Several times this season, the Mets have looked cooked. On multiple occasions, Todd Frazier’s time with the team appeared to be coming to an end.
The Mets would blow winnable games, flirting with irrelevance. The veteran third baseman from New Jersey would go weeks without meaningful offensive production, drawing calls for his benching.
And, yet, here they both are, still playing significant baseball the second week of September, very much alive in the NL wild-card race. In many ways, these Mets and Frazier are mirror images of one another. Maddeningly inconsistent but unwilling to let this roller-coaster season go, producing unlikely moments of joy.
The recent uptick continued Wednesday night, with the suddenly resurgent Frazier leading the charge for a second straight night and Steven Matz continuing his stellar pitching in Queens. Frazier homered twice — in his first two at-bats — as the Mets hammered the Diamondbacks, 9-0, winning for the eighth time in 12 games following that six-game Citi Field losing streak most thought would ruin them.
Frazier began this series an afterthought, not appearing in Monday’s 3-1 victory after pinch hitting the day before. Mets fans were furious when he was back in the lineup, in place of J.D. Davis, on Tuesday — Frazier had managed back-to-back multi-hit games just once since late June — before he produced all three runs with a pair of doubles. On Monday, the team seemed stuck in neutral, following up road-series wins over the Nationals and Phillies, by losing two of three over the weekend to Philadelphia.
But after winning the first three games of this series against the previously red-hot Diamondbacks, holding the potent lineup down three nights in a row, the Mets (75-70) inched within 2¹/₂ games of the Cubs for the second wild-card spot, pending Chicago’s game in San Diego.
Unlike the previous two games, the Mets didn’t have to sweat, thanks in part to Diamondbacks left fielder Tim Locastro’s first-inning gaffe. With a run already in, he misread Davis’ line drive and saw it fall in front of him, allowing a second run to cross the plate. Three pitches later, Frazier went deep, pushing the lead to 4-0, and Brandon Nimmo followed with his own homer, a solo shot.
In the third, Frazier blasted his 20th of the year, sending a 95 mph Taylor Clarke fastball low and away over the right-center field fence, a sign of how hot he has suddenly become.
Not to be forgotten, Jeff McNeil also went deep twice, both times reaching the second deck in right field, and notched three extra-base hits. Matz delivered six shutout innings, lowering his ERA to 3.84, and has not allowed more than three earned runs in 23 straight starts at home.
The only nervous moments came in the second, after Matz walked the baseball loaded. But, like the Mets of late, he didn’t fall apart despite facing a difficult situation. He struck out Carson Kelly and got pinch-hitter Kevin Chron to ground into a double play by bouncing out to — who else? — Frazier.
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