(Cesar Hernandez approaching the plate after his first-inning home run – Photo by Jason Schott)
Marcus Stroman’s time with the Mets has not gone as well as they hoped since they made the shocking move to acquire him at the trade deadline in late July.
The right-hander entered his start on Saturday night against the Phillies with one win, one loss, and four no-decisions, to go along with a 4.55 ERA in his six starts with the Mets, and this outing was no better.
The Phillies didn’t take long to get on the board, as leadoff hitter Cesar Hernandez blasted one into the second deck in right field for a home run. It was the ninth lead-off homer off his career.
J.T. Realmuto and Corey Dickerson followed with singles, and then after Rhys Hoskins lined out to second, Jean Segura singled to load the bases, setting them up for a possible big inning.
Stroman recovered to strike out Brad Miller and Scott Kingery to get out of the first.
The Mets then rallied against Phillies starter Drew Smyly, as Pete Alonso ripped a double off the left field fence and Jeff McNeil and Michael Conforto drew walks to load the bases, but Todd Frazier flew out to right to end the threat.
Philadelphia had another big chance in the second when Hernandez and Realmuto singled, but Dickerson struck out. At this point, the Phils left five on base.
After Stroman retired them in order in the third, they broke through in the fourth.
Kingery hit a routine fly ball to left field that J.D. Davis tried to catch nonchalantly, and it fell off the webbing of his glove.
Adam Haseley singled, and after Smyly struck out on a bunt attempt, Hernandez and Realmuto each got RBI singles, and Dickerson got a two-run double to make it 5-0 Philadelphia.
Stroman recovered to get Hoskins to ground out to shortstop, and Segura flew out to left, as Davis made the catch this time.
That would be all for Stroman, whose final line read: 4 innings, 10 hits, 5 runs (4 earned), 0 walks, 6 strikeouts.
Mets Manager Mickey Callaway said of what he sees has prevented Stroman from getting on a role, “We’re missing those early-count outs. He did that so well when he was in Toronto, that early-count groundball, one- or two-pitch outs, you know, three-pitch outs, that he did so well. You know, it’s a weak groundball and it keeps your pitch count down. What that does is, not only makes it harder to pitch deep into games, but every batter out there gets to see more and more of his stuff, and sooner or later, you know, they’re going to get you…
“I think it’s on us, you know, it’s on the pitcher. We’ve got to get the ball over the plate a little bit more, entice them to swing at a quality pitch early in the count, and get them to make some soft contact there so we can get those early-count outs.”
In the bottom of the fourth, the Miller made a pair of errors, as Frazier hit one to him that took a high hop, followed by a Juan Lagares one that went too low for him.
The Mets couldn’t take advantage, as Smyly struck out Tomas Nido, then Jed Lowrie (who was pinch-hitting for Stroman for his Mets debut) also struck out, and Amed Rosario grounded out.
Hector Zamora was first out of the Mets bullpen, and he pitched a perfect fifth before Walter Lockett pitched two perfect innings.
Meanwhile, Smyly settled in over his final few innings, and after a Davis single with two outs in the fifth, he retired the last seven hitters he faced to complete seven shutout innings.
Jeurys Familia came on for the Mets, and worked around a Sean Rodriguez single to pitch a scoreless eighth, and Tyler Bashlor pitched a perfect ninth.
They were matched by the Phillies bullpen, as Cole Irvin pitched a scoreless eighth, and Nick Pivetta came on for the ninth and completed the 5-0 shutout.
This was the Mets’ ninth shutout of the season, and first since July 20 at San Francisco. It was their first shutout at home since May 1, ending a 51-game streak at Citi Field where they scored at least a run.
Philadelphia improved to 73-68 with the win, and pass the Mets, who fell to 72-69.