The rubber game in Philly last night was a game with more twists and turns than a country road and in the bottom of the ninth the Mets nearly blew a 4 run lead but a favorable replay review coupled with a bailout from Jeurys Familia who struck out Bryce Harper to end the game gave the Mets a well earned but very fortunate 8-7 win to give the Mets a series win on a third consecutive Sunday this year revealing so much about the character and grit of this team.
Trailing in this one 4-2 after a Didi Gregorious three run homer the Mets went to work in the 8th inning plating 6 runs with quality at bat after quality at bat. Kevin Pillar got the rally going with a solo homer and a daring base running play from Jonathan Villar knotted the score and then the Mets took the lead on a bases loaded walk by Michael Conforto off the hated Jose Alvarado whose jawing match with Dominic Smith occurred just 2 nights ago.
Pete Alonso followed with a bases clearing double to give the Mets an 8-4 lead as Edwin Diaz took the mound in the bottom of the ninth inning but the Met closer had command issues and served up what appeared to be a game tying 3 run homer but the replay officials ruled it a double forcing Luis Rojas to hand the ball to Jeurys Familia who has looked solid in recent weeks but with Bryce Harper in the batters box MetNation watched this one in the fetal position.
But Familia responded with a game ending strikeout giving them the series which puts them in a virtual first place tie in the NL East with the Washington Nationals. But more than that, it illustrates that this team has a will and a desire that all winning squads need. They lost 2 big bats on Saturday as JD Davis and Brandon Nimmo were both both forced to the sidelines but the 2 replacement players–Kevin Pillar and Jonathan Villar made immediate contributions that keyed the Met win. And that speaks volumes about the inside workings of the Met clubhouse that understands injuries or slumps do not provide only internal angst–it also provides chances for bench players to strut their stuff. And the Mets got that on this night.
Pete Alonso put it best when he said after the game, “We are a tough team to beat and we knew the focus that was needed in this game. And we received it up and down the roster. The Phillies are a talented team and we knew what we had to do.”
If the truth be told, this team has shown that the last 3 Sundays taking rubber games from the Rockies, Nats and Phils in ways that winning teams do. In Denver they threw out a potential base stealer to win the game while outstanding defense keyed the win at Citi last Sunday over the Nats and today a relentless spirit was evident all night as players picked each other up for nearly four hours of baseball at Citizens Bank Park.
The Mets have now won 6 of 9 from the Phils this year and beat tough starting pitchers throughout those matchups. Their hitting has resurfaced and they just refuse to quit. All great signs from a squad that has outstanding pitching up and down the roster. It is why I picked the Mets to win the NL East and 22 games of baseball has only reinforced that in my mind.