MLB: Mets’ bullpen set to build on momentum vs. Pirates

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The New York Mets wasted no time deploying Edwin Diaz in his return to the bullpen.

The hard-throwing closer helped the Mets snap a three-game losing streak and even their four-game road series against the Pittsburgh Pirates at a win apiece entering the matinee Sunday.

Diaz returned on Saturday after serving a 10-game suspension for violating MLB’s policy on foreign substances and pitched a scoreless ninth inning for his eighth save in New York’s 5-2 victory.

After hitting Oneil Cruz to start the inning, Diaz struck out Rowdy Tellez and induced a game-ending double play from Andrew McCutchen to secure his first save since June 18.

“I felt really good,” Díaz said. “I was ready. I was a little bit anxious about the first hitter after I hit (Cruz). I settled down and just tried to make pitches.”

The Mets’ win Saturday came after Pittsburgh tied a franchise record with seven home runs in its 14-2 rout Friday.

Bryan Reynolds is 9-for-21 (.429) over his past five games for the Pirates, who went 0-for-4 with runners in scoring position on Saturday.

“We had opportunities to score,” Pittsburgh manager Derek Shelton said. “We had the two bases-loaded situations and weren’t able to capitalize on it. So yeah, that’s frustrating because we had an opportunity to break the game open and we just didn’t get the big hit.”

Luis Torrens had three hits and three RBIs on Saturday for New York.

The Mets’ bullpen struggled during Diaz’s suspension, but relievers Jose Butto, Reed Garrett and Dedniel Nunez combined for 3 2/3 scoreless innings on Saturday before Diaz took over in the ninth.

“Obviously it’s a totally different ballgame when you know you have Edwin Diaz ready to go in the ninth,” New York manager Carlos Mendoza said. “I was able to be more aggressive making the decision to get the starter out of the game … it was a great job by the bullpen today.”

The Mets will send left-hander Sean Manaea (5-3, 3.67 ERA) to the mound on Sunday. He allowed two runs (one earned) over a season-high seven innings in a no-decision against the Washington Nationals on Tuesday.

Manaea, 32, has given up five earned runs across 22 2/3 innings over his past four starts.

McCutchen is 1-for-9 against Manaea, who is 0-1 with a 3.93 ERA in four games (two starts) versus the Pirates.

Right-hander Luis Ortiz (4-2, 3.27) will start for Pittsburgh. The 25-year-old has been serving primarily as a multi-inning reliever this season, although he pitched six innings in his lone start on June 26 against the Cincinnati Reds.

Ortiz last worked on Tuesday when threw 30 pitches against the St. Louis Cardinals, allowing one run over two innings.

“He did a good job,” Shelton said. “I know he gave up the one run. … Other than that, he’s been throwing the ball well and he threw it well again.”

Ortiz is making his second career appearance against the Mets. He gave up three runs over 1 2/3 innings versus New York on April 16.

–Field Level Media

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