NEW YORK -- Over the first eight innings Friday night at Citi Field, the Rays used six pitchers. The Mets used one: Major League ERA leader Jacob deGrom.
The six Rays matched one deGrom, but all that did was set things up for Jose Bautista to hit a ninth-inning walk-off grand slam off Chaz Roe to give the Mets a 5-1 win. Bautista's home run, surprisingly the first walk-off homer of his career, was just the sixth Mets hit in a game dominated by pitching.
"It was well-pitched by both teams," Rays manager Kevin Cash said. "We went about it a little differently."
They had to. The Mets had deGrom, who entered the night with a 1.84 ERA and managed to lower it to 1.79. The Rays had rookie Ryne Stanek as their opener, with a full bullpen behind him.
Stanek entered with a 1.42 ERA as an opener, but of course, that was over just 12 2/3 innings in nine games. He added two more scoreless innings Friday, lowering his opener ERA to 1.23.
When he was done for the night, though, the Rays still had seven innings to cover. They nearly got the job done.
Through eight innings, the six Rays pitchers had allowed just one unearned run, which scored off Ryan Yarbrough with the help of a Willy Adames error. Adames also accounted for the lone Rays run, a fifth-inning solo home run off deGrom.
"He's nasty," said Adames, who, like many other Rays, was seeing the Mets' ace for the first time. "Good stuff, good control. But we knew that."
They also knew about Bautista, who spent much of his career in the American League East with the Blue Jays and had 31 career home runs against the Rays. Now it's 32, and this one hurt.
"I was trying to get ahead early with a sinker, but it got too much of the plate," said Roe, who watched Bautista send the first-pitch sinker 418 feet over the left-field fence, according to Statcast™.
Roe was just as upset that he began the ninth by walking Todd Frazier to set up the Mets' game-winning rally. He also fell behind to Devin Mesoraco when the Mets catcher was trying to bunt, then watched Mesoraco single through the left side of the infield.
A bunt moved the runners to second and third, and after Roe got pinch-hitter Dominic Smith to bounce to the mound, Cash made the understandable decision to intentionally walk left-hander Brandon Nimmo to bring up Bautista.
It didn't work out, and the Rays didn't get any reward for all those pitchers matching up so well with deGrom.
"It's just unfortunate we couldn't find a way to score," Cash said. "We had an opportunity in the ninth, but we didn't get it done."
That ninth-inning opportunity came off Mets closer Jeurys Familia. The Rays loaded the bases with one out, but pinch-runner Hunter Wood was thrown out on a close play at the plate. Adames then struck out to end the inning.
The Rays wouldn't get another chance. Bautista saw to that.
Adames' home run was his third in 23 Major League games, but what is really impressive is that two of the three have come off Chris Sale (fourth in the American League in ERA) and deGrom (leading the Majors in ERA). Adames' other home run came off Sonny Gray.
"I just try to do my best," Adames said. "If I hit a home run off deGrom, I'll take it."
MITEL REPLAY OF THE DAY
The Rays hoped replay would get them a go-ahead run in the ninth inning, but instead the replay confirmed that pinch-runner Wood was out at the plate. The Rays loaded the bases with one out before Mallex Smith grounded to first baseman Wilmer Flores. Flores' throw home was high, but Mets catcher Mesoraco came down with the ball, and home-plate umpire Brian Knight called Wood out.
"I thought I was in there," said Wood, a relief pitcher who guessed his last slide may have been when he was in high school. "They must not have had enough camera angles to show it, but I thought I was in there."
Left-hander Blake Snell (11-4, 2.24 ERA), who has pitched through the seventh inning in each of his last three starts, will try to make it four wins in a row when he faces the Mets in a 4:10 p.m. ET game Saturday at Citi Field. Snell, who doesn't have a hit in 10 career plate appearances in the Major Leagues, will also get a chance to bat against Mets left-hander Steven Matz (4-5, 3.46 ERA).