SYRACUSE, N.Y. (SYR METS) –
The Syracuse Mets finally outlasted the Buffalo Bisons (Triple-A affiliate, Toronto Blue Jays) on Friday night, fending off a late rally for a 5-3 win on an early fall night at NBT Bank Stadium. It was the first win of the week for the Mets after the Bisons had grabbed the first three games in the six-game series.
Early on, Syracuse (57-82) raced out to a 1-0 lead when Dominic Smith hit a solo home run in the bottom of the first. Smith is in the midst of an excellent week at the plate. He has hits in each of the first four games in the series, going a combined 9-for-18 with two doubles, two home runs and six runs driven in.
Joey Lucchesi grabbed some of the early headlines for the Mets as well, holding Buffalo (72-65) off the scoreboard in two and two-thirds scoreless innings with just one hit and no walks allowed. The rehabbing Big Leaguer also struck out two batters in his impressive performance. Lucchesi, a former top prospect in the San Diego Padres minor league system, is returning from Tommy John surgery that he underwent last summer.
The Bisons tied the game in the fourth off another rehabbing Big Leaguer, Tylor Megill. Rafael Lantigua singled with one out, advancing to third on a double from L.J. Talley. Then, a wild pitch allowed Lantigua to scamper home and tie the game. Megill would escape further damage after that. The righthander’s final line was one inning with one run allowed, two hits, one walk and one strikeout.
Syracuse featured yet another rehabbing Big Leaguer on Friday night, as Drew Smith tossed a scoreless fifth inning with a strikeout. Smith also excelled in an rehab assignment on Tuesday night, tossing a scoreless inning on one hit with one walk and two strikeouts.
It remained a 1-1 game into the bottom of the eighth inning, when the Mets went in front for good on a pivotal, late-game blast. First, Travis Jankowski reached leading off the inning on a fielding error. Then, consecutive infield singles from Smith and Francisco Álvarez loaded up the bases with nobody out. Daniel Palka walked to the plate and provided one of the highlights of the season, launching a go-ahead grand slam to put the Mets in front for good. It was Palka’s 26th big fly of the season and his first home run in the month of September.
Syracuse entered the top of the ninth inning firmly in the driver’s seat with a 5-1 lead, but then it got interesting quickly. Yoan López entered the game hoping for a quick ninth inning, yet John Aiello doubled and Stevie Berman to start the inning and put runners on first and third with nobody out. Trevor Schwecke then singled, plating Aiello and advancing Berman to second. That was followed by yet another hit – a double from Eric Stamets scored Berman, put Schwecke on second and had Buffalo dreaming of a late-game rally.
R.J. Alvarez was summoned from the bullpen, with Syracuse clinging to a 5-3 lead in the top of the ninth with runners on second and third with nobody out. Then, the Mets defense pulled a magic trick. The next batter, Otto Lopez, hit a chopper to third base that Deven Marrero fielded with ease. Schwecke was running home on contact, and Marrero threw home to get one out. Then, the Mets looked up and realized Lopez was running toward second base. They promptly threw to first base, got Lopez in a run-down, and tagged him out to stunningly record two outs in rapid succession. Stamets still stood on second base with two outs, but the air was officially out of Buffalo’s balloon. Schneider grounded out to shortstop to end the game, give Alvarez his second save of the season and hand Syracuse its first win in four tries against Buffalo this week.
Syracuse plays its final six-game home series of the series against the Buffalo Bisons (Triple-A affiliate, Toronto Blue Jays) all week long at NBT Bank Stadium. The fifth game in the series is set for a 6:35 first pitch on Saturday evening. Jesus Vargas is slated to make a rehab start for Syracuse.