PHILADELPHIA – Zack Wheeler, Marcus Stroman and Noah Syndergaard are three names that probably would have looked better than Rick Porcello pitching for the dire-straits Mets on Tuesday.
For various reasons, the aforementioned trio was unavailable, starting with the fact the Mets didn’t re-sign Wheeler last offseason, letting him defect to the Phillies. Syndergaard’s season ended before it ever got started because of Tommy John surgery and Stroman last month opted out on 2020.
The nicest thing that could be said of Porcello – and probably also of his season – is he wasn’t a complete disaster. With a blah performance from the right-hander when more was needed, the Mets lost their third straight 4-1 to the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park.
While the Mets have top guns Jacob deGrom and Seth Lugo to pitch the next two days, the three-game sweep they needed against another National League postseason contender won’t happen. The Mets (21-27) began the day two games behind the Giants for the NL’s second wild-card spot, but have competition from the Reds, Brewers and Rockies, who are all ahead of them.
This one wasn’t all on Porcello, who allowed four earned runs over six innings in increasing his ERA to 6.08. The Mets lineup was also quiet for a third straight game since scoring 18 runs on Friday against the Blue Jays. Most notably, Wilson Ramos hit into an inning-ending double play after the Mets had loaded the bases in the sixth.
Pete Alonso batted with five runners on base throughout the night and left them all stranded, finishing hitless in four at-bats. The inconsistent slugger has nosedived into a 1-for-17 slump at a time the Mets need him most.
The Mets had their chance in the sixth, loading the bases when Jake Arrieta plunked Andres Gimenez. After the pitch, Arrieta clutched his right hamstring and hobbled off the field. JoJo Romero entered and got Ramos to hit into a 6-4-3 double play that ended the inning. It was the second time in three games that Ramos hit into a double play in a big spot – Saturday night in Buffalo he was doubled up, swinging at a 2-0 pitch outside the strike zone, after Brandon Nimmo had walked leading off the ninth. The Mets lost 3-2.
Didi Gregorius two-run homer in the fifth against Porcello buried the Mets in a 4-1 hole after J.D. Davis had his glove knocked off on Alec Bohm’s one-hop shot to third. Davis lost his glove, but fielded the ball bare-handed and nearly nailed Bohm at first base. Gregorius followed with a shot off the right-field mezzanine.
Porcello created his own mess in the fourth, before pinch-hitter Adam Haseley stroked a two-run single. Jean Segura and Adam Knapp both walked in the inning, with a double sandwiched in-between by Scott Kingery. With the bases loaded, Phillies manager Joe Girardi went for the kill by using Haseley to pinch hit for Kyle Garlick. Two runs scored on Haseley’s single and further damage was avoided with Michael Conforto’s extended grab in front of the right-field fence on Ronan Quinn’s drive.
Nimmo led off the fifth with a homer to pull the Mets within 2-1. The blast was Nimmo’s seventh of the season.