(Pregame ceremonies in commemoration of the anniversary of the September 11 attacks – Photo by Jason Schott)
The Mets took their third straight game from the Arizona Diamondbacks, 9-0, on Wednesday night at Citi Field, as they got two-home run nights from both Jeff McNeil and Todd Frazier, plus six shutout innings from Steven Matz.
The Mets improved to 75-70, and they have now passed the Diamondbacks (75-71) in the Wild Card standings, and they will go for the sweep on Thursday afternoon.
The Mets have won these three against Arizona with this formula of strong starting pitching and a couple of big offensive performances, but the difference was that this one was far more lopsided than the tight wins Monday and Tuesday nights.
“That was real big, doing it right before a day game,” Mets Manager Mickey Callaway said of havin a comfortable win. “You get some guys off their feet, get some momentum, you know, they have to go to bed tonight and get up early to come play us tomorrow, which is a tough thing to do. It was really big, and we needed it at this moment.”
The night began with a stirring tribute to first responders of the September 11 attacks, in which they stood with the Mets and Diamondbacks along the baselines and the warning track.
This game featured a solid pitching matchup, with the Mets’ Steven Matz, who entered with a record of 9-8 and a 4.00 ERA, facing off against Arizona’s Robbie Ray, who was 12-7 with a 4.03 ERA.
After Matz worked around a hit-by-pitch on the first pitch of game against Tom Locastro, the Mets rocked Ray.
Amed Rosario got things started with an RBI double, and then with one out, Jeff McNeil was hit by a pitch and Wilson Ramos grounded out for the second out of the inning.
J.D. Davis was up next, and he hit a liner to left, which landed just in front of Locastro, who stopped short and let it drop in. Rosario scored to give the Mets a 1-0 lead.
That hit kept the inning going, and Todd Frazier picked up where he left off Tuesday night (2 doubles, 3 RBI) by launching a three-run homer to left field to make it 4-0.
On the very next pitch, Brandon Nimmo launched a bomb to deep right to make it 5-0.
It was the second time in four games that the Mets went back-to-back in the first inning.
Juan Lagares followed with a double, and that was all for Ray.
“We just swung the bats well, good approach,” Callaway said of what they did so well against Ray. “He was trying to challenge us with fastballs up over the middle. He didn’t execute a couple sliders and we made him pay for it, and that’s what you do when you get to a starter. You make them pay for their mistakes, and I thought we did a really good job of that.”
Matt Andriese came on to retire Matz to end the long inning.
The Diamondbacks loaded the bases with three walks to start off the second, but Matz recovered by getting Carson Kelly to strike out and getting Kevin Cron to ground into a double play.
The Mets added to their lead against Arizona’s Taylor Clarke, as McNeil hit a solo homer in the second inning, and in the third, Frazier launched a solo shot to right field – his second of the night and 20th of the season – to make it 7-0.
Matz got rolling starting in the third, when he retired seven in a row before Locastro doubled with two outs in the fifth before Matz got Ketel Marte to ground out.
In the sixth, Matz ran into some trouble as singles from Eduardo Escobar and Wilmer Flores have the D-Backs two on and one out.
Matz then got Adam Jones to strike out looking, and Nick Ahmed hit into a force out to end the inning.
That was the end of the lefty’s night, as he threw six shutout innings, scattering just four hits and three walks, with seven strikeouts.
Callaway said of Matz being able to get over that bases loaded, none-out jam in the second and put together a solid outing, “That was a frustrating inning for him. I thought (pitching coach) Phil (Regan) probably helped him out, settled him down a little bit, and he just took a deep breath and executed a pitch, get a strikeout, get a double play, and he came in and he relaxed a little bit after that. He had kind of done something that’s going to probably be the hardest thing to do all day, and he just settled in and made pitches from there. To end up going as deep as he did with as many pitches as he threw in the second inning, that was pretty impressive, so I’m really proud of him.”
In the bottom of the sixth, with Yoshihisa Hirono in for Arizona, the Mets blew it open as McNeil hit a two-run homer to deep right, his second of the night, to make it 9-0.
As was the case with Frazier, this home run gave McNeil 20 homers for the season. This is the fourth time in Mets history that the Mets have four players with at least 20 home runs. The other three times were 2016, 2000, and 1987.
The Mets got a couple of hits in the seventh to give them 9 runs and 11 hits at the time, so the scoreboard read: 9 11 0, and that is what they ended the night with.
When Callaway was asked if that was the game plan to finish with those runs and hits, he said with his trademark wit, “Absolutely, we knew that coming in, how cool was that?”
Callaway continued, “What a great day, you know, just to have the first responders on the field, getting to stand in between them. I know I had some pretty cool conversations with the guys around me. I’m sure everyone out there on the line did. He was just talking about that day and all the cleanup after, it’s amazing. That was neat in its own right, and then to come up and win a game for them, and to get nine runs on 11 hits, that’s even cooler.”