In what was a fitting end to their horrible first half, the Mets got blasted 8-3 by the Phillies in another lackluster Sunday afternoon showing. Zack Wheeler gave up four runs in the first and the Mets never got back into it, and Jay Bruce made things as painful as possible with two more home runs against his former team.
The first inning was an accurate microcosm of the Mets’ typical Sunday performances. The defense was sloppy; Jeff McNeil made an error, Rhys Hoskins got a hustle double, and Robinson Cano misplayed a pop up in shallow center. Zack Wheeler allowed consistent hard contact and couldn’t navigate trouble on the basepaths. Then, once the Mets were in a 4-0 hole, Aaron Nola made mincemeat of the first three hitters he faced. The game was effectively over at this point.
Nevertheless, there were eight innings left to get through. Wheeler rebounded nicely and thoroughly shut down the Phillies from the second through the fifth. Nola, meanwhile, kept the Mets hitless through five, striking out six and inducing a plethora of weak contact. Nola struggled earlier this season, and many postulated it was due to the new balls which have also given Noah Syndergaard and Zack Wheeler fits. Nola seems to have adapted of late, while the Mets’ starters are still struggling. There’s something to be said about the failures of the Mets’ coaching and analytics department to find a way to solve the problem, but we’ll get to that later.
Wheeler ran into trouble again in the sixth, walking J.T. Realmuto to lead off the inning, then giving up a two-run bomb to Jay Bruce. That ended Wheeler’s day, and the Mets’ best trade chip finished his final outing of the first half with six runs allowed over five innings on eight hits and two walks, striking out eight. Jeurys Familia replaced him and kept the Phillies from piling on, but the deficit was now six runs.
Pete Alonso provided an answer - as well asthe only encouraging Met moment of the game - in the bottom half of the inning. After Jeff McNeil reached on an error, Alonso lifted an 0-2 curveball over the right-center field fence for the Mets’ first hit of the day. It was Alonso’s 30th home run of the season, making him only the second Met ever to reach 30 home runs before the All Star break (Dave Kingman is the other).
Wilmer Font took over for the seventh and provided the daily dose of old-timey baseball stupidity by hitting Rhys Hoskins. There’s a lot of drama here - the Mets hit Hoskins earlier in the season, while Jake Arrieta caused an incident last night - but throwing at someone intentionally remains a stupid practice. Fittingly, Hoskins took Font deep in his next at bat in the ninth, which will hopefully wrap this up before anyone else gets pegged or seriously hurt.
Aside from that little back-and-forth, the final three innings were largely quiet. Jay Bruce added another home run, his second of the game and fourth against the Mets in the last two weeks. He’s quickly become the latest in a long list of former Mets who just kill this team after leaving, and there have been enough of these guys that it’s not just bad luck at this point. The Mets’ coaching, training, and analytics staff consistently fail to maximize the talents of the players they have on hand, and this pattern will continue until the failures of those parts of the organization are addressed. Of course, there’s one constant over the past two decades that will never change, so this really is just tilting at windmills.
Anyway, Adeiny Hechavarria hit a meaningless home run in the ninth to cut the deficit to 8-3 before the Mets stranded two men on base when Jeff McNeil flew out to end the game. The loss drops the Mets’ to a dismal 40-50 going into the All Star break, meaning they’d need to win roughly two-thirds of their remaining games to have a reasonable shot at the playoffs. Simply put, that’s not going to happen.
Pete Alonso, Jeff McNeil, and Jacob deGrom will head off to Cleveland now, with Pete slated to participate in the Home Run Derby tomorrow evening. The rest of the team, meanwhile, will have four days to rest before starting a series with the Marlins on Friday.
SB Nation GameThreads
Win Probability Added
Big winners: None
Big losers: Zack Wheeler, -32.0% WPA;
Total pitcher WPA: -32.3% WPA
Total batter WPA: -17.7% WPA
Teh aw3s0mest play: Pete Alonso hits his 30th home run of the year in the sixth, +3.7% WPA
Teh sux0rest play: Rhys Hoskins drives in Scott Kingery with a double in the first, -11.9% WPA