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Quintana Shines But Nothing Is Easy

Mets 7, Nationals 5 (Citi Field • Flushing, NY)

Mets Record: 45-45

Mets Streak: W1

Mets Last 10: 5-5

WP: Jose Quintana (4-5)

LP: Jake Irvin (7-7)

SV: Edwin Diaz (9)

Seat On The Korner: Jose Quintana

We select the star of the game and virtually invite him to a Seat on the Korner, just as Ralph Kiner used to do for his studio postgame show on WOR-channel 9 broadcasts in the early decades of the Mets.

Today's Seat On The Korner goes to Joe Quintana. There was proof in the visiting dugout of how hard it is to dominate a team twice in one week. Nationals starter Jake Irvin, who tossed a one-hitter last week against the Mets, allowed nine hits and six runs tonight. Jose Quintana, who threw seven shutout innings in Washington on July 4, did not figure in that decision. He picked right up where he left off. He had one trouble-ish inning, allowing a hit, a walk, and a hit batter, but he got out of the third-inning jam and then retired the last 13 batters. He was over 100 pitches, but in a different time he just would have stayed in the game and probably cruised through to the end. SNY announced Quintana became the first Met to ever throw seven shutout innings in consecutive outings against the same team. Given that this covers 62 years, the way the schedule used to be set up, and the greatness of Mets pitching over the years, that is impressive indeed.

Need To Know:

  • Longtime Mets photographer Marc Levine died this week. He was 65. Mets broadcaster Gary Cohen related on SNY how he and Levine started working for the Mets on the same day in spring training, 1989. Levine's first assignment was the team photo that ended with Darryl Strawberry and Keith Hernandez having a tussle. Levine remained with the club since then with countless photos and several books to his credit. Mets owners Steve and Alexis Cohen said in a statement, "Marc documented every Mets moment for the last three and half decades. He had a kind heart and a wonderful photographic eye."

  • The Mets, whose bullpen woes are well documented, acquired a reliever from the Tampa Bay Rays. Phil Maton was 1-2 with a 4.58 ERA and two saves in 40 appearances for the Rays. He got off to a rough start, he was pitching better recently. He fanned 30 and walked 18 in 35 1/3 innings. Maton has allowed one earned run over 12 innings in his past 11 games. Maton, 31, has a 17-14 career record with a 4.28 ERA and four saves in 384 games for San Diego, Cleveland, Houston, and the Rays. He's been superb in the postseason with a 0.83 ERA in 20 October appearances. The deal with Tampa Bay was for a player to be named later or cash. Maton signed a $6.5 million, one-year contract with the Rays as a free agent in February; the deal includes a $7.75 million club option for 2025 with a $250,000 buyout.

  • Since relievers are yo-yoed back and forth from the minors to the majors constantly these days, the Mets grabbed another reliever Sunday. Matt Gage was purchased from the Dodgers and shipped to Triple-A Syracuse. Gage, a 31-year-old lefty, has pitched in the majors the past two years with Toronto and the Astros. He totaled only 16 games in the 1.83 ERA in 19.2 innings. A product of Siena College outside Albany, Gage was 1-3 with a 4.29 ERA in 20 games for Class AAA Oklahoma City.

  • The Mets had a 5-2 record in Washington this year. Tuesday was the first of six games in Citi Field against Washington. The teams play again Wednesday night in Flushing plus a Thursday afternoon contest.

Turning Point

Nothing is ever easy with the Mets and even a 6-0 lead in the eighth inning following a one-hit effort Jose Quintana is no guarantee with this bullpen. Each out by this team's bullpen was turning-point worthy. Adam Ottavino, 38, the oldest man on the roster and one of the most beleaguered, came in and allowed a ringing double to Luis Garcia Jr. He then served up a home run to pinch hitter Ildemaro Vargas, who had not homered in 163 at bats this season. After an out and a hit batsman, Dedniel Nunez got out of the jam. After the Mets got an insurance run on a triple by Tyronne Taylor and a double by Jeff McNeil in the eighth. It started all over again in the ninth with a double and a home run, this time by Reed Garrett. The overworked red-bearded reliever got two outs but a full-count walk brought out Carlos Mendoza, who has watched the veteran throw 72 pitches over the past four days. Cue the trumpets and Edwin Diaz. Sugar threw four pitches: three strikes and a pitch so wild it scored a runner from second. But the Mets won. Not a pretty finish but certainly better than the alternative.

Three Keys:

No One-Hitter This Time

The Mets had one hit against Washington's Jake Irvin in his 1-0 Independence Day combined shutout five days ago at Nationals Park. This time the hurler got himself into trouble with a two-out walk to the eighth hitter, Jeff McNeil, in the second inning. Harrison Bader followed with a single and then Francisco Lindor had an RBI single for the Mets to finally score on Irvin after 9.2 scoreless innings since last week. Red-hot Brandon Nimmo hit a high fly to left field that just kept carrying and landed just over the wall for a three-run home run, his second homer in as many days.

7 Innings Means Only 6 Outs Needed

Not to belabor the point, but the importance of throwing seven innings by a starter leaves the Mets bullpen to do less. Given the pen's north of 11.00 ERA in recent days, that cannot be underestimated. Thankfully, the Mets had a big enough lead. This time.

3 at the Top, 3 at the Bottom,

Mets leadoff hitter, Francisco Lindor, and the ninth batter, Harrison Bader, each had three hits. That led to the Mets rallies in the second and the sixth. Bader got his first hit and then Lindor singled for the second time to bring in the first run in the second inning. Bader and Lindor then came around to score on the home run by Brandon Nimmo. Lindor and Bader both scored again when the Mets shortstop homered from the left side of the plate in the seventh.

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Maybe we should look at the bullpen pitchers not named Nunez and Diaz in terms of using their arms to save wear and tear on the good relievers. Any outs recorded without giving up the lead should be viewed quite favorably. So bravo, Otto (1) and Garrett (2).

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