NEW YORK -- Despite dropping a 4-3 contest to the Phillies at Citi Field on Friday, the Mets were still able to take some positives from the night.
Dominic Smith has had a rollercoaster year both with the Mets and in the Minors, and his future at first base is very much unknown with Jay Bruce and Wilmer Flores getting the lion's share of the starts there and No. 2 prospect Peter Alonso lurking in the farm system.
But given a rare start, Smith delivered in a big moment. With the Mets down, 3-2, in the seventh inning, Smith cranked a solo home run to left-center field to tie the game. Despite the clutch homer, the Phillies jumped back out in front when Rhys Hoskins led off the eighth with a homer off Tyler Bashlor.
"It was really big," Mets manager Mickey Callaway said. "He put a great swing on the ball, drove it through to the opposite gap off a great pitcher. He said earlier in the game, 'I'm going to get this guy,' and he went out there and he did it. So it's really good to see. I think that he's got a sweet swing, he made some great plays at first, so he's got a bright future."
Smith's homer came off Phillies ace Aaron Nola, who is one of Jacob deGrom's top competitors for the National League Cy Young Award. Smith noted after the game that the Mets had discussed their desire to score runs off Nola to help deGrom's chances in the race. Smith did what he could with his seventh-inning smash and his brilliant display at first base.
"I just feel really confident in my last couple of ABs," Smith said. "I feel good up there at the plate. I feel like my swing is at its best it's been all year right now. Now I just have to keep working every day and keep grinding."
After the game, Callaway was pleased with Smith's performance and said that the Mets would like to see the young player get as much playing time as possible throughout the next month.
"We've just got to continue to push him and get him better and make sure that we get to see him as much as possible this September, and that's going to be a challenge at times because of who we have," Callaway said. "But we definitely want to get a look because he's definitely an interesting guy."
Bruce opened the scoring in the second inning, crushing a solo home run to right-center field. Bruce is hitting .268 with three doubles and three homers since he returned from the disabled list on Aug. 24.
The Phillies got on the board shortly after in the third when Carlos Santana concluded a 10-pitch battle with Mets starter Steven Matz by socking a two-run homer. Matz went five innings, giving up only two runs on three hits and striking out eight.
The Mets responded in the bottom of the frame. After Brandon Nimmo worked a walk, Jeff McNeil lifted a fly ball that fell in front of former Met Jose Bautista in right field for a double. Nimmo, who was running on the play, scored easily from first.
Asdrubal Cabrera, another former Met, came through for the Phillies in the sixth inning with an RBI single that put Philadelphia up by one until Smith got a hold of the ball in the seventh.
Smith has homered in each of his last two Major League starts. His last came on Aug. 22 vs. San Francisco.
YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
In the eighth inning, Cabrera ripped a bouncing ball that almost snuck through the shift on the right side. McNeil made an impressive backhanded play in short right field and fired an off-balance throw that bounced to the right of Smith. The young first baseman stretched to make the scoop on a high hop.
"It was probably one of the hardest picks I've ever seen," Callaway said. "Just where the ball was coming from; it was kind of sinking, bouncing up and he had to stretch out a long way not only towards the fielder, but with his right arm -- his glove arm -- and pick it."
HE SAID IT
"That was the big talk today. We definitely wanted to help [deGrom] out. He's making history out there. When we face his competitors and guys he's competing with out there, we definitely want to put a dent or kind of hurt their chances. So we definitely talked about it all day, and that's what we wanted to do. I feel like we did OK at it." -- Smith
Coming off the first complete game of his career in San Francisco, Noah Syndergaard will look to continue his success on Saturday at 7:10 p.m. ET against the Phillies at Citi Field. The righty is 4-2 with a 2.60 ERA in eight career starts against Philadelphia. Syndergaard will take the mound against Phillies right-hander Zach Eflin.