There was no letdown on Monday after taking four of five from defending World Series champion Atlanta. These Mets with their hard-grinding style take no nights off.
With the big test behind them and the cupcake Reds standing in front of them, the Mets stayed on the accelerator.
Chris Bassitt allowed an unearned run in a season-high eight innings and Starling Marte hit a two-run home run in the first inning as the Mets topped Cincinnati, 5-1, before 28,448 at Citi Field.
The Mets have won six of their last seven and 13 of 15. They upped their NL East lead to seven games over Atlanta.
“It doesn’t matter which team it is — it’s coming out to play,” Marte said through an interpreter. “We know that we have a responsibility . . . It doesn’t matter if the [other] team is in last place or first place. We have to go out there, we have to play hard and we have to win.”
The Mets’ newcomers continue to carry a beat that started even before they arrived by providing important tack-on runs. Daniel Vogelbach, acquired in a July 22 trade with Pittsburgh, was 2-for-4 with a run-scoring single in the third for a 3-0 lead. Tyler Naquin, brought in via a July 28 trade with the Reds, had a two-run triple in the eighth.
Even before Monday’s win, Vogelbach was remarking about some of the special qualities that have made the Mets so successful. “There is a closeness [among] the players in the clubhouse, sure,’’ he said. “But these players have a way that they play the game: They play it hard every day.
“You follow the leaders, right? And if you look at our superstars, not one of them feels that they’re above the game or don’t need to play hard on every play or don’t need to do the little things,” said Vogelbach, who has hit .333 with seven RBIs in 14 games with the Mets. “From the position-player side, Frankie [Lindor] and Pete [Alonso] bring the energy and play with intensity every night. You can’t tell if they’re 0-for-4 or 4-for-4 because they’re always the same, consistent.”
Added Marte: “It’s important for us to go out there with the same energy every single day.”
Marte is hitting .336 in his last 32 games and has six first-inning home runs among his 12 this season.
Bassitt (9-7) gave up eight hits and a walk, striking out eight; the unearned run came as a result of Alonso’s error. The Reds were 1-for-7 against him with runners in scoring position.
Getting deep into the game is always one of Bassitt’s aims, but perhaps that was even more important after the relief corps worked hard against Atlanta. He threw a season-high 114 pitches, finishing the eighth with a three-pitch strikeout of Aristedes Aquino and an emphatic fist pump.
He has pitched at least six innings in nine straight games and has a 2.34 ERA in 61 2⁄3 innings in that span.
“That’s always my job, to eat innings,” Bassitt said. “I think genuinely that’s why they brought me over here was just for that reason. I’m not afraid to go over 100 pitches.”
Said manager Buck Showalter: “He’s just a guy that likes to compete and do what is expected of him.”
Adam Ottavino allowed a pair of baserunners but completed the effort with a scoreless ninth.
The Mets got out of the blocks fast with two quick runs off righthander Justin Dunn, a Freeport product who was the Mets’ No. 1 draft pick in 2016 but was dealt to the Mariners in the 2018 trade that brought back Robinson Cano and Edwin Diaz. Seattle traded him to Cincinnati in March.
Brandon Nimmo was hit by a pitch and Marte followed with his two-run homer after six pitches from Dunn.
Dunn allowed three runs and five hits in 4 2⁄3 innings with two walks and two strikeouts.