For the fourth time this year, the Mets failed to complete a three-game sweep at home against an inferior team. In kind of a freaky game, the Phillies used a nightmarish second inning to score all the runs they would need to send the Mets to Washington fuming.
Rafael Montero started for the Mets, hoping to continue the good mojo he had in his last start in San Francisco. After an immaculate first inning, he could not. Tommy Joseph worked a nine-pitch at bat before singling to left leading off the second. Rookie Nick Williams hit the next pitch through the shortstop hole to put runners at first and second. Maikel Franco drove them both home with a booming double over the head of center fielder Brandon Nimmo. Ty Kelly then dropped a surprise sacrifice bunt down third to move Franco to third. With the infield in, catcher Andrew Knapp hit a shot to second that chewed up Asdurbal Cabrera and the Phils had their third run. Starting pitcher Nick Pivetta bunted conventionally to move Knapp to second. With Daniel Nava at the plate, Montero uncorked a wild pitch which glanced off the leg of the home plate umpire. Rene Rivera had no idea where the ball went and Knapp chugged all the way home from second to make it a 4-0 game.
For the Mets’ part, they couldn’t solve the rookie Pivetta, who was nearly perfect through the first four innings, allowing only a one-out walk to Lucas Duda in the bottom of the second, but he was erased on a double play ball by T. J. Rivera. Yoenis Cespedes drew a two-out walk in the fourth and moved down to second on a wild pitch, but was stranded there when Jay Bruce grounded into the shift. T.J. Rivera got the Mets on the board with one out in the fifth, hitting a line drive off the railing in left.
Montero righted himself after that disastrous second, allowing three more harmless hits and stranding two runners in the sixth after two one out walks. His day was finished with one out in the seventh, having allowed eight hits, four earned runs, two walks and struck out six on 104 pitches. Now, if the Mets could just get into the Phillies’ bullpen…
It wouldn’t happen until the game had gotten hopelessly away, though. They almost got the chance in the seventh, when Jay Bruce led off with a walk. Lucas Duda worked the count to 3-2, then hit a popup to short center field. Aaron Altherr muffed it, but the ball rolled up his shoulder, down his back and he was able to twist and grab it before it hit the ground. Bruce, sure that the ball had found grass, was fairly easily doubled off first.
The eighth was where this game died, though. Chasen Bradford had finished the seventh looking strong, but odd circumstance shortened his day. Williams led off with a base hit. Franco hit double-play ball to Jose Reyes, but Williams rolled into Asdrubal Cabrera. Franco was initially called out on the throw to first, but replay reversed that call and simultaneously took away the Mets’ challenge when Terry Collins questioned Williams’s baserunning. Knapp followed an out with a bleeder of an infield single between Bradford and Duda. The reversal loomed large when Brock Stassi pinch-hit for Pivetta and bounced an RBI single. The reversal loomed even larger when Daniel Nava plated two with a base hit.
The Mets down meekly before Joaquin Benoit in the eighth, though they did notch their second hit, a pinch dunker to center by Matt Reynolds. In the ninth, Cabrera led off with a bouncer off closer Hector Neris’s glove for an error. Cespedes then scalded a ball to third that was gloved by Franco. Bruce hit a bouncer to second baseman Ty Kelly, who tried to get two, but his toss to second was too late, according to yet another replay reversal. Duda flied out to left and pinch-hitter Wilmer Flores struck out for the ballgame.
On to DC for two oddly-timed games, Steven Matz taking on Stephen Strasburg at 6:00 tomorrow night.