On a day the Mets listened to countless talking heads belittle their dominant beginning to the 2018 season by using their cataclysmic catching situation as a reason it won’t be good enough over the long haul, New York drowned out the noise en route to their ninth consecutive victory.
Friday night’s series opener with the Brewers included every aspect of why the Mets have been so successful to date: a quick start, a predictable counter punch, good enough starting pitching and bullpen excellence.
Steven Matz’s third start of the season didn’t start as planned when he walked Lorenzo Cain to begin the game, but the left hander recovered nicely, retiring the next three. In the bottom of the first inning, a struggling Yoenis Cespedes followed a one-out double from Asdrubal Cabrera with a rocket base hit into left center to put the Amazins up 1-0. Todd Frazier led off the bottom of the second with his first home run as a Met, putting the good guys ahead 2-0 and sending a charge through a packed Citi Field.
Matz continued to effectively navigate his way through the game, actually carrying a no-hitter into the fourth inning, but after two ground outs to open the frame, his night hit a little bit of a speed bump. Jesus Aguilar crushed a double to the fence and Hernan Perez followed with a two-run blast to tie the game. Predictably, the Mets had an answer in their half of the frame. Fresh off his first big fly of the campaign, Frazier turned on an inside pitch from Brewers’ starter Zach Davies and launched it over the great wall of Flushing, giving New York a lead they would not relinquish. After Matz turned in arguably his best inning of the evening in the fifth, striking out a pair in a 1-2-3 frame, the Mets began to put the game away.
Michael Conforto led off the New York 5th with a long at-bat that resulted in a walk, and Cabrera then sent a seeing eye single up the middle to put Davies in immediate trouble. The right-hander did strike out Cespedes for the inning’s first out, but that would be the last batter he faced, as Milwaukee manager Craig Counsell summoned southpaw Dan Jennings to pitch to the Mets’ left handed bats: Jay Bruce and Adrian Gonzalez. Bruce greeted him rudely, creaming a run-scoring double into right center field, and Gonzalez backed that up with a deep fly to center, scoring Cabrera and advancing Bruce 90 feet on the sacrifice fly. Jennings then unleashed a wild pitch that scored Bruce from third base, giving New York a 6-2 lead.
Matz’ mission to get through six strong was ambushed in the top of the sixth when Domingo Santana led off with a deep fly ball to right field that Bruce just missed for a two-base E9. Ryan Braun exacerbated the mistake by depositing a long home run into the road bullpen, and suddenly the Mets’ four run lead had been cut in half. Two batters later, Matz was out of the game as Callaway called for his relief wild card, Seth Lugo. The righty got the home team through the sixth, and while he got into some trouble in the seventh, he was bailed out by a strong throw from Cespedes to gun a streaking Cain down at third base, a remarkably boneheaded play by a usually smart base-runner. After Lugo surrendered a Travis Shaw home run in the eighth, Callaway begin playing the match-up game, using all of A.J. Ramos, Jerry Blevins and Robert Gsellman to get through the frame with the Mets’ skinny one-run lead intact.
After New York failed to add insurance runs, closer Jeurys Familia entered the contest in search of his league leading seventh save. The Brewers had an ace in the hole on their bench in slugging left-handed power hitter Eric Thames, who had been giving the night off due to the Mets starting a southpaw, and Counsell deployed him as a pinch-hitter to lead off the inning. Familia, however, made quick work of him and the the Brewers, getting two ground ball outs and punching out Santana to wrap up New York’s 11th win on the young season.
Tonight the league-best 11-1 Mets will send Matt Harvey to the mound against Milwaukee’s Chase Anderson as the Amazins eye their 10th straight win.
Photo credit: Noah K. Murray – USA Today Sports