On a night billed as a marquee pitching matchup, in contrast to the high-scoring doubleheader the day before, the Phillies beat the Mets 4-2 behind a strong performance from Aaron Nola. Nola struck out eleven batters and gave up just one run over seven innings, keeping himself very much in the Cy Young conversation in the National League. Even when Jacob deGrom isn’t pitching, the Mets continue to do him no favors in that race.
Meanwhile, the Mets’ other ace is not having a very ace-like season, between two DL stints and a higher ERA than usual. Noah Syndergaard was not very sharp in this outing, and the Phillies jumped on his fastball right away in the first inning. Cesar Hernandez led off the game with a single and then Rhys Hoskins walked to put two men on with nobody out. Asdrubal Cabrera then punished his old team with a double over the head of Jack Reinheimer, who was playing his first big league game in the outfield, scoring Hernandez to put the Phillies up 1-0. The ball was absolutely hit hard, but there is a pretty good chance that a natural left fielder would have made the play.
Nick Williams then singled to plate the Phillies’ second run, and Philadelphia still had two men on with nobody out with the potential to put the game out of reach quickly. Carlos Santana then hit another hard grounder, but luckily it went into the glove of Jose Bautista, who turned a 3-6-3 double play. A run scored on the play, making it 3-0 Phillies before Nola had to throw a pitch. Maikel Franco followed with an infield hit and promptly stole second. It was his first stolen base attempt all season. Syndergaard finally got Roman Quinn to ground out to end the inning, but he put men on base in every inning and would be plagued by the stolen base all night.
Meanwhile, the Mets didn’t record a hit against Nola until the fourth inning, when Jeff McNeil led off with a single and Austin Jackson singled to advance McNeil to third. Michael Conforto struck out swinging, but Todd Frazier delivered with a sacrifice fly to plate the Mets’ first run. The Mets had the potential to do more damage, but Jackson was picked off first base by Nola to end the inning.
The Phillies got that run right back in the bottom of the fourth when Quinn tripled as a result of an Austin Jackson miscue in center field. Jackson jumped into the air and simply missed the ball on the warning track—again, a ball that was hit hard, but a play most center fielders—even Jackson himself, quite frankly—should make. Jorge Alfaro then dumped a broken bat single into center field to drive in Quinn and make it 4-1 Phillies. Alfaro then—you guessed it—stole second base. In case you had forgotten that it was a catcher that just stole a base, he was promptly thrown out at third on Nola’s sacrifice bunt attempt for the first out. Syndergaard managed to prevent further damage by getting Hernandez to fly out to left and striking out Hoskins to end the inning.
To his credit, Syndergaard battled and got himself through 5 2⁄3 innings, needing 115 pitches to do so—a season high. Even though he allowed at least one baserunner in every inning, the fifth and sixth innings were slightly less eventful, although he did go on to surrender five stolen bases in total on the night. After striking out Nola looking—his fifth strikeout—to end his night, Daniel Zamora was tasked with recording the final out in the sixth in his major league debut. Zamora made a good first impression in the big leagues, striking out Hernandez swinging. He would go on to pitch the seventh inning as well. He allowed a walk to Hoskins to lead off the inning, but induced a double play grounder from Cabrera and was assisted by a nice turn by McNeil. He then struck out Nick Williams looking to put an exclamation mark on his debut outing.
The Mets tried to stage a comeback against Victor Arano in the eighth. McNeil blooped a perfectly placed one out double to center field and Jackson drove him in to make the score 4-2. Gabe Kapler turned to the lefty Adam Morgan to face Michael Conforto and that proved to be the right decision, as Morgan struck out Conforto looking.
Robert Gsellman pitched a scoreless bottom of the eighth, working around a leadoff walk to Santana. The Mets got the tying run to the plate in the top of the ninth, as Jose Bautista smacked a one out single against Pat Neshek, but Neshek got Kevin Plawecki to ground out and Wilmer Flores to fly out to notch the save.
In game four of this five-game set, Jacob deGrom continues his Cy Young Award quest on Saturday, facing off against Jake Arrieta.
SB Nation GameThreads
Win Probability Added
Big winners: Austin Jackson, +13.7% WPA
Big losers: Noah Syndergaard, -19.9% WPA, Michael Conforto, -16% WPA
Teh aw3s0mest play: Austin Jackson’s fourth inning RBI single, +9.1% WPA
Teh sux0rest play: Asdrubal Cabrera’s RBI double, -12.5% WPA
Total pitcher WPA: -15.9% WPA
Total batter WPA: -34.1% WPA
GWRBI!: The game-winning run scored on a double play from Carlos Santana for which he does not get credit for an RBI, so I’m going to give the GWRBI! to the Mets defense, without whom the Phillies could not have won.