NEW YORK – Another day, another unlikely hero.The fans who were still at Citi Field rose to their feet when they heard the crack of the bat. They roared when it landed on the other side of the wall in right-center field. Backup catcher Tómas Nido trotted around the bases and crossed home to meet his teammates for the inevitable celebration.The Mets won, 5-4, in 13 innings on Saturday. Nido’s bomb ended the 4-hour, 11-minute affair.“I hit it pretty good,” Nido said of the walk-off home run, which went 371 feet. “I didn’t think it was a no-doubter, but I felt the wind kind of pick up when I swung. I definitely thought it had a chance.”This was the first walk-off hit of Nido’s career. At first, he couldn’t recall hitting one at any level, but he then remembered he notched one in high school.
Mets backup catcher Tomás Nido talks about his walk-off home run. Justin Toscano, Staff Writer
“This,” he said, “topped it.”When he strolled to the plate, a homer was the last thing on Nido’s mind. He wanted to get on base and start something, anything. It had been a long day to that point.He completed a day in which the catchers carried the Mets.Before Nido entered the game in the bottom of the 11th, Ramos played savior for New York. He blasted two runs in what could mark a breakout game for a player who has not performed up to expectations. This marked the eighth multi-homer game of Ramos’ career, with the last coming on June 25, 2018.
On Saturday, Ramos hit a solo homer in the second inning before lacing an RBI single in the fourth. The latter was aided by Tigers starter Ryan Carpenter, who committed back-to-back balks to move a runner from first to third.His last act was a go-ahead, two-run home run in the sixth inning. After it landed in the seats, Ramos had the Mets’ only three hits and was responsible for all four of their runs.He finished 3-for-4 with four RBI. His only missed opportunity came in the eighth, when he grounded into a 5-4-3 double play with two men on in a tie game.“It’s high, my confidence right now at the plate,” Ramos said. “I feel great, getting good pitches to hit. Controlling my emotions.”The Mets have hoped for some pop out of Ramos’ bat. He entered the game slashing .257/.333/.347, which would stand as one of the worst offensive years of his career if the season ended Saturday. He didn’t hit his second home run until May 14 at Washington.
He has heated up since. From May 14 through Friday, he had batted .345 with eight RBI. He has three homers in the last two days.“Getting the barrel out,” Mets manager Mickey Callaway said of where Ramos has improved. “He and (hitting coach Chili Davis) have been working hard on really making sure he catches the ball in front of home plate. When he hits all those ground balls, he’s catching the ball deep and he’s not able to get underneath the ball and drive it.”What Ramos has shown lately, Callaway said, is why he’s the Mets’ starting catcher. They want production out of that spot and feel he can provide it. They’re hoping he can ride this wave of success.
Before Nido’s long ball, New York's biggest missed opportunity in extra innings came in the 11th. Ramos walked -- and Steven Matz ran for him -- and Dominic Smith singled. Todd Frazier, who has been booed lately, blooped a single into left to load the bases with one out. Aaron Altherr struck out, then Adeiny Hechavarria bounced out to the pitcher. The game continued. Then there was J.D. Davis' loud out to end the 12th. He cracked a fly ball that looked like it could carry out of the yard, but it was caught at the wall and the game continued. This could have been a deflating loss for the Mets. Without Seth Lugo, they are trying to piece together their bullpen based on who is available each night. Saturday tested them because their depth as they used six relievers.New York is also without multiple regulars. Jeff McNeil and Robinson Canó will miss much of the team’s West Coast trip. There is no timetable for Brandon Nimmo. The Mets don’t have a day off until June 4.
“We get tired in those long games,” Ramos said. “We forget about that when we win.”On Saturday, the Mets relied on their catchers – for offensive production.“It was like Mike Piazza back there or something,” Callaway joked.The marathon ended when Nido, who previously had one homer all season, smashed his second to join the line of unexpected contributors this week.“It’s a special group of guys and every day somebody is trying to step up and make something happen,” Nido said. “Trying to give us the best opportunity to win ballgames. I’m happy I was able to step up this time and I know tomorrow it will be somebody else.”
Jason Vargas 'tremendous' in returnJason Vargas, who has drawn criticism from Mets fans, pitched well.He lasted only five innings, but gave up just one earned run. His first start back from hamstring injury seems like a positive because he opened the game allowing two singles before the run, so it felt like it could have snowballed. He kept his composure, though. “He was great," Callaway said. "Exactly what you want Vargas to do. Make pitches on the corners, keep them off balance … Continue to make pitches down and away. Make them mishit the ball. Sneak a changeup underneath the zone for a swing and miss every now and again. He was tremendous."
The Tigers had traffic on the bases, but nothing materialized. Vargas never unfolded or imploded. He entered with a 5.92 ERA over six previous starts, but Saturday’s performance never became one to forget.Vargas ended at 81 pitches, which is in the 80-85 range Callaway pegged for him.“I felt like it went pretty well," Vargas said. "It was a more exciting game way past the fifth inning. I feel like the real story of the game was the day of the catchers. It was nice to just keep us in the ballgame and let them do the work."Vargas gave up four runs and only lasted an inning on April 9. He allowed four more in 1/3 of a frame in his next start. He doesn't feel like he's been out of rhythm, though. "Just some unfortunate, unfortunate things that went down in a couple consecutive outings," he said." As far as how I’ve felt since I got here in spring, it’s been pretty consistent. It’s just nice to be back in and contributing."