Teams with playoff aspirations have to get baseball games from their roster the Mets received last night as great pitching combined with timely hitting and amazing defense gave the Mets a 3-2 win over a talented Chicago Cubs team that has now lost the first 2 games of this series to the Mets who are the toughest team in this sport to beat on their home field as they are sporting a 19-6 record here at CitiField.
The pitching was fantastic tonight as once again Taijuan Walker gave the Mets length goimg 7 innings allowing only 2 runs and then handled the ball to Seth Lugo who earned his first save of the season by hurling 2 scoreless innings in which he struck out 3 hitters. In that final frame he received an incredible defensive play as an Ian Happ base hit was turned into a perfect relay that went from Kevin Pillar to Luis Guillorme to James McCann to nail the potential game trying baserunner (former Met Jake Marisnick) at the plate.
This was a tough play as Pillar threw a perfect strike to Guillorme who looked like a scrambling quarterback tossing an accurate throw and sent the Met crowd of 17,804 into a frenzy. Met manager Luis Rojas told us all during spring training that his team was working on the defense to make it a strength for his team. And we have seen that all season with diving plays, pick offs of opponent’s baserunners and this play symbolized all of that hard work.
From an offensive standpoint, this Met team got a three RBI night from Pete Alonso with a 2 run single coupled with a sac fly and that was all the runs this Met team would need on this night. Since Alonso returned to the lineup from the injured list, he seems much more focused on these runners in scoring position situations. By that I mean he is using the whole field and hitting the ball where it is pitched knowing these runs are crucial because he plays with the stingiest pitching staff in all of baseball.
And we have seen in the last few days that the addition of Seth Lugo is making this staff even better as his presence in the Met bullpen allowed Luis Rojas the luxury of not using most of his late inning relievers knowing they could be needed tomorrow night to assist the sport’s best pitcher–Jacob deGrom to beat the Cubs for a third straight night.
But the biggest takeaway from this game is the Met defense which was a major weakness a year ago and now has become a major strength. And when you consider this team has suffered so many injuries it is amazing that these backup players are showing Gold Glove standards night after night. I think that clearly speaks to Rojas and his coaching staff that made this a priority from the first day of spring training in Port St Lucie and have kept it at the eye level of all of his players throughout this season.
A season that will hit the 60 game mark tomorrow and most games the Mets show their gloves in grand fashion whether it is a relay throw or catching a potential base stealer to end the game or a Dominic Smith crashing into the wall catch we saw tonight. Or even more importantly, 2 strong defensive plays from Smith that turned doubles into singles.
We have talked so much about the Met pitching and rightfully so but this defense have fueled the Mets journey into the NL East penthouse and that was illustrated on a number of occasions last night at Citi with the dramatic relay throw in the ninth inning heading the list. That play would make a great example in a coaching tape if you are trying to teach the ABSOLUTE correct clinical way to nail a player at the plate using the strengths of your outfielder, your relay thrower and your catcher which the Mets executed perfectly to earn a 3-2 win over the Cubs.