PHILADELPHIA — If you regularly watch the New York Mets, you’re used to the emotional swings, from joy to sadness to anger to disbelief. They regularly play crazy games that leave a lasting impression.
Welcome to the latest night at the circus.
By a matter of inches, the Mets hung on for an 8-7 win over the Phillies on Sunday night at Citizens Bank Park.
Edwin Diaz had blown a four-run lead when Rhys Hoskins hit a game-tying, three-run home run to right field. Then the umpires reviewed it and ruled it was not a home run because it hit the railing above the wall — and thus didn’t go over the wall. Instead, they ruled that Hoskins had hit a two-run double.
Diaz then left the game due to injury, so Jeurys Familia was tasked with getting the final out. He did, and the Mets breathed a sigh of relief.
They had just put together perhaps their best inning of the season during a six-run eighth in which they turned a two-run deficit into a four-run lead.
Still, they found themselves fighting for their lives here. And got a call they needed.
Inside the Mets’ six-run inning
That defining inning included contributions from unlikely sources and stars alike. The quick rundown:
- Kevin Pillar led off by hitting his first home run as a Met to make it a one-run game.
- Jose Peraza, in his first at-bat of the season, hit a ball that got past Hoskins and, on that same play, Jonathan Villar caught the Phillies sleeping and scored from first.
- The Mets won a battle against new foe José Alvarado, who allowed a single and two walks, including one with the bases loaded, before Phillies manager Joe Girardi pulled him.
- Pete Alonso smoked a bases-clearing double to put the finishing touches on the team’s best inning of the season.
Because of that inning, the Mets matched their highest scoring total in a game this season. They also avoided a series loss and ensured their flight to St. Louis would be a happy couple of hours.
The Mets badly needed this. Their lineup performed far below expectations in April and stumbled through most of Sunday’s series finale.
Then it woke up, forcing the Phillies to use three relievers while they batted around in a lengthy inning. The Mets, down to their final six outs, displayed their depth, grit and resolve.
For much of this season, a two-run deficit has seemed like a tall task for the Mets. Heck, they’d only averaged three runs a game coming into this contest.
They doubled that total in a single inning.
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How Villar stole a run for Mets
As the ball rolled into shallow right field, Villar sprinted around the bases. Meanwhile, Hoskins didn’t display a ton of urgency in getting to the ball and ending the play.
He probably figured the play was effectively dead and the Mets would have runners on first and third.
And they would have, except Villar noticed the Phillies were asleep. After he rounded third, he did a stutter step and, once he noticed the Phillies weren’t paying attention, took off for home and tied the game.
Villar stole a run during a time when the Mets haven’t produced many. This is the type of winning play needed when the bats aren’t hot, when balls aren’t falling in the outfield, when the team seems lifeless.
And for Villar, it perhaps served as redemption after a three-pitch strikeout earlier in the game in which he swung at three pitches way above the zone, hurting a potential rally.
All the pieces click
Hours before the game, Mets manager Luis Rojas, when answering a question about why he continues starting Pillar over Albert Almora Jr., said the team’s metrics told it Pillar had been getting unlucky. He had been hitting the ball hard, but hadn’t seen the results. They wanted to reward him for his good at-bats by giving him opportunities to get hot.
Pillar, facing the Phillies’ Brandon Kintzler, validated his manager’s thinking with a 379-foot home run that left the bat at 108.6 mph, according to Statcast. (A funny note: Pillar almost homered twice in the inning, but the second one barely hooked foul in left field).
And after this play, Alvarado — who received a three-game suspension for inciting a benches-clearing incident on Friday (he appealed it, which is why he pitched) — took over. Jeff McNeil greeted him with a single. Then Alvarado couldn’t find the strike zone, walking the struggling Francisco Lindor and then Michael Conforto right after him. This had to have felt good for the Mets, who weren’t pleased with the way Alvarado showed up Smith on Friday.
But remember: The Mets only led by a run when Alvarado exited. And so often this season, they’ve failed to add on in big spots.
This time, Alonso drilled a 112-mph rocket off David Hale that scored three more runs.
Justin Toscano is the Mets beat writer for NorthJersey.com. Follow him on Twitter @justinctoscano.