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, in an 8-2 beating of the Phillies that 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 produced when called, as the Mets beat the Phillies for the eighth time in 11 tries and now lead the Braves by a season-high 8 ¹/₂ games in the NL East.
They improved to 31-17, tying their season high.
The Mets entered the second day of baseball in runs scored, trailing only the mighty Dodgers, and have now scored at least five runs for the seventh time in 10 games.
Lindor continued his recent blistering streak with three RBIs (he’s now had one 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.
Jeff 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.
The formation was not even complete. Leader Brandon Nimmo sat with a sprained right wrist that required a cortisone injection, but Luis Guillorme filled his role at a T, reaching base in his first four at bats. He started a fifth-inning three-run with a bunt single that ultimately put the game out of reach.
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 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 retired Kyle Schwarber on a fly out. Walker also got away with it in the fifth, after allowing back-to-back singles to Bryce Harper and Nick Castellanos, when Lindor turned a 6-6-3 double play.
The game was never in doubt from that point on. The Mets continued to add, earning 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.