Ortega walks it off, Mets beat Angels 3-2 behind Peterson’s gem

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Ortega Mets Angels
New York Mets’ Rafael Ortega (30) reacts after hitting a walk off single during the ninth inning of a baseball game against the Los Angeles Angels, Sunday, Aug. 27, 2023, in New York. The Mets won 3-2. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

QUEENS —  Rafael Ortega doesn’t get these moments often.

The journeyman outfielder delivered his second-career walk-off hit, a bases-loaded single to right, to lift the Mets to a 3-2 comeback victory over the Los Angeles Angels on Sunday afternoon at Citi Field. 

“Everybody’s trying to leave a good memory,” Mets manager Buck Showalter said. “Whether it be Ortega… everybody knows that there’s going to be some directions that the club will take and they want to be included in that.”

Scoring once in the eighth before Ortega’s winner, the Mets pulled it out against Angels reliever Reynaldo Lopez, whose erraticness helped set the table for New York’s win. Francisco Alvarez was grazed in the hand by a Lopez fastball to put a lead-off man. DJ Stewart followed up with a single and Mark Vientos walked to load the bases for Ortega.

The 32-year-old sent a sinking liner to right field that found the grass just millimeters ahead fo Angels right fielder Hunter Renfroe’s glove.

“I was looking for something in to put that ball in the air to bring in that run,” Ortega said. “I know [Refroe] has a really good arm and he’d have a really good chance to throw the ball home… but he didn’t get that one and I got the base hit.”

The Mets (60-71) managed to overturn a 2-1 eighth-inning deficit after a Luis Renfigo home run in the top of the eighth off reliever Drew Smith gave the Angels an advantage. Pete Alonso replied immediately in the bottom of the inning to tie the game with a two-out double to score Francisco Lindor from second base.

The win snapped the Mets’ four-game losing streak while avoiding a sweep at the hands of Los Angeles (63-68), who entered the series in just as dire condition as New York.

David Peterson posted his best start of the season, which was just his fifth since being reintroduced to the starting rotation following a month-long stint in the bullpen. Going seven innings for the first time in 2023, Peterson allowed just one run on three hits to go with eight strikeouts and three walks.

“In-game that was one of the best [times] I’ve felt this year,” Peterson said. “It felt good to get deep in the game again, get over 100 pitches, especially after the build-up.”

It included an impressive display of holding Angels superstar Shohei Ohtani hitless in three at-bats with a strikeout.

“That’s quite a feat,” Showalter said. “He was really good. It was good to see.”

Shohei Ohtani Mets
Los Angeles Angels designated hitter Shohei Ohtani reacts after foul tipping the ball off his foot during the sixth inning of a baseball game against the New York Mets, Sunday, Aug. 27, 2023, in New York. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

But Angels starter Griffin Canning matched Peterson almost every step of the way, yielding just one run in seven innings of his own on five hits while striking out nine on just one walk. 

Renfigo, who went 2-for-3, accounted for the only hit in the opening 3.5 innings on an infield single. His grounder in the hole between first and second was fielded well by a diving Pete Alonso, but his throw to Peterson hurrying over to cover the bag was high and behind him — a play that could have very well been scored an error. 

Jeff McNeil finally came up with the Mets’ first hit with one out in the fourth inning on a clean single to left to start a Mets rally that plated the afternoon’s first run. 

Daniel Vogelbach singled to put runners on first and second with two outs before Francisco Alvarez’s ground ball up the middle was stopped by a diving Luis Renfigo. Initially looking to make the inning-ending forceout at second base, he couldn’t get the ball out of his glove while on his backside as McNeil rounded third and headed home, making it safely ahead of a weak throw.

Canning rebounded to hold the Mets scoreless for the next three innings, working around five hits during that span, while Peterson cruised. He set down 11 of the next 12 batters he faced following Renfigo’s single before yielding a base hit to Randal Grichuk with one out in the seventh inning, ultimately signaling trouble for the lefty.

He walked Hunter Renfroe before Mickey Moniak’s perfect bunt down the third-base line loaded the bases with just one out. A grounder off the end of the bat by Chad Wallach nearly snuck down the first-base line, but another diving stop by Alonso limited the damage as he settled for the out at first while the tying run scored.

After Peterson was pulled, Smith needed just one batter to gift the Angels the lead when Renfigo took his slider out to right-center. 

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