After a heartbreaking loss that extended into the wee hours of Saturday morning, the Mets forced their fans to stay awake into the wee hours of Sunday morning. A promising night, with clutch hits, and a comeback story for the Mets, quickly turning into another extra inning affair, when Raul Ibanez hit a familiar home run (see the Yankees-Tigers postseason history) against Jose Valverde to tie the game in the bottom of the ninth. A 6-3 Mets lead erased. But the Mets, and Anthony Recker, would not be deterred, responding with a home run in the 13th, and surviving a final match-up of John Lannan vs. Mike Trout to win the game.
For a while, it looked like it would be another game without any offense from the Mets lineup. They had one hit through six innings against Jered Weaver. Meanwhile, ex-Met, Collin Cowgill, was having the night of his life. He made an initial impression gunning down Eric Young, Jr. at the plate on a tag-up play, then earned an infield single, before hitting a home run in the sixth to give the Angels a 3-1 lead. According to FanGraphs win expectancy formula, the Angels had an 85% chance of winning at that point.
A Curtis Granderson walk in between two outs in the seventh didn’t seem like a start to a rally. But the Mets delivered with three consecutive two-out hits. First by Duda, and then Lagares, and finally, one of the biggest hits of the night, Anthony Recker’s first hit of the season to give the Mets a 4-3 lead. In the next inning, the Mets would add what turned out to to be much needed insurance runs, with Omar Quintanilla lining his first hit of the season, extending the lead to 6-3. The Angels 85% chance of winning after Cowgill’s home run had dropped to 2.7% by the eighth inning.
Jose Valverde entered the game in the ninth to close the door. And it looked like he would do so easily. He retired both Pujols and Kendrick in routine fashion. There were two outs, not a rally monkey stirring, and the Mets holding a three run lead. Then, David Freese would get a hit, Erick Aybar walked, and Raul Ibanez ruined the night for many New Yorkers early to bed.
The 10th and 11th innings would breeze along, not for the sleepy eyes back on the east coast still watching, but in terms of any real threat for either team to win the game. In the 12th, the Mets loaded the bases on a ten-pitch at-bat by Lucas Duda, which gave early season hero Juan Lagares a chance for another big hit. He flailed at a pitch out of the strike zone, and the game remained tied.
Finally, in the top of the 13th, Anthony Recker, who collected his first hit of the season to give the Mets a 4-3 lead in what seemed like another game ago in the seventh, hit a home run to left field to put the Mets back on top 7-6. John Lannan, who had pitched a perfect 12th, had to close the game for himself in the 13th, and he did, with the final out coming against none other than Mike Trout.
How the game ended is how the game ended. But Raul Ibanez three-run home run to tie the game in the ninth changed the dynamic of the night.
Thanks to Anthony Recker, the night still ended on the right note.
Niese wasn’t great, but he was good enough to be in position to win. He pitched through 7.1 innings, allowing three runs, walking only one, and striking out five. Two home runs allowed being his detriment.
Weaver cruised through the first six innings, allowing only one hit. With two outs in the seventh, he couldn’t secure another out. A two-out hit by Juan Lagares chased him from the game, replaced by Fernando Salas, who allowed the inherited runners to score. In the end, Weaver was charged with four earned runs. He only allowed three hits, but walked five, and couldn’t close out the seventh inning.
- Outside of Jose Valverde, the Mets bullpen pitched 4.2 innings of one-hit baseball.
- Juan Lagares has hit safely in seven straight games.
- The 7-9 hitters in the Mets lineup went 7-17 with 6 RBIs.