CINCINNATI — The Stro Show was great Wednesday. And then it was over.
In the Mets’ 7-0 win against the Reds, Marcus Stroman allowed one hit in eight innings, matching his longest outing in more than four years. He had thrown only 90 pitches and retired 18 of his past 19 batters when manager Luis Rojas replaced him with reliever Jeurys Familia.
Did he push to pitch the ninth to go for the shutout?
"Next question," said Stroman, who also evaded a question about what complete games mean to pitchers in an era when they are rarer than ever.
Stroman has thrown just one shutout in his career, as a rookie in 2014.
Rojas said he considered leaving him in.
"We were debating or not to go back with him, but he was sweating and everything, the ups and downs and what we’ve dealt with, we felt OK," Rojas said. "Familia was fresh. Why not the eight and one for Familia?"
It nonetheless was the best game of the season for Stroman, who lowered his ERA to 2.59. He struck out seven and walked one.
The Reds (49-47) totaled three baserunners. None reached second base. Jonathan India was hit by Stroman’s first pitch of the game. Aristides Aquino led off the third with a single. And Joey Votto worked a two-out walk in the seventh, snapping Stroman’s streak of 14 consecutive outs. He got the next four hitters on 11 pitches to end his day.
Consider it a huge bullpen-saving effort at a moment when the Mets (50-43) needed it. Their previous three starting pitchers combined for five innings. That along with a day off Thursday will allow the relievers to reset.
"It’s a pretty good feeling when you have the bullpen come in and everyone’s dapping you up saying thank you, thank you, thank you," Stroman said. "Because those guys needed a break down there.
"[This level of effectiveness] is what I look forward to doing each and every time out. That’s my goal. I feel like that’s the standard. Anything under that, I’m never really truly happy with myself."
Rojas said: "He was outstanding. The same Stro we know."
All that came at Great American Ball Park, perhaps the most hitter-friendly stadium in the majors. Reds righthander Jeff Hoffman (four innings, five runs) wasn’t as fortunate.
Taking full advantage of dimensions, the Mets scored all of their runs via three homers into the first two rows: Jonathan Villar’s solo shot in the second, Dominic Smith’s grand slam in the third and Luis Guillorme’s two-run blast in the fifth.
At 391 feet, the last was the longest of the bunch. For Guillorme, it was his first of the year and second of his career.
"It’s always good not to have a zero next to the home run column," he said.
The Mets have averaged 6.67 runs per game in six contests since the All-Star break. Before that, they managed 3.76 runs per game.
"We knew eventually we’d break out," Smith said. "I’m sure we’ll have games where we can’t jump out on teams, but that’s what we try to do as an offense."
That was plenty for the Mets to pull out a series win and a 3-3 road trip.
As they head to New York for their longest homestand of the year — 11 games against Toronto, Atlanta and Cincinnati — the Mets are seeking to escape from their recent mediocrity. They are 15-18 in the past five weeks.
"We can’t just think of, ‘We gotta go and get into a winning streak,’" Rojas said. "That’s going to happen, but it’s going to happen game to game. The guys know how to do it."