Diamondbacks Rally but Drop Heartbreaker to Mets

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Mets 6, Diamondbacks 5 (10 innings)

PHOENIX, Apr. 22 — A two-run homer from Christian Walker and a solo shot from Daulton Varsho in the late innings brought sent the game to extra innings. Ultimately, it was to no avail, as the New York Mets scored a run on an infield single and held on to beat the Arizona Diamondbacks, 6–5, in 10 innings Friday night.

The Diamondbacks opened the scoring in the bottom of the third. Right fielder Pavin Smith doubled off the wall in right-center to lead off the inning, missing a home run by a few feet. Two batters later, a one-out infield single by catcher Jose Herrera put runners on the corners for left fielder Cooper Hummel, whose grounder to short plated Smith. Herrera’s hit was his first as a major leaguer.

Mets Tie Diamondbacks, then Take Lead

The Mets evened the score in the top of the fourth. Center fielder Brandon Nimmo doubled down the left-field line against the overshift. Right fielder Starling Marte walked, bringing up shortstop Francisco Lindor with runners on first and second and nobody out. A ground ball to second turned into a 4–6 force play, with the hustling Lindor beating the relay to avoid a double play. That was key, as the next hitter — first baseman Pete Alonso — planted a high popup into the Bermuda Triangle near the line in shallow right field. The single brought Nimmo home with the tying run.

More Mets runs came in the top of the sixth. Nimmo and Marte led off with consecutive singles. On Marte’s hit to left, Nimmo rounded second and tried for third. Hummel’s throw would have nailed Nimmo, but third baseman Matt Davidson dropped the ball on the tag attempt. Marte took second on the throw, bringing up Lindor with runners on second and third and one out. His sacrifice fly to center scored Nimmo and advanced Marte to third. A follow-up grounder to first by Alonso brought in Marte, giving the Mets a 3–1 lead. One inning later, a no-doubt two-run blast to left by catcher James McCann made the score 5–1.

Diamondbacks Rally

The Diamondbacks made the score 5–2 in the bottom of the seventh. Designated hitter Seth Beer led off with a single and advanced to third on a one-out single by Smith. Center fielder Daulton Varsho scored Beer and advanced Smith to second on a sacrifice fly to deep center. One inning later, a leadoff double off the wall in left-center and two-out homer to the left-field bullpen by first baseman Christian Walker combined to cut the Mets lead to 5–4.

The game appeared to be in the bag for the Mets in the bottom of the ninth, as closer Edwin Diaz had retired shortstop Nick Ahmed on a weak comebacker and Smith on a called strikeout. But Varsho had other ideas. He hit a long drive to right. Former Diamondback Starling Marte tracked it to the wall and leapt. If he had caught it, the game would have ended.

But he didn’t. Tie game.

Jeff McNeil headed to second as the ghost runner to start the top of the 10th. He advanced to third on a groundout to second by the first hitter, McCann. A hard grounder to short by Nimmo with the infield kept McNeil at third with two now out. Marte followed with a two-hopper to third. Davidson had to move back to field the high hop. The throw arrived at first around the same time as the hustling Marte, who signaled himself safe. First base umpire Will Little punched the air with the third out.

But the Mets challenged, and replay revealed that Marte beat the throw by the slightest of margins. The call changed from out to safe, scoring McNeil with the go-ahead run.

Mets Put Diamondbacks Away

In the bottom of the tenth, with the fleet-footed McCarthy as the ghost runner, Hummel opened the rally attempt against Seth Lugo with a swinging strikeout. Ketel Marte followed with a called strikeout on a pitch that appeared to be near his ankles. Davidson drew a two-out walk, bringing in pinch-runner Sergio Alcántara as Walker stepped to the plate. A pop fly into shallow left almost fell in for a hit, but McNeil made a twisting catch while running back and to his left. He hung onto the ball as he sprawled face down on the field, giving the Mets a dramatic victory.

Postgame Reflections

Manager Torey Lovullo said that “the little things added up more in favor for the opposition.” He continued, “They did those little things that were that were right,” adding that the Mets executed. The Mets were “not necessarily putting balls in play with a lot of velocity but putting balls in play and scoring runs when they were supposed to. Every run mattered today.

“We had some situations where I felt like we were good but could have been better. And we fought all the way through but just didn’t execute in a couple of key situations where we could have had a better outcome.”

When asked whether the 10th inning Marte strikeout was frustrating, Lovullo replied, “Very.” After a measured pause, he said, “I’m not in the mood to get fined by MLB.” Some chuckles followed. Lovullo finished with, “I believe the umpires do the best they can. Obviously, today, there were some calls that could have gone a little different.”

Despite falling short in the end, Lovullo said it was nice to see his team rally from the 5–1 deficit. “That’s one of the characteristics of this team. I like what I see in that area. We’ve just got to go out and finish the deal, deliver the knockout blow, and win this ballgame. Down 5–1 against the team that’s leading the NL East and playing really good baseball with a strong bullpen? Yeah, I was fired up that we closed the gap and tied the baseball game. But to get where we’re going, we’ve gotta finish the deal and win this game.”

Zac Gallen

Lovullo praised Zac Gallen, saying he was “fantastic for the five innings that he gave us. (There were) a couple of little speed bumps for portions of our bullpen. They’ve been throwing the ball extremely well. When there are some crooked numbers that are thrown out there, it looks a little awkward, but there are some identifiable things that we need to clean up and do a little bit better. We’ll find ourselves on the high side of this and win these types of ballgames, which is my expectation.”

Gallen said that the way the Mets scored in the third was “frustrating.” He added, “It stinks. A ball at 80 miles an hour turns into a double. And then Alonso bloops that one over first base. Those are kind of tough, but it’s the game. Sometimes you get a bad break.”

Daulton Varsho

Varsho described his ninth-inning home run as “I got a good pitch and put a good swing on it. It’s as simple as that.” He initially thought that Marte caught it, saying that he didn’t know the ball made it out “until they started playing music.” Varsho also said that Edwin Diaz “is really, really good. He’s been in the league for a long time and has elite stuff. I just got a good swing off him, and it happened to go over the fence.”

As far as the team rallying from the four-run deficit, Varsho said, “We’ve always had that fight. It just hasn’t always come out. I think we’ve been having great at-bats and really good pitching to help us out and stay in a lot of games. We’re gonna keep trying to get in these games and win them. That’s really what it comes down to. All we can do is keep doing what we’re doing, and eventually it’ll come.”

Looking Ahead

Edwin Diaz, despite blowing a save, grabbed the win, while Mark Melancon took a tough loss, both in relief. Seth Lugo notched his first save of the season. The Mets and Diamondbacks will continue their three-game series Saturday evening, with the Mets sending righty Trevor Williams to face Diamondbacks righty Humberto Castellanos. First pitch is scheduled for 5:10 pm Arizona Time.

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Players/managers mentioned:

Christian Walker, Daulton Varsho, Pavin Smith, Jose Herrera, Cooper Hummel, Brandon Nimmo, Starling Marte, Francisco Lindor, Pete Alonso, Matt Davidson, James McCann, Seth Beer, Edwin Diaz, Nick Ahmed, Jeff McNeil, Sergio Alcántara, Torey Lovullo, Seth Lugo, Ketel Marte, Zac Gallen, Mark Melancon, Trevor Williams, Humberto Castellanos