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Mets fall to Astros 2-0: Unlikely hero homers for Houston to give second sweep in a week

Mets fall to Astros 2-0
Houston Astros starting pitcher Justin Verlander delivers against the New York Mets during the fifth inning of a baseball game, Wednesday, June 29, 2022, in New York. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

A beautiful Wednesday afternoon wasn’t enough to get the Mets over the Houston Astros hurdle. 

Astros’ catcher Jason Castro, batting just .095 before the contest, hit a towering two run shot off Drew Smith in the ninth inning, and the Astros edged out New York in a classic pitchers duel 2-0. 

The weather topped at a cool 83 degrees at Citi Field where 29,230 in attendance saw the Astros sweep the two-game series.

It’s the first time in 83 games where the Mets have lost three games in a row dating back to the end of last season. It was the second longest streak in Mets history. The 05-06 club went 93 games without dropping three games in a row. 

Fans at Citi Field were treated to an old fashioned pitchers duel between both starting pitchers Taijuan Walker, and Justin Verlander. 

Walker got the start for New York and to say he was great would be an understatement. The right hander threw seven and  third scoreless innings while giving up just four hits. Walker didn’t get a decision in the contest but lowered his ERA to 2.72. 

“We took him as far as we wanted for him to go today. He’s been pitching well but with that part of the order…we talked to him in between innings, and it worked out. We had two hits and one was kind of a swinging bunt and that was your ball game right there.” Buck Showalter said after the game. 

Walker’s biggest test came in the 7th, when a one out walk turned into runners at the corners. Castro made bloop contact that almost got through for a hit. Jeff McNeil was able to make the play and get Walker through seven without giving up a run. 

Edwin Diaz replaced Walker in the eight and struck out both Alvarez and Bregman with runners in scoring position. Drew Smith came into the game in the ninth, and Castro sealed the Mets third straight loss. 

Showalter defended the move to go to Smith in the ninth inning saying “He’s one of our best pitchers, and in those stressful environments. We didn’t want him to have six days off anyway. it’s not good for a relief pitcher. He needed this day because he’s a good option.”

While the Mets pitchers continuously fooled a top offense in baseball, the home bats were quiet against an all-time great. 

New York had early chances against Justin Verlander. Brandon Nimmo increased his hitting streak to eight games with a lead-off double in the first but was unable to score. Verlander would then retire 24 of the next 26 hitters faced. 

“The boys battled. I felt we hit the ball hard and they made a few plays on us. We just couldn’t get anything across.” Walker said on the loss. “That’s just baseball.”

The Mets have gone 6 for their last 49 with RISP. The recent mini-slump has seen the team go from leading the league in average with RISP to second in the league behind the Cincinnati Reds. 

The Mets never got close to scoring a run throughout the game, and have only scored one run in their last 24 innings. 

It wasn’t a smooth game for Houston either. Leading off the eight, Dom Smith had a pop fly that was caught by Jeremy Pena but the young short stop collided with left fielder Yordan Alvarez. Alvarez and Pena were both removed from the game. 

Houston Astros’ Yordan Alvarez (44) collides with Jeremy Pena, left, while trying to catch a fly ball hit by New York Mets’ Dominic Smith during the eighth inning of a baseball game, Wednesday, June 29, 2022, in New York. Looking on at right is Astros’ Jake Meyers. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

“That was scary. I hope both are ok. It’s not a good feeling, regardless of the competition you got to hold your breath and hope everyone is ok” Showalter added. 

With the win, Houston moved to 20 games over .500 and extend their commanding league in the AL West to 10.5 games. 

The Mets fall to 47-29, and will have an off-day Thursday before starting a three game series with Texas to kick off the month of July. 

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