Rays rock Mets' Jose Quintana en route to 10-8 victory

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Starting pitching remains a struggle for the Mets.

Left-hander Jose Quintana pitched an eight-inning gem his last time out and followed it up with his worst performance in years Friday night in a 10-8 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field.

Quintana (1-2) allowed eight earned runs for the first time since June 22, 2019. Oddly enough, it was the Mets who took eight runs off the veteran southpaw when he was a member of the Chicago Cubs. This time around, he erased a 3-0 lead the Mets handed him after the second inning and put them in an 8-3 hole.

Brett Baty put the Mets up, 3-0, in the top of the second when he took an 0-1 sinker from right-hander Aaron Civale and hit it so high to the right side that outfielder Harold Ramirez lost it in the domed ceiling. It eventually dropped well behind Ramirez into the seats for a home run, his second of the season.

But the Rays quickly erased that lead and tied the game in the bottom of the inning. Quintana gave up a single and a double before getting two outs, but then two straight singles extended the inning.

In the third, the Rays hit everything. They scored five runs on five hits and batted around, with Dedniel Nuñez coming in with two outs to stop the bleeding. The total damage was eight earned runs on 10 hits and one walk in 2 2/3 innings.

The Mets’ bats tried to pick him up and nearly did. With Tampa Bay up, 9-3, in the fifth, Tyrone Taylor scored on a sacrifice fly and Francisco Lindor had a repeat performance of Thursday with a two-run double to bring the Mets to within three runs of tying.

Facing the Cubs at home one day prior, Lindor came off the bench to hit two doubles to drive in four runs and help the Mets overcome a poor pitching performance by right-hander Adrian Houser and walk off with the win.

This double knocked Civale out the game. Pete Alonso doubled to left field against right-hander Shawn Armstrong (1-1), making the score 9-7.

Baty went 3 for 4 with two home runs, taking right-hander Jason Adam deep in the ninth for the first multi-homer game of his big league career. Taylor went 2 for 4 and Alonso, Lindor and Starling Marte drove in a combined four runs. But the Mets aren’t going to be able to out-hit bad pitching every night.

Quintana’s ERA jumped from 3.48 to 5.20 with this outing and there is no getting around the fact that the 35-year-old looks like a different pitcher this season. Even before he took the mound Friday his expected ERA was 6.00 and his expected opponent average was .318.

The Mets nearly tied it in the ninth. Baty’s home run brought the Mets back to within two runs and Brandon Nimmo doubled to put the tying run on second. Adam (two saves) struck out Marte to end the game.