Mets Blow One in the Desert

Can't win 'em all. This was one that they should have won, though...

Let’s start with the good stuff.

Amid a relentless stretch of regulars going down with injuries over the last six weeks — positional players, as well as pitchers — consistency in any form has been a welcome sight for this team.

The wins have been coming in bunches once again, underlining and bolding this group’s grit in the face of adversity.

But without the survival instincts that have kept this mother rolling, the Mets’ current cushion in the NL East could be inverted, or worse.

Consistency doesn’t even begin to encompass what the Mets’ pitching staff has been able to achieve so far.

Heading into Tuesday’s middle match in the desert, New York’s 3.06 team ERA and 8.7 wins above replacement (FanGraphs) as a staff both rank second in baseball. The starters’ 2.71 ERA and the bullpen’s 2.7 fWAR are both best in the game, respectively.

Marcus Stroman, individually, has been every bit the guy the Mets have needed him to be and more since coming back to Queens on a one-year, $18.9 million qualifying offer last winter.

Stroman entered Tuesday with a 2.45 ERA and 0.92 home runs allowed per nine innings, both good for 11th in the National League among qualified starters, a 33.9% hard-hit rate (ninth in NL), and a 54.2% groundball rate, tops in the NL (third in MLB).

Earning every penny of that deal, and his value hasn’t been limited just to the pitching staff.

A rotating cast of placeholders — as the Mets have employed recently — needs a strong foundation of veteran leadership in the clubhouse. We’re not in there, of course. But I’d bet folding money that Stroman is an integral piece in that puzzle.

In summary, this season of The Stro Show has been absolutely captivating. Tuesday night’s episode had an unpleasant twist at the end but was a solid installment nonetheless.

Stroman worked scorelessly through the first three innings, picking up six groundball outs and three strikeouts in the process. Right on track.

Arizona left-hander Caleb Smith was also terrific early on, matching zeroes with Stro and facing the minimum (Jonathan Villar walk, picked off in the first) through 3.2 innings before the Mets finally struck.

Pete Alonso’s two-out base hit and Dominic Smith’s first home run in 138 at-bats, put the Mets ahead 2-0, and this team just keeps on fighting their way through.

Dom, who entered the night on a 5-for-13 stretch, can be a real catalyst if he gets hot. The Mets could certainly use another threat in this still-pared lineup.

Billy McKinney stroked a two-base hit into the right-field corner to lead off the fifth — his fourth extra-base hit in as many games with the Mets.

Nothing came of it, but McKinney and Mason Williams (101.4 MPH exit velocity lineout later in the frame) have been helpful enough, all things considered.

Neither have minor league options remaining, so they’ll truly need to impress to stick around once the roster regains its overall health. But in the meantime, these are the little things that add to the big picture. We’ll take that all day.

Following Stroman popping out Josh Rojas to end the fifth, Rojas began barking at Stroman as he was heading toward the dugout and the situation got a bit hairy for a minute.

Both benches emptied. Luis Rojas and D-Backs manager Torey Lovullo had a somewhat animated conversation at home plate, and on we went. It appears Arizona’s 24-loss month of May has them a little salty. That’ll happen.

Our friends over at Jomboy Media captured the action. All bark, no bite. Looks like both teams were ready for something if it came to it.

Always exciting. Though, it may have given the D-Backs a much-needed jolt shortly thereafter.

Francisco Lindor, heading into the night on a nice little 5-for-13 stretch of his own after snapping an 0-for-15 skid last week, extended the Mets’ lead to 3-0 with an RBI triple to score Villar (single) in the top of the sixth.

Alonso walked on four pitches to put runners on the corners for Dom, who got just under a three-run homer, settling for a sacrifice fly RBI instead and staking New York to a 4-0 lead.

Chugging along once again. Just gotta make it stand up. Never a cakewalk.

Ketel Marte and Eduardo Escobar led off the sixth with consecutive base hits, leaving Stroman in his first jam of the evening.

He struck out David Peralta on a gorgeous split-change but Pavin Smith absolutely crushed a sinker out to right, cutting New York’s lead to 4-3.

Gut punch. Stro was cruising.

Stroman finished out the frame and his evening at 90 pitches, slightly inflating his ERA to 2.66 on the season. The sinker was terrific, garnering 18 called strikes on 41 offerings. He just left one too far over the plate.

Jeurys Familia took the ball in the seventh, working around Nick Ahmed reaching on Villar’s no-out, two-base error (low throw), and a two-out walk to Marte with a huge swinging strikeout of Escobar (slider) to keep the lead intact.

Aaron Loup worked a perfect eighth (2.57 ERA on the year) but Edwin Diaz ran into trouble in the ninth, allowing Ahmed (single, advanced on McKinney bobble) to score on Rojas’ two-out base hit, tying the game at four.

Get it back. And they did.

James McCann, pinch-hitting for Williams with Casper the Baserunning Ghost (Jose Peraza) on second to start the 10th, laced an opposite-field double down the line in right to put the Mets ahead 5-4.

This team does not quit. Sometimes it just isn’t enough.

Trevor May, reeling over his previous seven appearances (7.11 ERA, .345/.406/.793 slash against; 6.1 IP), was tabbed to close things out with Escobar occupying second base to start the frame.

The big righty walked Smith with one out, bringing Josh Reddick to the plate with the winning run on first and he drove the first pitch he saw into the corner in right, scoring both and snapping the Mets’ five-game winning streak in dramatic fashion.

May actually tucked that slider to Reddick into the low-inside corner of the zone. Just a terrific swing.

A brief review of whether the ball was fair or foul was inconclusive. I didn’t see any chalk fly. Meh. What can you do?

Still three-and-a-half up. Can’t win ‘em all.

Catch you for a 3:30 PM EST start on YouTube!

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