August 15, 2022

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Mets' aggressive baserunning pays off

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NEW YORK — One thing is certain about the Mets under manager Buck Showalter: They are going to hustle, they’re going to get timely hits and they’re going to pitch solidly. That was the case on Sunday afternoon as New York blanked Arizona, 5-0, in the series finale at Citi Field.

The Mets have won seven of their first 10 games under Showalter. For first baseman Pete Alonso, it’s not too early to give the club respect.

“Seven-and-three, that’s what it is. That’s a fact,” Alonso said. “We have been really playing good team baseball. Today was a great example of it. We had excellent pitching. We had high-quality team at-bats later in the game and we got it done. I feel like our start is great. Obviously, we have a lot of baseball [left], but our start has been really good. It has been fun so far.”

It was a scoreless game until the bottom of the sixth inning, when the Mets scored three runs off Arizona’s bullpen and showed how aggressive they can be on the bases.

With Alonso on first and right-hander Noé Ramirez on the mound, Eduardo Escobar notched a single to right field. Alonso hustled all the way to third while Escobar made it to second on a throwing error from D-backs right fielder Pavin Smith. That error allowed Alonso to score and break the scoreless tie.

“[The aggressive baserunning] was awesome,” Alonso said. “I think if we don’t press the issue there, we don’t score the run. Eddie [was] busting out of the box right after contact, and I think him hustling the whole way forces the defense to try and make a play. I think our aggression paid off there on the basepaths.”

Ramirez quickly exited in favor of southpaw Oliver Pérez. After Dominic Smith walked, J.D. Davis singled to left field to score Escobar and move Smith to third. A sacrifice fly from James McCann plated Smith and made it a three-run game.

And New York continued to show off its aggressive baserunning mere seconds later. After Smith scored, Arizona made an appeal under the belief that he had left third base too early. So Pérez stepped off the mound.

In that instant, Davis made a heads-up call and sprinted toward second base. It seemed like Davis was a dead duck between first and second, but Pérez threw to third base, umpire Chad Fairchild called Smith safe and Davis was credited with a stolen base.

That smart, aggressive play style on the bases pleased Showalter, who flashed a thumbs-up at Davis.

“Buck takes great pride in having his players know the rules and kind of the loophole in that rule,” Davis said regarding his play when Pérez stepped off the mound. “We talked about it during Spring Training here, [that] if the opportunity came up, if there’s an appeal process … you would take off early. That’s why you distract the pitcher from appealing or continuing the appeal in an attempt to get the other runner out, in which [case] the appeal is canceled. Good thing Tomás Nido was in the dugout telling me to go.”

Alonso added to the Mets’ lead an inning later, hammering a two-run homer off righty Matt Peacock. The exit velocity reached a Statcast-projected 111.6 mph. Alonso was the designated hitter, and tried to stay as locked-in as he could.

“Obviously it was a little more difficult because of the cold conditions,” Alonso said. “But I had to move around — stay active and keep moving around, because if I were to just sit around and hang out, that wouldn’t be too good. I would be going up there cold. For me, I tried to stay hot, stay active [and] stay as engaged in the game as possible.”

The Mets’ pitching was outstanding, scattering five hits. It all started with left-hander David Peterson, who pitched 4 1/3 innings without allowing a run. It was his first start since June 30, 2021. He got the start replacing Taijuan Walker, who is on the injured list because of shoulder problems.

“I felt good,” Petersen said. “It was good to get a win. I bounced back after yesterday. The offense hung in there until they were able to break it open. Those guys battled.”

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