(Jerry Seinfeld threw out the first pitch on Friday night – Photo by Jason Schott)
If you looked at the schedule before the season and saw that the Mets were hosting the Phillies at Citi Field the final weekend before the All-Star Break, you would think this would be a series between two contenders.
After an off-season in which Philadelphia acquired one of the two premier free agents in Bryce Harper and the Mets added Robinson Cano, Edwin Diaz, and a host of others including a brash new General Manager in Brodie Van Wagonen – who told the National League East to “come and get us” – the season has been disappointing for both clubs.
The Phillies are 45-42 heading into Friday, and they have just been passed by the surging Washington Nationals for second place in the National League East. The Mets are 39-48 and trying to remain relevant as they are 12 1/2 games out of first place and 6 1/2 out of a Wild Card, but you can’t really talk about the standings when you don’t have a winning record.
This three-game series began after the Mets had the 4th of July off, which is rare in baseball.
Mets Manager Mickey Callaway said of how he spent the day, “It was weird. I think after 23 years in a row where I’ve been playing on July Fourth, so it was weird to be at home, but I got to be with my kids. We watched some great fireworks. I live on the water in Brooklyn, right perfect view of the fireworks, it was great.”
Friday night was Seinfeld Night at Citi Field, and the show’s star, Jerry Seinfeld, was on hand to throw out the first pitch. (seen above)
The Mets went on to lose a heartbreaker to the Phillies, 7-2, on Friday night to open their three-game set and fall 10 games under .500, at 39-49.
Mets starter Jacob deGrom was superb, as he went seven innings, allowing just two runs on three hits and three walks, and he struck out ten. It was his 37th career game with at least 10 strikeouts, and fifth of the season. That is tied with Dwight Gooden for the third-most by a pitcher in their first 157 games since 1908.
deGrom has posted a 2.79 ERA (26 earned runs in 84.0 innings) over his last 13 starts dating back to May 1. He got the no-decision yet again and has one win in his last ten starts. His record remains at 4-7 heading into the All-Star Game, which he is likely to pitch in.
Mets Manager Mickey Callaway said of how deGrom has been dealing with another year in which he is pitching well but not getting wins, “Just like he did last year, like a pro. He understands what his role is; he can’t do other people’s jobs, so he goes out there every day and does his job, and does it pretty well, and he doesn’t have much to show for it. That’s frustrating probably more for all of us on his team than it is for him. He does a great job of handling it and keeps on putting up good outings and doesn’t let it bother him.”
On being told that the Mets are 16-30 in deGrom’s last 46 starts, Callaway said, “That’s very tough, that’s tough to hear. I mean, you obviously understand that’s what’s happened, and when your ace is out there, you’ve got to win games, especially when he pitches like an ace and like a Cy Young Award winner.”
The only mistake deGrom made was on the very first pitch of the game when Scott Kingery launched a home run into the second deck in left field.
The Mets tied it in the fourth when Pete Alonso homered, and then took the lead in the fifth when he hit a two-out double up the gap in right field to score Jeff McNeil all the way from first base to make it 2-1 Mets.
The pitch Alonso hit for the double was belt high on the outside corner. Phillies catcher J.T. Realmuto was looking for a pitch down and away, as he was practically in a seated position.
deGrom kept rolling, as he still had not allowed a hit after the homer to open the game. In the sixth, he walked Kingery with two outs before getting Jean Segura to pop out to third base, and then struck out Bryce Harper to end the inning. That was the third strikeout of the game for the Phillies’ right fielder.
In the seventh, Rhys Hoskins walked, then Realmuto hit one to right over McNeil’s head for a double and the first Phillies’ hit since the first inning.
Jay Bruce then grounded out to first before Cesar Hernandez bounced one to third baseman Todd Frasier, and he threw home to try to get Hoskins, who slid under catcher Wilson Ramos’ tag.
Hoskins looked like he slid away from the plate, and the tag got him first, but the Mets used their challenge earlier in the game, so the run counted and it was 2-2.
Maikel Franco then grounded out for the second out, and pinch hitter Andrew Knapp struck out to end the inning. That was the 10th strike out of deGrom’s night.
Seth Lugo came on for the Mets in the eighth, and he gave up a one-out single to Segura before getting Harper to fly out to deep left and strike out Hopkins looking.
The Phillies flashed the leather in the bottom of the eighth as Harper made a running catch on an Alonso fly ball, and then Hernandez ran into center field to snag a fly ball from Michael Conforto to end the inning.
The Mets went to their closer, Edwin Diaz, in the ninth, since it was a tie game, and the Phillies picked up where they left off against him in Philadelphia a week ago Thursday. (Philadelphia scored five off Diaz in the ninth to earn a comeback win)
Realmuto doubled down the left field line, then Bruce singled up the middle to bring him home and make it 3-2 Philadelphia.
Roman Quinn went in to run for Bruce, and he stole second, and then took third when Ramos fired his throw into center field.
Hernandez then drew a walk to make it first and third for Franco, who struck out. Sean Rodriguez was up next. and he singled home Quinn to make it 4-2, and that was all for Diaz.
Jeurys Familia was in next, and he struck out Kingery for the second out, then gave up a two-run double to Segura to score two, and then he came home on a double from Harper to blow it open and give Philly a 7-2 lead.
Hoskins then drew a walk, and that was all for Familia. Luis Avilan then got Realmuto to ground out with two on to end the long inning.
Callaway said of Diaz being unable to be consistent throughout this season, “That’s always tough to say. There’s a hundred reasons why guys can get affected. It’s hard to identify. We’ve been working with the mechanics part of it, you know, tonight, good slider pulled down the third base line just over the bag, (Realmuto’s leadoff double), then a base hit up the middle on the ground (Bruce’s RBI single), and then things blow up from there. You just got to keep working. It’s hard to tell with guys from year to year, so identifying that can be a challenge sometimes and you can’t give up.”