deGrom Day goes horribly wrong, Mets lose on play at the plate

I had a feeling that Friday night’s Jacob deGrom vs. Spencer Howard matchup looked a little too good to be true. What could have been an easy win for the Mets turned into anything but when deGrom was scratched due to a stiff neck. New York’s ace isn’t expected to miss much time, but there isn’t much time to spare in a short season in which deGrom is the Mets’ only dependable starting pitcher.

Walker Lockett stepped in and did a decent job. During the first five innings, Lockett allowed two runs while the Mets offense took care of business and scored four times against Howard. Two of those tallies came on back-to-back home runs by Dominic Smith and Robinson Cano.

However, in the fifth inning, the red-hot J.T. Realmuto smash a three-run bomb to left that gave Philadelphia the lead.

New York’s bats turned frustratingly silent against a Phillies bullpen that has been a dumpster fire in 2020. The Mets wasted leadoff hits in the sixth and the seventh. With one out in the eighth, Luis Guillorme reached with his third hit of the game before giving way to pinch-runner Billy Hamilton. That appeared to be a sound strategy when he immediately stole second base, but when the ball came loose, Hamilton took off for third and was thrown out by Didi Gregorius.

Not great for a guy who is only useful on the base paths. The Mets finally broke through in the ninth, though, against Philadelphia closer Hector Neris. Brandon Nimmo singled and Michael Conforto walked, but Neris got Pete Alonso and Smith to strike out on his signature splitter. Instead, Cano played the unlikely hero by hitting a sharp grounder through the right side to bring Nimmo around and tie the game.

Unfortunately, the Mets would never get a shot at extra innings. After Wilson Ramos grounded out to end the threat, Seth Lugo came on to pitch the bottom of the ninth. With one out and runners on first and second, Bryce Harper lined a single to right field. Conforto delivered a seed to the plate that would have eliminated most runners, but Roman Quinn beat Ramos’s tag by an eyelash.

The throw had Quinn beat by several feet, but Ramos took a while to reach all the way to the opposite baseline and apply the tag. Quinn executed the slide well and replay showed that he beat the tag by the slimmest of margins. This is a play that certainly would have ended up differently if catchers were still allowed to block the plate. Ramos could have positioned himself closer to the third base line and could have more easily applied the tag or even blocked Quinn’s progress.

Oh well. We’re supposed to try to avoid contact with people these days, anyway. The Mets will try to get even with Steven Matz on the mound tonight against Phillies ace Aaron Nola. It could be an uphill battle with Matz having allowed 13 runs in his last two outings. Now would be a good time to turn things around.

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