The Mets lost two contributors, then lost a winning streak in a heartbreaker.
The Phillies cut down the potential winning run at the plate in the ninth inning and then capitalized with a run in the 10th to steal a 2-1 victory in front of 38,467 at Citi Field on Friday night.
The Mets’ six-game winning streak was snapped in the series opener as they lost for just the third time in their past 18 games. More importantly, they lost Eduardo Escobar and Jeff McNeil to injuries in the first two innings.
Two days after Mets broadcaster Keith Hernandez said he “hates” calling Phillies games because of their poor defense, the Philadelphia defense was the difference-maker.
In the ninth inning, with the score tied 1-1, Starling Marte led off with a double against Seranthony Dominguez and moved to third on Francisco Lindor’s deep fly out. Pete Alonso was intentionally walked to bring up pinch-hitter Daniel Vogelbach, who lofted a medium-deep fly ball to left field. The Phillies’ Matt Vierling threw a strike home, and Marte was tagged out by catcher JT Realmuto to send the game to the 10th.
“It really just came down to a player making a perfect throw at that point,” Marte, who did not regret the decision, said through interpreter Alan Suriel. Manager Buck Showalter added it was a “good send.”
Showalter then went to Mychal Givens for the 10th, though Edwin Diaz had thrown just eight pitches an inning prior. Showalter said he didn’t want to take Diaz “out of play for two or three days.”
Against Givens, the Phillies advanced ghost runner Bryson Stott to third on a ground out before Alec Bohm hit a medium-distance fly ball to Marte. The right fielder’s throw home to Tomas Nido was on time, but the one-hopper got by the catcher for the go-ahead run.
“I feel like I misjudged the throw a little bit,” said Nido, who moved up toward the throw in a rush to receive it. “When the ball was about to get to me, I realized it was a short-hop, a lot faster than I calculated.”
The Mets wasted their final chance. After Mark Canha’s flyout Vogelbach moved, the ghost runner, to third in the bottom of the 10th, former Yankee David Robertson struck out Tyler Naquin looking and got Luis Guillorme to ground out to first.
The Mets (73-40) now lead the Braves, who beat the Marlins, by just six games and wasted yet another Max Scherzer gem.
Scherzer, who needed 43 pitches to claw through two innings, somehow lasted for seven one-run innings in which he continually flirted with danger and continually found his way out.
The Phillies tagged him for nine hits, but left eight on base, including seven in the first four innings. They scored in the first against Scherzer, who shut them down from there.
“In that type of situation, you don’t try to punch as many tickets,” said Scherzer, alluding to strikeouts. “You’re trying to just collect outs and not walk anybody.”
Scherzer, who lowered his ERA to 1.93, got better as the night got longer. He allowed just two batters to reach in his final three innings, and one of them got to first because of the impromptu defense behind Scherzer. In the sixth inning, Darick Hall hit a liner toward a Canha in shallow right field — the typical left fielder technically was playing third base, but had been moved over in the shift — and he couldn’t cleanly field the one-hopper.
Canha was playing third because Escobar, who had a rough start to the game defensively, left in the second inning after he sustained left side tightness. He was set to undergo imaging, the Mets said.
In the next frame, McNeil did not take the field because of what the team said was a right thumb laceration that required a couple of stitches. In the bottom of the second, McNeil had grounded out to first baseman Rhys Hoskins and attempted to roll awkwardly under Hoskins’ tag. Showalter believed Hoskins stepped on his hand.
“Fortunately we got a night game [Saturday]so we’ll make sure we’re covered one way or another,” said Showalter, whose Mets could be calling up a couple infielders.
Without McNeil, the Mets put Guillorme at second and moved Canha from left field to third base (a position he had played in four major league games and none since 2016), while Tyler Naquin entered to play left field.
Any extended loss of McNeil, who had been on a 13-game hitting streak in which he was batting .407, would hurt far more than the loss Friday.