Mets 'need to clean it up' after loss to Phillies

September 5th, 2020

NEW YORK -- Over the past two weeks, the Mets have discussed the remainder of the season with increasing tones of urgency. After a recent start, pitcher Rick Porcello acknowledged that in a 60-game season, teams have little choice but to rally faster and more furiously than they otherwise would.

 “This is it,” manager Luis Rojas said before his team opened a critical four-game series against the Phillies, one of three National League East teams they’re chasing. “This is the most important game right here. And that’s how it’s got to go each day.”

With that as their backdrop, the Mets lost Friday’s opener, 5-3, at Citi Field, while experiencing many of the same issues that precipitated their slide into fourth place to begin with. During an eighth-inning Phillies rally that sealed the defeat, Dominic Smith committed a run-scoring error and Brad Brach hit Phil Gosselin with a pitch to force in another run, adding a layer of messiness to a game of significance for the Mets.

“Those mistakes come back and hurt us,” Rojas said. “Obviously, we’re not thinking that time is running out or anything like that, but we do have to play clean baseball. We’ve got to play good baseball.”

Porcello stuck the Mets in an early hole by allowing runs in the second and third innings, but he recovered to retire the final 11 batters he faced. That put the Mets in position to tie the score on Michael Conforto’s two-run homer in the fifth.

But reliever Jared Hughes, pitching for the fifth time in eight days, allowed consecutive two-out hits in the seventh inning to put the Phillies back on top before multiple Mets mistakes gave the visitors some crucial insurance in the eighth.

Porcello took a no-decision, marking the 19th consecutive game in which a Mets starter did not earn the win -- the franchise’s longest such streak in 40 years.

“The fact of the matter is that we’re five games under .500, and we’re not in first place,” Porcello said. “So regardless of what expectations we’re living up to, we’re not where we want to be. And we don’t have a lot of time to climb out of that. There’s a sense of urgency.

“We really need to go. We don’t have a lot of time.”

Although Porcello and Rojas disagreed on the exact degree of urgency required, the numbers don’t lie. Sitting in fourth place, the Mets walked off the field on Friday with the NL’s fourth-worst record. And although they sit just two games out of playoff position, there are five teams between them and the final Wild Card spot.

Making up that ground will only be possible if the Mets eliminate their mistakes. In addition to Smith’s error and Brach’s hit batsman, Andrés Giménez was picked off first base. Pete Alonso, who started at designated hitter, has made an error in each of the last three games he’s played in the field. Billy Hamilton committed a critical baserunning mistake in the eighth inning of Thursday’s loss to the Yankees, and was designated for assignment on Friday.

“We need to clean it up a little bit, and I think we’ll be fine,” Porcello said.

If the Mets can do that, there is enough time -- 21 games left in the regular season -- to climb back into contention.

A week from now, that might not be the case.

“We need to win every day,” Hughes said. “We show up tomorrow, we need to win. Today it did not happen. We need to learn from it, shower well, come back tomorrow ready to win. Every game matters.”