Game recap July 26: A lopsided affair

Mets 12, Pirates 6 | Final

Between a New York team with very little to play for and a Pittsburgh club almost on the edge of having something at stake, it was a lively game that turned into a laugher at PNC Park — and the Mets were not on the side of the crooked score you might expect. They won their third game in a row — also not something you would expect.

The important thing is that Steven Matz continued to progress, and pitched a sometimes gutsy, sometimes dominant game. Another important thing is how Asdrubal Cabrera, surely on the trading block this week, upped his marketability with two doubles, a home run, and four runs batted in.

Over the first four innings, the game fell into a quick cycle as the Mets would stake a lead that Matz promptly surrendered. The southpaw took the mound for the first time with a two-run lead, only to watch the Pirates tie the score in the bottom of the first. The Mets regained the lead, 4-2 in the third, only to watch the Pirates tie the game again. In the fourth, the Mets again put Matz in the lead, and this time it stuck.

Rookie Jeff McNeil provided some weird, bad baseball in his first major league start, misplaying a line drive and then running the Mets out of a rally in the fourth. With the bases loaded, Devin Mesoraco grounded to third, and Pittsburgh third baseman David Freese’s throw pulled Josh Bell off the bag, allowing Mesoraco to reach safely. McNeil ran from first to third, forcing a prone Jose Bautista to lamely jog into a tag at the plate.

The Mets got to Pirates starter Nick Kingham early and often, knocking him out after three-plus innings and lighting him up for six runs, all earned. Wilmer Flores and Asdrubal Cabrera homered against him.

Matz went six innings, and struck out the first five batters he retired — he struck out nine overall, tying a career high. Despite the early inability to hold leads early, his stuff was electric, with some extra speed on his fastball that he kept in on right-handed hitters and at the top of the strike zone. He retired the final ten batters he faced.

Jason Vargas (2-6, 8.60) takes the mound tonight against Ivan Nova (6-6, 4.28); first pitch will be at 7:05 p.m.

Photo credit: Charles LeClaire – USA Today Sports

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