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The duality of man (and also baseball)

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The Mets and Phillies played two extremely similar baseball games in a single day, though the Mets won one, and the Phillies won the other.

Philadelphia Phillies v New York Mets - Game One Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images

Game 1

The Mets started their doubleheader off in dramatic fashion. While most of the game was incredibly frustrating thanks to the efforts of Aaron Nola, they made a dramatic comeback in the bottom of the seventh and won it in the eighth thanks to the heroics of Francisco Lindor and Dominic Smith, respectively.

The game started off excitingly enough, with Taijuan Walker throwing a perfect first inning and the Mets getting the first two runners on with a Jeff McNeil hit-by-pitch and a Lindor double. Alas, Nola chose this exact moment to begin getting to work and making some history. The next three batters? Strikeout swinging, strikeout swinging, strikeout looking (on a questionable call by the umpire, but alas). The next three batters in the bottom of the second? Strikeout looking, strikeout swinging, strikeout swinging. The bottom of the third? You know the drill: strikeout looking, strikeout swinging, strikeout swinging. Tom Seaver’s record of ten consecutive strikeouts had stayed intact for fifty-one years, but facing Michael Conforto in the bottom of the fourth inning, Nola made history by striking him out to tie Seaver. Thankfully for Mets fans, Pete Alonso doubled to right field in the next at-bat to prevent him from taking the record all for himself, but the game had already been established as a historical one.

On the bright side, Walker mostly followed suit with Nola, albeit without the gaudy strikeout totals. He put up four scoreless innings while his Phillies counterpart was striking out the world, giving up just two hits during that time. One of those hits just so happened to be off the bat of the aforementioned Nola (who, mind you, is not known for his offensive prowess), who hit a booming shot off the left field wall that was limited to a single thanks to a good play by Smith. Walker entered the fifth inning with the game tied, and he retired the first two batters without much concern. But then he walked Nick Maton, and the star of the day came up to the plate. Nola—who, it is worth repeating, is not known for his offensive prowess—followed up his hit in the third with a line drive to right center field, which scored Maton and gave the Phillies a 1-0 lead.

That forced the Mets to pinch-hit for Walker in the bottom of the fifth despite having a pretty low pitch count (his final line—5 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 5 K—was perfectly solid, if not overwhelming like Nola’s). Miguel Castro came in and combined with Drew Smith to throw two scoreless innings (although Castro walked three batters, including two in his second frame of work before needing to be bailed out by Smith). But the Mets remained scoreless for the most of the game. They had their best opportunity to score in the sixth inning following a leadoff hit-by-pitch to Lindor and a one-out walk to Alonso. At this point, Nola was taken out of the game for Jose Alvarado to face Dominic Smith. Certain fans may recall that the two had some bad blood the last time they faced, but their rematch here was fairly undramatic, as Smith worked a walk to load the bases. Unfortunately, the Mets were not able to capitalize, and they went into the bottom of the seventh down a run.

But Alvarado’s general shakiness did play a role in the Mets’ dramatic comeback. Leadoff hitter Luis Guillorme hit a soft dribbler back to the pitcher, and Alvarado lobbed it over Hoskins’s reach at first base to send the leadoff runner to second base. Pinch-hitter Albert Almora Jr. struck out, and McNeil failed to get the runner in as well. But they finally got the clutch hit they needed thanks to Lindor, who lined a single to center to tie the game and send the game to extra innings.

Seth Lugo came on and held the Phillies scoreless, Manfred runner be damned, by striking out three hitters (with a Harper intentional walk in-between). Ranger Suarez came on to pitch in the bottom of the eighth for the Phillies with Lindor starting on second (thanks to Michael Conforto, who recorded the final out of the seventh inning, being taken out in a double switch). Joe Girardi decided to intentionally walk Alonso to leadoff the inning and bring up Smith. In a curious decision, Smith—who has virtually no experience bunting in his entire life—squared up to sacrifice the runners over on the first couple of pitches. Then he very wisely determined that getting a walk-off single would be a better outcome than a failed bunt, so he hit the next pitch into center to drive Lindor home and give the Mets the unlikely victory.

Box scores

MLB.com
ESPN

*illar of the game

Jonathan is still on the shelf due to his calf injury, and Kevin went hitless (most painfully by grounding out with bases loaded in the sixth). No trophies for anybody.

Win Probability Added

Fangraphs.com

What’s WPA?

Big Mets winner: Francisco Lindor, +76.5% WPA
Big Mets loser: Michael Conforto, -36.2% WPA
Mets pitchers: +62.8% WPA
Mets hitters: -12.8% WPA
Teh aw3s0mest play: Francisco Lindor’s game-tying single, +40.8% WPA
Teh sux0rest play: Aaron Nola’s RBI double in the fifth inning, -24.3% WPA

SB Nation GameThreads

Amazin’ Avenue
The Good Phight


Game 2

[Deep, elongated sigh] Okay, lets get into the annoying half of the doubleheader.

Game two had all of the frustrating beats that game one had, without any of the excitement and uniform ripping that come along with a walkoff victory. The Phillies and the Mets, who we can only presume love to play in extremely low scoring affairs, had a very similar game to the first one of the doubleheader.

A lot of this game was very similar, and frankly, hard to differentiate from one another. Matt Moore and David Peterson matched zeros for five innings, but did so in different ways. On the Phillies side, Moore continued the 2021 Mets tradition of looking absolutely horrific against basically any pitcher who throws the ball out of their left hand (which makes the comeback against Jose Alvarado that much nicer, from the Good portion of the festivities). He induced a lot of soft contact (though he should’ve given up a two-run home run to Albert Almora Jr., but Andrew McCutchen robbed Almora of his first home run since literally 2019). Moore only struck out two, but got through five rather easily, with the Mets netting just four base runners against him.

His counterpart, David Peterson, was almost as good as Moore. He started auspiciously, beaning leadoff hitter Odúbel Herrera, and shades of blowup starts likely passed flashed through the eyes of many Mets fans. He quickly erased those thoughts, forcing Rhys Hoskins to ground into a double play, and went off from there.

He followed that up with a one, two, three second inning, and allowed a single base runner in each of the third, fourth and fifth frames, but the Phillies never got into scoring position. His luck changed in the sixth inning, during a two out at bat against Bryce Harper. Peterson started Harper off with a slider, and got strike two on a fastball. Inexplicably, Peterson decided to challenge Bryce Harper with a second 94 MPH fastball up in the zone, and Harper, predictably, did not let himself get beat by it, and he launched it directly into the bullpen. It was the only blight on what was a truly good performance by the lanky lefty, making it three good outings in a row for him, getting himself squarely back on track.

The Mets went quietly in the bottom of the sixth against Connor Brogdon, and our favorite YouTuber Trevor May threw a very good seventh inning, as we went into the bottom of the seventh with the Mets losing 1-0 (again), and needing a rally (again). And (again) the bats came through, though this time against Archie Bradley. Billy McKinney broke a long hitless streak with a leadoff single against the shift. Luis Guillorme chopped a would-be double play ball to Alec Bohm who flubbed it, which set up the Mets with two on, and none out. Michael Conforto, pinch hitting for Almora, worked a walk to load the bases with none away.

Noted Walkoff Hero Patrick Mazeika walked up to the plate with a chance to probably get his patented number 76 retired by the organization (read: get a third walkoff in a season), but he meekly struck out. James McCann, pinch hitting for May, came to the plate and hit an absolute bomb of a sacrifice fly, a ball that Herrera did not track well and looked like it had a real chance to land. It did not, however, and the game was merely tied. Jeff McNeil grounded out to end the rally, and likely yelled some obscenities in the process.

The Mets surprisingly turned to Sean Reid-Foley in what was an enormous spot, with a free runner on second base in the eighth (it turned out that both Aaron Loup and Edwin Díaz were unavailable because both of them have thrown a bevy of baseballs in their recent outings). Honestly, Reid-Foley was far from bad. He got pinch hitter Brad Miller to ground out to Francisco Lindor — Lindor had a play at third to get the free runner out, but the ball handcuffed him, and he opted for the sure play at first. Herrera smoked a ball on the ground to a drawn in infield, and Luis Guillorme made a heck of a stop. He, however, bobbled the transition, and could only get the out at first, putting the Mets behind 2-1. It was an incredibly play all told, but a run came across regardless. Hoskins flew out to right on the first pitch of his at bat, and the Mets needed another rally.

This time, they did not get it.

They put together three, for lack of a better term, terrible at bats against the former-closer-who-had-to-be-used-as-a-closer Hector Neris. Lindor grounded out on the first pitch, Pete Alonso followed suit with a ground out of his own, and game one’s hero Dom Smith got blown away by multiple fastballs up above the letters to put the finishing touches on a rather frustrating loss.

Box scores

MLB.com
ESPN

*illar of the game

So. Pillar went 0-2 and got pinch hit for with Billy McKinney. On the other hand, Jonathan Villar (finally) got put on the IL with his calf strain, so Villar gets it as a quasi-get well soon card for being a legitimately important piece of the team since he was thrust into everyday action. Get well soon, Jonathan!

Win Probability Added

FanGraphs

What’s WPA?

Big Mets winner: Michael Conforto, +23.2% WPA
Big Mets loser: Jeff McNeil, -41.2% WPA
Mets pitchers: +23% WPA
Mets hitters: -73% WPA
Teh aw3s0mest play: Michael Conforto’s seventh inning walk to load the bases, +23.2% WPA
Teh sux0rest play: Bryce Harper’s sixth inning home run, -30.8% WPA

SB Nation GameThreads

Amazin’ Avenue
The Good Phight