|Jeff McNeil approaching first on his first-inning hit. Photo by Jason Schott|
The Mets returned home on Tuesday night for their first game at Citi Field since June 1st - after they completed a 5-5 west coast trip - and they picked up right where they left off in getting off to a good start.
The Mets routinely put on a clinic in the first inning on their last homestand, in which they went 6-0 against the Philadelphia Phillies (while Joe Girardi was still their manager) and Washington Nationals, as they got plenty of guys on base, runs on the board, and running up the pitch count.
This is the kind of baseball they envisioned when they hired Buck Showalter to be their manager, as he has always preached plate disciplne, working counts, and getting on base. No at-bat is to be taken for granted, and two months into the season, it is clear the Mets lineup is full of professional hitters.
Milwaukee sent right-hander Adrian Houser to the mound, and he entered the game with a 3-6 record with a 3.92 ERA, and the Mets got right to work.
Brandon Nimmo led off with a double to the fence in right field, and then Starling Marte hit a dribbler to third baseman Jace Peterson, who had to dive so far to his left, there was no way he could get up and make the throw, so Marte was safe.
Francisco Lindor was up next, and he also hit a slow bouncer to the left side, but this time it was the shortstop, Willy Adames, who scooped it up and got Lindor by a step at first base for the first out of the inning.
Nimmo and Marte moved up to second and third, proving Lindor's at-bat was productive, a trademark of this Mets lineup under Manager Buck Showalter.
Pete Alonso was up next, and he promptly delivered a single to bring in Nimmo and make it 1-0.
Jeff McNeil was up next, Milwaukee brought the infield in, and he punched one past the second baseman, Luis Urias, who got the tip of his glove on it, which forced it to go slowly into right field. Marte scored easily to make it 2-0, and McNeil raced to second for a double.
Eduardo Escobar came up with McNeil at second and Alonso at third, and he hit a sacrifice fly to deep left to bring in Alonso and make it 3-0.
By this point, Houser's pitch count was at an even 30 pitches, and Luis Guillorme, known for working the count, was up next.
Guillorme entered this one with a .327 average on the season, and since April 19, he has an on-base percentage of .456. He worked it to a full count, and on the seventh pitch, grounded to first base for the third out.
That left Houser with 37 pitches in the first, roughly double what's considered a "long inning" and triple what a pitcher would like in the first, especially in this era of pitch counts as low as 75 for some starters.
This also was just what the doctor ordered for Mets starting pitcher Chris Bassitt, who threw eight shutout innings, allowing just three hits and a walk, with seven strikeouts as the Mets went on to win 4-0.