It’s not the way the Mets drew it up, but they’ll take it, literally.
Patience at the plate paid off big time last night as the Mets scored six runs in the bottom of the fifth en route to a 9-6 win over the Minnesota Twins.
Twins pitchers Jake Odorizzi, Andrew Vasquez and Trevor Hildenberger issued six walks, one hit batter and two hits in as ugly an inning as you will ever see.
The inning began with Wilson Ramos grounding out to third. At that point, Odorizzi had not given up a hit but Jeff McNeil ended that with a single. The Twins right hander then walked Amed Rosario and J.D. Davis to load the bases but Odorizzi got a lift when he threw out an indecisive McNeil, who was trying to get back to third following a pitch in the dirt. It appeared the rally was crushed but Odorizzi walked Noah Syndergaard on a 3-2 pitch that opened the floodgates.
Lefthander Andrew Vasquez replaced Odorizzi and promptly hit Brandon Nimmo in the back, on a 2-0 pitch, to force in a run. Pete Alonso walked on a 3-2 pitch to force in a run. Robinson Cano walked on four straight pitches to plate a second run.
Hildenberger replaced Vasquez and the walk-a-thon continued as Michael Conforto walked on four pitches off the plate as a fourth run scored.
Ramos came up for a second time and didn’t wait around to be walked. On a 2-0 pitch from Hildenberger, Ramos lined a two run single to right center field to beat the shift and cap off a six run rally.
After six straight balls, Hildenberger found the plate and struck out McNeil on three pitches.
When it was over, the inning featured seven straight batters reaching base without the benefit of a hit or an error. 47 pitches were thrown, only 16 were strikes. Four of the six runs scored without the benefit of a hit or a sacrifice and those who value on base percentage were in heaven.
It was one of those innings where fans could say, “I could stand up there and do that.” Maybe so, but in reality, it’s not that easy to maintain an inning like that.
The Twins pitchers were “hanging themselves” so Conforto and the Mets did not want to let them off the hook. “In that situation you wanna be really sure that you’re getting your pitch in a spot that you want, it’s something that you can do damage with.”
In Conforto’s at-bat, he was on deck when Vasquez couldn’t find the plate but he was the first batter to face Hildenberger so his mindset changed just a little. “I figured he’s [Hildenberger] probably going to be more around the zone,” Conforto said after the game. “I did have a feeling that he was probably not gonna groove one first pitch.”
The Mets showed great patience because when you come up in a bases loaded situation, as a hitter, you’re looking for that big hit that produces multiple runs instead of a one at a time. “You can’t count on the other team walking six guys, you gotta be ready for your pitch. In this case, none of use got our pitches,” Conforto said.
Mets Mgr. Mickey Callaway was impressed with his young hitters like Alonso, Rosario and Davis who didn’t let the situation overwhelm them. “You get to that count and 3-2 and somebody bounces a breaking ball and people just hack at ‘em.”
It was an unusual way to maintain a rally, but the Mets will take it, literally.