Tuesday, August 20, 2019

"Relentless" Mets Rock Cleveland To Start Big Series

Pete Alonso launching a double in the seventh inning. Photo by Jason Schott.

The Mets rocked the Cleveland Indians, 9-2, on Tuesday night at Citi Field to open a critical three-game series.

J.D. Davis and Michael Conforto each had two-run home runs, while Pete Alonso had a two-run double as part of a four-run seventh inning that blew the game open.

Mets Manager Mickey Callaway said of his offense, "I think it's just they'r relentless, right. They're relentless in their approach; no matter who comes in, they're up there grinding it out. Timely hitting - a key big hit usually starts it, Conforto's homer, and then you get to their lesser pitchers and you add on, and that's what good teams do. They add on, and we added on enough to where we could stay away from (Seth) Lugo and (Edwin) Diaz, and we're in a better situation tomorrow because our hitters are relentless. You could pop the two-run homer, and then sit back and go, 'ok, bullpen, there you go.' They don't do that - they score late, they score often, especially late, and that takes the pressure off."

The Mets are now 65-60, climbing back to a season-high five games over .500, which they last reached on August 10. Their second-half record is now a superb 25-10.

As would be expected when the Mets and Indians get together, this one was a pitching duel between the Mets' Steven Matz and Cleveland's Shane Bieber.

Matz went 6 1/3 innings, and allowed just two runs (one earned) on four hits and two walks, with seven strikeouts, to improve to 8-7 and lower his ERA to 4.18.

Callaway said of Matz's stuff in this one, and the fact that six of the seven strikeouts were looking, "It says that he's got a lot of movement. That kind of shows me that he was really able to start that ball off the plate and bring it back on, and great usage of his pitches. He's setting up the next pitch, so maybe they're looking for something else and you freeze them with a fastball."

Bieber, who entered with a record of 12-5, went six innings, and allowed four runs (two earned) on four hits and a walk, with seven strikeouts.

Cleveland got on the board first in the top of the second when Jason Kipnis launched a bomb to the second deck in right field for a solo shot.

The Mets came right back in the bottom of the second when J.D. Davis hit a 446-foot shot to center field for a two-run homer to make it 2-1 Mets.

In the fourth, Yasiel Puig bounced one to third base, which went off Todd Frazier's glove for an error.
Jose Ramirez followed with a single up the middle, and Kipnis got a seeing-eye single through the right side to score Puig and tie it at 2.

Matz then got Roberto Perez to fly out to left field, Greg Allen to bounce into a force out, and he struck out Bieber to end the inning.

In the sixth, the Indians' defense betrayed Bieber. With one out in the inning, Mercado could not hang on to a pop-up from Joe Panik, who raced all the way to second.

Then, after Alonso struck out looking, Michael Conforto launched a bomb to deep right, into the Mets bullpen, for a two-run homer to give them a 4-2 lead. That was #27 on the year for Conforto, and it brought him up to 75 RBI on the season as well.

Wilson Ramos was up next, and he hit a grounder to shortstop, but Francisco Lindor made a very low throw to first base, which got away, allowing the Mets catcher to reach. Davis couldn't take advantage as he flew out to left to end the inning.

Meanwhile, Matz really got into a groove, as he retired ten straight from the fourth into the seventh, and it was broken up by a one-out single from Allen.

Franmil Reyes was up next, pinch-hitting for Bieber, and he drew a walk, and that was all for Matz, who was at 98 pitches.

Justin Wilson came out of the bullpen to strike out Lindor and Mercado with filthy sliders to get out of trouble and preserve the Mets' 4-2 lead.

Callaway said of sending Matz back out for the seventh, "In my mind, totally different circumstances (than his last start in Altanta, when he left after six). Seven, eight, nine hitters coming up. He had a few more pitches than the last time, but for me, tonight, we had a two-run lead, one homer doesn't tie the game, so we sent him back out and had two guys ready in case he struggled. He got one out for us, and then we went to Wilson, and Wilson came in and got some huge strikeouts against some pretty good hitters. So, you know, Matzy did a great job tonight."

Adam Cimber came on for Cleveland in the bottom of the seventh, and Frazier lined a hit down the first-base line for a single before Lagares drew a walk.

Rajai Davis, who played for the Indians and hit the game-tying home run in Game 7 of the 2016 World Series before the Cubs won it, was up next to pinch-hit for Wilson. He bounced one back to Cimber, who fired to third to nab Frazier for the first out of the inning.

Amed Rosario was up next, and he singled up the middle to score Lagares to make it 5-2, and that was all for Cimber.

Cleveland turned to Hunter Wood, and the Mets' hit parade continued.

Joe Panik singled home Davis, and then Pete Alonso hit a rocket to deep center to score Rosario and Panik to make it 8-2. Conforto popped out to shortstop and Ramos grounded to first, preventing further damage.

After Luis Avilan pitched a perfect top of the eighth, Juan Lagares got a two-out walk and scored on a double from Rajai Davis to make it 9-2.

Paul Sewald closed it out when he struck out the side in the ninth inning.

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