Anthony McCarron, SNY.tv | Twitter |
Sure, there were pockmarks in the Mets' 6-5 victory Saturday - the $30 million setup man got walloped for two homers, the Mets blew two leads, and the new catcher was furious at himself for not being able to find a passed ball that led to a run.
But the win over the Nationals showcased two Met strengths, and we're not even referring to starting pitching. The Mets finally flexed their power, more than doubling their home run output for the season, and the club got major contributions from the non-household name portion of their roster.
Keon Broxton had what Mickey Callaway called "the biggest hit" of the game, which is saying something considering the Mets slammed five home runs and this wasn't one of them. Broxton snapped a 5-5 tie with an RBI single in the eighth inning, driving in the eventual winning run.
J.D. Davis pounded two home runs, including the hardest-hit homer in the majors so far this season - his first smash had an exit velocity of 114.6 miles per hour. It's the third-hardest hit home run by a Met since MLB's Statcast started tracking such things.
"This game was everything we talked about all Spring Training," Callaway said. "You gotta pick your guy up in front of you - he didn't get it done, you get it done."
The stars were involved, too: Michael Conforto hit a mammoth homer, and Pete Alonso and Robinson Cano went back-to-back in the eighth inning, erasing a 5-3 deficit.
Both were epic blasts. Alonso hit his into the black batter's eye beyond the center-field fence.
"That's sick power," Cano marveled.
Alonso didn't appear to hit the ball squarely, either, saying, "I caught some barrel on it. I was honestly surprised it went over the fence."
When Alonso went back to the dugout, he sat next to Tomas Nido and said to the catcher, "If he (Cano) hits one here, this place is going to absolutely erupt. He hit one to the moon. It was a pretty cool scene."
If the Mets have more of these kinds of days in them, it'll be that way all year at Citi Field. Unless, of course, the bullpen blooms into an issue and it might, considering it holds a 5.19 ERA after Saturday's poor outing by Jeurys Familia.
It's just one game, and it's incredibly early in the season. But Familia, expected to be a key cog in the relief corps, was on the mound when an inherited runner scored in the seventh when Wilson Ramos missed a splitter, and then couldn't find the passed ball. Victor Robles scored from second.
Then Familia gave up homers in the eighth to Anthony Rendon and Wilmer Difo - one guy is a star, but the other hardly profiles as a slugger - torpedoing the Mets' one-run lead.
They were the first home runs Familia has allowed at Citi Field since - you might want to skip this next part, Mets fans - Conor Gillaspie took him deep in the 2016 NL Wild Card Game.
It was also the first time in his career that Familia has allowed two home runs in a single game.
"That's the first time he's ever given up two homers in one game in his life, so I'm not too worried about that," Callaway said. "They just got him. He hung two pitches and they made him pay for it. it happens sometimes, but he'll get the job done."
We'll see. Interestingly, the Mets believe they hold a significant bullpen advantage over the Nationals, so much so that it dictated strategy in the sixth inning when the game was white-knuckle close.
With a runner on third and one out with the Mets leading by a run, they elected to play their infield back instead of creeping close to cut off the run at the plate. Ryan Zimmerman knocked in the tying run with a groundout.
"We trust our bullpen better than theirs," Callaway said. "We thought at that point, if we give up one, we're OK. It's a tie game in the sixth. We still have plenty of at-bats left to score some runs and that's exactly what happened. You start trying to cover everything and the next thing you know, they squeeze that ground ball through and then score two or three runs and we're in a little bit of trouble."
Of course, the bullpen wasn't what bailed out the Mets - Callaway's relievers gave up five runs (four earned) in four innings. Punch - the Mets' five homers give them nine this season - plus depth did in the Nats. Well, along with Washington's bullpen, which gave up three runs in two innings.
Nats relievers could have significant impact on the division race this season, not in a good way for Washington. Perhaps they should sign Craig Kimbrel.
The Mets, meanwhile, were delighted they could bail out Familia with a comeback.
"We picked Familia up," Cano said. "You're not going to be perfect as a pitcher or hitter. This way, he can at least leave here with a 'W.'"