How the Mets used a cool brand of baseball to make a needed statement last night
By John Flynn
Lightning struck twice on behalf of the New York Mets in the bottom of the seventh inning in last night's 5-0 win over Yu Darvish and the San Diego Padres.
On the same day children participated in the annual White House Easter Egg Roll in Washington, the Mets played along some 240 miles to the northeast, except they traded eggs for baseballs.
As part of a three-run inning, both Luis Guillorme and Tomas Nido hit slow rollers down the third base line that stayed just fair, and it contributed to two runs. And the Mets should build on this unique event if they want to have a successful season.
If you put the ball in play, anything can happen, even by the margin of centimeters, and that’s why the Mets won comfortably last night.
Up 2-0 with a runner at second (Mark Canha) and nobody out, Luis Guillorme (3-of-18 to start th season) looked to bunt the runner over to third with what was supposed to be a sacrifice bunt. The exit velocity off the bat on that swing according to Baseball Savant was just 37.5 mph. But this was a perfectly executed bunt! And it advanced Canha to third.
Canha scored immediately on a sacrifice fly by Eduardo Escobar on the next play, so old school baseball had accomplished its task once.
But just when you thought luck would stop turning the Mets way, it happened again, with the batter following Escobar, in Tomas Nido, who entered the at-bat just 2-for18 on the season. Nido hit a chopper to third that wanted to go foul, but it wouldn’t get off the chalk. Nido’s exit velocity on that swing was 56.4 mph, faster by nearly 19 mph, but the same result happened. And it knocked Yu Darvish out of the game. A two-run double from Francisco Lindor three batters later put the game out of reach.
The Mets found so many ways to win games last year, and they must replicate that again if they’re going to win a title this year.
The Mets won 101 games last year and won games with crazy comebacks, dominant starting pitching, clutch hitting from their stars, and brilliant in-game managing from Buck Showalter. But much needs to go right again this year.
The Mets had never beaten Yu Darvish in his career until last night, and it took an unusual way to do it, with the cheap hits, and it took all the pressure off the Mets’ bullpen to get the last six outs of the game as the team combined for a two-hit shutout.
This team doesn’t have the length of home run hitters some of the other contenders do, and just simply putting the ball in play and getting on base will be how the Mets will have to win games offensively until the front office acquires a power hitter, or their young power hitters in the organization develop into such threats. That formula put in use was why they won last night on a night that saw Max Scherzer earn his 203rd career win.
The Mets also faced the team that knocked them out of the playoffs last year in stunning fashion, so the fact the Mets won, and more importantly, how they won last night, was a big deal, and could go a long way in shaping the season that mirrors the team’s expectations.