Mets Roar Back, Win Sixth in a Row

Stroman gem nearly laid to waste by John Means and the O's bullpen, but this team won't quit

Despite an outstanding outing from Marcus Stroman, the Mets couldn’t solve Baltimore left-hander John Means and their lifeless bats nearly gave away the first of a two-game set to the O’s.

Not tonight. Not this team. Let’s break it down.

Stroman fell into a groove quickly following some traffic on the basepaths in the first, retiring 12 of the next 13 Baltimore batters he faced through the fourth, racking up nine groundball outs in the process.

Jeff McNeil picked up his second hit in as many at-bats with two outs in the third but left the game after pulling up lame rounding first. McNeil, 11-for-his-last-35 before exiting, was said to have been experiencing body cramps, per a team announcement.

The Mets strung together two two-out hits in the fourth (Pete Alonso, Kevin Pillar; both very weakly hit balls) but Jonathan Villar couldn’t move them around. Can’t blame him, either.

Baltimore left-hander John Means — fresh off his no-hitter versus Cleveland last week — worked with pinpoint precision, keeping the Mets wholly in check through the former part of the evening.

Pedro Severino drew a one-out walk in the fifth, snapping Stroman’s streak of eight consecutive Orioles retired, but he didn’t move past his station at first.

Peraza and Francisco Lindor led off the bottom of the sixth with back-to-back base hits and Michael Conforto’s fielder’s choice moved runners to the corners with one out, but neither Alonso nor Pillar could put the Mets ahead.

Means, at just 74 pitches through six, was pitching like a seasoned veteran, not a guy who’d been struggling to discover his major league form as recently as last season. Very impressive.

An economic sixth kept Stroman at a reasonable 83 pitches heading into the seventh, but two Baltimore base hits (Freddy Galvis, Franco) to start the frame changed the atmosphere in a hurry.

A Rio Ruiz sacrifice bunt moved the runners into scoring position, Severino was intentionally walked to load the bases get Means out of the game in favor of a pinch-hitter (DJ Stewart), which drew Mets skipper Luis Rojas out of the dugout to go with his resident southpaw, Aaron Loup, to shut that door.

Loup allowed a long sacrifice fly to right-hander Pat Valaika (switched in once Rojas went to the lefty) staking the O’s to a 1-0 lead and escaped the frame with a Cedric Mullins groundout.

Attacking mainly with his sinker and slider, also mixing in his split-change, four-seam, cutter, and even a handful of curveballs (which, per Statcast, he hadn’t thrown in a regular-season game since 2019) Stroman continued on his rampant pace this year, bringing his ERA to 2.01 on the season.

Stroman, who didn’t leave without pleading his case to remain in the game, worked beautifully and can’t be blamed for wanting to close out his night, especially under such circumstances. Any competitor would want to do the same.

With 11 groundouts to his credit up until that point, one more with a smooth turn at second was all that was needed. Alas, the decision had been made.

Staring at a 1-0 deficit and Baltimore’s solid relief corps over the final three innings (3.34 ERA was eighth in MLB coming into Tuesday), the Mets got off on the right foot with a leadoff walk to Villar in the seventh but nothing materialized.

Austin Hays led off the eighth with a line shot into right-center that drove Albert Almora face-first into the outfield wall. The ball ended up on the ground and Hays on third. Another one bites the dust.

Almora left under his own power and Dominic Smith entered in left field, moving Pillar to centerfield, and Trevor May was tasked with keeping Hays at third.

May struck out Trey Mancini and Ryan Mountcastle but Galvis pushed a perfect bunt down the third-base line, scoring Hays from third and pitting the Orioles to a 2-0 lead — the first earned run May’s allowed since April 5 versus Philadelphia.

Tomas Nido and Lindor both drew walks in the eighth ahead of Conforto, who went the other way to drive home Nido and cut the O’s lead in half, but that was all they’d get as Pete grounded into a 4-6-3, inning-ending double play.

Despite a much-improved line with runners in scoring position as of late, the Mets left six men on base and went 1-for-8 in those situations. Up until the ninth, that is.

Down a run, Pillar nearly tied the game on a long leadoff drive off Cesar Valdez that slid just in front of the foul pole in left field.

A base hit past Ruiz at third would suffice, and the Mets were in business.

Simply Amazin' Ep. 93

Villar singled in the next at-bat to put the winning run on base with none out, Dom Smithsingled into the gap with one out to tie the game at two, and the magic was back.

Everyone’s favorite third-string backstop, Patrick Mazeika, hit a sharp grounder to first, giving Villar just enough time to slide in under the tag and secure the Mets’ sixth consecutive win.

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