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Matz’s meltdown in the first inning seals Mets’ fate in ugly loss to Phillies

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The Mets fell behind by ten runs in the first inning.

New York Mets v Philadelphia Phillies Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images

The New York Mets suffered an embarrassing 14-3 loss to the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park on Tuesday night in a game that was over shortly after it had begun. Steven Matz failed to retire a single batter and became just the sixth pitcher since 1893 to face eight batters without recording an out, joining the likes of Paul Wilson, Bobby J. Jones, Blake Stein, and Bill Kreuger. Gary Cohen very appropriately described what he saw as “sheer ugliness.”

Believe it or not, it looked like the Mets might grab an early lead in this one after Brandon Nimmo walked and Pete Alonso was hit by a pitch in the top of the first. After a Robinson Cano fly ball advanced Nimmo to third, Michael Conforto grounded into an inning-ending double play to diffuse the threat. Nimmo also appeared uncomfortable while standing on the bases and seemed to be favoring his neck. He would be removed in the bottom half of the inning with what the team is describing as a stiff neck.

It was all downhill from there. The bottom of the first began with Andrew McCutchen reaching on an Amed Rosario fielding error. Matz preceded to give up a double to Jean Segura and hit Bryce Harper with a pitch to load the bases with nobody out. J.T. Realmuto then doubled home McCutchen and Segura before Scott Kingery connected on a three-run home run to put the Phillies up by five.

Things would only get worse from there. Cesar Hernandez walked on a 3-2 count and Aaron Altherr reached on Rosario’s second error of the inning. Maikel Franco stepped up to the plate next and crushed a 2-0 Matz offering over the center field wall to make it 8-0. At that point, Mickey Callaway had seen enough from his left-handed starter and replaced him with Drew Gagnon. Matz saw his ERA balloon from 1.65 to 4.96 after allowing eight runs (six earned) on four hits and one walk. He threw 31 pitches without retiring a single batter in what was easily the worst start of his career.

If there is any positive to take away, it was the performance of Gagnon out of the bullpen. While the numbers certainly don’t look great in the box score, he gave the Mets 5.1 innings of relief and threw 97 pitches in an effort to save the bullpen. He did struggle a bit in the first, as Realmuto added his second RBI double of the inning on a line drive to left field that Jeff McNeil misplayed. The hit was originally called an error but was later changed, although McNeil was charged with an error on the throw into the infield for the team’s third miscue of the first inning. The double drove home McCutchen and Harper home to increase Philadelphia’s lead to 10. The first inning mercifully came to an end after Kingery grounded out to short, but not before the Phillies sent a total of 14 men to the plate.

Wilson Ramos opened up the second inning with his first home run as a Met to put New York on the board, and Michael Conforto added a solo home run of his own with two out in the third. However, that was as close as the Mets would get on the evening. The Mets threatened by putting runners on first and third with one out again in the fourth, but Gagnon grounded into an inning-ending double play.

Phillies starter Nick Pivetta certainly wasn’t good, but he did enough to earn a win as he plodded through five innings to earn the victory. Realmuto added a solo home run in the fourth to make it 11-3, and the Phillies tacked on three in the sixth off Gagnon to increase their lead to 11.

With Pivetta out of the game, the Phillies turned to Jerad Eickhoff, who was called up before the game, to close out the final four innings. The Mets mustered a single in the sixth, a single in the seventh, and a single in the eighth, but couldn’t push a run across on Eickhoff. He then struck out Juan Lagares, Keon Broxton, and Robinson Cano in the ninth to finish the game and put the Mets out of their misery. With the loss, New York falls to 10-7 and drops back into second place in the National League East with the Phillies regaining the top spot.

The good news for the Mets is that today’s game begins at 1:05 p.m., so they won’t have to dwell on this beatdown for too long. Zack Wheeler will look to build on his encouraging bounce back performance against the Atlanta Braves last Friday as he opposes Jake Arrieta in the rubber game of this series.

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Win Probability Added

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What’s WPA?

Big winners: None
Big losers: Steven Matz, -43.1% WPA, Michael Conforto, -10.5% WPA
Total pitcher WPA: -44.3%
Total batter WPA: -5.7%
Teh aw3s0mest play: Pete Alonso hit by pitch in the first inning, 5.6% WPA
Teh sux0rest play: J.T. Realmuto two-run double in the first inning, -12.5% WPA