Friday, September 16, 2022

Mets, Led By Walker & Vogelbach, Beat Pirates Again

Daniel Vogelbach is ready to bump forearms with Mark Canha after he crossed the plate on his home run. Photo by Jason Schott.

The Mets appear to be back to normal, as they got great pitching from Taijuan Walker, and the offense delivered, as Daniel Vogelbach hit a solo home run, on their way to a 4-3 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates at Citi Field on Friday night.

This was their second win over the Pirates to open this four-game series, as they have righted the ship after that three-game sweep to the Chicago Cubs earlier in the week.

The Mets improved to 91-55, and maintained their one-game lead over the Atlanta Braves (89-55) in the National League East, after Atlanta came back to beat the Philadelphia Phillies, 7-2, with six runs in the bottom of the eighth inning.

Taijuan Walker firing a pitch to Oneill Cruz in the first inning. Photo by Jason Schott.

This was began as a pitchers' duel, as Walker retired the first 11 Pirates batters before allowing a single to Rodolfo Castro with two outs in the fourth inning.

Pirates starter Mitch Keller retired the first seven Mets before he allowed a walk to Eduardo Escobar. Tomas Nido then dunked one down the right field, and since it was a hit-and-run, Escobar was past second base when it landed, so he came all the way around to score and give the Mets a 1-0 lead.

In the fourth, after Jeff McNeil and Pete Alonso flew out, Vogelbach got a hold of of one to left-center field for a solo home run, his 17th of the year, to make it 2-0.

In the fifth, the Pirates got a break as Ke'Bryan Hayes (son of ex-Yankee Charlie Hayes) reached on a throwing error by Escobar, then Cal Mitchell hit one just past Pete Alonso for a single. Michael Chavis then hit a dribbler to third base that Escobar had no play on, and that brought in Hayes to make it 2-1 Mets.

Walker then got Jack Suwinski and Tyler Heineman to fly out to center field, and Oneill Cruz (named after Yankee legend Paul O'Neill) to fly out to deep right field, as McNeil made the catch falling back into the fence. Walker raised his arms in appreciation watching that play.

The Mets got that run back in the sixth, which began when Brandon Nimmo hit one to third base, which was empty with the shift on, and he then stole second base. Francisco Lindor singled to move Nimmo to third, and then he stole second also. Alonso then followed with a sacrifice fly to center field to bring in Nimmo and make it 3-1, and that gave him 113 RBI on the season.

In the sevebnth, Escobar opened it with a double, and then Nido reached on an error by the shortstop Cruz before Nimmo hit one into shallow left field that Cruz tried to make and over-the-shoulder catch on, but it popped out of his glove. Nimmo got a single, and that brought in Escobar to make it 4-1.

Meanwhile, Walker cruised through the sixth and seventh innings, which gave him nine outs in a row, and with his pitch count low, he came back for the eighth. Heineman got a one-out single before Cruz blasted one to left for a two-run homer to cut the Mets' lead to 4-3.

Since that was Walker's 100th pitch, that was all for his night, and they turned to closer Edwin Diaz got the final two outs of the eighth. Diaz stayed on for the ninth, and he opened it with a walk to Ben Gamel, who was lifted for pinch-runner Greg Allen, and he got caught stealing for the first out. Hayes struck out swinging, and Mitchell ended it with another deep fly ball to right field for the third out.

Walker went 7 1/3 innings, allowing three runs (two earned) on five hits and no walks, with five strikeouts, as he earned the win to improve to 12-4 with a 3.42 ERA. Diaz earned his 30th save of the season.

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