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PHILADELPHIA — That old Achilles heel was there waiting for the Mets in the eighth inning Monday night.
Change the names, but until a sustained stretch of success follows can anybody really trust this new and so-called improved bullpen?
The Mets went from May to Mayday to mayhem in a torturous five-run inning that buried them in a 5-3 loss to the Phillies, spoiling a Jacob deGrom gem, in their season opener at Citizens Bank Park.
Entrusted a two-run lead in his Mets debut, Trevor May loaded the bases with one out in the eighth. Another new arrival, lefty Aaron Loup, entered and plunked Bryce Harper to force in a run. J.T. Realmuto’s ensuing RBI single tied it, and Luis Guillorme’s throw home that ticked off James McCann’s glove on Alex Bohm’s grounder (the error was charged to Guillorme) allowed two additional runs. The Phillies scored a final run on Didi Gregorius’ sacrifice fly.
The Mets got three straight two-out hits in the ninth against Jose Alvarado, but Pete Alonso was retired with the tying runs on base to conclude the game.
DeGrom was removed after only 77 pitches. The right-hander fired six shutout innings and allowed only three hits with seven strikeouts and two walks. He also went 2-for-3 with an RBI on a night the Mets totaled 10 hits, none for extra bases.
DeGrom joined Tom Seaver, Dwight Gooden and Johan Santana among pitchers in franchise history to start at least three straight openers.
Harper struck out on a 99-mph fastball on deGrom’s final pitch of the night, which ended the sixth. Overall, deGrom retired the final nine batters he faced, working in a slider to complement his raw heat as the game progressed.
DeGrom trusted his heat early, unleashing 24 straight fastballs to begin the game before finally throwing a slider to Jean Segura in the second inning. In that same frame, seven straight fastballs from deGrom registered at least 100 mph. Included was a 102-mph four-seamer that Gregorius blooped in front of Brandon Nimmo for a single.
DeGrom’s second hit of the game, an RBI single in the fourth, extended the Mets’ lead to 2-0 and ended Matt Moore’s night. But with the bases loaded, Kevin Pillar hit into an inning-ending double play against right-hander Brandon Kintzler.
Pillar started in center field to give the Mets a right-handed bat in the leadoff spot. But once the left-hander Moore was removed from the game, it gave manager Luis Rojas the opportunity to insert Dominic Smith, who remained on the bench.
The Mets’ rally in the inning began with workmanlike plate appearances from Alonso and J.D. Davis, each of whom walked. Alonso battled back from 1-2 for the walk before Davis grinded it out over seven pitches to get the base. McCann’s ensuing RBI single — his first hit in a Mets uniform — put the Phillies in a 1-0 hole. The Mets then got a break when Adam Haseley misjudged Nimmo’s fly to center and watched the ball fall in front of him for a single that loaded the bases. DeGrom’s bloop to left field scored the second run.
The Mets had a chance to extend their lead in the fifth after Alonso’s single to the opposite field put runners on first and second. Davis struck out and Jeff McNeil was retired to end the inning. Gregorius’ throwing error on a Michael Conforto grounder had started the threat.
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