With a statline that featured numbers more reminiscent of 1992 than 2022, Mets starter Chris Bassitt reminded Major League Baseball that you can run up a high pitch count and still go deep into games — tossing eight innings while allowing just one run — which was unearned — on eight hits and eight strikeouts on 114 pitches in a 5-1 victory over the Cincinnati Reds on Monday night at Citi Field.
The veteran right-hander had to deal with a traffic jam on the basepaths for a majority of the evening, yet he still managed to pitch at least six innings for a ninth-consecutive time while completing eight innings for the second time this season. He owns a 2.21 ERA during that nine-start stretch.
“I think everyone’s role is basically different in the aspect of what they do,” Bassitt said. “My job is always to eat innings. Not punch guys out. Just eat innings.”
A two-run home run from Starling Marte in the first and a two-RBI triple from Tyler Naquin against the team that traded him at the deadline in the eighth bookended the Mets’ offensive output on the afternoon, which proved to be more than enough for Bassitt and Adam Ottavino, who finished things off in the ninth with a scoreless ninth.
The Mets (71-39) defeated their former prospect in starting pitcher Justin Dunn, who was traded to the Seattle Mariners in the package that brought back Edwin Diaz and Robinson Cano. It was the Freeport native’s first start in the majors since June of 2021 — and it got off a brutal start.
Two batters into the evening, the Mets were up 2-0 after Dunn plunked Brandon Nimmo in the leg before Marte crushed a no-doubter over the left-field wall for his 12th home run of the season.
The Mets got back to their patented two-out hitting to get one more on Dunn in the third when Daniel Vogelbach lined a single over the shift and into right field to score Francisco Lindor. The DH continues his torrid stretch since being acquired by the New York from the Pittsburgh Pirates, as that knock was his 12th hit in 37 at-bats (.324 average).
After facing the minimum through the first three innings, Bassitt allowed 11 baserunners aboard in the next five innings. But just one would score.
“It’s just moxie. He’s just a competitive guy,” Mets manager Buck Showalter said. “He doesn’t let something dictate how he feels. It’s about competing on the day he pitches. It’s been a good hand, a good feel. That’s something that’s hard to quantify. He’s a guy who likes to do what’s expected of him.”
He was touched up for one in the fourth when Joey Votto’s fielder’s choice scored Jonathan India, who reached base on a Pete Alonso error to lead the inning off to ensure the run was not earned.
A bit more trouble came in the fifth when he put runners on first and second with one out, but a timely double play coaxed from former Met Albert Almora — who replaced Jonathan India in the lead-off spot after the fourth inning — was turned by Bassitt after a comebacker created the tailor-made opportunity.
An opportunity for the Mets to nab some more insurance went beckoning in the fifth inning when they were unable to get Marte home from third with one out after Almora robbed Lindor of his 20th home run of the season just moments earlier. Pete Alonso popped up to third before Vogelbach struck out.
Alonso’s pop-up was the last action of Dunn’s night against his former organization, ending it on a personal high note.
Bassitt nearly saw his slim lead evaporate in the sixth when the Reds loaded the bases with two outs, but he got Aristides Aquino to loft a soft liner to Jeff McNeil at second base to extend that streak of at least six innings pitched to nine straight starts.
A single and a catcher’s interference with two outs put two more on in the seventh, but New York’s starter found a way out of it again, getting another former Mets prospect in Matt Reynolds to fly out to short right field.
“He’s been able to hold his stuff,” Showalter said. “He’s strong, he’s in good shape. A lot of factors there. He just wants the game.”
With two outs in the bottom of the eighth, the Mets mounted another rally to put the game away. Daniel Vogelbach doubled and Jeff McNeil was hit by a Ryan Hendrix pitch before Naquin pulled a two-run triple off the top of the right-field wall to clear the bases.