It was a happy fourth of July for the St. Lucie Mets and their fans as the Mets won their third in a row Wednesday by the score of 3-2 over the Bradenton Marauders (Pirates affiliate).
It was the start of a five game home stand and Anthony Kay was making his first start since his promotion from the Columbia Fireflies. The 2016 first round draft pick did not disappoint as he pitched into the 8th inning, showcasing a 91-94 MPH fastball, a mid 80s changeup and mid 70 curveball to keep the Marauders batters off balance most of the night. He appeared to run out of gas in the eighth pushing close to 100 pitches before being removed in what was an overall solid start for Kay at the Class High A Level.
In the top of the first inning Kay struck out the first batter he faced at the new level on an 86 MPH changeup. He then struck out the second batter on a 92 MPH fastball, both swinging strikeouts, and then the final batter of the inning flew out to center field.
The top of the second started with a really solid catch by third baseman Michael Paz into the bullpen area making the basket grab on the pop out. The next two batters flew out the center field and grounded out to first base for Kay’s second perfect inning to start the night.
Mets went in order as well bottom of the second with Paez flying out to center field, Wuilmer Becerra flew out to right field Dash Winningham (who had a lot of hard hit balls on the night) grounded out to second base to keep the game tied at zero.
Kay started the top of the third with his third strike out of the night, again swinging and again on his changeup which was close to unhittable the first few innings of the game. That was followed by fly out to left field and weak grounder back to Kay who made the play and the put out.
Kay made it four perfect innings in the top of the fourth, inducing a pop out to right field and back-to-back ground outs to Gimenez at shortstop to keep the game scoreless.
Mets then got on the board first in the bottom of the fourth starting with a Cone single between the shortstop and third baseman, followed by a sac bunt from Gimenez to get Mets their first run in scoring position. After a Lindsay strikeout swinging it was Michael Paez who hit a long drive to left field, a one hopper off the wall scoring Cone to put the Mets ahead 1-0. After an infield single by Becerra it was Dash Winningham who lined a hard shot opposite field into left center to score Paez to make it 2-0. Sanchez then ended the inning with a groundout to third.
The Marauders then immediate proceeded to get the runs right back in the top of the fifth off Kay. After a pop out to Rizzie behind the plate Kay then walked the next batter followed by a bloop single dumped into left field. A single into center field then made it 2-1 Mets with a heads up play by Rizzie on a throw home to then fire it to second to get the out on runner trying to advance on his single. It was the third hit of the inning into right field that tied it up 2-2 before Anthony, becoming well known for this, picked off the runner at first to end the inning.
In the bottom of the fifth, the Mets managed to load the bases on a Rizzie hot shot single to left, a Carpio fly out to left followed by a Cone walk and Gimenez reaching base on an infield single initially scored an error on the second baseman. Lindsay then killed the rally by grounding into a double play.
With Kay appearing to go more exclusively to a fastball curveball combo throughout the top of the sixth, he allowed a single to the leadoff hitter, followed by fly out to left field and then Dan Rizzie threw out an attempted base stealer for the second out. The next hitter reached on a single to center field but then Anthony Kay did it again. Kay picked off his second runner of the night at first to end the inning.
Mets were again quiet in the bottom of the sixth with Paez grounding out the short, Becerra also to shortstop and then Dash lined out to center field.
Anthony Kay continued more of a fastball curveball assortment of pitches, with I believe one change up in the top of the seventh in a perfect inning. Kay induced a ground out the short, a groundout to second and strikeout swinging on his curveball. Video below of the swinging strikeout.
In the bottom of the seventh, Ali Sanchez screamed a liner down the third base line for a leadoff double. Rizzie appeared to be bunting more for a sacrifice but the infield of the Marauders botched the play going slow to the ball and allowed Rizzie to reach on an infield single allowing Sanchez to make it to third base. But then Carpio grounded out hard to third base and Sanchez was caught having to keep running towards home where he was thrown out at the plate. It was then Cone, a solid night all around, who brought the go-ahead and eventual winning run home on a big ground-rule double to give Mets a 3-2 lead. Video below.
Gimenez then grounded out to first baseman who threw out Carpio at the plate followed by a Lindsay strikeout looking to end the inning.
In a somewhat surprise move by the coaches, Anthony Kay took the mound again in the top of the 8th already pushing a pitch count in the upper 80s. While still topping 94 MPH on his fastball and using his changeup and curveball Kay gave up a lined single to right field. He induced a groundout to first where Dash tagged the runner coming towards him for the first out. Then, with his pitch count over 90 Kay allowed a walk and a single to load the bases before finally being removed on his 99th pitch.
It was all eyes on reliever Austin McGeorge who incredibly kept his cool and induced a pop out to the first batter he faced to Gimenez at shortstop and struck out the next to keep the Mets ahead 3-2.
Mets went down quickly bottom of the eigth with Paez flying out the centerfield, followed by Becerra and Dash ground outs.
McGeorge back out there for the ninth where he completed the five out save with a groundout to short, a pop out to short, a single past a diving Carpio and a game-ending swinging strikeout to win it for the Mets. A win for Kay in his St. Lucie debut and on came the fireworks.
Gene Cone LF: 2-for-3, R, double (go ahead eventual game winner) RBI, BB now hitting .247
Andres Gimenez SS: 1-for-3 with a stolen base (24) now hitting .261
Michael Paez 3B: 1-for-4, double, R, RBI now hitting .254
Dash Winningham 1B: 1-for-4, RBI now hitting .234
Ali Sanchez DH: 1-for-3, double now hitting .333
Dan Rizzie C: 2-for-3, R now hitting . 239
LHP Anthony Kay 7.1 IP, 7 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 4 K, ERA at 2.45
RHP Austin McGeorge 1.2 IP, H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 2 K, his ERA now 1.42
I came away really impressed with Anthony Kay tonight. Appeared to have a rising fastball in the early going matched with an unhittable changeup and a knack for picking off runners at first. He switched to his curveball in the middle innings which also showed swing and miss stuff at times during the night. He was able to maintain his velocity into the eighth inning topping 94 MPH before he was removed on his 99th pitch of the night.
Dash Winningham continues to make hard contact recently and he is doing it more to opposite field now. Something to keep an eye on going forward.
Was my first look at Ali Sanchez who showed a good level swing and his screaming double down the line was nice to see.
Gimenez continues to be solid defensively, good speed on the bases and is becoming a tougher out with less strikeouts than beginning of the year.
Michael Paez continues to show steady glove at third and his pop with the bat showed again tonight.
Desmond Lindsay at times continues to show a good eye at plate working counts and an ability to barrel up on balls but still not putting it together up there at the plate.
And as always thank you for allowing me to write up some recaps of my beloved Lucie squad when I can make it to games. Was great being there with my wife and daughter. Also great meeting the family of player Anthony Dimino. Shout out Allie and shout out mama Dimino!