The Mets' modest three-game winning streak came to an end on Memorial Day as they dropped their first of three games against the rival Philadelphia Phillies. By the time the game was over, a little bit of everything had gone wrong for the Mets.
The game began with some shoddy defense. Jon Niese actually looked pretty good in the first inning, striking out of two of the first three batters he faced. Sandwiched in between the strikeouts, however, was an error by Daniel Murphy that allowed Placido Polanco to reach first base. With two outs and just Polanco on first, Niese got a ground ball to third off the bat off Shane Victorino, but David Wright's throw to second base tipped off Murphy's glove. Polanco advanced to third, and the inning continued. Wright was charged with an error for the poor throw, but Murphy didn't look so great on the receiving end, either. After Niese issued his first walk of the afternoon to load the bases, John Mayberry flied out to end the inning.
Neither the Mets nor Phillies had a baserunner until there were two outs in the top of third inning. After retiring Jimmy Rollins and Polanco, Niese walked Hunter Pence and Shane Victorino. Ty Wigginton then doubled into the right-center field gap, and both runners scored easily. Mayberry hit a soft line drive up the middle, but Daniel Murphy made a diving catch to get the Mets out of the third.
In the bottom of the third, things got weird. Rob Johson got the Mets' first hit of the afternoon with one out, and Niese put down a sacrifice bunt to advance Johnson to second. Justin Turner, who was inexplicably hitting leadoff despite his .310 OBP this year, followed with a hard single to right. Johnson took a big turn at third base but was stopped halfway down the line. The throw from Pence in right field came to the plate, and Brian Schneider caught Turner well off first base.
In a pickle, Turner ultimately attempted to get back to first base but rolled his ankle on the bag just after he was tagged out to end the inning. He immediately hit the ground in pain and had to be helped off the field, but reports from the Mets indicate that x-rays on his ankle were negative. The Mets made a slew of defensive changes as a result of Turner's injury, the most notable of which was David Wright's move to shortstop.
Lucas Duda drew a walk to start the bottom of the fifth inning, and Vinny Rottino lined a home run off the black part of the fence in left field to tie the game. It was the journeyman's second home in as many days.
Niese was left in the game for the sixth inning despite laboring to get through the first five, and the move didn't work out. He walked Wigginton to begin the inning – his fifth walk of the game – and served up a two-run home run to Mayberry. Terry Collins gave him the hook after the dinger, and Ramon Ramirez set down each of the three batters he faced.
The Mets again tied the game in the bottom of the sixth. Kirk Nieuwenhuis, who had entered the game after Turner's injury, singled, and two outs later, Scott Hairston homered to knot the game at four.
It was all Phillies from there. Bobby Parnell came in to pitch the seventh and allowed a go-ahead run on a single by Wigginton. Parnell threw six pitches to Wigginton, and according to Brooks Baseball, all six were four-seam fastballs. Perhaps the results would have been better if just one of the six pitches were something else.
Jon Rauch threw a scoreless eighth to keep the deficit at one, and Andres Torres hit a pinch-hit double to start the bottom of the inning. Kirk Nieuwenhuis attempted to bunt Torres over to third, an awful move given the situation at the time. He instead grounded out weakly to second base and achieved the same result as his attempted bunt as Torres advanced to third. Murphy and Wright each hit a weak groundball out, too, and the Mets' last real threat to win the game was extinguished.
Manny Acosta came on for the ninth inning, and he quickly obliterated any chance the Mets had at coming back for a third time in the game. He gave up a couple of singles, notched a strikeout, and then allowed a three-run home run to Wigginton. The Phillies were ahead 8-to-4, and Jonathan Papelbon retired the Mets in order in the bottom of the ninth.
- Niese wasn't sharp, but he also didn't get any help from the home plate umpire. At least a few of Niese's pitches that appeared to be strikes were called balls. The strikeouts were there for Niese today, but his control has been a problem this season and wasn't there today. A few calls should have gone his way, but it's not fair to place all of the blame on the ump.
- Terry Collins made a couple of head-scratching moves today: Turner in the leadoff spot, Niese starting the sixth inning, and the bunt attempt by Nieuwenhuis in the eighth, assuming it was called for by Collins.
- Acosta's days – maybe even hours – with the team are probably numbered.
SB Nation Coverage
* Traditional Recap
* Amazin' Avenue Gamethread
* The Good Phight Gamethread
Win Probability Added
Big winners: Scott Hairston, +26.4% WPA, Andres Torres, +17.5% WPA
Big losers: Jon Niese, -30.4% WPA, David Wright, -25.9% WPA, Daniel Murphy, -19.6% WPA
Teh aw3s0mest play: Scott Hairston's two-run bomb in the sixth, +30.9% WPA
Teh sux0rest play: John Mayberry's two-run homer int he sixth, -23.8% WPA
Total pitcher WPA: -51.0% WPA
Total batter WPA: +1.0% WPA
GWRBI!: Ty Wigginton