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Injuries and a bullpen implosion lose a game for the Mets

For a second consecutive day, the Mets couldn’t hold onto the lead in the eighth inning.

New York Mets v Philadelphia Phillies Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images

The Mets had a great opening series against the Nationals, with fantastic pitching, a powerful offensive force, and other than the in the last game, a stable bullpen. So the Mets looked to head into Philadelphia and give the fight to another divisional opponent, especially one poised to be much more competitive than the Nationals. The Phillies made some considerable offensive improvements in the offseason, signing both Nick Castellanos and Kyle Schwarber, but these additions were defensive subtractions. The Mets looked to show they could best the offensive juggernaut by picking on their pitching and defense.

In the top of the first inning, Brandon Nimmo started things off with a single to Schwarber in left field. Starling Marte then hit a ball directly into Ranger Suarez, which deflected to Alec Bohm at third. Alec Bohm threw it over to first, or more accurately, gave the impression he was throwing the ball to first. The ball bounced wide and flew away from Rhys Hoskins at first and by the time anyone got to it, Nimmo had reached third and Marte got to second. Francisco Lindor and Pete Alonso followed that up with a pair of ground outs, the latter of which drove in Nimmo for the first run of the game. Eduardo Escobar then singled to Bryce Harper in right field driving in Marte for the second run of the game. J.D. Davis walked, prolonging the inning for Suarez and the Phillies. Mark Canha singled to Harper, driving in Escobar, but Guillorme lined out to Schwarber, ending the inning. In the bottom of the inning, Taijuan Walker took the mound for the Mets. Schwarber struck out swinging for the first out. J.T. Realmuto then grounded out to Escobar at third for the second out. Walker then struck Harper out swinging, completing Walker’s great first inning.

In the top of the second, James McCann hit a ground ball to Bohm. Bohm, after his terrible play in the first, decided to provide the people of Philadelphia with an encore, throwing the ball too high and allowing McCann to reach base. Nimmo then laid down a sacrifice bunt to advance James McCann to second and added yet another bunt to the Mets total in 2022, which has reached the total of too much. Marte and Lindor both ground out to Bohm who handled the plays without any errors (earning sarcastic rounds of applause from the home crowd in Philadelphia), making the movement of McCann to second null and void. In the bottom of the inning, Walker looked as good as he did in the first. He struck Castellanos out swinging, then got Hoskins to pop up into foul territory which Alonso caught in a sliding play, and then Didi Gregorious struck out on a foul tip, ending the inning.

In the third, Alonso hit a ball to Bohm. It could be thought that by rule of threes, Bohm was forced by fate to make another error, throwing the ball too wide of first and despite Hoskins best efforts to spin around and tag Alonso before he reached base, Alonso ended up safe at first. Escobar then popped out to Hoskins for the first out. Davis singled to put two men on base, but Canha struck out swinging for the second out of the inning and the last out of the night for Suarez who was then replaced by Nick Nelson. Nelson got Guillorme to strike out to end the inning. Walker left the game at this point due to right shoulder irritation, so David Peterson came in to replace him. Peterson found himself in a bit of trouble to start his night, allowing Jean Segura, his first batter of the night, to reach base on a single. He then picked Segura off at first, but he walked Bohm, placing another runner at first with only one out. He got Matt Vierling to fly out and Schwarber to strike out, ending the inning before any more trouble could brew.

In the fourth, the Mets were relatively quiet at the plate. McCann flew out to Harper, then Nimmo reached base on a single to Gregorious at shortstop, but he was quickly erased due to a Starling Marte double play (which Bohm managed not to screw up). The Phillies had a little more excitement in the bottom of the inning, though no runs scored either. Peterson got Realmuto to fly out to Marte, then walked Harper. Castellanos singled to Marte, which got Harper to third with just one out. But Hoskins hit into a double play, ending the inning before Harper could score.

For the first time all game, the Mets didn’t reach base at all in the fifth inning. Lindor hit a ground out to Hoskins at first, then Alonso flew out to Harper. Escobar then grounded out to Hoskins to end the inning. In the bottom of the inning Peterson kept chugging along. Gregarious started things out with a ground out to Lindor, then Segura grounded out to Guillorme. Bohm doubled, adding a bit of danger to the inning, but he was stranded on second after Vierling grounded out to Guillorme.

The sixth inning was a quiet inning for both teams. The Mets went three up and three down, with Davis striking out on a foul tip, Canha flying out to Harper, and Guillorme lining out to Hoskins. The Phillies also went down quietly, with Schwarber striking out, Realmuto grounding out, and Bryce Harper striking out swinging.

The seventh inning was a little wasky for the Mets. McCann walked, and was stuck at first base after Nimmo lined out to Harper. But then McCann somehow stole a base, placing himself in scoring position. After Marte lined out to Vierling in center, it seemed like this nifty baserunning by McCann might be all for naught. The Phillies changed pitchers, bringing Seranthony Domínguez, who allowed a Lindor single that drove in McCann for the Mets’ fourth and final run. Alonso then lined out to Schwarber, ending the inning. The Mets brought Trevor May for the bottom of the inning, and he handled the Phillies well. Castellanos got the first out with a fly out to Nimmo, and Hoskins followed that with a fly out to Marte. Gregarious singled, but Segura hit into a force out, ending the inning before anything could happen.

The eighth inning definitely could’ve gone better, and it probably couldn’t have gone much worse. The Mets looked to have some promise starting out when Escobar walked, but Davis grounded into a double play and wiped out the baserunner. Canha then struck out looking, ending the Mets inning still having a four run lead. In the bottom of the eighth, chaos broke out in the worst way possible. May stayed in to face Bohm and walked him, then came out of the game with some unknown arm issue, the second Mets injury scare of the night. Joely Rodríguez came in and his first batter was Johan Camargo pinch-hitting for Vierling, and Camargo singled and Bohm made it to third. Schwarber grounded into a force out, with the Mets getting an out at second but Schwarber making it safe at first and Bohm scoring. But one run to the Mets’ four runs was no biggie. What was a biggie was the towering home run J.T. Realmuto hit, bringing the Phillies within one run of the Mets. Rodríguez struck Harper out, then Seth Lugo was brought in to get the final out of the inning, and he decided to take the long way to the final out. He walked Nick Castellanos, then allowed back to back doubles to Hoskins and Gregorious, causing the tying and go-ahead runs to score. He struck out Segura to stop the bleeding, but at that point the damage was done.

In the top of the ninth, the Mets had to face old friend and Mets Legend Brad Hand. And as sure as the sun sets in the evening, the Mets made Hand look like prime Dennis Eckersley. Dominic Smith, pinch hitting for Luis Guillorme, struck out looking. McCann flew out to rookie center fielder Símon Muzziotti, and Nimmo struck out swinging, ending the game and giving the win to the Phillies in the first game of the series.

The first game of the Mets series against the Phillies had a startling similarity to the last game of the series against the Nats. The bullpen blew up in the eighth inning, and it was too late to be able to recover, causing a crushing loss. The Mets had several bullpen questions this offseason, but they didn’t make enough attempts to solve these problems, which will lead to these kinds of implosions and losses. If enough of these happen in the first few months of the season, the Mets might be forced to make one or more moves at the deadline to address these issues. They’re very real issues, and they’re the kind that can sink a team.

Box scores

MLB.com
ESPN

Win Probability Added

What’s WPA?

Big Mets winner: David Peterson, +19.5% WPA
Big Mets loser: Seth Lugo, -66.1% WPA
Mets pitchers: -49.7% WPA
Mets hitters: -0.3% WPA
Teh aw3s0mest play: Starling Marte singles, Marte and Nimmo advance to second and third on Alec Bohm error, +10.6% WPA
Teh sux0rest play: Rhys Hoskins RBI double in the eighth inning, -35.9% WPA

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