Mets stay red-hot, thump Pirates 9-1 to complete sweep

Starling Marte Mets Pirates
New York Mets’ Starling Marte (6) celebrates with Zack Short (21) after they scored off of Marte’s a two-run home run during the third inning of a baseball game against the Pittsburgh Pirates, Wednesday, April 17, 2024, in New York. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

QUEENS, N.Y. — The Mets scored four runs in the sixth inning and another three in the eighth against the Pittsburgh Pirates bullpen to fuel a 9-1 victory and clinch their first series sweep of the season on Wednesday afternoon at Citi Field.

In cooling off the red-hot Pirates, the Mets (10-8) have been one of baseball’s best teams over the last two weeks, going 10-3 over their last 13 games and winning each of their last four series.

“This was a really good homestand for us,” Mets manager Carlos Mendoza said. “The Pirates came in here pretty hot. That’s a good team there… but we were able to come back a couple nights… it’s good to see the team continue to play well.”

Leading 2-1, a four-run sixth inning sparked by a two-out, two RBI single by Tyrone Taylor followed immediately by Harrison Bader’s first home run with his new team.

“I’m definitely happy with the results,” Taylor said. “It helps build confidence… It speaks for the type of team we have. This is a great group in here and we’re having a fun time playing for each other. I think that’s huge. That creates a winning mentality. It’s been cool to see us get some wins lately.”

With a four-run lead in the eighth, Pete Alonso snuck under Henry Davis’ tag at home plate on a Francisco Alvarez fielder’s choice before Brandon Nimmo poked a two-out single with the bases loaded to left field to score two more.

Starling Marte hit his 150th home run of his career, a two-run blast in the bottom of the third inning, to overturn an early 1-0 deficit and ultimately give starting pitcher Luis Severino all he needed to work with.

The former Yankee, making his fourth start with the Mets, went a season-high six innings, allowing one run on five hits with four strikeouts, and three walks.

“That was important [for him to go six innings],” Mendoza said. “It’s important for the starters to provide some length. It’s been one of those things where pitch counts [has limited starters to] five innings, but today, he went out for the sixth at 85 pitches. I felt comfortable there because he still had the velo.”

There was no shortage of traffic that Severino had to contend with. The Pirates had 11 runners on base across the first five innings, but the right-hander was able to quell most of the danger. Much of that was in part due to three double plays that the Mets were able to turn behind him in the first, third, and fifth innings.

“The defense was unbelievable today,” Severino said. “We are where we want to be.”

Bryan Reynolds’ infield single with two outs in the third inning scored Davis from third base to put the Pirates in front. Davis, the Pirates’ catcher, reached base to lead off the inning when he was interfered with by the glove of the catcher, Alvarez.

The backswing caught Alvarez on the left hand, stunning the 22-year-old momentarily. After being checked out by manager Carlos Mendoza and a team trainer, he remained in the game. 

Marte punched back in the bottom half of the third off Pirates starter Bailey Falter with a two-run shot that just cleared the left-center field fence to score Zack Short, who led the frame off with a walk.  

“I saw a pitch that stayed up a little bit and was in a good spot,” Marte said. “I was able to put a good swing there.”

It was Falter’s lone mistake of the afternoon, as he went five innings, allowing those two runs on four hits with four strikeouts and a walk.

The Mets broke things open in the sixth off reliever Hunter Stratton, who allowed a lead-off single to Francisco Lindor followed by a walk to Alonso. Both base-runners moved up 90 feet thanks to Jeff McNeil’s sacrifice bunt before Alvarez popped up for the second out.

Taylor found a hole to the left of the second-base bag to score Lindor and Alonso to put the Mets up three. On Stratton’s very next pitch, Bader launched a cutter that was left up in the zone and deposited it into the left-field seats just inside the foul pole. 

The round-tripper traveled 392 feet and left his bat at 106.3 mph.

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