Jeff McNeil left his fatigue in the dugout and grinded through an important at-bat for the Mets on Sunday.
Summoned to pinch hit in the sixth inning after missing three straight starts with what had been described as fatigue in his left leg, McNeil fell behind with two quick strikes against former teammate Jacob Barnes. He worked the count full and stroked a two-run double that was good for the go-ahead runs in the Mets’ 5-4 victory over the Blue Jays at Citi Field.
The Mets won a second straight series and will now prepare for a five-game division clash that begins Monday with a doubleheader against the Braves.
Manager Luis Rojas gambled in the sixth and won, choosing McNeil to pinch hit for Tomas Nido with two outs and two runners on base after Pete Alonso had already stroked a game-tying homer in the inning.
Although Trevor May allowed three straight hits to begin the eighth, including an RBI single to Teoscar Hernandez that pulled the Blue Jays within 5-4, the Mets escaped with the lead. Aaron Loup recorded a critical out, retiring Cavan Biggio with the bases loaded and Edwin Diaz worked a scoreless ninth for his 21st save in 26 chances.
Alonso’s two-run homer in the sixth tied it at three. The blast was Alonso’s 11th in his last 24 games and third since Friday, when he hit two to lead a victory over the Blue Jays. Michael Conforto walked in the inning and advanced to second on a wild pitch before Alonso hit a shot into the left-field seats. Upon returning to the dugout he hoisted the team’s new “Home run horse” as part of the celebration.
In his Mets debut, Rich Hill lasted five-plus innings and allowed three earned runs on five hits with two walks and one strikeout. The left-hander, who arrived in a trade with the Rays on Friday, was facing the Rays for the second time in 14 days.
Hill loaded the bases with nobody out in the sixth before Seth Lugo entered and allowed a two-run single to Bo Bichette. The ensuing batter, Teoscar Herandez, hit a grounder to third base on which J.D. Davis threw to the plate instead of attempting to start a double play. The ball was dislodged from Tomas Nido’s mitt as he applied the tag, extending the Blue Jays’ lead to 3-1. But further damage was avoided as Lugo struck out Randal Grichuk and retired Alejandro Kirk and Biggio in succession.
The rally had started as Hill embarked on his third time through the batting order. George Springer was hit by a pitch and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. singled into the right-center gap before Marcus Semien walked to load the bases. Hill had limited the Blue Jays to one base runner in each of the previous five innings.