Diaz caps bullpen domination with save in Mets' victory over Padres (2024)

Amid the Mets’ modest hot streak, a theme: Their relievers are providing relief again.

The bullpen pitched four practically perfect innings to finish a 2-1 win over the Padres on Friday night, with Edwin Diaz, the unit’s emotional and statistical anchor, returning as the main event.

Diaz recorded his first save since May 6, threw the Mets’ first 100-mph pitch since 2022 and tossed a second scoreless inning in as many nights.

The closer is back. And the Mets have won three games in a row and nine of their past 13.

“It’s a whole different bullpen, honestly. It’s a different team,” said J.D. Martinez, whose two-run double in the fourth accounted for the Mets’ entire offensive output. “Having him like that, I keep saying it, he’s that anchor back in the pen. If we can just get him the ball and [let] him be him, it’s a lot of games we can win . . . If he comes back and does what he’s done the last couple of days, it’s going to be fun. It’s going to be a fun little run.”

Diaz’s effort capped another excellent night for the relief corps. After manager Carlos Mendoza pulled Sean Manaea (one run in five innings) following a leadoff single in the sixth, the Mets turned to Adam Ottavino (five outs), Jake Diekman (one) and Sean Reid-Foley (three) to set up the ninth. That trio and Diaz allowed one hit in four scoreless innings.

Until recently, the bullpen wasn’t so much leaky as it was downright gushing, a rotating cast of guys who had developed a collective ugly habit of blowing it. Diaz was ineffective and then injured, Ottavino wilted after early excellence, Brooks Raley was gone and almost nobody was stepping up.

But seemingly all of a sudden, Mets relievers have a 2.81 ERA in June, a top-third mark in MLB.

Compare that to May: 4.88, among the worst in baseball.

And April, when the Mets were decent: 2.85.

As the relievers go, so go the Mets. And lately, it is going pretty well.

“Guys have shuffled around roles a little bit,” said Ottavino, who appeared in the sixth inning for the first time in two years. “But nobody cares about that in our group.”

Manager Carlos Mendoza said: “They’re all feeling it.”

And Reid-Foley, after his rare late-and-close opportunity: “You can look at our whole bullpen; we can all pitch those innings. Mendy and [pitching coach Jeremy Hefner] trust all of us. At that point, it doesn’t matter what inning you’re in. It’s [about] handing it off to the next guy.”

Except, of course, in the case of Diaz. He takes the mound without the luxury of having somebody behind him.

The Mets (31-37) had afforded him a mere one-run lead. Martinez’s two-bagger was all they managed off rookie righthander Matt Waldron, who featured a knuckleball in his seven innings. San Diego (37-36) was sending the middle of its order to the plate.

After allowing a leadoff single and a stolen base, putting the potential tying run at second with none out, Diaz dialed in.

Manny Machado struck out looking. Donovan Solano sent a ground ball to the right side of the infield, but second baseman Jeff McNeil’s diving stop turned the would-be tying single — a sure single, in Diaz’s eyes — into the second out.

“After that, I said to myself, ‘We got the game. Let’s win the game,’ ” Diaz said.

That triggered a mound visit from catcher Francisco Alvarez, a commanding but calming presence behind the plate who was out injured during the May mess. He wanted to give Diaz a moment to gather himself.

“After two outs, he came to me and told me, ‘I trust you. If we walk this guy, let’s get the next guy. Just make your pitches and you will be fine,’ ” Diaz said.

Diaz’s second pitch to Jake Cronenworth, a ball well above the zone, was his first time touching triple digits since he suffered his knee injury in March 2023.

“My velocity is coming way easier,” he said of the two-week rest for his previously troublesome shoulder. “I feel great. I feel happy.”

Cronenworth struck out swinging at one of those signature Diaz down-and-in sliders to end it. “Our guy,” as Mendoza called Diaz, let out a loud scream to celebrate.

“For Edwin and for all of us, it’s a good feeling,” Mendoza said. “He’s back. And we’re going to need him.”

Diaz caps bullpen domination with save in Mets' victory over Padres (1)

By Tim Healey

timothy.healey@newsday.com

@timbhealey

Tim Healey is the Mets beat writer for Newsday. Born on Long Island and raised in Connecticut, Tim has previously worked for the South Florida Sun Sentinel, the Boston Globe and MLB.com. He is also the author of “Hometown Hardball,” a book about minor league baseball in the northeast.

Diaz caps bullpen domination with save in Mets' victory over Padres (2024)

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