Coming off a series win against the Cardinals in St. Louis that kept their wild card chances on life support (rather than in the grave), the Mets started a ten-game home stand against the Phillies on Friday. Bartolo Colon started for the Mets opposite Phillies lefty Adam Morgan. Morgan, you may remember, was on the game for David Wright’s return from the disabled list last season, a game in which the Mets set a franchise record with eight home runs. Four of them, including one by Wright, came off the Philadelphia starter.
After Colon set the Phillies down in order in the first, the Mets got right back to beating up on Morgan. Jose Reyes lead off with a homer to left field, and Asdrubal Cabrera followed with an impressive opposite field bomb on the next pitch. It was only Cabrera’s third right-handed home run on the season and only the second time in Mets history that they started a game with back-to-back home runs (Jose Reyes and Ruben Gotay did it in 2007). Reyes also re-tied Curtis Granderson for the franchise record for most leadoff home runs with 18.
The Mets offense quieted down after that, mustering only three more hits from the first to fourth innings, but it seemed that would be all they’d need. Colon held the Phillies hitless for 4.1 innings until Odubel Herrera broke the no-hit bid up with a double. Colon struck out Freddy Galvis, but Terry Collins made his latest questionable tactical decision and called for an intentional walk of Peter Bourjos. Pitcher Adam Morgan made the Mets pay, driving in Herrera with an RBI single to cut the Met lead to 2-to-1.
Colon would do his best to make up for Terry’s bad decision, leading off the next inning with a double that left the bat at an estimated 103 mph. Reyes followed with a softly hit double, but Colon only moved to third, an unforgivable gaffe even by his lowly baserunning standards. And in typical Met fashion, Cabrera and Yoenis Cespedes followed with ground outs, and Colon was unable to score from third. Then, in atypical 2016 Met fashion, Neil Walker worked a nine-pitch walk before Wilmer Flores launched a grand slam to left center field (even Colon can score on that), extending the Met lead to 6-1.
The Phillies went down in order in the top of the sixth before the Mets started adding more runs, this time against Phillie reliever Frank Herrmann. Alejandro De Aza, replacing Justin Ruggiano (departed with left shoulder soreness, because 2016 Mets) lead off with a walk. Travis d’Arnaud then doubled down the right field line to score De Aza and make it 7-1. What happened next hadn’t happened for 14 years, as Colon singled for his the second multiple hit game of his career. d’Arnaud moved to third, but was thrown out on a poor attempt to score on a shallow fly ball from Reyes. Cabrera made sure the Mets didn’t leave the inning without a couple more runs though, launching his second homer (one from each side of the plate) of the game to increase the Met lead to eight runs.
The seventh inning was quiet on both sides, and the Mets seemed well on their way to cruising to a lopsided victory. Of course, a Met game wouldn’t be complete without even more debatable moves from Terry Collins. With his hook three time zones too late as always, Collins elected to leave Colon in for the eighth inning. The first four Phillies recorded hits (two singles, two doubles) with three of them scoring to cut the lead to 9-4. Colon didn’t record an out before being pulled, leaving a runner on second for Hansel Robles. With some help from Cabrera (tagged out Aaron Altherr trying for third on an infield single that Reyes missed on a barehand try), Robles was able to bail Colon and Collins out and send the Mets to the ninth up 9-4.
Sean Gilmartin entered for the ninth, looking to bounce back from a rough outing in St. Louis. After throwing one pitch, blood appeared on his finger, as he seemingly nicked his finger in the bullpen while warming up. Gilmartin stayed in the game temporarily but surrendered a hit and a walk. Terry Collins took this as a fantastic opportunity to further abuse Jeurys Familia, summoning him even though the Mets were still up by five runs. Instead of using literally any other reliever (if none of your other pitchers can protect a five-run lead, you have much bigger problems), Collins decided to add more unnecessary work to a pitcher already in top 10 in the league in appearances. At least Familia ended things quickly, retiring the three Phillies he faced to secure the 9-4 victory.
With a very soft schedule the rest of the way, the Mets will have to beat up on bad teams like the Phillies to sneak into the playoffs, and Friday’s win was a great start towards that goal. Jay Bruce also donned a golden sombrero as the decision to acquire continues to look horrible (don’t forget he was a below average hitter in 2014 and 2015). Noah Syndergaard squares off against Jeremy Hellickson on Saturday as the Mets look to extend their brief win streak.
Photo credit: Noah K. Murray – USA Today Sports