In Game 1, Wilmer Flores was the walk-off hero, saving us from an even longer day of Met baseball with a home run in the bottom of the tenth to top the Phillies 4-3. Starting pitchers Zack Wheeler and Zach Eflin didn’t make it into the sixth, and both allowed three runs. Both bullpens were untouched until Flores’s walk-off bomb.
Zack Wheeler was definitely unlucky early in the game. Cesar Hernandez led off the game with a bloop single into left field. After two strikeouts, a walk and a soft ground ball single pushed Hernandez around, and the Mets were in a quick 1-0 hole. The second inning was similar, with Andrew Knapp leading off with a bloop single and scoring on a two out grounder that found the outfield grass.
Unlike many of Wheeler’s recent starts, the offense actually showed up to help out. Asdrubal Cabrera homered in the bottom of the first, and the Mets put together a two out rally in the third. Brandon Nimmo singled, then scored on a ground ball single from Jose Bautista that center fielder Odubel Herrera overran. Cabrera came through again after that, with an RBI double off the right field wall (and Nick Williams’ head) that gave the Mets a 3-2 lead.
Unfortunately, Wheeler gave up a solo home run to Maikel Franco in the fourth inning, and the game was quickly tied once again. The BABIP misfortune in the first two innings also pumped up Wheeler’s pitch count, and he found himself at 83 pitches to start the fifth. After getting the first two outs, Carlos Santana walked and Nick Williams singled, chasing Wheeler at 102 pitches after only 4.2 innings. He gave up three runs, striking out eight and walking three.
Seth Lugo entered and escaped that jam, and pitched brilliantly in both the sixth and seventh. He ran into trouble in the eighth, however, where three straight walks with one out loaded the bases and chased him from the game. Robert Gsellman was just as effective as Lugo was in the fifth, striking out Jesmuel Valentin and inducing a ground out form Cesar Hernandez to escape the jam and keep the game tied at three.
The Met offense, meanwhile, was almost totally nonexistent. Leadoff hits from Amed Rosario and Devin Mesoraco in the fifth and eighth weren’t capitalized on, and Michael Conforto, Dominic Smith, and Devin Mesoraco went down in order in the bottom of the ninth, sending the game to extra innings. Tim Peterson ran into immediate trouble in the top of the tenth, allowing two singles to start the inning. Things could have been a lot worse, as Dominic Smith made an extremely ill-advised throw to no one in particular at third base after receiving a throw from Peterson on a bunt, but the ball was thankfully corralled by Amed Rosario.
That heart-attack-inducing moment in the rear view mirror, Peterson bore down and worked out of the jam. He made the play on a hard bunt to get the man at third base, induced a fly out from Maikel Franco, and struck out Dylan Cozens to strand both Phillies and set the stage for Wilmer Flores. Pinch-hitting to lead off the bottom of the tenth, Flores got a pitch on the inside part of the plate and banged it off the left field foul pole to close out the first half of the doubleheader in spectacular fashion.
SB Nation GameThreads
Win Probability Added
Big winners: Wilmer Flores, +36.9% WPA; Robert Gsellman, +28.6% WPA; Asdrubal Cabrera, +17.6% WPA; Jeurys Familia, +13.1% WPA; Tim Peterson, +13.1% WPA
Big losers: Zack Wheeler, -15.1% WPA; Ty Kelly, -12.0% WPA; Michael Conforto, -12.0% WPA; Brandon Nimmo, -11.4% WPA; Dominic Smith, -11.0% WPA
Teh aw3s0mest play: Wilmer Flores hits a walkoff home run in the bottom of the tenth, +36.9% WPA
Teh sux0rest play: Maikel Franco homers to tie the game at three in the fourth, -13.3% WPA
Total pitcher WPA: +43.4% WPA
Total batter WPA: +6.6% WPA
GWRBI!: Wilmer Flores
Game 2 did not go as well, as Aaron Nola shut down the Mets for seven innings in a 3-1 loss. Nola struck out ten over seven innings, recording a stretch of eighteen straight Mets retired at one point, and had also had the big hit for the Phillies, driving in all three runs with a double in the fifth. Wilmer Flores had the only two Met hits, while Michael Conforto worked the only two walks.
Corey Oswalt started the game brilliantly, striking out six of the first twelve Phillies he faced and working a perfect game through four innings. That fell apart in the fifth, when he walked Carlos Santana and Aaron Altherr to start the inning. Oswalt bounced back to induce a fly out from Soctt Kingery and a soft ground out from Jorge Alfaro, after which he walked Maikel Franco intentionally to get to Aaron Nola. Nola was batting .059/.086/.059 on the year with a career strikeout rate of almost 50%, so he of course hit a double into the corner that gave the Phillies a 3-0 lead.
Oswalt rebounded with a clean sixth, but his night was finished. He struck out seven, walked three, and allowed just the one hit, registering a quality start. Aaron Nola was simply better, however, dominating the Mets throughout the game. After allowing a two out single to Wilmer Flores in the first, Nola set down the next eighteen Mets in order before allowing a walk to Michael Conforto in the seventh. He finished his evening with ten strikeouts over seven shutout innings, allowing only one walk and one hit.
The most interesting happening in the eighth inning was an apparent blunder by Mickey Callaway. With one out, Odubel Herrera was in the on-deck circle, and Callaway went out to make a pitching change, double-switching in Jerry Blevins. Unfortunately, Callaway didn’t wait for Herrera to be announced, and the Phillies replaced him with Jesmuel Valentin, a right handed batter. Blevins struck Valentin out anyway, so the mistake proved inconsequential, but it’s another stumble for a rookie manager that has had more than his fair share this season.
In the ninth, the Mets attempted to make things at least a little bit interesting. With two outs, Brandon Nimmo was hit by a pitch, and Wilmer Flores followed that up by smacking an RBI double in the right-center field gap to avoid the Mets’ third shutout in their last four games. Michael Conforto worked a walk to put the tying run on base, and Gabe Kapler responded by bringing in Victor Arano, the same pitcher who gave up Flores’ home run earlier in the day. Devin Mesoraco doesn’t have the same walk-off magic, however, and he struck out as the winning run at the plate to end the game.
The split of the doubleheader leaves the Mets’ record at 36-52. They’ll send 28-year-old Drew Gagnon to the mound tomorrow to make his debut against 22-year-old top prospect Enyel De Los Santos, also making his major league debut.
SB Nation GameThreads
Win Probability Added
Big winners: None
Big losers: None
Teh aw3s0mest play: Michael Conforto walks to put the tying run on base with two outs in the ninth, +4.7% WPA
Teh sux0rest play: Aaron Nola hits a three-run double in the fifth, -31.1% WPA
Total pitcher WPA: -5.6% WPA
Total batter WPA: -44.4% WPA
GWRBI!: Aaron Nola