In a road trip - and indeed, a season - that really couldn’t be going much worse, the Mets blew a lead for the third consecutive night, falling 5-4 to the Phillies in ten innings. Jason Vargas’s great start and home runs from Jeff McNeil and Dom Smith were wasted when the bullpen once again could not record an out when it mattered. A four run lead evaporated in the blink of an eye, and the Phillies won the game in the tenth without a single out.
Jason Vargas was on his game tonight from the jump. Despite working with a fastball that sat in the mid-80’s, the veteran lefty befuddled Phillie hitters for much of the game (maybe he threatened to beat them up). Despite registering only one strikeout his first time through the order - which came against the opposing pitcher, Nick Pivetta - Vargas finished his evening with a career-high ten punchouts. At no point in the first six innings was he particularly threatened, and the only run the Phillies scored came on a solo home run by Jean Segura in the sixth.
Offensively, the young Mets continued to impress. Dom Smith got things started in the third, lining an opposite field home run, his third in as many games. Jeff McNeil also went deep, launching his own solo shot leading off the fifth. Pete Alonso followed with a single and, two batters later, recorded the first stolen base of his career. Suffice it to say he won’t be winning a sprinting contest any time soon, but that just made the experience all the more fun.
In the sixth, Smith led off with a walk and decided that whole base stealing thing looked fun, and he also tallied the first steal of his career. Two batters later, Tomas Nido drove Smith in with a single, and Jeff McNeil ripped an RBI double two batters after that to give the Mets their fourth run of the game.
After a quiet top of the seventh, Vargas took the mound with a 4-1 lead. He allowed a leadoff double to J.T. Realmuto and a hard fly out off the bat of Jay Bruce, and Mickey Callaway had seen enough. Seth Lugo entered the game in relief, and promptly allowed a ground-rule double off the bat of Cesar Hernandez that cut the lead to two. A flyout and a walk left runners on first and second with two outs, and Lugo managed to strike out Scott Kingery. Unfortunately, the curveball Kingery flailed at got away from Tomas Nido, and he reached to load the bases. Jean Segura made the Mets pay for that blunder, tying the game up with a two-run single.
The Mets managed only one baserunner the rest of the game. Robert Gsellman and Edwin Diaz did their jobs and kept the game tied going into extras, but the Mets’ stubborn policy of not pitching Diaz for multiple innings bit them in the rear again. Stephen Nogosek, probably the worst option in the bullpen currently, entered for the tenth and failed to record an out. Rhys Hoskins walked, J.T. Realmuto ripped a single, and Jay Bruce doubled over Juan Lagares’ head to drive in the game-winning run.
At 37-44, the Mets are a season-worst seven games below .500 after 81 games. They sit 11 games back of first in the division and 5.5 games back of the wild card. To call the bullpen porous would be generous, and the Mets’ failure to adequately address their biggest weakness in the offseason has now cost them at least five games on this road trip alone.
With their season hurtling towards irrelevance, the Mets will play one more in Philadelphia tomorrow afternoon. Zack Wheeler will take the mound opposite Aaron Nola, an interesting matchup of two young starters that broke out last season but have struggled mightily so far in 2019.
SB Nation GameThreads
Win Probability Added
Big winners: Jason Vargas, +23.7% WPA; Dom Smith, +22.9% WPA; Jeff McNeil, +15.3% WPA; Edwin Diaz, +13.3% WPA; Robert Gsellman, +10.4% WPA
Big losers: Stephen Nogosek, -36.7% WPA; Seth Lugo, -35.0% WPA; Michael Conforto, -15.9% WPA; Robinson Cano, -14.9% WPA; Amed Rosario, -10.6% WPA
Total pitcher WPA: -24.4% WPA
Total batter WPA: -25.6% WPA
Teh aw3s0mest play: Dom Smith homers in the fourth, +13.4% WPA
Teh sux0rest play: Jean Segura ties the game in the seventh with a two-run single, -33.7% WPA