Baseball is truly in the eye of the beholder.
The bottom of the fifth inning at Citi Field on Wednesday night was either the most beautiful thing you’ve ever seen (Mets fans) or the ugliest piece of dreck you’ve ever witnessed (Twins fans).
The Mets scored six, two-out runs in the fifth en route to a 9-6 victory. They scored those six runs with only two hits — and only one of the hits contributed to the scoring.
Three Twins pitchers combined to walk six batters and hit another in a seven-batter span. The Mets, trailing 1-0, tied the score on a hit by pitch. Then came three consecutive bases-loaded walks. Then Wilson Ramos, perhaps turning down a potential fourth consecutive bases-loaded walk, grounded a 2-and-0 pitch into rightfield for a two-run single and a 6-1 Mets lead.
The Mets sent 11 batters to the plate. Three put the ball in play (Ramos twice).
To explain the beginning of the inning we have to start with the end.
The inning ended when Jeff McNeil struck out. McNeil, who was responsible for two outs in the inning, flung down his bat in disgust. He was the only unhappy Met in the building.
“I’ve never seen anything like that,” Robinson Cano said. Few have.
Ramos opened the inning with a groundout. McNeil followed with a single to left, the Mets’ first hit against starter Jake Odorizzi, who then walked Amed Rosario and J.D. Davis to load the bases.
With Noah Syndergaard batting, McNeil — we told you he was responsible for two of the outs — was picked off third base when a would-be wild pitch banged off the backstop and back to catcher Mitch Garver, who threw to Odorizzi covering the plate.
McNeil, who Syndergaard recently nicknamed “Squirrel,” stopped like a deer in the headlights. He was late scampering back to third and was nailed for the second out.
Then the beauty — or the turn-your-head, don’t-look carnage, depending on your point of view — really began.
Syndergaard walked to re-load the bases. Rookie Twins manager Rocco Baldelli brought in rookie lefthander Andrew Vasquez, who was called up from Triple-A Rochester earlier in the day.
Vasquez threw two balls before hitting Nimmo in the back to tie the score at 1. Vasquez then bounced a 3-and-2 pitch to Pete Alonso to force in the go-ahead run.
Vasquez fell behind Robinson Cano 2-and-0 before throwing an up-and-in pitch to the backstop for ball three. Vasquez walked Cano on the next pitch to make it 3-1.
Baldelli brought in righthander Trevor Hildenberger, who walked Michael Conforto on four pitches. 4-1. Ramos took the first two pitches for balls before grounding a two-run single to right to make it 6-1.
The Twins threw 37 pitches without the Mets putting a ball in play before Ramos’ single. Overall, Minnesota pitchers threw 47 pitches (29 balls, 18 strikes).
McNeil ended the 35-minute half-inning by striking out.
Asked what he was thinking during the inning, manager Mickey Callaway said: “Keep on taking. Don’t swing. No, I don’t think we even put one take sign on. I think we just did a great job of being patient.”
Said Conforto: “I think in that situation, you want to make really sure you’re getting your pitch in the spot that you want. Otherwise, we’re more than happy to take the walks and the runs.”
The Mets added three runs in the seventh (two more walks, 10 overall) on a two-run single by Conforto and a run-scoring single by McNeil to make it 9-1.
Callaway removed Cano and Alonso for pinch runners, but the Twins were not done yet.
Syndergaard (1-1) allowed one run and two hits over the first seven innings. He was removed in the eighth after the Twins scored twice with no outs.
Jeurys Familia entered and allowed two inherited runners to score as the Twins pulled to within 9-5. Syndergaard’s final line was seven-plus innings, five hits, four runs, no walks and seven strikeouts.
Oswalt recalled. Before the game, the Mets recalled righthander Corey Oswalt from Triple-A Syracuse and sent down righthander Tim Peterson.