If there was ever a game the Mets needed, it was on Wednesday afternoon when they took the rubber game from the Reds by a score of 7-0.
The Mets' overworked bullpen got a much-needed rest today when one of the team's three healthy starting pitchers took the hill.
Marcus Stroman, who has tapered off a bit as of late after a strong start to the season, threw his best outing of the year. The right-hander allowed just one hit across eight scoreless innings, to go along with seven strikeouts on 90 pitches.
Stroman finished his day by retiring 18-of-19 Reds hitters.
Despite not using his slider much in his last few outings, Stroman had a great feel for this pitch today, producing four of his seven strikeouts with it.
After the game, manager Luis Rojas revealed that Stroman and pitching coach Jeremy Hefner got together to make some mechanical adjustments in between starts, which involved the right-hander keeping his hands closer to his body.
According to Stroman, he also fixed his finger grip on his slider, which he was able to pair with his sinker, to make him feel really good on the mound.
"You never stop learning till the day you die," said Stroman. "I'm always trying to adapt. It's always good to see those changes pay off and it gives you confidence."
With the Mets' pitching staffed suffering a slew of injuries, which has led to an overworked bullpen, Stroman admitted that this was his favorite outing of the season due to his ability to step up for the team.
"Probably today given the circumstances we've been through and that I could give the bullpen a rest," he said.
Reliever Jeurys Familia played the role of cleanup duty with a 1-2-3 inning in the ninth, where he struck out the side to secure Stroman's seventh win.
"He's one of our aces...This guy is just nasty and he doesn't care where he pitches (in any park)," said Rojas of Stroman, who was pitching in a hitter's park at Great American Ballpark.
"Highly important," said Rojas on Stroman's big performance. "Stroman's been outstanding this season and has kept us in a lot of games. His record doesn't show, but it's there in the ERA."
Stroman's ERA on the season is now down to 2.59.
As for the offense, Jonathan Villar, Dom Smith and Luis Guillorme provided the thunder in this one with three homers and seven RBIs.
Villar's solo shot annihilated a poor fan's phone in the right field seats.
And Smith cracked an opposite field grand slam off Reds starter Jeff Hoffman to bust the game open at 5-0 in the top of the third.
Luis Guillorme continued his hot hitting with his first long ball of the season and second one of his career, for a two-run shot that extended the Mets' lead to 7-0.
"It's amazing, all of the bats are coming around now with the pitching we have," said Guillorme, who was sporting the team's championship belt for the best offensive performance of the day. "It's so much easier for them to go out there."
Smith, who shared the zoom room with Guillorme, expressed his excitement in the offense's recent success as well.
"We knew eventually we'd break out," said Smith. "(The pitching staff) has picked us up all year, and it feels good to do it for these guys."
"We believe in this lineup," said Smith. "We don't care what the numbers say, we know we can do damage."
Rojas also had a similar sentiment on his offense that is finally starting to come around.
"We talked about this offense that it was going to click, and for us, it's clicking right now," said Rojas.
"Different guys in the hitters meetings have been standing up and saying something on who we are as a team offensively," he added. "These guys are going to hit, they believe in each other and it's working right now."
Rojas went on to confirm that this recent stretch has been the best he has seen his offense look all year.
The Mets have scored 35 runs in their last five games and are now averaging 6.67 runs per game after the All-Star break, which is good for 6th best in the MLB. They finished up their six-game road trip with a 3-3 record, after starting out 0-2 in Pittsburgh.
They are 50-43 and get a well-deserved day off tomorrow, before heading back home to take on the Toronto Blue Jays in a three-game weekend series.
In other news, second baseman Jeff McNeil appeared to tweak his foot while running to first in the top of the seventh, and was lifted for precautionary reasons with his team up 7-0.
Luckily, Rojas said he was taken out of the game because he was fatigued after playing six straight days. Rojas says McNeil is not dealing with any soreness, despite appearing to favor his foot on the play.