Jason Vargas aptly proclaimed it the “Day of the Catcher.’’
Those used to be pretty common for the Mets in the 1980s, when they had Gary Carter, and in the ’90s, when Mike Piazza was back there. But Saturday afternoon’s 5-4, 13-inning win over the Tigers had a different sort of flavor.
There was Wilson Ramos, who hit two home runs and drove in four runs but was out of the game before the mob at home plate in the end. Then there was the unlikely hero: Tomas Nido, who hit a solo home run off Buck Farmer to send everyone home. It was the first walk-off hit of his professional career and his first since high school, “but this topped it,” he said.
“We got all of our production from the catcher spot tonight,” Mickey Callaway said. “It’s like Mike Piazza back there or something. It’s great.”
For a while, though, it seemed as if no one wanted to win this one all that much. The Mets squandered a bases-loaded, one-out situation in the 11th. The Tigers, now 11 games under .500, did the same thing in the 12th.
For eight innings, Ramos was the only Met with a hit, though he sure did make them count. He homered to left in the second, had an RBI single in the fourth and hit a two-run homer to the opposite field off reliever Nick Ramirez in the sixth to give the Mets a 4-3 lead. That made it 13 RBIs for Ramos in his last 13 games.
In his first start in 20 days, Vargas, returning from a hamstring injury, made his batterymate’s contributions stand up. Facing a limited pitch count, he allowed only one run — on a first-inning sacrifice fly — five hits and three walks in five innings, striking out three.
“I feel like the real story of the day was the ‘Day of the Catcher,’ ” he said. “It was nice to just keep us in the ballgame and let them do the work.”
But Tyler Bashlor gave up a two-run homer to Brandon Dixon in the sixth, his first as a pinch hitter, to put the Tigers ahead 3-2. Then it was Ramos’ turn again.
The Tigers tied it in the eighth. Robert Gsellman allowed a one-out double by Josh Harrison, and with two outs, Callaway went to Edwin Diaz, who recently was taken off his three-out restriction. JaCoby Jones’ soft single tied it.
It was Diaz’s first blown save since Aug. 20, 2018, a span of 22 straight converted, and he was lifted after getting only that last out in the eighth.
The teams then traded inefficient blows for another four innings. Ramos walked in the 11th and was lifted for pinch runner Steven Matz before Daniel Stumpf allowed back-to-back one-out singles to load the bases. Aaron Altherr struck out, though, and Adeiny Hechavarria grounded out.
In the 12th, winning pitcher Hector Santiago loaded the bases with one out on a single and two walks before wriggling out of trouble.
That set the stage for Nido.
“It’s an incredible feeling,” he said. “It’s good to help the team win. It was a pretty long day so far, so I was just trying to send us home . . . Crazy thing was, that’s probably the last thing I was thinking, hitting a home run there. I just wanted to hit the ball hard, get something going, get someone on base, make something happen. It’s a dream come true.”