Times are good in Mets land. Panic City is a ghost town, as the Mets have jumped out to an incredible start, running the best record in baseball and tying a club record for best start to a season. The good times were set to keep rolling, with Jacob deGrom taking the mound against the Marlins and left hander Caleb Smith. Jay Bruce got a day off, with Juan Lagares slotting into center field and Michael Conforto shifting to right. Adrian Gonzalez also received a day off, with Wilmer Flores taking over at first.
The Mets got their offense going early, with Conforto leading off the game with a single. Two batters later, Wilmer Flores lined a double to left field to drive in the first run of the game. Todd Frazier followed with a walk, but the Mets ultimately stranded both him and Flores as Asdrubal Cabrera and Kevin Plawecki struck out.
Cabrera made up for his strikeout in the fourth, as he launched his first right-handed home run (second overall) of the year in the top of the fourth to push the lead to 2-0. Another insurance run came in the fifth, when Amed Rosario ripped a double to left field and scored on Conforto’s RBI single, giving the Met a three-run lead.
With Jacob deGrom on the mound against the skeletal remains of what was once the Marlins, one would figure a 3-0 lead would be more than enough. And, since it’s the Marlins, it wasn’t. Three softly hit ground balls and a sacrifice fly brought home two runs for Miami in the bottom of the fifth, bringing up Justin Bour as the go-ahead run. The only remaining power threat in the Marlins lineup, Bour took a high fastball out to left field for his first home run of the year to give the Marlins a 4-3 lead.
This Mets team is resilient, however, having responded with a run in the next half inning after their opponents scored in eleven of twenty two opportunities. That trend continued; Frazier led off with a double, moved to third on a fly out on a great piece of aggressive baserunning, then scored on a sacrifice fly from Juan Lagares to tie the game at four.
deGrom returned for the sixth, which was a very perplexing decision with the Mets carrying nine relievers and deGrom’s velocity clearly down. He made it through unscathed, however, adding two more strikeouts as he finished his outing after six innings. Though it felt at times like deGrom didn’t have his best stuff, he generated 14 swinging strikes and striking out six, walking one and suffering from some rough BABIP en route to allowing four runs.
After a quiet top of the seventh, Jacob Rhame took the mound, and the Marlins’ incredible ground-ball-hole-finding ability made another appearance. Derek Dietrich lead off with a ground ball that Cabrera could not field well enough to make a good to first. Rhame worked through the next two hitters, but Bour struck again with another two-run, opposite-field home run on a fastball up and away to give the Marlins a 6-4 lead.
At this point, tradition would usually dictate the Mets just fold up shop in Miami, but the 2018 Mets have so far been a different team. Leading off the top of the eighth against Kyle Barraclough (career 0.38 HR/9, .258 wOBA allowed to righties), Flores launched his first home run of the year to cut the deficit to one. Cabrera followed that up with a titanic home run of his own, this time from the left side of the plate to re-tie the game at 6, conjuring memories of this magical play/call late in the 2015 season.
Momentum is a myth in baseball, but it sure as hell felt like it existed and the Mets had a ton of it. Hansel Robles danced around trouble in the bottom of the eighth. In the top of the ninth, Rosario reached on a throwing error with one out and Conforto walked to set the table for the struggling Yoenis Cespedes. Slump be damned, Cespedes hit a hard ground ball that ate up Brian Anderson and scored two runs, restoring the Mets’ lead.
Jeurys Familia entered for the bottom of the ninth and had one of his wonderful quiet outings. He sandwiched a strikeout of Bour between two ground outs from Starlin Castro and Anderson. The 8-6 victory was their seventh straight and pushed their record to 9-1, the best start in franchise history. It’s also the first time the Mets have won their first five road games in a season. It’s a record breaking night that went from colossal disappointment to really fun win, and that’s a great change of pace in Miami.
Thoughts from the Game
Hansel Robles is leading the league in wins (2) and Clayton Kershaw is leading the league in losses (2). Clearly, Robles is the new greatest pitcher of the generation, and the Dodgers should dump Kershaw’s contract on the Mets in exchange for their new relief ace post haste.
On a more serious note, I hope a day off is in the cards for Cespedes soon. Yes, he delivered the game-winning hit (his second in three games), but it was a ground ball that probably should have been fielded, and he’s been mired in an awful rough patch. He’s been sick as well, reportedly been feeling “terrible,” and even if he still wants to play, it’s on the coaching staff to have the cooler head and rest their star before something unfortunate happens.
Other Met News
In a puzzling and somewhat controversial move, the Mets sent down Brandon Nimmo in order to call up right hander Corey Oswalt. It’s an extremely small sample, but Nimmo has performed brilliantly to date, with a walk-to-strikeout ratio of more than 4:1. Oswalt offers a ninth reliever that really doesn’t seem that necessary, and, more importantly, sending Nimmo down seems totally unjust with Jose Reyes still on the roster. The meritocracy Mickey Callaway espoused in spring training seems highly questionable if an old, poor hitting, poor fielding bench bat is retained over a young player with upside who is actually contributing. Of course, Oswalt was sent back down immediately after the game in exchange for Zack Wheeler.
Photo credit: Jasen Vinlove – USA Today Sports