NEW YORK – From his vantage point beyond the first-base bag, Pete Alonso did not have to watch Brewer’s third-base coach Jason Lane swirl his arm to know that Hunter Renfroe would return home. Alonso did not need to hear the Citi Field crowd raise the collective volume in anticipation of a game on the plate. The Mets’ scout reports before the series had marked Brewers as one of MLB’s most aggressive base running teams. Alonso knew that. He had also glimpsed enough of Renfroe’s speed and trajectory to understand that he would not stop.
So when Nick Plummer finally picked up the ball down the right field and shot towards Alonso, the Mets’ first baseman was ready to continue through the basic cadence with catch, rooster and throw. His relay arrived in time for catcher Tomás Nido to put the mark on Renfroe, and cut down the potential equalizer in the ninth round of the Mets’ 5-4 victory.
“They have to go,” Alonso said of the Brewers. “With our closer to the mound and a ball hit down the line that took some time to get to, for them they have to go.”
The closer, Edwin Díaz, certainly took into account Lane’s decision. No one in baseball beats faster than Díaz, who the Mets called to protect a one-run lead in the ninth. Teams that beat Díaz usually do so in one of two ways: either by setting up a pitch for a homer, or by putting together pieces of soft contact.
Brewers chose the latter strategy, opening the ninth with a softly beaten Renfroe single. Two hits later, pinch-hitter Tyrone Taylor hit a new ball into the shallow right field, where both Plummer and Alonso asked against it. Plummer came first, and dropped the ball at about the same time as Lane decided to direct Renfroe home.
When the dust settled, the Brewers found themselves with a man on first with two outs against one of the match’s leading closers, instead of two men in scoring position with one out.
“I definitely think it was the right call,” said Brewers boss Craig Counsell, who also mentioned Plummer’s arm strength as a reason for the broadcast. [Díaz] is not easy to get hits against. He knocks out almost 50% of the hits. “
Officially, the total was 48% after Thursday’s match, where Díaz picked up his 13th save on 16 chances. After the play on the plate, manager Buck Showalter came to the mound to ask Díaz if he wanted to meet former National League MVP Christian Yelich with two outs, or willingly walk him to get to Willy Adames. Díaz chose Yelich, and knocked him out on three lanes to end things.
“I do not like to walk, boys,” said Díaz. “I trusted my stuff.”
Among the Mets players, Díaz was one of the only ones surprised that Brewers sent Renfroe. He considered it a lucky break, but in reality there was still evidence that this Mets team excels at exploiting other clubs’ mistakes. Give the Mets an inch and they will take a win, as they demonstrated by coming from behind to win for the 16th time this season.
Although individual problems continue to pile up against the Mets – on Thursday, starting pitcher Tylor Megill lost due to a shoulder injury and third baseman Eduardo Escobar due to an unknown problem – the team finds ways to win. The fact that the Mets have given up six games in the position over the last two weeks has far less to do with them than with the Braves, who have remained unbearably hot through a 14-game winning streak.
On Thursday, New York’s comeback included a two-run Mark Canha homer, a Plummer-go-ahead fielder selection, and a 9-3-2 relay to suppress the momentum Brewers had left.
“Fortunately, everyone was in line,” Plummer said. ‘I got a long jump to Pete, and Pete made a good throw. A kind of unconventional relay, but it worked. “