After Edwin Diaz had issued a wild pitch and a leadoff walk to start the 10th inning, Mets pitching coach Jeremy Hefner dashed out to the mound.
With runners on the corners and no outs due to MLB’s extra-inning ghost-runner rule, there’s not much to say to your closer in that situation other than stressing the importance of a couple of strikeouts to keep the score tied.
Diaz struck out the next two batters, including the Reds’ red-hot Joey Votto, before getting a game-ending fly ball to earn the win in the Mets’ 5-4 comeback win over the Reds. It was his fifth straight successful outing since a three-game hiccup earlier this month.
“He was lights-out. I know he walked [Jesse] Winker there, but he found it and he bounced back,” Mets manager Luis Rojas said after the game. “I think he’s done a really good job in the last week or so with his command, throwing strikes with his fastball, throwing strikes with his slider. … The slider’s almost got a cutter action right now.
“He’s worked really hard on that pitch with Jeremy Hefner, but he was lights out. He was really tough to hit. That’s the guy for a situation like that. Runner on second and no out, Diaz is a strikeout pitcher. He can do exactly what he did, two strikeouts and then a fly-out to center. So, outstanding. He gave us a chance to win there.”
Diaz whiffed No. 3 hitter Kyle Farmer on a 0-2 slider for the first out after uncorking the wild pitch that advanced ghost runner Jonathan India to third and the walk to Winker. He also struck out Votto on a 99-mph four-seam fastball before getting Aristedes Aquino to fly to center, putting an end to the threat and setting up Brandon Drury’s game-winning single in the bottom of the inning.
“At the beginning … he wasn’t controlling his fastball, but once he got on top of it, he had control of it,” said shortstop Javier Baez, who belted a two-run homer in his Mets debut. “He’s been in this situation [before] with men on third and no outs and got out of it. That’s the experience that he has. He’s been through that and keeps learning.”
Diaz’s fifth consecutive scoreless appearance came after he had blown three consecutive save opportunities in the three weeks leading up to the All-Star break. During that stretch, he’d been battered for seven runs in three innings, including a walk-off grand slam by Pittsburgh’s Jacob Stallings on July 17.