At the seventh inning stretch, Syracuse was up 9-8, but there was a sense among the home crowd that this one was going to slip away from the Mets, given recent bullpen struggles. However, the offense responded by posting a six spot in the bottom of the inning, leading to the 15-8 win over Charlotte.
The rally began with a scary sight, though. To lead off the inning, left fielder Tim Tebow was hit in the face with a 2-2 pitch from Caleb Frare. Unphased, Tebow lifted himself up and jogged to first base. Manager Tony DeFrancesco said that the pitch hit the extension of the helmet that covers Tebow’s jaw, according to Syracuse.com’s Lindsay Kramer.
After Brandon Nimmo followed that up with a walk, Travis Taijeron doubled to left field, allowing Tebow to score and Nimmo to reach third. An at bat later — still with no outs, — Danny Espinosa hit his 10th homer of the season, putting the Mets (31-33) ahead, 13-8.
They weren’t done. Later in the inning, catcher Rene Rivera hit one over the fence in right-center field, bringing Aaron Athlerr — who walked and then stole second — home and stretching his team’s lead.
The scoreboard doesn’t completely measure how important this game was for Syracuse, both as a team and as an organization. Nimmo made his Syracuse debut and continued his recovery, as did Robinson Cano and Justin Wilson.
Cano had an eventful debut. The second baseman had some flashy plays in the field and went 3-for-3 on Tuesday, recording an RBI and scoring a run, and DeFrancesco was encouraged by his performance.
“He was on base the whole time, a couple doubles and a single. He played some good defense,” DeFrancesco said of Cano, per Kramer. “Our job here is to get him ready and hopefully go up there and help the Mets finish strong here in the second half.”
Wilson, who is getting over an elbow injury, pitched one inning, struck out two and allowed one hit. DeFrancesco said his workload will gradually increase in an effort to avoid further injury, per Kramer.
Early on, this didn’t look like it would be competitive. Within two innings, it was up 5-0 and it looked like this would be a runaway, easy victory, but after the Knights cut it to 5-3 in the top of the fifth, things weren’t looking as bright.
Nonetheless, the Mets responded immediately, expanding their lead to 9-3 in the bottom of the inning. Soon after building the lead, Syracuse almost lost it, as it gave up five runs in the top of the sixth and allowed Charlotte to climb back into the contest.
The short-term plan for Cano, DeFrancesco said, is to keep him with Syracuse at least until the end of the week, per Kramer. Either way, the Mets can return to .500 if they sweep this series against Charlotte and can surpass the mark with a strong closing to the homestand this weekend.