Once Again, Hitters to the Rescue as Mets Top the Phillies in 11 Innings

Once Again, Hitters to the Rescue as Mets Top the Phillies in 11 Innings

PHILADELPHIA — With Noah Syndergaard set to start the series opener against the Phillies on Monday, Mets Manager Mickey Callaway stood in his office, and noted that Jacob deGrom, the starter in the previous night’s loss, had reviewed video of the defeat.

“Jake looked at it for about 45 minute last night and saw some stuff that he feels like can help him,” Callaway said.

After not giving up a run in his first two starts, deGrom, who posted a 1.70 earned run average as the Cy Young Award winner in the National League last season, has yielded a combined nine runs in his last two outings, both of which resulted in losses.

DeGrom can now pass the remote control to Syndergaard, who will be seeking his own answers after giving up five earned runs in five innings during the Mets’ 7-6 victory in 11 innings at Citizens Bank Park. Once again, it was the Mets’ offense that bailed out the pitching to improve the team’s record to 10-6 on the season.

“We got away with some stuff tonight, but we still came up with a win,” Callaway said. “That says a lot.”

Relief pitchers Jeurys Familia and Robert Gsellman will also want to take a closer look at their work after their struggles on Monday night. Familia inherited a 6-5 lead in the eighth inning before loading the bases and being replaced by Gsellman, who proceeded to walk in a run on four pitches to tie the score.

“It feels really good to win that one,” Syndergaard said. “I didn’t necessarily do my job, but the offense did a really good job of getting to a really talented pitcher early. I did a pretty good job of giving those runs back.”

Catcher Wilson Ramos, left fielder/third baseman Jeff McNeil and second baseman Robinson Cano all drove in at least one run, and center fielder Brandon Nimmo put the Mets ahead, 6-5, with his third home run of the season in the top of the sixth.

In the top of the 11th, Juan Lagares reached base on an infield hit and eventually scored when Phillies first baseman Rhys Hoskins couldn’t handle Michael Conforto’s sharp grounder. Hoskins was charged with an error on the play.

“I saw he didn’t catch the ball, so I go with everything I got,” Lagares said.

McNeil, who was 3 for 5 at the plate, made the biggest defensive play of the game, diving to to his left in the bottom of the eighth to snare a ball that was rocketed at him by Phillies third baseman Maikel Franco and then turn it into a double play. The play by McNeil, which came with runners on first and second and no one out, kept the Phillies from a potentially big inning that would have decided the game, although Philadelphia ended up tying the score, anyway.

Afterward, McNeil maintained that the extra-inning win over a division rival was a statement the win-now Mets needed to make.

“They’re a good team,” he said, “and we’re a great team.”

In any case, the night ended with a victory for the Mets. And here is where things stand with them over all:

Command has been a concern.

Jason Vargas, the fifth starter, has started two games, was skipped in the rotation once and made a relief appearance in the ninth inning of a loss. By the time he got out of that inning, he had given up four more earned runs. His earned run average is currently 14.21.

Pitching was billed as the Mets’ strength heading into the season, but all five starters have had issues with their feel for the ball or efficiency thus far.

Steven Matz provided a bright spot over the weekend, as he limited the Braves to two earned runs in six innings and picked up his first win of the season. He struck out eight.

But with Vargas showing little to be optimistic about and deGrom unable to keep up the pace of his first two starts — let alone his 2018 season — plenty of fans are already calling for the Mets to sign Dallas Keuchel, the free agent starter who is available if the Mets are willing to write another check.

Edwin Diaz, known as Sugar, came in to collect his sixth save, and his E.R.A. is down to 1.35. Callaway noted afterward that he will not use Diaz for more than three outs on the road unless necessary.

“When we get to the playoffs, he will be available for more than three outs,” Callaway said. “We have faith in our other guys.”

The rest of the relievers, though, have been underwhelming. Seth Lugo has surrendered six runs in 10 and two-thirds innings. Familia has two wins despite a 6.84 E.R.A. Gsellman had already blown a save before walking in the run against the Phillies.

On Monday, righty Drew Gagnon was recalled from Syracuse. “We’re kind of strapped for pitching,” Callaway said.

Three Mets — McNeil, Pete Alonso and Ramos — are ranked in the top 10 of the National League for batting average. While McNeil (.404) continues to make contact with almost anything thrown his way, Alonso (.339) has quickly established himself as much more than just a long-ball threat, though he does have six home runs already. The steady stroke of Ramos (.320) has kept the order moving on multiple occasions.

Nimmo received a wake-up call when he was dropped in the lineup from leadoff to eighth on Friday, and he responded by going 3 for 4 with a homer and a double. He has continued to hit since.

Cano had struggled since homering and driving in an insurance run on opening day. Heading into Monday night’s game, he was 3 for his last 24 and batting .183 on the year, but he doubled in the top of the fourth inning against the Phillies to drive in two runs.

“He’ll be fine,” Callaway said.

When Todd Frazier and Jed Lowrie went down with injuries early in camp, the Mets knew they had bodies to fill in — they just didn’t know how well those bodies would perform.

Dominic Smith has adjusted to his bench role very well, both as a late-inning defensive replacement for Alonso at first base and as a pinch-hitter. He is batting .421.

J.D. Davis, who has played at third, provided power with his two-homer game against the Washington Nationals at home on April 6 and with another shot in Atlanta on Sunday night. He has started to take fly balls in left field in order to get comfortable there for possible assignments.

While the team’s versatility is evident and depth concerns have been addressed, Callaway and company know it is time for the established stars — like deGrom, Cano and Syndergaard — to perform the way they are expected to in order to compete for the N.L. East title.

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