Marcus Stroman was close to All-Star material for most of the first half of this season, but his past three starts haven’t been all that pretty for the Mets.
There was a shortened start against the Phillies, a slog at Yankee Stadium last weekend and Saturday’s dud, a performance that fell into that category based on the opponent and the manner in which it unfolded.
In this case it was the opposing pitcher, Tyler Anderson, who smacked a go-ahead homer against Stroman in the Mets’ 6-2 loss to the Pirates in Game 1 of a doubleheader at Citi Field.
One recent trend ended: After five straight doubleheaders of winning the first game and dropping the nightcap, the Mets finally lost a Game 1. The Mets were scheduled to send rookie Tylor Megill to the mound for the nightcap.
The Pirates entered as the lowest-scoring team in the major leagues, but feasted against Stroman and the Mets’ bullpen. Over his past three starts, Stroman has pitched to a 5.54 ERA, with 16 hits allowed in 13 innings. This after he had pitched to a 2.32 ERA in his first 15 starts of the season.
Stroman was perfect for three innings, but got knocked around in the fourth and fifth. Overall, he allowed three earned runs on five hits with five strikeouts over five innings. It marked only the fourth time in 18 starts this season that Stroman has allowed as many as three earned runs.
Trevor May, who had pitched 10 straight scoreless innings, entered for the sixth and surrendered a two-run homer to Bryan Reynolds that extended the Pirates’ lead to 5-2. May walked the inning’s leadoff hitter, Ke’Bryan Hayes, before Reynolds cleared the fence in right-center. The homer was the first allowed by May since June 14.
In the fourth, John Nogowski stroked a two-run double that gave the Pirates a 2-1 lead. Adam Frazier singled leading off the inning to give the Pirates their first base runner and Reynolds’ one-out single put runners on the corners before Nogowski delivered.
Anderson, the Pirates’ starting pitcher, smashed a two-out homer in the fifth that put the Mets in a 3-2 hole. The blast, which came on a 1-1 cutter from Stroman, was the second of Anderson’s career.
Brandon Nimmo provided the Mets with a huge lift in the first inning by reaching over the center field fence to steal a homer from Reynolds. It was the latest piece of strong defensive work from Nimmo, who began the day plus two as a center fielder in outs above average, according to Statcast.
Kevin Pillar’s two-out RBI single against Anderson in the first gave the Mets a 1-0 lead after Nimmo and Dominic Smith had singled in the inning. Jonathan Villar’s third homer in two games, a solo blast in the fourth, tied it 2-2. On Friday, Villar became the 10th player in franchise history to homer from both sides of the plate in the same game.