Mets step up to help Seth Lugo get first save



Seth Lugo’s long-awaited first save of the season was aided by a crucial defensive play by a trio of teammates.

Lugo worked the final two innings of the Mets’ 3-2 win Tuesday over the Cubs, but he needed a perfect relay throw from the outfield for a key out at the plate in the ninth inning to preserve the multi-inning save.

Second baseman Luis Guillorme collected Kevin Pillar’s throw from right-center and made a one-hop toss to James McCann to nail pinch-runner Jake Marisnick at the plate for the second out of the ninth, before Lugo fanned Sergio Alcantara to seal the Mets’ fifth win in six games.

“Off the bat, I was thinking it was just a single, but I looked back and saw the outfielders kind of splitting up, so my only thought in the moment was ‘don’t back up third, back up home,’ ” Lugo said. “I was a little surprised to see [Cubs third base coach Willie Harris] send him.

“But those guys made a great relay. It was perfect. That was big-time for me. … Those guys are great. They’ve been playing outstanding defense all year and having those guys behind me just gives me all the confidence to execute pitches and throw it over the plate. It was a great relay and they executed it perfectly.”

New York Mets relief pitcher Seth Lugo (67) celebrates
Seth Lugo
Robert Sabo

The 31-year-old Lugo spent the first two months of the season on the injured list after undergoing surgery in February to remove bone spurs from his right elbow. Since allowing a run in his first game off the IL on June 2, Lugo has posted 4 ²/₃ scoreless innings over his past five appearances.

Lugo, who recorded two outs in Monday’s 5-2 win over Chicago, only was supposed to be available for one inning the following night. But he fanned two in a nine-pitch eighth inning and was sent back out for the ninth.

“That wasn’t the original plan. … He probably was only going to go one inning and potentially with [Trevor] May in the ninth,” Rojas said. “But then he gave us the nine-pitch inning. It turned into the two-inning save. Kudos to him. This guy wants to be there and wants to pitch.”

Even if Lugo needed assistance in the ninth, after Marisnick laced a one-out single. Pinch-hitter Eric Sogard’s liner to the gap in right-center was cut off by Pillar. He got the ball quickly to Guillorme, whose throw home arrived in plenty of time for McCann to apply the tag on the headfirst sliding Marisnick.

“I’m so proud, because cutoffs and relays, we do those in spring training. I’m just happy that the guys maintain the fundamentals … the way we practiced in camp,” Rojas said. “I am proud and the coaches are proud of these guys the way they carry on the fundamentals to make differences in games like this.”

Lugo walked the next batter, Jason Hayward, and needed 27 pitches to get through a laborious ninth, finishing off Alcantara with a 95 mph fastball.


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