NEW YORK -- Phillies right fielder Nick Williams crept in from his usual spot, playing about 50 feet closer to home plate than he normally would -- challenging, almost daring, Amed Rosario to hit a ball over his head.
It didn't take long for Rosario to oblige, shooting the first pitch he saw in the sixth inning Wednesday to the right-field wall. The resulting two-run triple gave the Mets a 4-2 win and an abbreviated, two-game series sweep over the Phillies at Citi Field. The Mets improved to 40-19 against the Phillies since the start of the 2015 season.
"As soon as I hit the ball, I saw that he was playing shallow," Rosario said through an interpreter. "I was sure that the ball would go over his head."
"The one thing I would say is that ball was smoked," Phillies manager Gabe Kapler said. "That ball was hit hard. If he was playing 10 or 15 feet back, I'm not sure he catches that ball. If he was playing 25 feet back, I'm not sure he catches that ball. It was over his head by a significant margin, and our goal was to take away the ball in front of us."
Seeking a hot start before they meet the defending National League East champion Nats in Washington this weekend, the Mets were glad to take advantage. Stuck in a tie game in the sixth, New York rallied on a pair of Andrew Hutchison walks, giving Rosario two men on base with two outs. He stuck his bat out and lifted a Hutchison curveball over Williams' head, racing from home to third base in 11.27 seconds -- the fastest time Statcast™ has tracked from anyone this year, and the fastest the system has tracked from a Mets player in four years of existence.
"Obviously, he's come up big so far this season with some two-out RBIs," Mets manager Mickey Callaway said of Rosario, who is batting .333 with five RBIs in five games. "And another big one tonight."
The hit made the Mets winners despite a brief start from Noah Syndergaard, who threw 92 pitches in four innings to take a no-decision. Robert Gsellman, Hansel Robles and AJ Ramos followed with four perfect innings of standout relief, striking out seven of the 12 batters they faced, before Jeurys Familia locked down his third save in five games.
Outlasting Syndergaard, Philadelphia starter Aaron Nola held the Mets to two runs -- both on a Yoenis Cespedes homer -- in five innings. The Phillies tied things on a Williams RBI groundout and a Carlos Santana steal of home in the third, but they could not break through against New York's bullpen, which has allowed just three runs in 20 1/3 innings this season.
"I want to give a lot of kudos and a lot of thanks to my homies in the bullpen," Syndergaard said. "They really held down the fort."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Yo goes deep: Cespedes' second home run was a 409-foot shot that clanged off the facing of the second deck in left field, giving the Mets an early lead against Nola. Batting second in the Mets' order regularly this season, Cespedes has 15 homers, 36 RBIs and 33 runs scored in 38 career games against the Phillies. More >
Catch me if you can: With runners on the corners and two outs in the third inning, Mets catcher Kevin Plawecki caught Rhys Hoskins in a rundown as he attempted to steal second base. Suspecting Santana might try to swipe home, the Mets kept an eye on him, even as first baseman Adrian Gonzalez tried to tag out Hoskins. Ultimately, Santana sprinted home safely. Callaway argued that Hoskins was out of the baseline, to no avail. More >
"They said that he wasn't far enough out of the baseline to make that call," Callaway said, "and the second-base umpire agreed as well."
"It's crucial. It's going to set the pace for the rest of the season with those guys. They're our rivals. They're the frontrunners. It's always nice to go out there and give them a little bit of a challenge. It's going to be very crucial for us to go out there and attack them." -- Syndergaard, on beginning a three-game series Thursday against the Nationals
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Mets pitchers struck out a franchise-record 61 batters over their first five games, shattering the team's previous record of 50. Syndergaard (17 strikeouts), Gsellman (seven) and Jacob deGrom (seven) have combined for more than half of them.
The Mets' first road trip begins with a 1:05 p.m. matinee Thursday in the Nationals' home opener, live on MLB.TV. deGrom (1-0, 1.59 ERA) will start opposite Stephen Strasburg (1-0, 1.42 ERA) in a clash of two of the game's most dynamic pitchers. The Mets will also receive a boost from their lone All-Star last season, Michael Conforto, who is expected to return from the disabled list.
Watch every out-of-market regular-season game live on MLB.TV.