Jason Vargas started game 2 of the 3 game set against the division rival Miami Marlins. 2 years ago, Jason Vargas was a 20 win pitcher. However, the second half of his 2017 campaign was not nearly as good as the first, so Sandy Alderson thought he got Vargas at a bargain price. After that season, Jason Vargas earned a 2-year deal worth $16 million dollars. Sadly, Vargas had a very up and down year last year for the Mets.
In spring training of 2018, Jason Vargas broke his non-pitching hand. His 2018 campaign wasn’t great out of the gate. He started the year on the DL (now IL) and when he came back it was not a pretty sight. Vargas’ first 12 starts in his second season with the Mets resulted in an 8.75 era with a 3.00 WHIP. A lot of fans wondered how the Mets could continue to allow this awful pitching display to take the mound every 5th day. But in Varags’ second half of the 2018 season, he somewhat rebounded, lowering his WHIP under 1.50 and dropping his era all the way down to a 2.45 in his last 8 starts. He made just 20 starts for the Mets and finished the year with a total of a 5.77 era and a respectable 1.41 WHIP.
Moving into Tuesday night, the Mets bats started right where they left off on Monday. Right out of the gates they put Marlins starter Jose Urena on the ropes. Nimmo leadoff the game with a base hit, followed by a Jeff McNeil base hit. Cano then grounded out but advanced both runners a base. So it was 2nd and 3rd with just 1 out. Michael Conforto then walked to load the bases with Wilson Ramos coming to the plate.
Ramos kicked off the box score with a single up the middle and kept the line moving. The Mets led 1-0 and everyone advanced a base. Dominic Smith kept his hot start of the season going with another base hit RBI to follow, and the Mets really began to pour it on.
Amed Rosario shot a 2 RBI double down the line and it looked like it would be a short outing for Urena after Juan Lagares also joined the party with a fielder’s choice RBI of his own to give the Mets a 5 run lead after a half inning.
Jason Vargas took the mound for the Mets, to give the Marlins bats a chance to get back in this game, or at least get something on the board. Vargas got leadoff hitter Miguel Rojas to fly out, but with the second at-bat, former Met, Curtis Granderson, shot a screaming double down the right-field line and the Marlins had a little something cooking. Next man up Brian Anderson roped a double of his own down the opposite line, and the Marlins were on the board and right back in this game.
At this time I’m sure Met fans were saying to themselves “here we go again with Vargas” But the untrustworthy pitcher found a way to limit the damage and keep a 5-1 lead for his Mets.
It stayed a 4-run lead for the Mets and Vargas was rolling. He was getting hit pretty hard but got a couple big double plays to escape innings. Mets manager Mickey Callaway’s plan was to try to get Vargas through 5 innings, then turn to his bullpen. Of course, the Marlins weren’t going to make it that easy on Mickey and the Mets.
In the bottom of the 5th, Granderson led off with a pop out and Brian Anderson lined out to center field. It Seemed like it would be an easy 5th and Vargas would continue to roll. But Starlin Castro came to the plate and absolutely crushed a fastball over the left-center field wall for a solo home run. The Mets now lead just 5-2.
Let’s fast forward to the 7th inning when Mets relief pitcher Seth Lugo entered the game. His previous outing wasn’t a very promising one, and this one wasn’t anything to write home about either. In the 7th, the Mets led with a 6-2 box score and were looking to get out of Miami taking the first 2 of 3. But the Marlins wouldn’t lay down without a fight.
With 2 outs in the inning JT Riddle stepped up and singled to center, Jorge Alfaro was hit by a pitch, and Lewis Brinson who already had a hit on the day delivered a base hit to drive in Riddle, making it a 6-3 game. Peter O’Brien followed with a single of his own, driving in Jorge Alfaro. Former Met Neil Walker flew out to deep left to retire the side, so the Mets still led by 2.
Going into the 9th inning Mickey Callaway didn’t have his current closer available (Edwin Diaz.) Juerys Familia wasn’t available either, who was the closer for the Mets from 2014 to 2018. So Mickey rode his lefty Justin Wilson for a portion of the 8th inning and brought him back in the 9th to try to close this game out. Wilson didn’t make it easy. The first batter he faced, Lewis Brinson, was hit by the pitch giving the Marlins the tying run on base.
Peter O’Brien, who has had a tough time at the plate, was next up. He drilled an absolute rocket right at Mets shortstop Amed Rosario, who snagged it out of the air to record the first out of the inning.
Next, Chad Wallach, the Marlins back-up catcher, was inserted into the game as a pinch hitter. He found a hole on the left side of the infield for a base hit, giving the Marlins the tying and winning runs on base with just 1 out in the inning.
The next man up has been a thorn in the Mets side for years: Miguel Rojas.
Rojas hit a bullet to the left side of the infield, but Amed Rosario made a beautiful diving catch and doubled off Lewis Brinson at second base to end the game.
The Mets escaped this shaky 9th inning without their dominant closer or talented setup man. This is what I hope to see more of this season; adapting and finding a way to stay hot.
Tonight the Mets are looking to bring the brooms out in Miami with their Ace, Jacob Degrom, on the mound. He will be facing the Marlins young right-hander, Trevor Richards. With deGrom starting, they should have a good chance to improve to 5-1 on the season.