A trip to the bandbox on the Ohio River turned out to do a world of good for the Mets.
Behind three home runs from Jonathan Villar, Dominic Smith, and Luis Guillorme, the Mets took the rubber game from the Cincinnati Reds, 7-0 to win their second series of the post-All-Star-break slate.
Even more important was the outing by starting pitcher Marcus Stroman, who allowed just one hit over eight innings of scoreless work while striking out seven. He became the first Met since Jacob deGrom on July 7 against the Milwaukee Brewers to pitch into the seventh inning, and the first Met since deGrom in 2016 to post eight innings of one-hit ball.
“I have the same mentality, mindset each and every game,” Stroman said. “That’s my goal. I feel like that’s the standard. If it’s under that, I’m never truly happy with myself.”
It was even more important when considering the Mets are down to just three healthy starting pitchers with a bullpen that was taxed on Tuesday night after spot starter Robert Stock suffered a hamstring injury in the second inning of a 4-3 loss.
“Any time I can come in and be a huge sense of relief and kind of give our bullpen time to relax going into the off day, I think that’s awesome,” Stroman said.
Stroman was untouchable from the third inning through the seventh innings, retiring 14-straight batters until he walked Joey Votto with two outs in that seventh frame. He was still able to get out of that inning with just 81 pitches to his ledger.
He ended the day on just 90 pitches, with the Mets likely needing him to pitch on Monday in a doubleheader against the Braves, lowering his season ERA to 2.59. It’s the lowest ERA he’s posted in the first 20 starts of a season in his career.
While he was untouchable, Smith provided the largest blow of them all, cracking the Mets’ second grand slam of the season and his 11th round-tripper of the year in the third inning to put New York up 5-0 on Cincinnati starter Jeff Hoffman.
“Especially in those situations with the bases loaded and there’s nowhere to put me, [Hoffman’s] trying to get ahead,” Smith said. “The first couple innings he got a lot of soft contact on breaking balls and that was something I took note of. I was ready to hit. He made a pretty good pitch and I was able to get a good swing on it.
“I hit it on the barrel pretty well. This ballpark plays pretty well for hitters.”
Villar got the Mets going an inning earlier with a solo home run that just snuck over the right-field wall, which broke the phone of a Reds fan to add insult to the Cincinnati faithful’s injury.
It was all Stroman needed, who rebounded at a perfect time after he failed to go more than five innings in each of his previous five starts with a 4.74 ERA.
As he cruised in the middle innings, Guillorme got in on the action with an unlikeliest of home runs as he went the other way for a two-run shot — his first of the year — to put the Mets up seven in the fifth.