The New York Mets didn’t need two wins over the Pittsburgh Pirates for confirmation their approach remained a winning one, despite a subpar start to September.
The wins sure didn’t hurt, though.
The Mets will look to lock up a series win Saturday night, when they host the Pirates in the third game of a four-game set.
Chris Bassitt (13-8, 3.44 ERA) is slated to start for the Mets against Bryse Wilson (3-8, 6.03) in a battle of right-handers.
The Mets posted another wire-to-wire win Friday night, when Taijuan Walker tied a season-high by tossing 7 1/3 innings and Daniel Vogelbach homered against his former team in a 4-3 victory.
The win by the Mets (91-55) kept them atop the National League East and one game ahead of the Atlanta Braves (89-55), who scored six runs in the eighth inning to beat the Philadelphia Phillies, 7-2.
Vogelbach’s fourth-inning homer was the outlier Friday for the Mets, who relied on their tried-and-true formula of building runs instead of depending on the long ball. New York entered Friday ranked fifth in the majors in runs scored but 15th in homers.
On Friday, New York went ahead in the third, when No. 8 hitter Eduardo Escobar walked and scored from first on a hit-and-run single by Tomas Nido. The Mets scored once apiece in the sixth and seventh, when they combined for four hits — three singles and a double.
With the wins, the Mets improved to 7-7 since Sept. 2 against a quartet of non-contenders — the Pirates along with the Washington Nationals, Miami Marlins and Chicago Cubs, the latter of whom swept New York immediately before Pittsburgh arrived in the Big Apple.
“Obviously, you want to win every game you play, but I wouldn’t say (winning) was a relief in the sense of we were panicking or everybody was thinking that the season was over,” Vogelbach said. “You control what you can control and that’s coming in every day and playing together, having each other’s back and playing hard.”
The Pirates (55-90), who have clinched their fourth straight losing season and their sixth sub-.500 finish in seven years since last reaching the playoffs in 2015, found some solace in Mitch Keller’s continued development Friday night.
Keller, who leads the Pirates in innings pitched, began his start by retiring the first seven batters he faced. He ended his evening by wriggling out of a bases-loaded jam in the sixth, when he got Luis Guillorme to line out to Oneil Cruz immediately after a visit from manager Derek Shelton.
“It’s a great feeling to know that he trusts me in a really big situation like that,” Keller told reporters. “I mean, a base hit and the game gets out of hand there.”
Bassitt took the loss Monday night, when he gave up five runs over 3 2/3 innings as the Mets fell to the Cubs, 5-2. Wilson earned the victory Monday night after surrendering three runs over 5 2/3 innings in the Pirates’ 6-3 win over the Cincinnati Reds
Bassitt and Wilson opposed each other in the opener of a doubleheader in Pittsburgh Sept. 7. Bassitt earned the win by allowing one run over seven innings, and Wilson gave up four runs in six innings as the bulk reliever and didn’t factor into the decision in New York’s 5-1 victory.
Bassitt is 1-0 with a 3.00 ERA in two career starts against the Pirates. Wilson is 0-0 with a 4.00 ERA in two games (one start) against the Mets.
–Field Level Media