Mets’ Mark Canha reacts after hitting a two-run RBI single...

Mets’ Mark Canha reacts after hitting a two-run RBI single in the bottom of the fourth against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citi Field on Wednesday, May 31, 2023. Credit: Newsday/J. Conrad Williams Jr.

Right when the Mets needed it, the Phillies arrived at Citi Field this week and provided a reminder: It always could be worse. 

In a continued battle of big budgets, the Mets won again, 4-1, on Wednesday, allowing them to finish a bad month on a good note with consecutive wins over a division rival. 

This one featured major contributions from middle-of-the-roster players. Mark Canha’s two-run homer in the third inning and two-run single in the fourth accounted for all of the Mets’ runs. Carlos Carrasco held Philadelphia to a lone run over six innings, his second strong start in a row. 

“We’re playing really good baseball even though our record doesn’t reflect that,” Canha said. “There’s a lot of good things happening. We just keep our heads down and keep this intangible vibe, whatever we got going on in here, it’s a good thing.” 

Heading into the series finale Thursday afternoon, pitting Max Scherzer against ex-Met Taijuan Walker, the Phillies have looked much more like their mediocre selves from last summer than the version that got hot and wound up making a run to the World Series (and then made significant offseason additions). 

As middling of a start as the Mets have endured, 29-27 and four games behind Atlanta, the Phillies have dug an even deeper hole, 25-30 and 7 1/2 games back. 

The Mets are facing pressure to win, sure, because of their major-league-record $377 million payroll, as calculated by Cot’s Contracts. But the Phillies are under similar scrutiny with their $256 million total, highest in franchise history and fourth-highest in the majors this year. 


“It’s not a matter of if,” manager Buck Showalter said of the Phillies. “It’s a matter of when with a team like that.” 

The Phillies’ No. 2-hitting, $300-million shortstop, Trea Turner, went 0-for-4, including an inning-ending groundout in the seventh, when he was the potential tying run, to drop his OPS to a mystifyingly low .651. The Mets’ No. 2-hitting, $341-million shortstop, Francisco Lindor, has a .721 OPS. 

The Phillies’ top-of-the-rotation righthander, Aaron Nola, gave up four runs in six innings, bumping his ERA up to 4.70. He struck out five batters and walked three (including Daniel Vogelbach twice on eight consecutive balls before Canha’s big hits). The Mets’ bottom-of-the-rotation righthander, Carrasco, easily outpitched him, yielding a homer to Edmundo Sosa in the third but nothing after that. 

The Phillies’ lineup of sluggers hasn’t slugged much, averaging 4.20 runs per game entering the day — a bottom-third mark in baseball. The Mets, who also have struggled to find offensive consistency, had a still-below-average 4.45 runs per game. 

“We pitched real well,” Showalter said. “We’ve given up one run in 18 innings. That’s hard to do against any team, especially them.” 

Carrasco has cut his ERA from 8.68 to 5.74 over his past two starts, during which he allowed two runs in 12 2/3 innings. To Showalter, the surest sign that Carrasco has felt better — physically and therefore mentally — was Carrasco dodging him late in his outing. 

If the manager couldn’t find him, Carrasco thought, maybe he would be allowed to pitch the seventh. 

“I had to chase him around the bathroom after the sixth,” Showalter said. 

Carrasco added: “I tried to hide myself. But he found me.” 

Canha outproduced the Phillies on his own. His four RBIs represented one-third of his season total entering the night (12). 

“I was just trying to set the tone for the day and just see the ball well and move balanced and slow and not really any plans to do anything except try to get a good pitch to hit,” Canha said of his first at-bat against Nola. “And got one.” 

Canha’s .242 average and .710 OPS are well below his usual numbers. But it is “easy to trust” Canha, Showalter said, because he cares. 

Much like with the Phillies, it might be a matter of when, not if, for Canha. 

“You work and you work and you work,” Canha said. “Then those really good [games] happen once in a while and you’re like, all right, that’s why you put in the work . . . It’s been a little bit tougher for me this year. Hopefully, law of averages, it’ll get a little better.”


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