Mets rally, avoid sweep to Pirates

The New York Mets haven’t looked great coming out of the All-Star break, losing two straight to the mediocre Pittsburgh Pirates. The two losses included a walk-off grand slam last night given up by Edwin Diaz. Their fortunes changed today.

The game seemed to be getting out of hand early, as Taijuan Walker surrendered 6 runs in the first inning. It was Walker’s worst outing of the season by far, allowing 6 runs, 4 hits and issuing 4 walks all in just 0.1 innings. However, an outstanding day from the bullpen gave the Mets a fighters chance.

The bullpen totaled 8.2 scoreless innings in today’s series finale. Contributions from Drew Smith, Miguel Castro, Aaron Loup, Jeurys Familia and Trevor May kept Pittsburgh off the board for the final 26 outs.

As for the offense, it was a much-needed performance as well. The Mets got on the board in the third inning on a Dominic Smith single and added three more in the fourth on Travis Blankenhorn’s first career home run.

Dom Smith stayed locked in and helped drive in Jeff McNeil on a double in the sixth to cut the lead to one. The big blast, however, didn’t come until the ninth.

Michael Conforto has been ice cold since returning to the field from injury. He couldn’t hit right-handers and couldn’t touch left-handers. Regardless, he had his best swing in a while with the game on the line today.

With a runner on first and Pirates closer Richard Rodriguez on the mound, he delivered. Conforto turned around a high, 94-MPH fastball to center field for the go-ahead, and future game-winning, two-run home run. As great as it was for the Mets, it was better for Michael Conforto to see a ball finally leave the yard, as it was just his fourth of the season.

The win was much-needed for the Mets, as their two-game skid to start the second half has made the division race much closer. This win brings the team to 48-42 on the season, with Philadelphia breathing down their neck.

The New York Mets will look to make it back-to-back wins tomorrow as they start a three-game series against the Reds in Cincinnati. While Cincinnati has announced all three starting pitchers for the series, the Mets have not. It will be interesting to see who is called upon to end the six-game road trip.

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