blast in the bottom of the third that was promptly followed by Michael Conforto’s 10th homer of the season. This back-to-back trend has been explored well on BP Mets before, and they’re staying true to this narrative. Walker flirted with a second home run in the fifth, missing clearing the left field wall by mere inches and settling for an RBI double. Conforto then followed that double up with a single of his own to notch his first multi-hit game since May 20. Is he coming out of the slump I previously covered? Today is as positive a starting point as any.
The bats weren’t the only things working tonight. Stellar fielding plays were made by Conforto in the first and Granderson in the sixth, while Colon handled the second inning offerings of balls hit right back to him with ease. And for the first eight innings, the pitching matched the standard of excellence set by the rest of the team.
Having worked seven scoreless innings, Colon came into the eighth having thrown only 79 pitches. Though he didn’t usher a walk the whole game as is his trademark, his command began wavering in the eighth. Colon threw 60% of his pitches in the eighth in the upper half of the strike zone or above, whereas his chart for the first seven innings favored the bottom of the zone.
This led to his giving up a home run to Matt Joyce, the 100th of his career, with a double by Sean Rodriguez and an RBI single by Josh Harrison to follow. Sandwiched between the homer and the double, however, were Colon’s seventh and eighth strikeouts of the game, his most since August 31, 2015. Jerry Blevins entered to end the eighth and, at 6-2, the game still seemed in firm Mets control.
The ninth began with Addison Reed, but he was removed without recording an out. Andrew McCutchen, who snapped a four-game hitless streak with a single in the seventh, became the first Pirate in double-digits this season with a home run. Jung Ho Kang followed him with a double, and Reed’s night was done. Jeurys Familia would then enter in a save situation, and a Matt Joyce double would put him and Kang in scoring position with only one out. Luckily, Familia regained his command and ended the game with a groundout and a fly-out respectively.
The Mets begin a three-game series at Citi Field against the Atlanta Braves today and look to capitalize on the nearly five-runs-a-game allowed by the Braves’ pitching staff.
Photo credit: Noah K. Murray – USA Today Sports