On a foggy night in Flushing, Queens, a misplayed routine infield pop-up may have crushed the dream of a rookie pitcher’s win in his MLB starting debut, but the consequences could have been far more damaging if not for the clutch bat of the new and improved Jay Bruce.
With the Mets leading 4-1 in the top of the seventh, Jerry Blevins came in to mop up the bases loaded mess Fernando Salas created. After striking out Travis Shaw for the second out, he uncharacteristically walked in a run to Dominic Santana. Then Jett Bandy, 0-3 on the night, popped up to shallow short for the sure out that Asdrubral Cabrera missed by what in the moment seemed to be a mile, driving in the tying runs.
Jay Bruce got the goat off Cabrera’s back in the bottom of the 12th with a walk-off RBI base hit up the middle off Wily Peralta, scoring T.J. Rivera, who set the table with a leadoff single, landing on third after a Michael Conforto walk and Jose Reyes groundout force at second. As Bruce ran up the first baseline he was doused with bags of sunflower seeds, along with a hug from Cabrera for saving his hide.
“I’m laughing now because we got the win,” Cabrera said after the game. “Thank you J.B. He did it for me. He made my night.”
Tyler Pill couldn’t get the job done in relief in his first big league outing, but Tuesday was a different story. He pitched 5.1 innings of finesse ball, escaping a leadoff triple jam in the top of the fifth by retiring the next three batters he faced.
Pill left the mound after 103 pitches with Jett Brandy on first and a 2-1 lead. His totals for the night – one run on six hits, four strikeouts and three walks. He the first Mets starter to pitch 5.0 or more innings and allow one or fewer runs in his first Major League start since Logan Verrett allowed one run in 8.0 innings at Colorado on August 23, 2015.
In the sixth, Fernando Salas filled in for Pill and with the help of Travis d’Arnaud’s perfect pick-off of Jonathan Villar’s attempted steal at second he retired the side on three pitches.
The New York fifth, though, proved to be the charm once again when they got on the board against Brewers starter Zach Davies with back-to-back doubles from Curtis Granderson and Cabrera followed by d’Arnaud’s single, and consecutive walks to Michael Conforto and Jose Reyes for the go-ahead run.
Wednesday night New York hopes to get some series sweeping payback against the Brewers when they send Jacob deGrom and his 4-1 record to the mound.