Mets turn over a new leaf and try losing their first game of the season

Well we can’t say “same old Mets” after Monday night’s 5-3 come-from-ahead loss in Philadelphia because we know the same old Mets would win their first game and then swoon before the solstice. And I’m not calling it Opening Day when we’re playing at night and the Phillies are starting Matt Moore. The game shouldn’t even count against the Mets’ Opening Day record in my opinion! Either way, it was an ugly way to start the season.

Jacob deGrom was his typical self, striking out seven and allowing just five Phillies to reach base in six innings. He even got some help from the defense early on when Kevin Pillar connected with Jeff McNeil on a relay throw to turn a long ball off the wall by Rhys Hoskins into an out at third base. That missed opportunity by the Phillies looked like it would lead to their downfall, but the Mets’ defense would pay them back with interest later in the game.

Maybe the defense wouldn’t be as much of an issue if deGrom were allowed to pitch more than six innings, but Luis Rojas lifted him after just 77 pitches. The skipper said the decision was based on the uncertainty in the Mets’ schedule caused by the Nationals becoming infected with COVID-19.

“Going out for the six innings and you guys saw the activity on the bases. And he hasn’t thrown in 10 days. So the conversations in between innings with him led us to make the decision of pulling him,” Rojas told reporters via Zoom following the Mets’ 5-3 loss to the Phillies. “…I know he was way under than what he’s built up leaving camp. But maybe the 10 days without throwing led to the decision during the game.

deGrom was on board with everything, so please stop the victim narrative around him.

“That was kinda discussed where we’re going to be before,” deGrom said. “10 days without facing hitters, kept trying to throw bullpens but didn’t want to throw too many pitches with the hope of playing Saturday and then finding out that series is canceled so that was the last time I was able to throw. So it was kind of a how many ups thing, how many pitches not being in a game facing hitters for 10 days.”

I’d be more mad, but it seems every pitcher in baseball is leaving the game after 80 pitches and 5.2 innings these days. I will also hold back my rage to see if deGrom is ramped up in his next start, which he should be, because I am designated it as a MUST WIN GAME.

Anyway, the Mets were stymied by Matt Moore early on, but they rallied in the fourth when Pete Alonso and J.D. Davis started the inning with walks. James McCann drove in one run with his first hit as a Met, and deGrom hit a blooper to left to score another. The rally was cut short when Brandon Kintzler relieved Moore and got Kevin Pillar to ground into an inning-ending double play with the bases loaded.

Rojas could have inserted Dominic Smith into the game to hit for Pillar, but with two runs already in and deGrom rolling, I think sticking with defense was the right move. In a way, Rojas’s decision was prophetic because the Mets ended up blowing the game with defense. It may not have been outfield defense, but he had the right idea. Plus, Pillar has wheels and he had a decent chance to drive in a run with a ground ball, but the one he hit to Didi Gregorius was perfectly set up for a twin killing.

So the Mets could have had more runs, but they were still in decent shape heading into the eighth after Miguel Castro set down the Phillies in the seventh.

May struck out Adam Haseley to start the frame, but then the Phillies loaded the bases on two singles and a walk. That prompted Rojas to bring in Aaron Loup to face Bryce Harper. The veteran southpaw reliever is used to big spots like this against left-handed power bats, but he threw a terrible breaking ball that plunked Harper in the leg to drive in Philadelphia’s first run. Loup settled down and got the next two batters, both right-handed, to hit ground balls, but both turned into disaster for the Mets with J.T. Realmuto’s sneaking through the left side for a game-tying single and Alec Bohm’s going straight to the sure-handed Luis Guillorme.

See? That’s what I was talking about with Pillar. If he just hits that ball, the Mets’ rally in the fourth might continue. Guillorme made the right play since it was going to be extremely tough to turn two, but his throw home was off the mark and McCann didn’t adjust well. It’s a pretty horrible error considering that Guillorme was just subbed in for J.D. Davis because of his defense.

The Mets made two quick outs in the ninth, but then Pillar, Francisco Lindor, and Michael Conforto hit consecutive singles off of Jose Alvarado to make things interested. Things got REALLY interesting when Pete Alonso hit a long fly ball to right field, but it died in Harper’s glove on the warning track and the Phillies had their fourth straight win.

The Mets will try to beat the streak tonight with Marcus Stroman on the mound opposite Chase Anderson.

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