PHILADELPHIA – What the Buck just happened?
On a night the Mets were listless, cooked, kaput, they finally found their bats in the ninth inning and didn’t stop the tidal wave Thursday until they had scored seven runs against the Phillies.
In their most improbable victory of the Buck Showalter era, the Mets rallied from six runs down in the ninth to win 8-7 at Citizens Bank Park.
Starling Marte’s RBI double against Corey Knebel delivered the go-ahead run, but this was a complete team comeback. Brandon Nimmo stroked a two-run single to tie the game in an inning that also included a key pinch-hit double from JD Davis with two outs and a two-run homer by Francisco Lindor.
The Mets hadn’t erased a deficit of at least six runs in the ninth inning to win a game since Sept. 13, 1997, against the Expos. The last major league team to overcome that kind of deficit in the ninth was the Nationals, who stunned the Mets with seven runs in their final at-bat to win, 11-10, on Sept. 3, 2019.
“You just never give up and you say,‘ When it comes to be my turn, I give everything I have got, ’” Nimmo said. “It seems like every guy on this team has that mentality and when you do that it allows for things like this to happen.”
The ninth-inning magic even overshadowed the Mets’ comeback in St. Louis. Louis on April 25, when they scored five times with two outs in the ninth inning in overcoming a two-run deficit.
“Every team develops a personality as the season progresses and this one has answered a lot of early-season challenges,” Showalter said. “We’ll see if our curiosity is going to be satisfied, but a night like tonight makes you realize what could be.”
This one included a two-run homer from the slumping Lindor to begin the comeback against James Norwood. Pete Alonso and Jeff McNeil had hits to begin the next wave. Mark Canha’s RBI single off Knebel’s leg brought in another run before Dominic Smith struck out for the second out. Davis, Nimmo and Marte then delivered in succession.
“When Lindor hit that home run I got excited about it as if it was me that hit that home run,” Marte said. “After that the lineup got going and going and we were able to take it to another level.”
Chasen Shreve and Adonis Medina gave the Mets a chance by combining for four scoreless innings in relief after Taijuan Walker allowed seven runs, six of which were earned. Edwin Diaz worked a perfect ninth with two strikeouts for his sixth save.
Marte’s homer against Aaron Nola in the sixth had accounted for the Mets’ only run before the final inning. Nola allowed only three hits over seven innings.
“You get down that much early and you’ve got Nola out there, you don’t like your chances,” Showalter said.
Walker’s final inning was the fourth, when he surrendered consecutive homers to Bryce Harper and Nick Castellanos, burying the Mets in a 7-0 hole. The homers were the first two allowed this season by Walker.
The Phillies sent nine batters to the plate in the first inning and scored four runs, three of which were earned. After Kyle Schwarber walked leading off, Lindor booted Alec Bohm’s grounder for an error and Harper delivered an RBI double. Castellanos followed with an RBI ground out and JT Realmuto’s single extended the Phillies’ lead to 3-0. Rhys Hoskins walked and Jean Segura’s RBI single preceded two straight outs to conclude the inning.
Lindor’s error changed the inning’s complexion: a possible double-play ball had turned into another Phillies base runner. Bohm hit a slow grounder the following inning that Lindor briefly juggled – it became an infield single. Castellanos ‘RBI fielder’s choice widened the Mets’ deficit to 5-0.
In his previous start against the Phillies last Saturday, Walker fired five scoreless innings in which he allowed two hits and two walks. Walker’s first start of the season against the Phillies came here on April 11, when he departed after two shutout innings with shoulder discomfort that was later diagnosed as bursitis. He spent the next 2/₂ weeks on the IL.
Walker was proud of his teammates on this night.
“It’s easy to give up when you’re down 7-1 or 7-0,” Walker said. “But when you fight until that last out good things happen and it showed tonight.”