Eight times, Wilmer Flores has been at the tail end of this sort of jubilation. He has experienced Gatorade showers and dogpiles, emphatic Michael Conforto hugs, and booming hi-fives.
On Saturday night, at the very end of a long, dreary, rain-delayed night when the Mets experienced their fair share of gloom, he added to his myth. Granted, this was just a garden variety sacrifice fly — albeit one that scored the winning run in the bottom of the ninth inning — but after so many innings of frustration, it seemed just as sweet as any sailing home run or screaming line drive.
With runners on the corners and no outs, Flores hit a fly ball to left to score Brandon Nimmo from third and complete a 5-4 comeback over the Diamondbacks at Citi Field. It was the eighth walk-off RBI in a career that has made him something of a folk legend around these parts, and his second of the season. Down 4-2 in the eighth, Devin Mesoraco hit a two-run home run to tie the game at 4. It erased seven innings of pure water-logged misery in a game the Mets seemed destined to lose.
“Honestly, I’m not thinking about the walk-off,” Flores said, as understated as anyone who’s used to this sort of thing. “I’m thinking how to bring the run in — what the pitcher’s throwing . . . after I hit it, I think about the walk-off. I think of it like it’s the first inning or fourth inning.”
While Flores is already beloved, — yes, fans still clap along to his “Friends” walk-up music every time it blares through the sound system — Mesoraco is well on his way to carving out his niche here, too. Acquired from the Reds in the Matt Harvey trade on May 8, he’s already hit three home runs in seven games with seven runs and five RBIs. His two-run shot on Saturday came off of Archie Bradley’s 95-mph fastball and began to show the cracks in one of the best bullpens in baseball.
In the ninth, Nimmo doubled on the first pitch against Andrew Chafin and Asdrubal Cabrera bunted for a base hit to put runners on the corners for Flores.
It’s the first time the Mets have won back-to-back games since their nine-game winning streak that ended on April 13.
But before the celebration on the infield, there was a whole lot of dejection, much of it made known in very visible ways.
There was Steven Matz snapping at the ball and barking in frustration on the mound and Jose Reyes muttering to himself after another futile at-bat. Mickey Callaway glared and grumbled from the dugout when things went awry in the fourth, and Cabrera slammed his bat after striking out in the fifth.
Indeed, on a rainy, then densely foggy evening in Flushing, the Mets appeared to come undone more than once. It began with Matz, who lost his cool and then lost control in the Diamondbacks’ three-run fourth. Matz went into that inning up 2-1 thanks to Michael Conforto’s two-run homer in the second, but the Mets starter appeared to get unnerved in a big way.
Paul Goldschmidt hit a solo homer to lead off the fourth to tie it at 2.
With two outs, Matz walked the speedy Jarrod Dyson on a 3-and-2 pitch that missed outside. It was then that Matz snapped at the ball as it was thrown back, clearly upset with the call. Dyson responded by stealing second, and after a lost challenge, he stole third.
With the pesky Dyson dancing along the third-base line in his periphery, Matz sailed a flat changeup down the middle to catcher John Ryan Murphy, who cranked it into the leftfield seats for a two-run homer to put the Diamondbacks up 4-2.
Matz lasted four innings, allowing four runs, six hits and a walk with two strikeouts.
The Mets bullpen continued to be a saving grace with five scoreless innings. Two of those belonged to Seth Lugo, whose scoreless streak is now a career-high 13 innings. It was just enough zeros for the Mets’ offense to come to life. It was their 13th come-from-behind win this year.
“We had a lot of guys in scoring position and we didn’t put our head down,” Flores said. “We got another opportunity and Devin came out with a big hit. We really needed this win.”
Good thing they had just the man for the job.