In what was one of the team’s most discouraging losses of the season, the Mets fell to a depleted Phillies team 2-1 Friday night in Philadelphia. The Mets snapped their 21-inning scoreless streak with a Dom Smith RBI single in the sixth inning, but it was the only hit they would get with a runner in scoring position and the only run they would score all night.
The Phillies played without four key starters: Jean Segura, Didi Gregorious, J.T. Realmuto, and Bryce Harper were all omitted from the lineup due to various injuries. On the mound for the Mets was Marcus Stroman, who has pitched impressively all season and pitched very effectively the first two times through the order, at one point striking out seven of eight batters through the second, third, and fourth innings. Stroman, Aaron Loup, Jeurys Familia, and Miguel Castro together allowed just three hits and no earned runs, bolstering what has so far been one of the league’s best rotations and a recently improved bullpen.
The only runs of the night for the Phillies came on a bizarre play in the bottom of the second inning. Stroman walked Odúbel Herrera to face Phillies pitcher Chase Anderson with the bases loaded and two outs. Stroman got Anderson to swing through strike three, but catcher James McCann missed the pitch entirely and allowed the ball to ricochet off the home plate umpire’s leg towards the Phillies dugout. Both Brad Miller and Andrew Knapp scored on what would eventually be ruled a passed ball, eventually representing the winning runs for an otherwise inept Phillies lineup. If this season has indicated anything so far, McCann’s second-inning error was the game’s finishing play, as the Mets remain the only team in baseball who have not won a game this season when the opposing team scores first.
Stroman did his part to recover the runs lost by leading off the top of the third with a double down the left-field line, but the top of the lineup stranded him at second base with two pop-up outs from Brandon Nimmo and Francisco Lindor and a strikeout from Pete Alonso. The Mets ended the game a miserable 1-14 with runners in scoring position, stranding six runners overall on the night.
As has been the case throughout this season, the only Mets starters with any sort of repeated success were J.D. Davis and Nimmo. Davis went 2-3 and recorded the Mets first hit with a single in the second and just missed a home run by a few feet doubling off the right-field wall in the fourth. After Dom Smith advanced him to third with a deep fly ball to center field, McCann stranded him with an inning-ending strikeout. For his part, Nimmo went 1-4 with a double and also drew a two-out walk to represent the tying run in the final inning.
Multiple Mets batters fell victim to aggressive wind gusts and bad luck on hard-hit balls. Lindor thrice made 100+ mile-per-hour contact on pitches, one on a lineout to Rhys Hoskins in the first, one another on a long fly ball to Herrera in the fifth, and one on a game-ending ground ball to Hoskins. Smith similarly recorded an out on a hard-hit ball to center field, and Alonso hit a screaming 114 mph lineout to Andrew McCutchen in the second.
The Mets offense finally broke through with Smith’s opposite-field RBI single in the sixth inning, scoring Alonso from third base. But with runners on first and third and just one out, McCann once again ended the inning unceremoniously, this time grounding into a 6-4-3 double play. McCann went 0-4 on the night and left a game-high five runners on base.
Stroman exited the game after five very effective innings and only 64 pitches thrown on what team owner Steve Cohen tweeted out was a tight hamstring. Loup and Familia preserved the lead in the sixth and seventh innings, however, though Familia adventured through two walks and an Alonso error, loading the bases but escaping the inning without giving up a run.
The Mets wasted their best chance to tie the game in the eighth inning with a runner on second and two outs. Phillies relief pitcher José Alvarado intentionally walked Davis to put the go-ahead run on first base in order to face Smith. After a wild pitch advanced both runners to second and third, Alvarado struck out Smith on a 3-2 pitch to end the inning. Alvarado cleared both benches after celebrating and jawing to Smith, who responded with some chirping of his own, though no fight materialized. Alvarado previously drew the ire of the Mets dugout after throwing high and inside twice to Michael Conforto during a game in New York on April 13th.
Two inside pitches thrown to Rhys Hoskins by Miguel Castro once again cleared the benches in the bottom of the eighth inning, but with less intensity this time and a quicker dissolution. After Castro set down the Phillies in the inning, Phillies reliever Sam Coonrod saved the game for the Phillies, with a two-out walk to Nimmo his only blemish.
With the loss, the Mets fall into a three-way tie for third place in the NL East and the Phillies take sole possession of first place with a 13-13 record. In what has been a puzzingly mediocre division, the Mets end the month possibly the NL East’s biggest underachievers finishing two games under .500.
The Phillies host the Mets tomorrow at 6:05 ET with Taijuan Walker scheduled to pitch against former Met Zack Wheeler.
SB Nation Game Threads
Win Probability Added
Big Mets winner: J.D. Davis, +11.8% WPA
Big Mets loser: James McCann, -34.5% WPA
Mets pitchers: 8.9% WPA
Mets hitters: -58.9% WPA
Teh aw3s0mest play: Dom Smith single, 10.8% WPA
Teh sux0rest play: McCann double-play, -19% WPA