|Michael Conforto celebrating his first inning home run after crossing the plate. Photo by Jason Schott.|
The Mets completed a three-game sweep of the Pittsburgh Pirates with an 8-7 win on Sunday afternoon at Citi Field.
The Mets went 5-1 on this homestand and are now 10-5 since the All-Star Break. They are now 50-55 and creeping into the wild card conversation while also dealing with whether the team is kept together as the trade deadline approaches on Wednesday.
Mets Manager Mickey Callaway said of how they have played since the All-Star break, "I feel like we're syncing things up. Our bullpen's performing, we're scoring some runs consistently, our starters have been outstanding, and that's kind of the recipe for wins, and we've been doing that right now. We have to continue to do it no matter what decisions are made. We just continue to plug along and play the best baseball we possibly can...
"Every manager wants to keep their team together. We want to win together, we want to lose together, and that's the approach we take every day...I think that (General Manager) Brodie (Van Wagenen) understands that I know we can win now. He knows we can win now. There's a reality to every situation, and we both feel like we can win and get on a run and get into this thing."
Callaway said of his team's mindset as the deadline approaches, "I think we're just trying play as hard as we can. I think that these guys can win, and it shows you, when our bullpen performs, we win games. I'm just going out there concentrating on every day to make guys better. The players are concentrating to make themselves better, and go out there and win games."
After the game, the Mets made a major move as they reportedly acquired starting pitcher Marcus Stroman from the Toronto Blue Jays.
The Mets wasted no time getting to Pirates starter Chris Archer, who entered the game with a record of 3-7 and a very high 5.40 ERA. Since we're at this year's trade deadline, hard to believe this was one of the most coveted pitchers on the market a year ago when they acquired him from the Tampa Bay Rays.
Archer hit Jeff McNeil with a pitch to start things off, and then Michael Conforto went the other way, with a bomb to left field for a two-run homer.
This was Conforto's 20th home run of the season and the second straight game he went deep.
Pete Alonso then drew a walk, and Robinson Cano grounded into a force out before Wilson Ramos walked.
Todd Frazier followed with a single to score Cano, J.D. Davis singled home Ramos, and Amed Rosario got an RBI single to plate Frazier and make it 5-0.
Mets starting pitcher Jason Vargas was up next, and he bunted it back to Archer, who took a little while to get the ball out of his glove before throwing it to third, where Jung Ho Kang, who could not handle the ball. Davis was safe and the Mets had the bases loaded.
What was most noticeable when Vargas came to the plate was who was standing in the on-deck circle, Aaron Altherr, and not McNeil, who left the game with a right shin contusion.
Altherr hit a sacrifice fly to center field to score Davis and make it 6-0 Mets before Conforto struck out to end the long first inning.
Vargas cruised through the first two innings, but Jacob Stallings opened the third with a solo homer to deep left field that got Pittsburgh on the board.
In the fifth, Adam Frazier got a one-out single, and after Kang struck out, Stallings laced a single to right. Conforto fired to third to try to get Adam Frazier out, but Todd Frazier couldn't handle the throw, and it bounced away, allowing Adam to score and cut the Mets' lead to 6-2.
Archer followed with a single that gave Pittsburgh two on and two outs for their leadoff hitter, Kevin Newman, who flew out to center field to end the threat.
In the fifth, Bryan Reynolds walked and then Starling Marte grounded into a force.
Jose Osuna then struck out, and Marte appeared to take second base on strike three, but was sent back because Osuna's swing clipped Ramos.
Amazingly, Vargas paid no attention to Marte when Melky Cabrera up, and Marte was able to steal second. This meant that when Cabrera laced a hit up the gap for a double, Marte came around easily to make it 6-3 Mets. Adam Frazier then grounded out.
Meanwhile, Archer settled in and sailed through the second to fifth innings, allowing just one hit and a couple walks after his disastrous first inning.
In the sixth, Vargas struck out Kang and got Stallings to fly out to right before Joe Musgrove pinch-hit for Archer.
Vargas struck out Musgrove, who is also a pitcher, but strike three was a wild pitch, allowing him to reach.
That was all for the Mets' left-hander, who went 5 2/3 innings, allowing three runs on six hits and three walks, with five strikeouts. This was an underwhelming outing after his superb performance last Tuesday, in which he threw six shutout innings against San Diego in which he allowed just one hit.
Seth Lugo came on to finish the sixth, and struck out Newman to close it out.
In the bottom of the sixth, Francisco Liriano came in for the Pirates and the Mets added to their lead. Adeiny Hechavarria, who entered in the top half of the inning, laced a double, followed by a single for Altherr.
Conforto was up next, and he hit a fly ball to center, which Marte couldn't get a handle on, and it dropped in, allowing Hehavarria to score. Alsonso then bounced into a force out, and Altherr came in on that to give the Mets an 8-3 lead. Robinson Cano then hit into a double play to end the inning.
Lugo stayed in and retired the Pirates in order in the seventh, and Justin Wilson sailed through the eighth.
With a five-run lead heading into the ninth, Tyler Bashlor came on for the Mets and he had a rough outing as he surrendered a pair of two-run home runs to Reynolds and Osuna to make it an 8-7 game.
The Mets had to turn to their closer, Edwin Diaz, who came on and retired Cabrera and Adam Frazier to end it for his 23rd save of the season.