Mets vs. Padres score: New York keeps season alive, forces Game 3 behind Jacob deGrom, timely hits

Mets vs.  Padres score: New York keeps season alive, forces Game 3 behind Jacob deGrom, timely hits

The New York Mets have lived to play another day. Saturday night the Mets forced a Game 3 in their Wild Card Series matchup with the San Diego Padres with a 7-3 win in Game 2 (box score). The game was closer than the final score would lead you to believe — New York did not break it open until the seventh inning. The game was never separated by more than one run for the first six-and-a-half innings, and San Diego brought the tying run to the plate in the ninth.

Jacob deGrom did what Max Scherzer could not in Game 1, and that’s shut down San Diego and hand a lead over to the bullpen. He allowed two runs in six innings and struck out eight. The big hits that eluded the Mets in Game 1 and early in Game 2 arrived in the middle innings, and put New York in position to play another game.

The Wild Card Series is a best-of-three, so Sunday’s Game 3 is a win-or-go home affair. Here are four takeaways from New York’s Game 2 win.

Lindor and Alonso came through

Francisco Lindor and Pete Alonso had excellent seasons overall, though they’ve been unproductive in a few too many games lately. They went a combined 5 for 23 (.214) while getting swept in Atlanta last weekend, then they went 1 for 7 in the Game 1 loss. Lindor and Alonso were hardly the only culprits in Game 1, though they are the biggest stars, so they get the most attention.

Both players came through when needed in Game 2. Lindor opened the scoring with a first inning solo homer against Blake Snell, giving the Mets the early lead they desperately needed after the Game 1 blowout loss. Then, in the fifth inning, Alonso gave the New York the lead for good with a solo homer of his own. That came right after the Padres tied the game in the previous half-inning.

All told Lindor and Alonso went 3 for 7 with two home runs and three walks in Game 2. New York’s other big star — Jacob deGrom — struck out eight in six innings. At one point seven of 13 batters reached base against deGrom in the middle innings, but, in the end, he did what he needed to do and handed a lead over to the Mets’ top relievers.

One batter too many for Snell

All things considered, it could have been worse. Padres lefty Blake Snell needed 90 pitches to get 10 outs and he allowed 10 of the 19 batters he faced to reach base. He opened the fourth with back-to-back walks, and after the No. 9 hitter was unable to get a bunt down, Padres manager Bob Melvin stuck with Snell against the lefty-hitting Brandon Nimmo.

That move backfired. Nimmo slapped a first pitch single to left to score the run and gave the Mets a 2-1 lead. Nimmo went 3 for 3 with three opposite-field singles against Snell.

Nick Martinez replaced Snell and escaped the inning with no further damage. Classic case of sticking with a pitcher one batter too long. Snell labored all night — again, 10 baserunners and 10 outs — and Melvin tried to steal one more out with the left-on-left matchup even though Nimmo had taken good, productive swings against Snell all night.

Grisham went deep again

Two years ago Trent Grisham looked like a future All-Star. His game has regressed the last two years, however, and he bottomed out with a .184/.284/.341 line this season. That includes .177/.289/.333 against righties and .107/.167/.179 in August and September. Grisham had a dreadful regular season.

So, naturally, Grisham hit home runs against two of the best pitchers in the world in San Diego’s first two postseason games. He took Max Scherzer deep in Game 1, then got deGrom in Game 2. This is not a bad pitch at all (at 100.3 mph, it is the fastest pitch hit for a homer by a Padre since Statcast launched 2015). Tip your cap to Grisham:

Between his Wild Card Game error in the 2019 NL Wild Card Game and his home runs against Scherzer and deGrom these last two days, Grisham is cementing his status as an agent of postseason chaos. In all seriousness, he had a terrible regular season, but everyone starts October with a clean slate, and Grisham’s taking advantage.

Diaz entered in the seventh

Mets manager Buck Showalter was not about to let his team’s season end without using his best reliever again. He went to Edwin Díaz in the seventh inning in Game 2. Showalter used Díaz against the other team’s best hitters in the eighth inning a few times in the regular season (with someone else getting the save), but never did he go to Díaz as early as the seventh.

In a win or go home game, everything’s on the table, and Díaz was brought in to face the 8-9-1 hitters in the seventh. It was the earliest he’d entered a nine-inning game since Aug. 2, 2020. Díaz was able to pitch around a one-out single and get through the seventh on 19 pitches, including retiring the dangerous Juan Soto.

The offense gave Showalter the option of removing Díaz. Adrian Morejon loaded the bases with no outs and the Mets poured on four insurance runs in the bottom of the seventh. Jeff McNeil had a two-run double, Eduardo Escobar had a one-run single, and Daniel Vogelbach hit a sacrifice fly. That gave the Mets a seemingly comfortable 7-2 lead.

Apparently that 7-2 lead was not comfortable enough. Díaz returned to the mound in the eighth and got two outs on nine pitches before handing the game over to Adam Ottavino. Letting Díaz continues with a five-run lead when you have another elimination game in 24 hours is second guessable, but with the season on the line, I get it. Better safe than sorry.

Case in point: San Diego brought the tying run to the plate in the ninth! Ottavino loaded the bases and forced in a run with a hit batsman and three walks. Seth Lugo eventually got Josh Bell to ground out to end the game. It’s fair to wonder whether Díaz will be compromised in any way in Game 3. We’ll find out soon enough.

Up next

Game 3. Winner moves on to face the Dodgers in the NLDS, loser goes home for the winter. It’ll be Joe Musgrove (10-7, 2.93 ERA) against Chris Bassitt (15-9, 3.42 ERA). That is the only game on the schedule Sunday. First pitch is scheduled for 7:07 p.m. ET.

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