Mets’ bullpen does it all in ‘really special’ performance

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Tuesday marked the first day the Mets had to come up with a substitution for a Jacob deGrom start.

Seven relievers combined to get the job done — including one with the bat.

The injury-plagued Mets turned to their bullpen for a makeshift outing and it delivered in a 4-3 win over the Braves at Truist Park in Atlanta.

In a game started by Miguel Castro, followed by Tommy Hunter — who recorded his first career hit and even came around to score — and eventually finished by Edwin Diaz, the Mets bullpen scattered just five hits over nine innings while striking out 15 to keep the Braves in check.

“It was really special,” said Diaz, who pitched a third consecutive day for the first time this season. “Everyone did their job.”

While deGrom went on the injured list on May 11, the Mets were able to use a pair off days last week to have Marcus Stroman and Taijuan Walker come back on normal rest before they needed a fifth starter again. But that included using a bullpen day Saturday and another heavy day Monday when Walker exited after three innings with an injury.

Miguel Castro
Miguel Castro

Castro started it off Tuesday and mowed down the Braves’ challenging top of the order on 11 pitches.

Hunter came on to start the second and tossed two hitless innings. He also helped himself out with the bat, recording his first career hit with a single in the third inning and coming around to score on Jonathan Villar’s home run.

“That’s the coolest thing I’ve ever done in the big leagues,” a giddy Hunter said. “I mean, I got a knock in the show. … I needed this. … I was rounding second base and I was [yelling], ‘Send him!’ It was a home run. I was calling my own game out there. That was fun.”

Hunter said his wife sent him a video of his son watching the hit.

“I don’t even think my son thinks I’m a real baseball player ’cause I don’t get to hit,” said Hunter, adding that his last hit came in 2005 in high school. “He got to see it tonight.”

Though they each gave up a solo home run, Robert Gsellman (two innings) and Trevor May (one) combined to throw the next three frames before handing it over to Aaron Loup for a scoreless seventh. Loup faced the first batter of the eighth inning, which came around to score with two outs against Jeurys Familia, but Tomas Nido’s ninth-inning homer set Diaz up for the save in the ninth.

“Those are the fun ones to catch,” Nido said, “when it’s a grind out there and you gotta really work through all these guys.”

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