(The celebration was on after the Mets’ walk-off win on Friday night – Photo by Jason Schott)
Friday night’s Mets game against the Phillies at Citi Field was a typical one for them in this crazy season.
Pete Alonso gave them the lead in the eighth, Edwin Diaz blew it in the ninth, and Alonso got the game-winning RBI in the bottom of the ninth to help them win 5-4.
The Mets are now 72-68 after winning the first game of this crucial 10-game homestand, which includes three with the Phillies, four against Arizona, and three against the Dodgers next weekend.
After completing a 4-2 road trip, then with this win, the Mets are still in the thick of the Wild Card race and they pulled within four games of the Chicago Cubs, who lost to the Milwaukee Brewers on Friday night.
The game was tied at two in the bottom of the eighth, and Blake Parker was on for Philadelphia.
The inning began with a walk to Todd Frazier, who was pinch-run for by Sam Haggerty.
Luis Guillorme was up next, pinch-hitting for Justin Wilson, and he was up to bunt. He executed it so well that he popped it up over Phillies first baseman Rhys Hoskins’ head to move Haggerty easily to second.
Jeff McNeil followed with a walk, and that was all for Parker.
Pete Alonso was up next, and he was facing Hector Neris, who took so long getting out of the bullpen that the second base umpire had to run out to the warning track to get him.
Alonso knocked a base hit to the left side to score Haggerty easily and give the Mets a 3-2 lead. Alonso had been 0-for-3, all strikeouts, to that point in the game.
After Michael Conforto flew out to left for the second out, Wilson Ramos squared one up and singled through the left side of the infield to score McNeil and make it 4-2 Mets.
Robinson Cano tore into one, but he lined it right to Cesar Hernandez at second base to end the inning.
In the ninth, with Seth Lugo unavailable, the Mets turned to Edwin Diaz, whose last appearance on the mound was on Tuesday night, when the Mets coughed up a six-run lead in the ninth to the Washington Nationals.
After striking out Logan Morrison, Diaz then allowed a single to Jean Segura, and then J.T. Realmuto launched a bomb to left for a two-run shot to tie the game.
At this point with Diaz, who heard the boos from the second he entered to the second he left, it seemed like anything but a shock.
The game was still tied entering the bottom of the ninth, and Mike Morin was in for the Phillies.
Morin started off the inning by getting both Amed Rosario and Brandon Nimmo to pop out to third base.
Juan Lagares, who entered the game in the top of the ninth for defense, singled to keep the inning alive.
J.D. Davis, who has constantly been clutch in late situations, was up next as a pinch-hitter for Diaz, and he singled to give the Mets two on and two out, and that was all for Morin.
Nick Vincent was next on for the Phillies, and he walked McNeil to load the bases.
Alonso, as if on cue, was up next, and Vincent started out 2-0 on him before battling back to a full 3-2 count.
With all the skill of a 10-year veteran, Alonso laid off a pitch that was just above the top of the strike zone for ball four to earn a walk to bring home Lagares and the Mets were winners, 5-4.
“That’s tough to do when you’re a hitter,” Mets Manager Mickey Callaway said when asked about Alonso laying off a close pitch on 3-2. “You want to make sure that you don’t strike out looking, and Pete just put a great at-bat together. The guy went 2-0 to him – all the pressure was on the pitcher at that point – he had to throw the ball over the plate at some point or you lose the game.
“Pete did a good job of understanding the situation, not trying to get too amped up and chase anything out of the zone once you’re 2-0. Pete’s a great hitter, and if he goes out of the zone early in the count to try and drive in a run, it’s okay because that’s what he normally does. He’s got a hundred-something RBIs, he’s got 45 homers; but once he got to 2-0, he did a great job of, okay, I have to be a little bit of a different hitter than I’m used to be, and got the job done with a walk-off. You kind to figure that he’s going to do that.”
Alonso now has 30 go-ahead RBI, the most in the National League, something most rookies don’t do.
Callaway was asked what sets his first baseman apart from the typical rookie, and he said, “Well, number one, he’s got 45 home runs and 100 RBIs, and that’s been known that, hey, this guy’s gonna do some damage, so already, the pitchers, with runners in scoring position are, you know, they’re feeling it. Two, for most of the season, he stays through the middle of the field, logs RBIs, comes with a big part of the field, and takes a great approach and covers a lot of pitches.
“It’s okay to expand (the strike zone) at times when you’re an RBI guy. You know, you don’t wait for the next guy; you go out there and you expand a little bit. He does a great job of taking a ball just off the plate and driving it or going down just under the zone and getting it in the air. He just has a real knack for driving in runs; he’s kind of always done that, and I’m sure the pitcher’s like, ‘oh no, it’s Pete Alonso coming up.'”