The Mets entered Philadelphia for a three game series last night, sitting 2.5 games behind the Phillies for the seventh seed in the National League. A sweep of the three games could have, unbelievably, propelled them into a playoff spot with a little more than two weeks left in the season. It goes without saying that, if the Mets want to make it to October, this was a huge series for them to take.
They had to send the maligned Rick Porcello out to the mound for Game 1 because they have nobody else at this point. So while Porcello got the nod out of necessity, it was still the team’s choice to slot Jeff McNeil—who collected another three hits last night and has his average up to .331 and his wRC+ up to 145 on the season—into the seventh hole once again, where he has been hitting for a while against right-handers despite having a 162 wRC+ against them this year. The team has apparently decided they are comfortable letting McNeil hit there because he’s had success recently in that spot, instead just putting his well-established bat in a higher position to actually optimize their lineup for a big series.
Regardless, Porcello actually started out quite strong in this one. He began the game with three scoreless innings, the first time he has ever done that in a Mets uniform. Meanwhile, the Mets were similarly scoreless over the first three innings against Jake Arrieta, though it was not for a lack of opportunity. They left two runners on base in the second when Wilson Ramos grounded out, and left the bases loaded in the third inning when Pete Alonso flied out to center.
Porcello was touched up in the fourth, despite getting two quick outs to start the frame. A two-out walk to Jean Segura, a Scott Kingery double, and a walk to Andrew Knapp loaded the bases for Adam Haseley, who laced a two-run single into center to put the Phillies out in front.
A Brandon Nimmo solo home run in the top of the fifth cut the deficit in half to 2-1, but the Phillies pulled away on Didi Gregorius’s two-run homer in the bottom half of the inning to extend the lead to 4-1. The Mets once again loaded the bases with one out in the top of the sixth, looking to answer back, only for Wilson Ramos to roll over into a double play to end the inning.
Porcello got through the sixth inning without incident to finish his evening. He allowed four runs on six hits with five punchouts. Not a bad start for the veteran, but not exactly what the team needed from him, either. Arrieta out-dueled him in the battle of former Cy Young winners, though Arrieta left early with an injury.
Justin Wilson and Edwin Diaz took the seventh and eighth innings, respectively, and combined for two perfect innings. Diaz struck out the side in his inning of work to lower his ERA to 1.80.
The Mets got a runner on in the seventh, but J.D. Davis grounded into another double play to end that frame. They got two more runners on in the eight, when Dom Smith was hit by the pitch and McNeil reached on an infield hit, and then advanced to second on an error. The Mets had two runners in scoring position for Andres Gimenez.
Gimenez hit a slow roller to third, a play he was certain to beat out and score Smith from third. But McNeil, for some reason, tried to advance to third despite the play being right in front of him, and no runner on first forcing him to go to third. McNeil was tagged out, ending the inning with no run scoring, and he made no attempt to even get into a rundown long enough for Smith to score from third.
If you’re exhausted by this point reading all of these slip-ups and missed opportunities, then the ninth inning will come as no relief either. The Mets got two runners on with two outs, bringing the tying run to the plate once again, this time in Smith, only for him to strike out swinging to end the game, stranding the Mets’ 11th and 12th runners on base of the night.
This was an exhausting game of mishaps and poor clutch hitting, which was something we saw a lot from the Mets early in the season, and we’re seeing from them again now that they are clinging to life in the playoff race. The team now sits at 21-27, 3.5 games behind the Phillies for the seventh seed, and 3.0 games behind the Giants for the 8th seed. The Mets still have a slight chance at the postseason, which is shocking, considering they also have the fourth-worst winning percentage in the National League. Either way, they don’t look like a team that belongs anywhere near the playoffs.
The series continues tomorrow when Jacob deGrom takes on Zack Wheeler, as the Mets try to avoid being buried any further in the standings.
SB Nation GameThreads
Win Probability Added
Big Mets winner: Justin Wilson, +9.5% WPA
Big Mets loser: Wilson Ramos, -24.5% WPA
Mets pitchers: -14.2% WPA
Mets hitters: -35.8% WPA
Teh aw3s0mest play: Brandon Nimmo hits a solo home run in the fifth inning, +11.2% WPA
Teh sux0rest play: Adam Haseley hits a two-run single in the fourth inning, -20.2% WPA