Mets starting pitcher Jacob deGrom reacts on the mound during...

Mets starting pitcher Jacob deGrom reacts on the mound during the fourth inning against the Miami Marlins at Citi Field on Sunday, Aug. 9, 2020. Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

PHILADELPHIA — The Mets’ day Friday began with them losing ace Jacob deGrom, their scheduled starter, to a tight neck.

Their day ended with them losing a game to the Phillies, 6-5, on Bryce Harper’s walk-off single against Seth Lugo. Roman Quinn slid in just ahead of a slow tag attempt by catcher Wilson Ramos, who received a strong throw from Michael Conforto that beat Quinn by about 15 feet.

Altogether, it meant maybe the toughest day of a tough-so-far season for the Mets, who are 9-12 and will face Philadelphia’s top pitchers, Aaron Nola and Zack Wheeler, this weekend.

“It’s another day at the park,” Lugo said. “I thought we played overall a really good game. Wish it would’ve ended different. But we’re fighters and I was proud of the way we played.”

Manager Luis Rojas added: “It’s heartbreaking once again. How hard these guys are playing, they’re fighting. To get a tough loss like this again is just tough.”

Robinson Cano (2-for-5, homer) tied the score with a two-out RBI single in the top of the ninth. Lugo then allowed the first two batters to reach, and with one out, Harper lined a single to right. A crew-chief review confirmed the call, allowing the Phillies to celebrate in full.

“From our view, it looked like an out,” Rojas said. “When we saw it on the big screen, we saw the hand come in.”

Walker Lockett, pitching in deGrom’s place, lasted six innings and allowed five runs — three on J.T. Realmuto’s go-ahead homer in the fifth. “I was glad to get through the sixth, save the bullpen a little bit,” he said. “Couple mistakes, not as sharp as I would like. But it was OK.”

All that made for an end of the day about as bad as the beginning for the Mets.

DeGrom’s neck stiffness popped up after last Sunday’s start against the Marlins. He has been feeling better in the mornings, he said, but worse as the days go on. An MRI did not reveal any structural damage, but he is questionable for Wednesday, which is the next time his rotation spot comes around.

DeGrom hopes to play catch Saturday and throw off a mound Sunday — a sequence that would put him on his normal between-starts routine, thus setting him up for Wednesday.

“What’s aggravating is this popped up out of nowhere,” said deGrom, who does not believe it is related to the back tightness he experienced last month. “I’ve been feeling really good. I don’t know if I slept on it wrong or what. This came out of nowhere and hit me by surprise, and it’s really frustrating.”

DeGrom debated going through with starting Friday anyway. But a fear of putting the Mets in a bad position — if, say, he pitched in an inning and it got worse and he had to come out of the game — or making the injury worse made him think better of it.

“[The thought process when] talking it over was, ‘Let’s make this hopefully a one-start thing and not really aggravate something or feeling this, change my arm slot and hurt something else,’ ” deGrom said. “These are all discussions we had. Hopefully it’s a one-start thing. I think it’s just based day-by-day right now. I love going out there and pitching and competing. When you’re not able to, it really does frustrate you.”

This makes three minor physical problems in the past month for deGrom. In July, he lasted one inning during a simulated game because of a tight back. In his past two starts, he dealt with a small blister — he called it a “hot spot” — on his right middle finger. And now the neck.

A blister, for what it is worth, has not bothered him this week. He said it was the result of throwing, and because he threw less in recent days, the blister receded.

“That’s been fine,” deGrom said. “I guess that this issue maybe took care of that. I’d rather have a finger issue.”









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