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Resilient Mets pick up Edwin Diaz with a walk-off walk in the ninth

After starting a tradition of ripping jerseys off for walk-offs, Pete Alonso was on the receiving end this time.

Philadelphia Phillies v New York Mets Photo by Michael Owens/Getty Images

The Mets pulled out a 5-4 victory over the Phillies in walk-off fashion in the bottom of the ninth after Edwin Diaz surrendered a backbreaking, game-tying home run in the top of the frame. The Mets held two-run leads on two separate occasions in this roller coaster contest. The Mets struck first against Zach Eflin in the bottom of the third inning. Todd Frazier led off the inning with a single—his 1,000th career hit. Steven Matz then executed a successful sacrifice bunt to advance Frazier to second. Jeff McNeil then singled to center to score Frazier and give the Mets a 1-0 lead. The rally was cut short when McNeil was nabbed at second on a strike ’em out, throw ‘em out double play.

Steven Matz held the Phillies scoreless for the first four innings, but it did not come without incident. Matz admitted after the game that he did not have his best stuff last night and it showed. But he battled to keep the Mets in the game. In the top of the second, Matz walked the leadoff hitter. He retired the next two batters, the latter of the two thanks to a sliding grab in the outfield by Michael Conforto. He then gave up a single to Maikel Franco, who had been in the minors until recently, but continues to own both Matz and the Mets. He walked Jose Pirela in Pirela’s first at-bat as a Phillie to load the bases, but this was perhaps a pitch around in order to get to Eflin, who Matz struck out to end the inning.

Things were also a bit dicey for Matz in the third. He gave up a leadoff double to Jean Segura, who advanced to third on a hard line drive to right center, which Brandon Nimmo chased down. Perhaps trying to put a little extra on a pitch to Bryce Harper in this key spot, Matz missed badly near Harper’s face. Luckily, Harper was able to move his head away in time, but the pitch did strike him in the hand to put two men on base. Harper stayed in to run the bases, but came out of the game in the bottom of the inning. Matz was subsequently assisted by his defense again, as Amed Rosario made an excellent backhand play on a grounder in the hole by Rhys Hoskins to turn two and get Matz out of the inning.

Michael Conforto added to the Mets’ lead in the fourth with an absolute bomb halfway up the second deck to lead off the inning, giving Matz a two-run lead to work with. The Phillies scratched back a run in the top of the fifth on a somewhat lucky break. With two outs, Segura hit a liner down the left field line that was deemed a fair ball, but upon replay appeared to be foul. However, this was not a reviewable call and so Matz had to contend with a runner in scoring position. J.T. Realmuto doubled to drive in Segura and cut the Mets’ lead to 2-1. Matz escaped the inning without further damage and even laced a base hit in the bottom of the frame, but he was erased on a 4-6-3 double play.

The Phillies tied the game in the top of the sixth off Matz, but Brad Brach was able to walk the tightrope to avoid a bigger inning. Matz surrendered a leadoff walk to Hoskins, but then retired the next two batters. Hoskins had advanced to second on the latter of the two outs and stole third base. Franco then struck again with a single to drive in Hoskins and tie the game. Matz then gave up an unlucky dunk single to Pirela to put runners at the corners. Needing to do everything he could to capitalize on this opportunity, Phillies’ manager Gabe Kapler called on the righty Phil Gosselin to pinch hit for Eflin. Mickey Callaway was then faced with a choice: leave Matz in to face the righty or put in a right-handed pitcher, which would prompt the Phillies to pinch hit a lefty instead. Rather than go with one of these two options, Callaway took Matz out of the game, but replaced him with fellow lefty Luis Avilan, so Kapler opted to stay with Gosselin. Avilan was unable to get the job done; he walked Gosselin to load the bases. Callaway then changed pitchers again, turning to Brach to face Segura. Brach was able to get the key out, getting Segura to fly out to right to end the inning.

Brach stayed in the game and pitched a scoreless seventh, in which he worked around a one-out double from the pinch hitter Corey Dickerson, striking out the next two batters. Jared Hughes and Ranger Suarez each tossed a 1-2-3 inning for the Phillies and Justin Wilson retired the Phillies in order in the eighth.

The Mets rallied in the eighth to score two runs off the Phillies bullpen and take the lead. Frazier worked a leadoff walk against Blake Parker. Sam Haggerty was called upon to pinch run for Frazier. Luis Guillorme was sent up as a pinch hitter in order to bunt and he did so, but in quite strange fashion. With Hoskins expecting the bunt and aggressively playing in, Guillorme bunted in the air over Hoskins’ head, but the Phillies still managed to get him out at first by a stride. Nonetheless, Guillorme did his job and Haggerty was on second with one out. Parker then surrendered a walk to McNeil and Kapler turned to his closer Hector Neris to finish the inning. Neris was unable to do so. He gave up a single to Pete Alonso on the very first pitch he threw to give the Mets the lead. Conforto flied out to left for the second out, but Wilson Ramos came through in the clutch again and grounded a single through the hole between short and third to plate an insurance run and give the Mets a 4-2 lead. Robinson Cano then hit a liner right on the nose, but right at the second baseman into the shift to end the inning.

That insurance run would turn out to be pivotal for the Mets. With Seth Lugo reportedly unavailable, even after yesterday’s off day, Mickey Callaway called upon his deposed closer Edwin Diaz to lock down the game for the Mets. Diaz struck out the first batter he faced and looked quite good doing so, but as has often been the case with Diaz this year, he made one mistake in the inning and it was punished severely. He gave up a base hit to Jean Segura and J.T. Realmuto hit a two-run homer to tie the game. This time, Diaz’s frustration was evident. He threw up his hands on the mound as the ball sailed over the left field wall, seemingly out of answers. He did bounce back to strike out the next two hitters, but that has been the story with Diaz all season. At times, you see the filthy stuff that made him such an effective pitcher last season and his strikeout rate remains very high, but he keeps being bitten by the home run ball time and time again.

This time, however, the Mets bailed Diaz out. Mike Morin came into the game for the Phillies in the bottom of the ninth and retired the first two batters Rosario and Nimmo on pop-ups. But Juan Lagares—brought in the game for defense after the Mets took the lead—kept hope alive with a base hit. J.D. Davis then smacked a key pinch hit single to advance the game-winning run to third base. Kapler then took Morin out of the game and replaced him with Nick Vincent, who had been signed by the Phillies to a minor league deal in August and was recently called up. Vincent had just given up a walk-off home run in the eleventh inning the day before and was the victim of the walk-off loss once again. He was tasked with facing McNeil and got ahead of him 0-2, but then hit him with a pitch to load the bases for Alonso. Alonso worked the count full and then took a pitch high for ball four. Juan Lagares came trotting home with the winning run and Alonso’s jersey was ripped off by his teammates, as the Mets celebrated their walk-off victory. Because baseball is weird and beautiful, Edwin Diaz got his second win of the season.

The Mets look to notch a series win against their NL East rivals with Marcus Stroman on the mound facing off against Drew Smyly. The two teams are now equal in the standings, both four games back of the Cubs for the second Wild Card.

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What’s WPA?

Big winners: Pete Alonso, +53.6% WPA, Brad Brach, +18.7% WPA
Big losers: Edwin Diaz, -31.7% WPA
Total pitcher WPA: -10.5% WPA
Total batter WPA: +60.5% WPA
Teh aw3s0mest play: Pete Alonso’s walk-off walk, +34.9% WPA
Teh sux0rest play: Edwin Diaz gives up a two-run homer to J.T. Realmuto in the top of the ninth to tie the game, -37.3% WPA