Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Mets Walk-Off Winners Once Again As They Complete Comeback vs. Cleveland

J.D. Davis connecting on the game-winning hit. Photo by Jason Schott.

The Mets' magic at Citi Field continues, as they came back with two runs in the bottom of the tenth inning to stun the Cleveland Indians, 4-3, on Wednesday night.

Trailing by a run after Cleveland took the lead in the top of the 10th on a solo home run from Carlos Santana, the Mets battled back against Cleveland closer Brad Hand.

Amed Rosario got the inning started with a double, followed by a perfectly executed bunt from Joe Panik to move him to third base.

Pete Alonso, still in search of his franchise record-tying home run, was up next, but was intentionally walked to bring Michael Conforto to the plate.

Conforto grounded one to first, and Carlos Santana fired to second to get Alonso, but Francisco Lindor had to hold onto the ball as neither Hand nor second baseman Jason Kipnis covered first. Rosario came in with the tying run on the play.

Wilson Ramos followed that with a dribbler down the third base line that Hand took a while to get to, and he made a low throw to first that Ramos easily beat to give the Mets two on with two out.

J.D. Davis was up next, and he fought off everything Hand had, and with the count full, he hit a rocket down the left field line to score Conforto with the winning run and complete their fifth walk-off win of the season. They now have 17 wins in their final at-bat.

Mets Manager Mickey Callaway said of what makes Davis able to continually grind out an at-bats like that, "He's prepared - that's the bottom line. I think any other hitter that probably wasn't as prepared would have been thinking, 'oh, this guy's going to throw me a fastball at one point, you know. He fouled off two of his sliders, he didn't throw them great, he's probably gonna throw a fastball.' I'm sure J.D. did his homework and said, 'you know that, this guy's gonna live and die by his slider because it's his best pitch, so once he gets one out over the plate and doesn't get one in, I'm gonna hammer it,' and he did. It's about preparation for him, that breeds his confidence and that's what allows him to go up to any pitcher and stand in there and feel like he's going to get the job done - and at Citi Field, he does it almost half the time."

Callaway said "you could definitely sense" in the dugout the feeling that they're going to make a comeback. "People running up and down the dugout, 'we could do this! We had to score one, we could score two!' and it's just positive comments and these guys believe in themselves. It's a lot of hustle, it's a lot of small ball, playing the game the right way, and great bullpen today. They believe in themselves, and especially when they're down, they feel like they're going to come back."

The Mets improved to a season-high six games over .550 at 66-60, and are now 26-10 since the All-Star Break, second-best in the Major Leagues.

Callaway was asked when this confidence turned into this belief that they can win every night, and he said, "When our bullpen started performing. That was the missing piece - that was the missing piece of the puzzle from the beginning. If you were really watching early in the season, we were doing the same things late in the game that we're doing now, just our bullpen was struggling, and we knew, if we get our bullpen straightened out, we're going to win a lot of games because we would have won a lot of games in the first half had that been the the case. When our bullpen started clicking, when we got (Luis) Avilan back throwing well, we got (Justin) Wilson back, that's when the tide turned."

Marcus Stroman got the start for the Mets, and he pitched solidly, allowing one run in the fourth, when Francisco Lindor singled and scored on a groundout from Yasiel Puig, on five hits and a walk, with one strikeout.

Stroman's second start at Citi Field as a Met did not last as long as he hoped, as he exited after just four innings before leaving with what the team termed left hamstring tightness. Callaway said afterwards that Stroman "got checked out, got an MRI, and we're not concerned at this point."

Cleveland starter Adam Plutko retired the first ten Mets, with Joe Panik the first to reach base against him with a single in the fourth.

After Jeurys Familia pitched a scoreless top of the fifth in relief of Stroman, the Mets rallied in the fifth.

Todd Frazier got a one-out single, and he came in to score on a double from Juan Lagares to tie it at 1. Lagares laced it to right field, and it got by Puig with ease, going right to the fence. Puig put his arms up as the ball rested at the base of the fence, as if it were trapped in the ivy at Wrigley Field, which the umpires ignored, and Frazier scored with ease.

Luis Guillorme was up next, and he lined a double to center field that went to the fence, as well, and Lagares raced home to give the Mets a 2-1 lead.

Plutko recovered to get Amed Rosario to fly out to left and Panik to pop up to second to get out of further damage.

Cleveland tied it in the top of the sixth against Mets reliever Brad Brach when Carlos Santana drew a lead-off walk and came around to score on a Jose Ramirez triple that went into the left field corner to tie the game.

Plutko retired the Mets in order in the sixth and that was all for his night, as he allowed two runs on four hits and walk with five strikeouts.

Justin Wilson came on for the Mets in the seventh, and he continued his run of dominance, as he worked around a leadoff single from Tyler Naquin on a pop-up that was  just out of reach for Rosario down the left field line. Wilson got Franmil Reyes to fly to right, struck out Lindor (just as he did on Tuesday night), and got Greg Allen to bounce into a fielder's choice.

Nick Goody came on for Cleveland in the bottom of the seventh and he walked Frazier and Lagares with one out before getting Rajai Davis to strike out and Rosario  to fly out to right field.

After Seth Lugo retired Cleveland in order in the top of the eighth, former Met Oliver Perez entered for the Indians to a cascade of boos, as would be expected.

Panik laced a single before Perez struck out Alonso on three pitches for the first out, as he blew a fastball by him, got Alonso to foul one back, and then got him chasing a pitch in the dirt. Perez then struc out Conforto on an off-speed pitch, in which he couldn't hold up his swing, for the second out.

That was all for Perez, and in came Adam Cimber, who had a rough outing on Tuesday night, but he redeemed himself as he got Wilson Ramos to ground one back to him to end the frame.

Lugo stayed on and worked around a Jason Kipnis single to throw another scoreless inning, and then Nick Wittgren came on for Cleveland and worked around a Juan Lagares single to keep the Mets off the board.

Luis Avilan, who was riding a streak of 13 scoreless innings, came on for the Mets in the 10th. He got Lindor to ground out and Allen to strike out before allowing a bomb to deep left to Santana for a solo shot, giving Cleveland a 3-2 lead before the Mets came back with two in the bottom half of the inning.

A "PRESIDENTIAL" VISIT: Tea Leoni threw out the first pitch before the game as her "Madame Secretary" character, President Elizabeth McCord in a scene for an episode in the upcoming season.

Tea Leoni making the pitch. Photo by Jason Schott.

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