The Mets have reached an unfamiliar but very much earned part of the season.
Every time they take the field, it feels like they’re going to win.
Granted, their 6-2 win on Tuesday night was against the Cincinnati Reds, who are fighting to stay out of last place in the league’s worst division. But the Mets of old loved to lay an egg, take a game off, or come up lame against an opponent they should throttle. In football, games like these are often called trap games, coming after a heated rivalry match and before another important showdown. With the Mets taking four of five from the Braves in their previous series and awaiting the Philadelphia Phillies’ arrival this weekend for a thrilling National League East spectacle, they’ve also remembered to take care of the business in front of them.
Tuesday’s win was not spectacular by any definition of the word. The Mets did what they had to do, though, putting together quality at-bat after quality at-bat and getting yet another starry night from their starting pitcher. The result was their second victory in two nights over the Reds, who refused to go away. If not for staking a two-run rally that knocked Carlos Carrasco out in the seventh inning, the Reds could have been brushed aside like yesterday’s crumbs. Instead, they made things interesting. But the Mets are far too talented — and this year, as they’ve shown, far too focused — for a team like this to snake a win from them.
Mychal Givens came in for Carrasco in the top of the seventh, two of Carrasco’s ducks still swimming on the pond. If anything will undo this team, it’s the middle relief, but Givens’ four-pitch demolition of Nick Senzel quelled those worries for at least one more day.
After this win, the Mets are 19-6 against the NL’s worst teams, flexing the type of muscle that a bully should. In putting up such a dominant record against the Reds, Cubs, Nationals and Rockies (they have not played the Pirates yet, who round out the league’s bottom five), these Mets have demonstrated an ability to dodge distractions.
Against teams like that, it also helps to have a tenured professor like Carrasco on the mound. Making the 229th start of his underrated career, Carrasco took a leisurely cruise through the first six innings. Cincinnati only put up three hits in those first six frames, finally getting to him in the seventh when the bottom of their order woke things up. But Carrasco consistently outsmarted the Reds for the overwhelming majority of the game. He relied heavily on his slider, which produced several swings that had absolutely no chance of making contact.
Givens striking out Senzel immediately after entering the game was the biggest moment of the night. Once that threat was over, the Mets got back to adding on. They answered the Reds’ two-run seventh with two more of their own in the bottom half of the inning. The Reds elected to intentionally walk Pete Alonso to load the bases for Darin Ruf. With a righty on the mound and Ruf’s role beginning and ending with crushing lefties, the matchup was in Cincy’s favor. Smart baseball doesn’t always pay off though; sometimes the ground ball you wanted just squirts through the hole.
When Ruf’s grounder evaded diving second baseman Jonathan India, that feeling of inevitable victory returned. In going up by four runs — and Trevor May holding the line in the eighth — the Mets didn’t even have to use Edwin Diaz either. Trap game loss avoided, fifth straight series win clinched, and with Francisco Lindor clocking his 20th home run, making him the first shortstop in franchise history to complete multiple 20-homer seasons, they even got a fun milestone out of the occasion.
Just another day in the life of the 2022 New York Mets.