If there was a way to encapsulate the Mets’ scintillating season in one game, Sunday afternoon provided the template.
Strong pitching. Quality defense. Clutch hitting.
It wasn’t necessarily overwhelming, but the Mets have rarely won that way this year. They’ve soared to the top of the NL East on the strength of elite pitching and by avoiding mistakes, wearing down opposing pitchers and putting the ball in play.
It has been effective, and in this 6-0, series-finale victory over the Phillies in front of 40,513 at sun-splashed Citi Field, it was one-sided despite having, on paper at least, the disadvantage in starting pitchers.
It was Chris Bassitt authoring five gritty shutout innings, needing 97 pitches to dodge danger and get the better of former Met Zack Wheeler. It was four runs scoring with two outs in the fourth inning on three hits that were soft, softer and softest. It was yet another example of the Mets doing the little things, both in the field and at the plate, the little things that have them a season-high 35 games over .500 and 5 ¹/₂ games clear of the Braves in the NL East entering this week’s four-game series in Atlanta.
As was the case Saturday, the Mets struck early. Brandon Nimmo doubled off the top of the right-field fence on the third pitch he saw from Wheeler and scored on Francisco Lindor’s pop-fly single to right, Lindor’s team-record 82nd RBI for a shortstop.
Unlike the second game of the series, though, the Mets bats didn’t go to sleep after scoring that first run. In the fourth, Mark Canha and Luis Guillorme delivered two-out, two-strike, run-scoring singles, pushing the lead to 3-0. James McCann followed with a run-scoring single and Jeff McNeil scored all the way from first on the play as McNeil didn’t stop as center fielder Brandon Marsh booted the ball and lightly tossed it to second base. Catcher J.T. Realmuto couldn’t handle the late throw, enabling McNeil to score.
None of the three hits were squared up, hit at 90.3, 67.9 and 67.3 mph, but they all found holes. Both Guillorme and Canha went with the pitch, going to the opposite field, while McCann’s single was lofted to shallow center field.
The rally came just after the Phillies blew a chance to pull even, or go ahead. Their first two batters, Rhys Hoskins and Alec Bohm, reached on singles, but Bassitt retired the next three, striking out Realmuto, getting Nick Castellanos to fly out and Darick Hall on a comebacker.
The Phillies appeared ready to finally break through in the following inning, aided by a Pete Alonso error to start the frame. But with runners on second and third and nobody out, Bassitt again worked his magic. He struck out Matt Vierling and Bryson Stott, and got Bohm to softly line out with the bases loaded, the second inning in a row Bassitt successfully walked a tightrope in lowering his ERA to 3.27.
That was the game. Trevor Williams came in for Bassitt and tossed two shutout innings. Daniel Vogelbach went deep for his third time as a Met, padding the big lead. It turned into a stress-free afternoon in Queens, an impressive prelude to a monster week that will see the Mets visit the two teams chasing them, the Braves and the Phillies, in a pair of four-games series.
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