Mazeika’s 2nd walkoff in 4 games lifts Mets over Orioles
NEW YORK (AP) — Caked in raw eggs, baby powder and whatever else teammates could find around the clubhouse, Patrick Mazeika posed for a photo commemorating his second career walkoff RBI.
“Hopefully part 3 ends with a hit,” he joked. “That would be a lot cooler.”
For now, he’ll have to settle for a major league record.
Mazeika became the first player since at least 1920 with multiple game-ending RBIs in his first four career games, delivering his second walkoff fielder’s choice grounder in five days to help the banged-up New York Mets rally past the Baltimore Orioles 3-2 on Tuesday night for their sixth straight win.
The 27-year-old third-string catcher still doesn’t have a big league hit, but he’s had plenty to celebrate. Not since RBIs became an official stat 101 years ago has anybody matched his feat, per Elias Sports — hits or no hits.
“He’s just showing how funny the game can be,” teammate Dominic Smith said.
Baltimore led 2-1 entering the ninth after John Means outdueled Marcus Stroman in his first start since throwing a no-hitter last week.
Mazeika pinch hit in the pitcher’s spot with two on and one out against closer César Valdez and hit a grounder to first baseman Trey Mancini, whose throw home was a little high and too late to nab speedy Jonathan Villar as the former Oriole got a quick jump off third.
Mazeika delivered a game-ending fielder’s choice in the 10th inning of a 5-4 win against Arizona on Friday — measured at 57.1 mph off the bat — in his second career appearance, then had a go-ahead, bases-loaded walk as a pinch-hitter in the sixth inning Sunday.
Tuesday’s dribbler — accomplished with an awkward, lunging swing — clocked at 64.9 mph off the bat.
“It got the job done,” the bearded backstop said.
The inning started with an apparent tying homer from Kevin Pillar that was overruled after an umpire meeting. Pillar hit Valdez’s second pitch over the wall in the left-field corner, and third base umpire Roberto Ortiz signaled fair, drawing immediate disagreement from the Orioles.
The umpire crew convened in the middle of the field and signaled foul ball after Pillar had finished rounding the bases. He returned from the dugout to continue his at-bat and ended up with a single, which was followed by Villar’s single and a tying hit from Smith, who entered an inning earlier.
“We’re a relentless group, and we’re very hungry,” Smith said.
Valdez (2-1) blew his third save in 11 chances. Jeurys Familia (1-0) dodged trouble in the eighth and got the win.
Jeff McNeil spoiled Means’ bid for a second straight no-hitter by leading off the first inning with a sharp single, but the Mets second baseman was lifted two innings later with cramping in his legs. The Mets also lost Albert Almora Jr. in the eighth after the center fielder crashed viciously into the outfield wall trying to catch Austin Hays’ long fly.
That came hours after New York placed ace Jacob deGrom on the 10-day injured list with right side tightness. Lineup regulars Brandon Nimmo and J.D. Davis are also on the IL.
“The mentality and the confidence of this group has not wavered one bit,” Stroman said.
Almora had Hays’ drive in his mitt until he slammed face-first into the wall — the Mets unsuccessfully challenged that it was a catch — and Hays ended up with a triple. He later scored on Freddy Galvis’ two-out bunt single for a 2-0 Baltimore lead.
Michael Conforto made it 2-1 with an RBI single off Tanner Scott in the eighth, but Pete Alonso grounded into an inning-ending double play.
Means had five days of rest after no-hitting Seattle last week, when he threw a career-high 113 pitches in what was also his first complete game. He got a lighter workload Tuesday, throwing just 74 pitches over six innings with six hits allowed and three strikeouts.
He admitted exhaling a touch after McNeil’s leadoff hit.
“You almost take a sigh of relief that you don’t have to think about it anymore and you can go back to pitching,” Means said.
Orioles manager Brandon Hyde said he wanted to limit the 28-year-old, a strategy made easier when Means’ spot in the order came up with the bases loaded and one out in the seventh.
Pinch-hitter Pat Valaika delivered a sacrifice fly that broke a scoreless tie.
Stroman was charged with one run in 6 1/3 innings, lowering his ERA to 2.01. He allowed four hits and two walks while striking out five, cruising into the seventh before loading the bases on two hits and an intentional walk.
McNeil lined another hit in the third but pulled up midway between first and second as he went for a double — he would have been out by several steps even with a full effort. He appeared only in minor discomfort but was replaced at second base by José Peraza the next inning.
Rojas said the move was precautionary and McNeil will be re-evaluated Wednesday but should be fine.
Almora laid face-down on the warning track for more than a minute before picking himself up with the help of a trainer and walking off under his own power. Rojas said he was bleeding and checked for injuries in his neck and upper back. X-rays on Almora’s neck came back negative, but he’ll be evaluated further on Wednesday.
Former Mets ace Matt Harvey will face New York for the first time Wednesday since unceremoniously splitting with the team in a 2018 trade to Cincinnati. Harvey, now with the Orioles, returned to Citi Field with the Reds later that season but did not pitch.
Orioles: DJ Stewart (left hamstring strain) was held out of the starting lineup for a second straight day.
Mets: DeGrom exited his start Sunday with right side tightness. He’s already resumed playing catch, but New York isn’t sure if he’ll be ready to return when he’s eligible May 20. ... Nimmo (left index finger bone bruise) is ready to begin hitting off high-velocity machines and is closer to returning than Davis (sprained left hand). ... RHP Sean Reid-Foley was recalled from Triple-A Syracuse.
Harvey will pitch against Mets RHP Taijuan Walker (2-1, 2.38).
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