Conventional wisdom would lead you to believe that a battle of two front-line starting pitchers on a perfect weather getaway day would lead to a brisk game.
That didn’t happen today in Philadelphia.
Aaron Nola started the game off with very little feel for the strikezone, throwing five of his first six pitches for balls. However, a foul fly out and a double play erased the leadoff walk, and got Nola through the inning unscathed.
Max Scherzer would have a similarly out of sorts first inning, issuing three walks, but escaping with no runs and 29 pitches thrown. Once the bases were loaded, Mets fans got a good look at the bulldog Scherzer, who refocused and executed at a whole other level when his back was against the wall.
Both pitchers settled down after the relatively out of character first innings. Scherzer’s first hard hit ball of the day came off the bat of Bryson Stott, who shot a ball over the first base bag. However, Starling Marte perfectly played the carom and threw out Stott trying to take second base.
In the third, Brandon Nimmo hit a two-out solo home run to put the Mets on the board, 1-0. The Mets would add to this on a Pete Alonso RBI double, scoring Marte from first base, in the fourth.
It was then that the wheels came off for Nola. After walking Eduardo Escobar and striking out Dominic Smith, Nola hit both Mark Canha and Jeff McNeil, driving in a run and ending his day at three and a third innings and 76 pitchers. Nola gave up three runs on three hits and three walks, while striking out five.
The Phillies got on the board in the bottom of the fourth. Nick Castellanos led off the inning with a double, which was followed up by a broken bat, infield single by Jean Segura, making it first and third with no outs. After two strikeouts, Scherzer left a pitch over the heart of the plate for Stott, who dunked it into left field for an RBI single. Scherzer would get the next batter to pop up, limiting the damage and keeping the Mets up 3-1.
Alonso added a second RBI double of the day in the top of the fifth, scoring Fransisco Lindor, chasing Seranthony Domínguez from the game.
The Met’s hit by pitch streak kept coming, with three HBPs in today’s game. The third, striking Dom on the hand, loading the bases in the fifth against Damon Jones. This marks ten on the short season. A strikeout to Canha would end the inning.
But the Mets were not done. In the sixth, Marte blooped an RBI single to make it 5-1 Mets. A three-run, opposite field home run by Alonso would finally break the game open after a number of opportunities were squandered.
The comfort would not last, however. Sean Reid-Foley entered the game and promptly hit Jean Segura on the forearm, a move that the broadcast thought may have been some sort of retaliation from the Mets being plunked so often this series. After walking Didi Gregorious, Reid-Foley gave up what appeared to be an extra-base hit to the left-field corner by Jorge Camargo. However, after a review, the ball was deemed foul and the two runs scored were walked back. Camargo did single, however, loading the bases with no outs. Two ground outs would score two runs, and run Reid-Foley from the game. Newest Met Joely Rodriguez came in to and struck out Kyle Schwarber to end the inning.
The game never feel easy once Schezer was out. Rodriguez walked the first two batters in the seventh, and was pulled in favor of Adam Ottavino. Ottavino’s second pitch was lofted into left-field, scoring one, and putting runners on second and third with no outs. A fly ball and tag-up made it 8-5, but Ottavino was able to limit the damage.
Seth Lugo pitched a scoreless eighth for the Mets, striking out Schwarber and JT Realmuto. Lugo looked solid, even if he still does not seem to exactly be harkening back to his past glories.
In the ninth, Escobar hit a fan-interference assisted triple and was driven in by a Smith sacrifice fly to give the Mets a four-run lead heading into the ninth inning.
Enter Edwin Díaz, who is greeted by an opposite field Bryce Harper home run to make it 9-6. But Díaz settled in and got the final three outs, putting a surprisingly stressful and languid game to a close. It also put a cap on a 5-2 roadtrip that, with just a little bit of luck tipping in the other direction, might’ve been a 7-0 start.
The Mets are off tomorrow, before opening at home on Jackie Robinson Day on Friday. Chris Bassitt will start for the Mets, facing Zach Davies for the Diamondbacks.
SB Nation GameThreads
Win Probability Added
Big winner: Pete Alonso, +24.5% WPA
Big loser: Tomas Nido, -9.1% WPA
Total pitcher WPA: +19.3% WPA
Total batter WPA: +30.7% WPA
Teh aw3s0mest play: Brandon Nimmo’s third inning home run, +12.3% WPA
Teh sux0rest play: Nick Castellanos’s seventh inning double, -9.8% WPA