Mets erase 6-run deficit but fall to Phils in 10

September 7th, 2020

NEW YORK -- The twists and turns of the Mets’ 9-8 loss to the Phillies on Monday mirrored those of their season. At times, the Mets seemed noncompetitive, as when they fell into an early six-run hole at Citi Field. In other moments, they appeared destined for the same type of animated celebrations that defined the second half of last summer.

In the end, the Mets managed to erase that six-run deficit against former teammate Zack Wheeler and a flammable Phillies bullpen, but they could not turn their resiliency into a win. They instead fell back to four games under .500 (19-23), splitting a four-game series with the Phillies that they could have used to vault up the National League standings.

Here’s a look at the three plays that changed the game and the series, for better and for worse.

Top of the first: Jean Segura hits a three-run double
Win expectancy before the play: 40.0 percent
Win expectancy after the play: 21.0 percent
Net: -19.0 percent

In the 10 days following David Peterson’s return from the injured list, the Mets plugged him into their rotation, shifted him to the bullpen, then moved him back to the rotation. He remained on a five-day schedule throughout, so the role changes didn’t likely affect him much on Monday.

Still, Peterson was not sharp, hitting the first batter he faced, walking four in two innings and allowing a career-high five runs. Three of them came on Segura’s double, which cleared the bases before Peterson could record a second out. So good at limiting damage early in his career, Peterson was unable to do that Monday -- in his eyes due to a lack of fastball command.

“I obviously needed to get an out there,” Peterson said. “The pitch that I threw to him, I didn’t execute it. He’s been around a while, and a good enough hitter to where he made me pay for it.”

Bottom of the seventh: Jeff McNeil hits a three-run homer
Win expectancy before the play: 19.8 percent
Win expectancy after the play: 76.7 percent
Net: +56.9 percent

It took McNeil 132 plate appearances to hit his first home run of the season, then just six more to collect his second. Batting .258 as recently as Aug. 30, McNeil has since gone 13-for-32 with eight extra-base hits to raise his average 40 points.

In the moment, none was bigger than his seventh-inning shot off David Phelps, which allowed the Mets to complete a comeback they had begun with four doubles off Wheeler in the fifth inning. As is customary for a player who swings at the first pitch more than 50 percent of the time, McNeil jumped at a 91-mph Phelps fastball on the inner half of the strike zone, crushing it 395 feet into the second deck in right. The Mets’ dugout erupted as he tied a game that once seemed lost.

“I knew it was going to come eventually,” McNeil said. “I know I’ve been putting good swings on balls lately. It’s just been a matter of getting the ball in the air to right field, and barreling it.”

Bottom of the seventh: Segura hits a two-run homer
Win expectancy before the play: 53.0 percent
Win expectancy after the play: 8.0 percent
Net: -45.0 percent

When the Mets acquired Miguel Castro minutes prior to last week’s Trade Deadline, they did so with an eye toward stabilizing their bullpen. With Seth Lugo and Robert Gsellman both in the rotation at the time, and Dellin Betances and Steven Matz on the injured list, the Mets’ relief corps had taken a noticeable hit.

The hard-throwing Castro was supposed to be an answer. Instead, he’s allowed go-ahead hits in two of his four Mets appearances, including Segura’s homer on Monday.

Beginning the 10th inning with an automatic runner on second base, Castro recorded two quick outs, including a nifty fielder’s choice that Andrés Giménez completed to cut down the lead runner at first base. But needing one final out to end the inning, Castro grooved a 98-mph sinker to Segura, who set a career high with five RBIs.

“My main focus was keeping that pitch low and away,” Castro said through an interpreter. “It just didn’t come out the way that I wanted it to in that moment, and we ended up losing the game."