Can it get any worse for the 2023 Mets?
A bad bullpen and bad defense doomed the Mets once again. The Phillies scored four runs on just one hit in the eighth inning to hand the Mets a demoralizing 7-6 loss at Citizens Bank Park Sunday afternoon.
“It’s frustrating for the players, I mean everybody. We shot every bullet we had just about,” said Mets Manager Buck Showalter after another brutal loss.
Back to back hit batters by Mets reliever Jeff Brigham with the bases loaded provided the tying and go ahead runs but it was a pivotal error by third baseman Brett Baty that keyed the rally,
There is always a risk playing young players and sometimes, you have to live with the mistakes. Unfortunately, this mistake came at a crucial time in the game.
The Mets had a 6-3 lead entering the eighth. David Robertson was available for maybe one inning while Adam Ottavino and Brooks Raley were not available so Josh Walker started the inning. Bryce Harper walked, J.T. Realmuto singled and Bryson Stott walked to load the bases with no one out.
Brigham relieved Walker and got Alec Bohm to ground to third for what looked like it was going to be a double play. Baty hesitated and could not get the ball out of his glove, killing the chance at a DP. Baty only made it worse when he a made a bad throw to second that Jeff McNeil could not secure for the out.
“I just couldn’t get it out of my glove. There’s really no excuse, that play’s needs to be made ten times out of ten. Cost us the game, cost us the series,” said Baty, who held himself accountable. “That one’s completely on me, that’s not on anyone else in here. Everybody battled the entire game, the entire day. If we could’ve gotten one out there, it would’ve changed the game completely. That one’s completely on me, no one else in here.”
A run scored on the error and the Phillies stlll had the bags full and no one out when Brandon Marsh walked to force in a run to make it 6-5. After Kody Clemens struck out, Brigham hit Kyle Schwarber and Trea Turner to give the Phillies a 7-6 lead.
“Was trying to go in on Schwarber with the cutter and I yanked it a little bit and it caught his knee there,” Brigham said. “Tried to throw a slider to Turner, just backed it up a little bit.”
Vinny Nittoli relieved Brigham and got the final two outs but the damage was done.
Robertson warmed in the top of the ninth in case the Mets rallied, but Mets Manager Buck Showalter was not going to use his veteran reliever for two innings. If Robertson pitched the eighth, he would have to pitch the ninth.
With Ottavino and Raley unavailable, Showalter had to go to the underbelly of the bullpen, which has been problematic all year long. “Because Robbie couldn’t pitch two innings and we didn’t have anybody else to pitch,” Showalter said when asked why he didn’t use his lead relievers.
No surprise that the Mets got behind early as the Phils plated a run in the first. Like death and taxes, Mets starting pitcher Carlos Carrasco will give up a run in the first inning and that came courtesy of Trea Turner. The Phillies shortstop jumped all over a 93 MPH, first pitch fastball and drove it over the centerfield wall for his 8th homerun and a 1-0 lead.
Mets grabbed their first lead in the top of the third. With bases loaded and one out against ol’ friend Zack Wheeler, Francisco Lindor struck out and it appeared that another rally would come up short. Pete Alonso’s bat is starting to come alive and he got a huge, two out, two run single to give the Mets a 2-1 lead.
The Phillies tied it in the third on Turner’s RBI single, but the Mets answered in the 4th with another two out hit as Brandon Nimmo singled to score Baty to make it 3-2.
Francisco Lindor led off the 5th inning with his 15th home run off of Wheeler to make it 4-2, but the Phils cut it to one when Turner stole second without a throw and then third and he scored on a throwing error by Mets catcher Omar Narvaez, who was trying to throw him out.
Wheeler gave up five runs in 5 1/3 innings, but the Mets would only get one more run off of four Phillies’ relievers.
The Mets added a run in the sixth as they scored in five straight innings that was capped off by Pete Alonso’s 24th home run off of Phillies reliever Jose Alvarado, that made it a 6-3 game, but they failed to pad the lead in the 7th.
Mark Canha walked and Tommy Pham singled to put runners on first and second with no one out.
McNeil sacrificed the runners to second and third, but the left hand hitting Baty struck out on three pitches against the lefty Alvarado. Francisco Alvarez batted for Omar Narvaez and also struck out on three pitches as the rally fizzled and would prove to be costly.
Every time the Mets look like they’re about to start to turn things around, something always seems to happen to keep them spinning their wheels.
They return home Monday night to start a seven game homestand against the Brewers and Giants. If and when the Mets will ever get going this season remains a major mystery.