Today was supposed to be one of the best pitching matchups of the season with Jacob deGrom going up against Aaron Nola. We did not quite get the pitching duel we were promised, but Mets fans are probably okay with that, as the team scored a whopping 14 runs against Nola and the Philadelphia bullpen. Meanwhile, deGrom was his usual excellent self, leading to one of the easiest Mets wins of the season.
The Phillies did threaten to score on deGrom early on. Following two quick outs to start the game, Bryce Harper became the first baserunner of the game by hitting a single up the middle. He then stole second on the first pitch, and then third two pitches later. Didi Gregorius then hit a towering fly ball to right field which looked for a moment like it might fall. Michael Conforto had other ideas, however, as he was able to make the basket catch running towards the wall to end the inning. The Mets then came up to the plate against Nola for the first time, and they too threatened early. Brandon Nimmo and Conforto led off with two hits (Nimmo unfortunately got caught trying to steal second, or else he might have scored on Conforto’s double), and following a J.D. Davis groundout Dominic Smith came up to the plate with two outs and a runner in scoring position. Smith, like Gregorius in the top of the inning, hit a towering fly ball to the outfield; unlike Conforto in the top of the inning, center fielder Adam Haseley took a bad route to the ball running back to the wall, and it fell in to score Conforto and give Smith his first double of the game. Cano popped up to end the inning, but the Met had themselves a 1-0 lead.
That lead would soon disappear as a result of the one blemish in deGrom’s performance. Following two swinging strikeouts to begin the top of the second, backup catcher Andrew Knapp came up to the plate. While not a particularly intimidating presence at the plate, he nevertheless scored the one Phillies run of the afternoon by slamming an opposite field homer, his first of the season. The Mets’ lead was gone, but not for long; deGrom quickly rebounded and struck out Neil Walker to end the inning, and in the bottom of the frame Pete Alonso came up for his first at-bat and mashed an impressive bomb off the second deck in left field to give the Mets a 2-1 lead.
Both starting pitchers threw perfect innings with two strikeouts in the third. deGrom then worked around a leadoff walk and added two more strikeouts to his line in the top of the fourth. Nola then came on for the bottom of the frame, and Smith greeted him by lining a ball down the left field line that ended up going out of play for a ground-rule double (his second of the game, for those keeping count at home). Robinson Cano then came up to the plate and hit a groundball back to the pitcher, who then turned around and caught Smith in-between second and third. It looked like he would pretty easily get tagged out in a rundown, but the Phillies failed to execute, as Alec Bohm at third failed to catch a throw from Gregorius and the ball sailed past third base. Smith scrambled over to third, and Cano made it all the way to second, gifting the Mets runners in scoring position with no outs. The Mets came close to not benefiting from the error, however, as Nola struck out two of the next three batters—first Alonso, and then Ramos following an intentional walk to McNeil to load the bases. Andres Gimenez—once again playing at shortstop over Amed Rosario—came up to the plate with two outs, and the young rookie came through in the clutch by ripping a ball just beyond the reach of a diving Segura at second to score Smith and Cano and give the Mets a 4-1 lead.
Neil Walker managed to hit a one-out double off deGrom in the fifth, but he continued to shut the Phillies down aside from that, including by getting his ninth strikeout of the game to end the inning. The Mets then sought to do even more damage against Nola, with Conforto lining a leadoff double to right center to get things started. Nola bounced back by striking out both Davis and Smith, bringing Cano to the plate. Cano once again benefited from a defensive miscue from the Phillies, as he hit a sharp ground ball that Hoskins wasn’t quite able to handle at first, and the ball trickled past him. Conforto made a sharp turn and headed home, and the throw to the plate was off the line, giving the Mets yet another unearned run off Nola. Following a perfect inning from deGrom in the top of the sixth, the Phillies ace came back out and quickly gave up yet another run. This time it was entirely earned, as Jeff McNeil whacked a ball over the the right field fence for his first homer of the year to give the Mets a 6-1 lead. Following a strikeout of Ramos, Joe Girardi came out and relieved Nola of duty. His final line was not what one would have expected coming into the game: 5.1 innings, 8 hits, 6 runs (3 earned), 1 walk, 10 strikeouts.
Heath Hembree relieved Nola, but the Mets weren’t done scoring just yet. Following a strikeout of Gimenez, Nimmo came up and hit the second homer of the inning, a shot to right field that made it 7-1 Mets. After Hembree finally ended the frame, deGrom came back on for one more inning of work. The Mets ace seemed to be running out of steam towards the end, as following two outs he walked Knapp and worked a 3-2 count to Walker. But he powered through and struckout the former Met swinging to end the inning. With that, deGrom was done, and his final line was amongst his most impressive of this 2020 season: 7 innings, 3 hits, 1 run, 2 walks, and 12 strikeouts, not to mention a whopping 35 swinging strikes on the afternoon.
In the bottom of the seventh, Mauricio Llovera came on to make his major league debut. He did something that Phillies pitchers had only been able to do once in the first six innings: he worked a scoreless frame, albeit not an easy one, as the Mets did load the bases on two hits and a hit-by-pitch before Gimenez hit a slow dribbler along first base to end the threat. Brad Brach subsequently replaced deGrom in the top of the eighth inning. He gave up a leadoff walk to Haseley, but then got Andrew McCutchen to fly out to left and got a ground ball to short off the bat of Hoskins for a double play to end the inning.
One might have thought that with one inning left and a six-run lead, the Mets offense would rest on its laurels in the bottom of the eighth. Instead, they decided to give Llovera—who came back on for a second inning of work—the proper greeting to the major leagues that they neglected to give him in the seventh. Nimmo and Conforto got things started with back-to-back singles to lead off the inning (giving both outfielders three hits on the afternoon). Rosario—who entered the game on defense in the top of the inning—then worked a rare walk to load the bases for Smith, who also had three hits in the game at that time. Smith then put the game even further out of reach for the Phillies by smacking a double to right field—his fourth hit and third double of the day—which scored Nimmo and Conforto and made it 9-1 Mets.
Blake Parker replaced Llovera at this point, but the Amazins still weren’t done. Luis Guillorme—another defensive replacement—came up next and hit a long fly ball down the left field line that landed and went out of play for yet another ground-rule double, scoring two more runs. The Phillies had still yet to record an out in the inning, and it would only take the Mets one more pitch after that to score yet another two runs, as Alonso came up and whacked his second homer of the game to make it 13-1 Mets. Parker finally accomplished the improbable task of recording an out by getting McNeil to ground out to second. Perhaps the Phillies breathed a sigh of relief at this point under the mistaken assumption that they had finally ended the barrage of runs, but they were sorely mistaken, as Ramos—who had missed numerous opportunities with runners in scoring position earlier in the game—came up and decided to hit one more solo homer, just for good measure. His blast to right field made it 14-1 Mets, capping one of the team’s most successful offensive innings of the season.
Chasen Shreve came on for the top of the ninth and—outside of a two-out pinch-hit single by Kyle Garlick—ended things without too much drama and put the finishing touches on one of the team’s most impressive victories of the season. The Mets’ record now stands at 19-22, and deGrom has three wins on the year. The team will go for the series win tomorrow at 1:10, with David Peterson going up against Zack Wheeler
SB Nation GameThreads
Win Probability Added
Big Mets winner: Jacob deGrom, +18.2% WPA
Big Mets loser: Wilson Ramos, -8.4% WPA
Mets pitchers: +18.8% WPA
Mets hitters: +31.2% WPA
Teh aw3s0mest play: Andres Gimenez two-run single in the fourth, +15.9% WPA
Teh sux0rest play: Andrew Knapp solo home run in the second, -11.2% WPA