Jay Bruce wasn’t even supposed to be here this year, but just over a week into the 2017 season, the Mets are probably very glad that he is. On Monday night in Philadelphia, he continued his excellent start to the season at the plate, hitting a solo home run early to get the Mets on the board and then hitting a mammoth two-run home run late to turn a tie game into a two-run Mets lead.
Jacob deGrom got the start for the Mets, his second of the year, and really had to work to get through the bottom of the first inning with just two runs allowed. He wasn’t sharp at that point, walking the first batter he faced, but a pair of bloop-ish singles, both of which landed in somewhat close proximity to Mets defenders, loaded the bases. A Michael Saunders single brought home one run, and deGrom walk Cameron Rupp to plate another.
With the game hinging upon whatever happened next, deGrom induced a 1-2-3 double play to end the inning, and he never really looked back from there. He wasn’t perfect the rest of the way, but he finished six innings, didn’t allow any more runs, and came out of the game with a 1.50 ERA through two starts.
The Mets hadn’t done a ton at the plate up to that point. Jose Reyes continued to flail, went 0-for-4 with a pair of strikeouts, and is now the owner of a .037/.071/.037 line. He probably didn’t completely lose his ability to hit, but it might be time for him to take a few days off—or at the very least spend some time much lower in the Mets’ batting order.
Bruce’s first home run came in the fourth and brought the Mets within one run. In the seventh, with Phillies starter Jerad Eickhoff still on the mound, they had a golden opportunity with runners on the corners and nobody out, thanks to Bruce drawing a walk and the Phillies turning a ground ball from Curtis Granderson into an error. But as great as that setup was, the Mets only scored one run on a Neil Walker sacrifice fly.
Things got weird in the bottom of that inning when, with runners on first and second with two outs and Jerry Blevins freshly into the game, Travis d’Arnaud stopped a bounced pitch that everybody in the park thought was going to get by him. Both runners were caught off their respective bases. d’Arnaud threw down to second, but Cabrera had to reach to save that throw from becoming errant. And then he got up and threw to first base, where the Mets got Howie Kendrick for the final out of the inning.
In the eighth inning, though, the Mets finally took the lead. With one out and nobody on, Phillies reliever Edubray Ramos threw over Asdrubal Cabrera’s head, and Cabrera understandably took exception to the pitch. It seemed completely random at the time, but Ramos was the pitcher who was on the mound when Cabrera hit his walk-off bat-flip home run late in the 2016 season.
That dumb attempt at retaliation—for something that shouldn’t be retaliated against in the first place—only helped the Mets. Ramos walked Cabrera on four pitches, and although he struck out Yoenis Cespedes, he served up that second home run to Bruce.
A somewhat rocky night for the Mets’ bullpen included Addison Reed giving up a leadoff home run to Brock Stossi in the ninth and allowing a one-out single to make things extra interesting. But he struck out Kendrick to end the game.
SB Nation GameThreads
Win Probability Added
Big winners: Jay Bruce, +54.8% WPA, Hansel Robles, +17.5% WPA, Curtis Granderson, +12.4% WPA
Big losers: Travis d’Arnaud, -19.0% WPA, Yoenis Cespedes, -13.5% WPA, Jose Reyes, -12.2% WPA
Teh aw3s0mest play: Jay Bruce puts the Mets ahead with a two-run home run in the eighth, +40.3% WPA
Teh sux0rest play: Brock Stossi hits a solo home run in the bottom of the ninth, -10.8% WPA
Total pitcher WPA: +31.4% WPA
Total batter WPA: +18.6% WPA
GWRBI!: Jay Bruce