Mets bats come alive, support gutsy Jacob deGrom effort; stay alive with Game 2 win over Padres

Jeff McNeil Mets
Jeff McNeil (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

For those still trying to figure out how exactly to classify the New York Mets’ offense, you’re still probably looking for answers after Saturday night.

Two big blasts from Francisco Lindor and Pete Alonso were supported by baseball’s version of death by 1,000 paper cuts. The Mets tied a franchise postseason record with nine walks to ultimately break down the San Diego Padres in Game 2 of the National League Wild Card Series, setting up a decisive four-run seventh inning — sparked by a Jeff McNeil two-run double — to pave the way for a series-tying 7-3 victory at Citi Field.

“It was a very Mets-like win,” Lindor said.

With it, they’ve earned an opportunity at a winner-take-all Game 3 for a trip to the NLDS and a date with the MLB-best Los Angeles Dodgers. 

“We were really, really good tonight,” Alonso said. “We executed our plan and we didn’t waste any swings… we took our walks when opportunities weren’t there in the zone. I thought we did a great job discipline-wise.”

The offensive explosion was necessary, especially after they were shut down by Yu Darvish in Game 1. But Jacob deGrom did what Max Scherzer couldn’t, answering the call to be big in a big moment by gutting out six innings when he clearly wasn’t at his best, allowing two runs on five hits with eight strikeouts to keep a Padres offense that posted seven a night earlier at bay.

Lindor gave deGrom a lead with a solo home run in the first inning — equalling the Mets’ run total from all of Game 1. But New York once again had more chances to tack on against Snell, who labored through 51 pitches over the first two frames of the night alone while struggling with his control all night. 

The Mets ultimately stranded four men on in the opening two innings, which included drawing a pair of walks, and were made to feel the impact of it.

Trent Grisham, who batted .184 with a .625 OPS in the regular season, equalized for the Padres by taking a 100-mph deGrom fastball the other way into the left-field seats for his second home run in as many games. It was the seventh home run allowed by deGrom in his last five starts, which is almost unthinkable when he gave up just 10 in his entire 2018 season (32 starts).

San Diego proceeded to put runners at second and third with two outs, which could have been worse when Starling Marte airmailed a throw from right field on a Juan Soto single in an attempt to nab Jurickson Profar at third base. It sailed well over Eduardo Escobar but deGrom was there to back it up and snag it with a barehand to prevent a second run from scoring. He then proceeded to strike out Manny Machado swinging on a high fastball to get out of the third.

“That was a big momentum swing,” Showalter said. “When you do something right fundamentally, you get rewarded. Not many pitchers are there and two, they don’t make that play. What an athletic play.”

Mets patience at the plate paid off in the fourth when after drawing another two walks — bringing Snell’s total to a season-high six — Brandon Nimmo singled home Escobar to re-deliver a momentary lead for the hosts. Because deGrom gave it right back. 

Jurickson Profar lined a single down the right-field line to score Grisham, who led off the frame with a walk, in the top of the fifth to keep New York’s margin for error razor thin. 

Juan Soto followed with a single to put runners on the corners with one out, but deGrom bore down to strike out Machado and Josh Bell to keep it level. 

Alonso immediately picked deGrom back up for his tenacity, going down and sending the first pitch he saw from reliever Nick Martinez in the bottom of the fifth into the left-field seats to put the Mets ahead for a third time.

“To come up clutch in a spot like that to get the lead, that was awesome,” Alonso said. “Hopefully I can hit a few more like that tomorrow and moving forward.”

With deGrom at 90 pitches, he came bounding out of the Mets’ dugout for the sixth and proceeded to mow the Padres down on just nine pitches to end his night on a high note and in the lead. 

Rather than go to a different reliever, Showalter called on closer Edwin Diaz for the seventh inning to face the bottom of the Padres’ order, which he managed to navigate through despite allowing a one-out single to Austin Nola.

The Mets finally broke it open in the seventh thanks to their continued composure at the dish, which ultimately led to that four-run surge.

After Lindor led it off with a single, Alonso and Mark Canha drew back-to-back 10-pitch walks against Arian Morejon to load the bases to set the stage for McNeil. The NL batting champion worked a 2-0 count before lacing a double up the middle meandering into the right-center-field gap to score a pair and provide some insurance. 

Escobar tacked on one more to follow McNeil with a seeing-eye single that punched through the left side of a shaded-in infield to score Canha. McNeil proceeded to come home on a Daniel Vogelbach pinch-hit sacrifice fly to right.

Despite a healthy advantage built by a 46-minute inning, Showalter trotted Diaz back out for the eighth inning, recording two outs before turning to Adam Ottavino.

While he got the last out of the eighth, he ran into supreme trouble in the ninth when he hit a batter and walked three more to bring Josh Bell up to the plate as the Padres’ tying run. Showalter turned to Seth Lugo, who did his job by coaxing a groundout from the dangerous lefty.

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