Maybe the Mets can really survive June’s impending challenge without Jacob deGrom and Max Scherzer. Their roster looks set to fight its way through the brutal stretch of playoff contenders.
The latest proof came Saturday night at Citi Field, when an 8-2 hammering of the Phillies on Fireworks Night showed the versatility of this group.
There was a long home run from Jeff McNeil and a small fly ball that produced a first run. The two key middle cogs in the order, Pete Alonso and Francisco Lindor, also shone when called, as the Mets beat the Phillies for the eighth time in 11 tries.
They improved to 31-17, tying their season high and now lead the Braves by a record 8 ¹/₂ games in the NL East.
“That’s where we want to be,” McNeil said. “We’re making a lot of runs, we’re getting a lot of big hits in big situations.”
The Mets are second in baseball in runs scored, behind only the mighty Dodgers, and have now scored at least five runs in seven of their last 10 games.
Lindor continued his recent hot streak with three RBIs (he had a run in six straight games, a career high) and two runs scored. Alonso set a Mets record for most RBIs in the month of May with 29, after driving in a run with a sacrifice fly.
McNeil produced the big hit, a three-run home run in the fourth thanks to raindrops, continuing a season-long trend for the Mets to respond immediately after falling behind.
After circling the bases after his second deck bomb into the right field seats, McNeil strutted to the dugout and entered a dance that became his new home run celebration. It’s an ode to the character Chazz, played by Will Ferrell, from the movie “Wedding Crashers”.
“I’m just living the dream right now,” McNeil said, repeating a line used in the movie.
The formation was not even complete. Leader Brandon Nimmo sat with a sprained right wrist that required a cortisone injection, but Luis Guillorme served his purpose to the end, reaching base in each of his first four at bats. His bunt single started a fifth inning three-run that ultimately put the game out of reach.
“He knows people understand what he brings and appreciate him, and that put him in a really good frame of mind,” manager Buck Showalter said.
There was no big uprising for the Phillies this time, after they nearly rallied after seven runs to win on Friday. The Mets bullpen has gone four shutout innings, including two from rookie Colin Holderman, who has yet to allow an earned run in his first six outings spread over eight innings.
The offensive burst allowed Taijuan Walker to emerge victorious (3-0) despite an average performance. It was hard work for the right-hander, who had just completed seven shutout innings against the Rockies. His command was off and his location was uncertain, but he still limited the Phillies to two earned runs in five innings.
He played with fire in the fourth, allowing four of the first five Phillies to reach base. But after JT Realmuto’s two-run single, Walker retired Odubel Herrera in a pop-up. Then, after accompanying Johan Carmago to load the bases, he flew Kyle Schwarber. Walker also escaped trouble in the fifth, after allowing back-to-back singles to Bryce Harper and Nick Castellanos, when Lindor turned a 6-6-3 double play.
“Sometimes those types of releases are more rewarding than the big release he had last time,” Showalter said.
The game was never in doubt from that point on. The Mets kept adding and took the three-game series victory. More importantly, they are 2-0 in this six-game home game against the Phillies and Nationals, which comes before a 10-game trip to Southern California to face the Dodgers, Angels and Padres. . In total, in June, the Mets will likely face playoff teams 17 times. The attack looks ready to meet the challenges ahead.