Mets honor Doc Gooden; Butto throws gem in win over Royals

The Mets honored one of the best pitchers to ever throw a ball in orange and blue Sunday at Citi Field. Right-hander Jose Butto then followed that up with a performance that would make Dwight Gooden proud.

Butto dueled Kansas City Royals left-hander Cole Ragans for six scoreless innings in his second Major League start of the season. Neither pitcher would factor into the decision once the Mets finally pushed a run across the plate in the bottom of the eighth, but Butto’s Mets won the tilt, defeating the Royals 2-1 and taking their second-straight series.

After being called up earlier in the day to take Julio Teheran‘s spot in the rotation, Butto allowed only two hits, one walk and he struck out nine.

“He can pitch,” said manager Carlos Mendoza. “Today, he was in complete control, in my opinion, because he attacked hitters but then when he got behind in the count, he was able to pitch backwards. So he found pitches to get back in counts.”

It was a fantastic start for a pitcher looking to finally crack the big league rotation. Butto looked to be slotted into the rotation after a strong September last fall, but right-hander Tylor Megill beat him out in a spring training camp battle to claim the final rotation spot. But with Megill and Kodai Senga injured, Butto will be in the rotation moving forward.

“After I came back to Syracuse [this spring], I kept working there,” Butto said, doing his first press conference in English. “Throwing bullpens, learning in the lab, I watched video of what I did good and what I did bad. I feel really good.”

Ragans was equally fantastic, allowing five hits and a walk over six innings and striking out eight. The Mets (7-8) had traffic on the bases only twice while he was on the mound, putting two on in the fifth and sixth.

Butto didn’t give the Royals much to work with. Salvador Perez doubled before leaving the game after getting injured in a plate collision and Bobby Witt Jr. doubled in the sixth. Adam Ottavino and Brooks Raley (1-0) shut the Royals (10-6) down with scoreless seventh and eighth innings.

Once the Mets got to the Kansas City bullpen their offensive prospects improved. They loaded the bases on right-hander John Schreiber in the seventh. Francisco Lindor popped one up in front of the dugout and first baseman Vinnie Pasquantino made the snare to strand the bases loaded, but they made Chris Stratton (1-1) pay in the bottom of the eighth.

Pete Alonso walked to lead off the inning and was advanced on a sacrifice bunt by Tyrone Taylor. With two out, Stratton walked Jeff McNeil and Brett Baty to load the bases. Harrison Bader, who one inning early had thrown his bat after an out in frustration, chopped a single to the third base side and Maikel Garcia couldn’t make a play on it. Alonso came home to break the tie.

“That was obviously not the most conventional way of scoring in RBI, but it did get the job done,” Bader said. “I think because of the adjustments of just thinking small I was able to put the ball in play there.”

Stratton then walked Brandon Nimmo to bring in another run.

Edwin Diaz gave up a homer to Pasquantino in the ninth, but wouldn’t allow any other damage. The closer converted his third save of the season.

Gooden’s number was retired in an on-field ceremony before the game began. It was a fitting end to a day that was a tribute to elite pitching.

“To see him get his flowers, if you will, it gives all of us chills,” Bader said. “Regardless of when we play this game, we all share that one connection.”

Mendoza made sure his team was on the field to watch the ceremony and see the crowd reaction. The manager himself sat on the field with the Gooden family, his former teammates and owners Steve and Alex Cohen. It was an impactful day for the entire organization, but for the members of the current Mets, it was a reminder of that connection that Bader mentioned that exists between ballplayers of every generation.

“This guy was special,” Mendoza said. “They’re hard to come by here. We’re celebrating that special day for the New York Mets and Doc Gooden.”


J.D. Martinez (lower back soreness) will be able to start swinging a bat Monday, but he won’t play in minor league games for a few days. Martinez will work in the cages and take swings off a tee.


Butto was called up along with right-hander Grant Hartwig from Triple-A Syracuse. The Mets optioned right-hander Cole Sulser and left-hander Tyler Jay in corresponding transactions. Sulser and Jay pitched Saturday, so they would have been down for a few days. Hartwig gives the Mets a fresh arm in the bullpen.