Well, it certainly wasn’t what you’d call a “good weekend”. At all.
But Sunday’s 7-6 victory in the series finale in Pittsburgh was an extremely important win for the New York Mets to gut out.
After going 1-for-21 with runners in scoring position over the first two games of the series, coming away with nothing after loading the bases with one out in the first, then finding themselves in a six-run hole in the bottom half of the frame, things weren’t looking great.
Taijuan Walker recorded just two outs before exiting, walking four and not looking at all like the dominant pitcher he was over the first half of the season.
Walker tossed Adam Frazier’s dribbler up the third-base line into foul territory thinking he was ending the play as a foul ball. Home plate umpire Jeremy Riggs called the ball fair and the Pirates scored three while the Mets argued the call.
Luis Rojas was ejected disputing the call — the most animated most of us have ever seen the Mets’ second-year skipper — and may have very well had a point.
It wasn’t close enough to put up a real argument, but the replay angle wasn’t definitive either way, in our opinion. The ball also very well could have grazed Frazier’s leg on its way out of the box. The world may never know.
Walker’s fatal flaw was shuffling the ball toward the third-base dugout instead of just picking it up. Even if it was fair, just one run would have scored. Instead, bedlam.
That was the kick in the chin that most fans took as a cue to change the channel. Not us.
As if losing Francisco Lindor (right oblique strain) and Jacob deGrom (right forearm tightness) wasn't enough, getting swept out of western Pennsylvania by the last-place Pirates was looking like a rotten cherry on top of that sundae.
The Mets’ bullpen — Drew Smith for 2.2 innings (2.86 ERA), Miguel Castro for a frame, Aaron Loup for two (including striking out three to strand the bases loaded after packing them with none out), and Jeurys Familia for two — kept this team alive.
The Mets’ offense never giving up on the W and chipping away at their substantial deficit was their only option.
Kicking off the second half of a year that’s teetered on magical had the potential to erase any of the progress that this team made over the first three months of the season.
Dominic Smith’s RBI single in the fourth made it a 6-1 game. Travis Blankenhorn’s first MLB home run — a three-run shot — later in the frame cut it to 6-4, and the Mets were showing signs of life again.
Can’t count this group out. Ever.
Dom got this Mets within one in the sixth, doubling up the first-base line to bring Jeff McNeil (eight-game hitting streak) home from first after the relay throw was bobbled by the Buccos’ pristine infield, but things stalled out a bit.
Pete Alonso’s one-out single in the eighth was laid to waste, and with just three outs left to play with, a sweep was suddenly very much back in the picture.
That concern didn’t linger very long.
Dom (.284/.360/.500 over his previous 100 PA heading into Sunday) led off the ninth with a base hit into right field, and Michael Conforto (4-for-his-last-11 with two doubles and a home run) took Bucs closer Richard Rodriguezvery deep into the shrubbery to put the Mets ahead, 7-6.
After the game, Conforto spoke about this team’s resiliency in the face of every form of adversity they've come across this season, as well as his own turnaround after a dreadful stretch since returning from the IL on June 23.
“Yeah, that one felt pretty good,” he said with regards to his go-ahead homer. “For the team, a tough loss last night, going down 6-0 in the first, it’s huge […] I mean, what a team win.”
Indeed. Magical afternoon. Not even all that terrible of a weekend, all things considered. Could have been a whole lot worse.
New Simply Amazin’ drops in the morning. We’ll discuss the weekend in-depth and what’s on the docket for the Mets’ front office over the next few weeks. LFGM, family.
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