The New York Mets might have saved their season with this week with a four-game sweep of the Washington Nationals, whose imploding bullpen contributed directly to the Mets' final three wins of the series.
The Mets' reward this weekend? A series with the Detroit Tigers, fresh off their own epic bullpen meltdown and perhaps the only team in the midst of a more rapid downward spiral than the Nationals.
The Mets will look to get back to .500 Friday night, when they welcome the Tigers in the opener of a rare three-game interleague series. Right-hander Noah Syndergaard (3-4, 4.50 ERA) is scheduled to take the mound for New York against Detroit rookie left-hander Gregory Soto (0-2, 10.80 ERA).
Both teams played eventful games Thursday afternoon. Carlos Gomez hit a three-run homer with two outs in the bottom of the eighth inning to lift the Mets to a 6-4 win over the Nationals. The Tigers suffered their eighth straight loss by allowing five unearned runs -- all with two outs -- in the top of the ninth inning of a 5-2 loss to the Miami Marlins.
Gomez, a 12-year veteran who was recalled from Triple-A Syracuse last week, became the latest unexpected contributor to the unlikely rebirth of the Mets, who appeared in imminent danger of getting manager Mickey Callaway fired when they capped a 1-5 road trip by being one-hit and two-hit in consecutive shutout losses to the Marlins last Friday and Saturday.
After a pair of regulars, rookie first baseman Pete Alonso and third-year shortstop Amed Rosario, contributed a game-tying homer and the walk-off RBI single in the eighth and ninth innings of Tuesday's 6-5 win, Juan Lagares (three-run double) and Rajai Davis (pinch-hit three-run homer) delivered the big hits in the eighth inning of Wednesday's 6-1 victory. Davis was recalled earlier Wednesday to replace the injured Brandon Nimmo on the roster, while Lagares has been pressed into everyday duty with Nimmo and fellow outfielders Michael Conforto and Jeff McNeil all on the injured list.
"I wouldn't say they're bringing anything we (were) lacking," Callaway said. "It's just we're getting the job done at the right time. We're picking people up at the right time, we're getting big hits, big homers. That's just the story when you win games, no matter who's out there."
The Tigers have been penning the wrong kind of stories while being outscored 68-21 during their nine-game skid, which took place entirely at home and actually encompasses 10 games. Detroit's game against the Oakland Athletics on Sunday was suspended due to rain in the seventh inning with the Athletics ahead 5-3. It will resume in Oakland on Sept. 6.
The Tigers looked like they might end the homestand with a win Thursday, but rookie third baseman Dawel Lugo and second-year second baseman Ronny Rodriguez made errors in the ninth inning before the Marlins' Garrett Cooper hit a go-ahead grand slam to give Detroit its first winless homestand of at least nine games since September 1996.
Afterward, Tigers manager Ron Gardenhire implored his players to stick together and remain focused. Detroit has the second-worst run differential (minus-98), ahead of only the Baltimore Orioles (minus-108).
"There's kids in there that are really upset," Gardenhire told reporters afterward. "They know how the game went, they know what happened, and we have to have their backs. I have their backs, and I told all the players to have each other's backs right now, because people are going to be coming from all kinds of sides at you. They want to know what's going on. All we can do is go back out and try to play again tomorrow."
Syndergaard took the loss in his most recent start Sunday, when he allowed two runs over seven innings as the Mets fell to the Marlins. Soto started the suspended game Sunday and gave up three runs over four innings. The 24-year-old was promoted from Double-A Erie on May 11 and has made all three of his abbreviated big league starts on three days rest.
Syndergaard took the defeat in his only career start and appearance against the Tigers on Aug. 5, 2016, when he gave up four runs over six innings as New York lost, 4-3. Soto will be making his first interleague start.
The series between the Mets and Tigers will be only the fourth between the teams in New York and the second at Citi Field. Detroit swept a three-game set in August 2013.
--Field Level Media
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