The season wasn’t going to end for the Mets if they lost Sunday, but a night like this sure was needed.
Three straight losses were enough, but a season-high fourth — with the Yankees headed to Citi Field for two games in the Subway Series beginning Tuesday — would have left the Mets with an uncomfortable day off.
“You just can’t get swept,” Pete Alonso said after the Mets’ previously dormant bats awoke in an 8-5 victory over the Padres. The bonus for Buck Showalter’s crew was a Braves loss earlier in the day, allowing the Mets to extend their NL East lead to 1 ½ games.
Alonso blasted a three-run homer as part of a sixth inning in which the Mets scored five times (surpassing their runs total over their previous three games combined). In the seventh, Alonso just missed another homer — it went for an RBI double that completed his night of reaching base three times. The four RBIs gave Alonso 82 for the season, moving him one ahead of Aaron Judge for the MLB lead.
It got uncomfortable for the Mets in the ninth after lefty Joely Rodriguez surrendered three runs in a mop-up role, but Edwin Diaz entered and got the final three outs for his 21st save.
“I don’t think we ever take for granted the weapon Edwin has been all year for us — to be able to come in and get that momentum back,” Showalter said. “He’s been doing that for a long time.”
Trailing 1-0 in the sixth against Joe Musgrove, the Mets erupted, sending nine batters to the plate. Starling Marte’s leadoff single and Francisco Lindor’s double started the fun. Alonso followed with a 425-foot homer to left field that gave the Mets their first lead since the All-Star break. The blast was Alonso’s 25th of the season, but only his third in July.
The Mets weren’t finished in the inning. Luis Guillorme’s bloop single brought in Daniel Vogelbach, after he had walked and advanced to second on a ground out. Tomas Nido followed with an RBI double that gave the Mets a 5-1 lead.
“We just finally got some balls to fall and go our way,” Alonso said. “Our team is extremely good and we can win in a bunch of different ways. Tonight it was a great offensive and pitching job.”
In the seventh, Alonso crushed a shot off the fence in center for an RBI double before Mark Canha’s infield single brought in two runs, with help from Manny Machado’s throwing error.
Carlos Carrasco delivered five shutout innings, but it wasn’t easy for him: he allowed eight base runners and threw 92 pitches. But the right-hander got the Padres to hit into double plays in the third and fourth innings after escaping a bases-loaded jam in the first. In the second inning, Nido nailed Esteury Ruiz attempting to steal second base, for the third out. Ruiz beat the throw, but slid off the bag as Lindor was applying the tag.
The choppy (but effective) outing gave Carrasco an 11-inning scoreless streak over his last two starts. Over his last four starts, Carrasco has pitched to a 1.21 ERA. This extended a team record to 14 straight games in which a Mets starting pitcher allowed two runs or fewer.
Drew Smith allowed an RBI double to Eric Hosmer in the sixth before Brandon Nimmo helped ensure the Mets’ deficit remained at one run by racing to the fence in left-center and leaping to glove Austin Nola’s drive.
The Mets went hitless against Musgrove until Vogelbach’s single leading off the fifth. It was the first hit in a Mets uniform for Vogelbach, who was acquired Friday in a trade that sent Colin Holderman to the Pirates. But after Canha doubled Vogelbach to third, the rally stalled as Guillorme, Nido and Nimmo were retired in succession. The final two outs elicited a smattering of boos from the crowd.
“These guys have grinded like heck to get an opportunity here in the last 2 ½ months to be a team that gets a chance to roll the dice in October,” Showalter said. “Every win and you get closer to your goal is one you take.”