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Mets live and die by soft hits and outlast Phillies to reach 30 wins

A 7-0 lead turned into a 7-6 sweat fest, closed out nicely by the bullpen

MLB: Philadelphia Phillies at New York Mets Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

After experiencing only their second two-game losing streak of the season, and an especially dramatic two losses at the hands of the Giants, the Mets had an extra day to ponder before facing the Phillies. Would it be an effective day of reflection? Or would it be extra time to stew needlessly over mistakes and regrets? As their opening game against the Phillies proceeded, the Mets’ performance showed that it might’ve been a little of both.

A throwing error by Phillies shortstop Bryson Stott put Brandon Nimmo on first base to start the bottom of the first, and Starling Marte followed with a single to left-center field. Francisco Lindor walked, loading the bases for Pete Alonso, who drove Nimmo in on a sacrifice fly to shallow right field to open the scoring. Lindor stole second on the very next pitch, and Eduardo Escobar drove in Marte with another sacrifice fly in nearly the same spot Alonso put his to make it 2-0.

Aggressive base running and attacking weak points in the Phillies defense worked tremendously for the Mets in their first series against the Phillies, and it worked for the team in black in the opening innings of this game, as well. On the 11th pitch in the following at-bat, Mark Canha sawed a grounder through the vacated hole on the right side of the infield, scoring Lindor and raising the score to 3-0.

In the bottom of the third, Lindor walked and then Alonso golfed a rocket to left field for a two-run home run, making the score 5-0. It was one of only two hard hit balls that fell for hits for the Mets, the other a seventh-inning double from Nimmo, as both teams racked most of their runs through weak hits and sacrifice plays.

Marte reached first in the bottom of the fourth on a two-out single, then after advancing to third on a successful stolen base and an errant throw, Lindor drove him in on an opposite-field single. Alonso then drove in Lindor with a double over Nick Castellanos in right field, making the score 7-0 and setting the franchise record for RBI (45) before Memorial Day.

A good start, right? At least one that exorcised the demons from the previous series, yeah? Well, not quite, because the top of the sixth inning saw the Phillies claw back into the game. Two swinging bunts from Rhys Hoskins and Alec Bohm put runners on first and third with no outs, and Bryce Harper drove in the first Phillies run of the night with an RBI single to right field. Castellanos drove in the second run on the very next pitch dumping a soft fly to right field, making the score 7-2, and a Jean Segura groundout to third base scored Harper to make it 7-3. Carrasco had been cruising up to that point, throwing only 60 pitches through the first five innings and facing trouble only in the second inning, but he seemed to have run his course the third time through the order. It was later revealed that Carrasco hurt his glove-side wrist when diving for a ground ball, and though he says he’s fine there is no word on the extent of the injury.

Chasen Shreve relieved Carrasco to give the Mets a lefty-lefty matchup against the backup catcher Garrett Stubbs. J.T. Realmuto was available on the bench, but Phillies manager Joe Girardi opted to keep his starter rested instead of pinch-hitting one of his best hitters in a high-leverage situation. Stubbs immediately vindicated that decision by sending a hanger out of the park for a three-run home run to make the score 7-6. What looked like a night where the Mets would cruise to an easy win in one half inning turned into an aggravatingly close contest.

The Mets responded in the bottom of the sixth with a Tomás Nido walk, a Nimmo double, and a Marte groundout that scored Nido, making the game 8-6. Lindor’s groundout advanced Nimmo to third, and after the Phillies intentionally walked Alonso, Escobar ended the inning by flying out harmlessly to Castellanos.

Drew Smith looked shaky throwing fastballs way out of the zone, but he eventually settled down through a scoreless top of the seventh. The same can be said of Joely Rodriguez’s appearance in the top of the eighth, though much credit should go to Seth Lugo for striking out pinch hitter J.T. Realmuto with the tying run on second base to end the eighth. After striking out Rhys Hoskins to start the ninth, Edwin Diaz kept hearts racing by allowing a weak single to Alec Bohm, only to calm them down once again by striking out Bryce Harper and Castellanos in succession. It didn’t come easy, but the Mets bullpen did the job when it needed to be done, and the team narrowly avoided their first three-game losing streak of the season.

The Mets and Phillies will play tomorrow at 7:15, with Taijuan Walker scheduled to pitch against Zach Eflin.

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What’s WPA?

Big Mets winner: Brandon Nimmo (+12.7% WPA)

Big Mets loser: Chasen Shreve (-18.1% WPA)

Mets pitchers: +10.5% WPA

Mets hitters: +39.5% WPA

Teh aw3s0mest play: Garrett Stubbs strikeout in the eighth

Teh sux0rest play: Garret Stubbs home run in the sixth