Saturday, April 30, 2022

Mets Bullpen Falters As Phillies Come Back Late


Eduardo Escobar at bat on a beautiful Saturday night at Citi Field. Photo by Jason Schott.

One night after being no-hit, the Phillies responded with a 4-1 comeback win over the Mets on Saturday night at Citi Field in the second game of their weekend series.

Taijuan Walker was making his second start of the season, and first since he threw two scoreless innings against the Phillies in Philadelphia on April 11 before exiting with right shoulder bursitis. 

The Mets picked this game to slip Walker back into the rotation to give Max Scherzer an extra day's rest after he threw seven shutout innings in St. Louis last Monday night, in which he allowed just two hits and a walk, while striking out 10 in a game the Mets won 5-2, with all five runs coming in the ninth inning.

Walker had an up-and-down first season with the Mets in 2021, as he went 7-3 in to make the All-Star team, and then tailed off in the second half to finish 7-11 with a 4.47 ERA, 159 inning pitched, 133 hits, 84 runs (79 earned), 26 home runs, 55 walks, and 146 strikeouts.  

The big right-hander picked off where the five Mets who no-hit Philadelphia on Friday night left off, as he retired the Phils in order, punctuated by a strikeout of Bryce Harper, in the first inning.

Nick Castellanos led off the second inning with a line drive to left field for the Phillies' first hit of the night (and the series), and then he was promptly picked off first base. J.T. Realmuto was at-bat during the caught stealing, but Walker then got Kyle Schwarber to hit into a double play to end the inning.

Mets center fielder Brandon Nimmo made the defensive play of the night in the fourth inning when he scaled the wall to make take a possible home run away from Harper.

The Mets had chances of their own against Phillies starter Kyle Gibson, as Francisco Lindor and Pete Alonso got two-out walks in the first inning, but Eduardo Escobar grounded to first base to end the inning. 

In the fourth, Escobar drew a walk with one out, moved to second base on a Jeff McNeil groundout to first, and took third on a hit by Mark Canha down the third base line that Alec Bohm got a glove on, but didn't make the throw to first. Dom Smith then grounded out to second to end the inning. 

The Mets cashed in an inning later, with a rally that began with a Brandon Nimmo one-out walk. Starling Marte was up next, and he hit one back to Gibson, who tried throwing Nimmo out at second, and it went into center field, allowing Nimmo to go to third.

Lindor then lined one to first, and Hoskins tried throwing Nimmo out at the plate, but he slid around the late tag to give the Mets a 1-0 lead.

Alonso followed with a walk to load the bases and chase Gibson from the game. 

Philadelphia turned to left-handed Jose Alvarado for Escobar, switching him around to the right side, and it worked as he got the strikeout, and then he struck out McNeil to end the inning. To sum up how crazy that inning was, Mets got 1 run on no hits, an error, and three left on base.

That was all for Walker, and his final line was superb: 5 innings, 0 runs, 2 walks, 1 strikeout, 73 pitches/44 strikes.

Trevor May was on next for the Mets, and he gave up a double to Odubel Herrera to open the sixth inning. Jean Segura then hit a fly ball to deep right to move Herrera to third with one out.

The Mets had the infield in, and Hoskins hit a sharp one to Lindor, who threw it to third, where Escobar was right on the bag, and with no way for Herrera to come back, they got him in the rundown and Escobar tagged him out. Harper then flew out to left to end the inning.

Adam Ottavino, the Brooklyn native, came on for the seventh, and the Phillies finally broke through. Realmuto drew a one-out walk, and Schwarber then took a down-and-in fastball and deposited it into the seats in right-center field to make it 2-1 Phillies.

Bohm drew a walk, and he stole second, and took third on Mets catcher McCann's throw into center field. Didi Gregorious struck out for the second out on the pitch Bohm made his steal attempt.

Herrera was up next, and for the second straight inning, he laced a double, this one down the left field line, to bring in Bohm and make it 3-1 Phillies, and that was it for Ottavino.

Hoskins launched a solo home run to left-center in the eighth off Sean Reid-Foley to make it 4-1.

Ex-Met Jeurys Familia came on with two out in the seventh to a smattering of boos, probably because of where he went as a free agent, and he got Alonso to line out to second to end the inning, and then got two outs in the eighth.

Corey Knebel pitched 1 1/3 innings, in which he allowed a hit and a walk, while notching a strikeout, to close it out.

Max Scherzer will take the mound for the Mets in the series finale on Sunday Night Baseball.

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