Wilmer Flores discusses his walk-off homer
NEW YORK — Wilmer Flores didn’t want to spend any more time on the field Sunday than he needed to. It was simply too cold.
A first-pitch temperature of 42 degrees and winds of 19 mph had Flores and others dressed as if it was late winter. Extra layers were a necessity.
That desire for warmth provided Flores with a little added incentive when he strode to the plate with two outs in the ninth inning in a tied game against the Brewers.
“No one wanted to play extra innings,” Flores said. “Believe me.”
Flores ensured there was no free baseball by hitting a walk-off homer to send the Mets to a 3-2 win Sunday afternoon at Citi Field. Flores crushed a 1-2 offering from Matt Albers, and atoned for a two-run misplay earlier in the game.
Noah Syndergaard struck out eight consecutive batters while throwing 5 1/3 innings of one-run ball, and the Mets (12-2) have won their first five series for the first time.
“Anybody can be the hero here,” Flores said. “Anybody can hit a homer or hit a double to score runs. It’s not just three, four five hitters. It’s the whole lineup.”
It’s all coming up Mets through the first 14 games of this season, and Sunday’s walk-off win provided yet another feel-good moment in what has been a dream start to the year.
Sunday’s tight battle was the type the Mets would have lost last season, but they are winning these games this season. The Mets are now 4-0 in one-run games, and their bullpen is 6-0. The players keep picking up one another and erase deficits.
In the sixth inning, Flores failed to catch a one-hopper from Amed Rosario, and two unearned runs score on Rosario’s error to give Milwaukee a 2-1 lead. It marked only the second time in 14 games the Mets bullpen has squandered a lead.
It’s a testament to the Mets’ resiliency that they’ve won both those games.
Brandon Nimmo homered in the bottom of the sixth to even the game, and Flores later provided the first walk-off win of the year. The infielder just wanted a pitch he could hit hard, and Albers’ one-two sinker caught too much of the plate.
Flores’ drive went out to left-center just like his first career walk-off against Washington in 2015, and his teammates swarmed him when he reached home plate.
There was one downside to the homer, though with Yoenis Cespedes showering Flores with Gatorade. In July it’s welcomed. In this weather, not so much.
“I told him no,” Flores said. “But he still did it.”
Flores’ heroics prevented the Mets from wasting the first truly dominant effort from Syndergaard, who overpowered the Brewers while striking out 11 and yielding two hits.
While the hitters did not appear comfortable, the cold weather helped Syndergaard. It’s not fun to hit upper-90’s heat in the cold, and the weather aided his change-up.
“it forces me to hold it like an egg and my arm to be more whip like,” Syndergaard said. “It really the ultimate goal in throwing a change-up, sell that arm speed.”
Syndergaard tied Jacob deGrom by striking out eight consecutive batters at one point, which is tied for the second-longest streak in team history. Tom Seaver still holds the MLB and team record for striking out 10 straight batters in 1970.
Seven of the eight strikeouts were swinging, with only Jonathan Villar, the fourth victim, looking at strike three for the second out of the third inning. The streak ended when Hernan Perez singled to left to start the fifth inning.
The only issue for Syndergaard was his pitch count with the righty needing 101 pitches.
In a debatable decision, Callaway allowed Syndergaard to hit in the fifth inning — while burning pinch-hitter Jay Bruce — with the Mets leading 1-0 and the bases loaded. Callaway wanted to get more outs out of Syndergaard, and Syndergaard popped out.
Syndergaard faced only two more batters before being lifted. Robert Gsellman followed Syndergaard, and allowed two unearned runs to score on Rosario’s error.
“Throwing 101 pitches in 5 1/3, that’s almost pushing him,” Callaway said of pulling Syndergaard in the sixth. “It’s tough to stay healthy out there much less be as effective as you want. We pushed him as far as we were comfortable with today.”
Even as the error burned the Mets and Callaway’s decision didn’t pan out, the Mets ensured those moments were just footnotes in this games.
This team just keeps finding a way.
Said Flores: “It was good just to get out of that cold.”
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Published at Sun, 15 Apr 2018 20:45:42 +0000