We’re at the point in the season where it’s no longer hyperbole to call it a “huge win”. Make no mistake about it: Saturday’s 7-5 win over the Pirates was huge. A loss here and the season might have been dead in the water as the math is very tenuous at this stage.
With the Mets up 1-0, Marcus Stroman made his Mets debut under a pitch count. A combination of getting hit hard and getting squeezed by Bill Welke made his first Mets inning a forgettable one as the Pirates took a 2-1 lead, and it ensured that he wouldn’t go very far in the game as he chucked 35 spherical objects at Wilson Ramos. He went 4 and 1/3 while giving up three runs (the third one given up by Luis Avilan on a HBP) on 92 pitches. Hard to fully judge Stroman after nine days rest. It feels very Frank Viola 1989-ish bringing Stroman into an already very talented rotation (minus trading Bobby Ojeda to the Phillies). Viola had three losses in August but if Stroman can put up Viola’s numbers from ’89 … a 3.38 ERA, 7.7 K/9 (Stroman’s K/9 is 7.4 so it’s not that far off) and a WHIP of 1.19 over 12 starts (Stroman’s WHIP with Toronto was 1.22), I’m sure Mets fans would take that.
I’m going to give Jacob Rhame some credit here as he got a big out to end the fifth and then pitched a clean sixth save for a walk. I do this because one day after I say that Mickey Callaway needs to manage for the moment, Handsome Art Howe rolled a dangerous pair of dice leaving Avilan in against the righty Kevin Newman with the bases loaded. With Avilan’s lefty/righty splits, he needs to be a lefty specialist exclusively as long as Justin Wilson is healthy. Rhame was warm, and while I’m not crazy about him, Avilan can’t face a righty in a big spot. Handsome Art is lucky that all Avilan did was hit Newman on the toe with a curve ball to force in a run before finally bringing in Rhame, who got Jacob Stallings to ground into a force play in what was probably the biggest out of the game.
With the Mets needing some clutch hitting in the late innings and Chris Archer out of the game, Jeff McNeil and Wilson Ramos delivered. McNeil hit a pinch hit dinger which landed just a few feet short of the Allegheny (and Handsome Art actually kept him in the game for some offense and double switched Juan Lagares out of the game … yes, miracles do happen!) Then in the eighth after a Robinson Cano double, Wilson Ramos hit a two run homer off Kyle Crick to the first few rows in right field to give the Mets the lead for good. Then in the eighth, Ramos went the other way again for a bases clearing double to put the game away … we thought … and give the Mets a 7-3 lead going into the ninth.
Edwin Diaz pitched the ninth after a ten pitch eighth by Seth Lugo, and Diaz gave up a two run HR to Starling Marte to give us all some agita. But I will say this for that at-bat: Diaz threw his slider four straight times to Marte, and got him to swing at a good one with a 1-1 count. Then with the count 1-2 he threw another slider to Marte which was nowhere near the plate before giving up the home run on a fastball. But the point being that not only did he throw the slider, he threw it with two strikes and tried to get Marte out with it. It’s probably been at least a week or maybe two the last time Diaz tried to get a guy out with the slider. That he’s trying to work it in again is a good sign. The season, to me, depends on Edwin Diaz’s slider.
Diaz went back to the fastball almost exclusively to secure the win and bring the Mets back to two games under .500. A sweep would have been nice, but a Sunday win against Pittsburgh puts them at 55-56 with four games against the Marlins coming up. This team isn’t dead quite yet … they’re a card carrying member of the undead community at this point, but they’re not dead.
Today’s Hate List
- Ben Roethlisberger
- Roberto Osuna
- Starling Marte
- Bill Welke
- Evgeni Malkin