Two relievers didn’t simply flush the Mets’ six-run lead Saturday night in a devastating loss to the Pirates, they ensured strong performances from one player just back from the injured list and the latest eye-popping performance from an unheralded rookie rotation substitute also were wasted.
J.D. Davis rocked a pair of two-run homers and starting pitcher Tylor Megill tossed six scoreless innings in the finest and longest of his five major league starts, but both contributions were squandered as Seth Lugo and Edwin Diaz coughed up nine runs in the final two innings of a crushing 9-7 Mets loss in Pittsburgh.
“I just kept it simple, being in the four-spot you gotta do some damage,” said Davis, who batted cleanup in his first start since May 1 after to a lengthy IL stint. “But at the end of the day, a loss is a loss, and it’s a terrible feeling.”
The Mets have received surprise contributions across their roster to remain in first place for the past 10 weeks, but perhaps none have been more unexpected or important than Megill’s continued stellar performances.
The 2018 eighth-round pick out of Arizona tossed six shutout frames, scattering six hits with two strikeouts and no walks. He departed in position to earn his first major league victory — although the Mets had won each of his previous four starts since he was recalled from Triple-A Syracuse on June 23.
The 25-year-old Megill has lasted at least five full innings in three of his last four appearances, but Saturday’s outing marked the first time he completed the sixth in his brief career.
“Outstanding, once again. This kid is getting better each day, he’s learning … and I’m excited to watch him,” manager Luis Rojas said. “This guy, as young as he is and as little experience he has at the big league level, he does a lot of good things.
“We’ve got ourselves a pitcher here when we’re in need. … I think this is a guy that can make a difference.”
The 6-foot-7 righty retired the side in order for the first time in the game in his final frame, finishing with a career-high 93 pitches while lowering his ERA to 2.63 over 24 innings.
Megill’s strong showing came at a fortuitous time for the Mets (47-42), a few hours after it was revealed that staff ace Jacob deGrom is dealing with tightness in his right forearm. The two-time Cy Young Award winner will not resume throwing until that tightness subsides, Rojas said before the game.
Megill, who started the season at Double-A Binghamton, was provided a 4-0 lead by Davis’ two-run homers in the fourth and sixth innings. The Mets extended the cushion to six before Lugo was tagged for a five-spot in the eighth and Diaz surrendered a walk-off grand slam to Jacob Stallings with two outs in the ninth.
“Something like that happens, it definitely dampens the mood,” Megill said. “But tomorrow is a new day and a new opportunity to go out and win and get the momentum swinging in the right way.”