PHILADELPHIA — It remains far too early to draw any grand conclusions about these Mets, but for a day on Wednesday — and for their season-opening road trip the past week — most everything went according to plan.
Their 9-6 win against the Phillies, with which they snagged their second series win in as many tries, had a lot to like: Pete Alonso hitting a home run and collecting five RBIs, Max Scherzer grinding through five innings, Starling Marte throwing out a runner at second base from rightfield, Brandon Nimmo smacking another long ball, Eduardo Escobar walking three times (and tripling).
The bullpen let the Phillies make it close, including on Bryce Harper’s home run against Edwin Diaz in the ninth, but it wasn’t enough to ruin their day.
The Mets are 5-2 heading into their home opener, Friday afternoon against the Diamondbacks.
“It’s a pretty simple task starting out: You gotta figure out a way to be better than four teams initially,” manager Buck Showalter said, having just played two of those clubs, the Phillies and Nationals. “It’s a good start for us.”
Scherzer added: “We’ve done a lot of good things here to start the season. We’ve done good things on the mound. We’re doing good things at the plate. That’s how you win ballgames, playing team baseball, when everybody plays well together. That’s what it takes to consistently win.”
What turned out to be the most important runs of the game came in the top of the sixth, when the Mets added four to turn it into a temporary blowout. Marte (2-for-5, two runs) had an RBI single, and Alonso crushed a three-run home run to right-centerfield.
That was the 108th blast of his career, tying Jose Reyes for 13th on the Mets’ all-time list. Up next: Ed Kranepool at 118.
“That was a big moment in the game that put us ahead by a bunch,” Alonso said. “Thankfully, that was enough.”
Dominic Smith said: “When he’s really balanced and he’s using the big part of the field, he’s the most dangerous hitter in baseball, because he can hit the ball out of any part of the park.”
That highlighted a big day for Alonso, who also had RBI doubles in the fourth (scoring Marte from first) and fifth (scoring Francisco Lindor). He has 10 RBIs in seven games.
“We did an excellent job of pouring it on all day,” he said.
Scherzer’s effort — one run, five hits, seven strikeouts, three walks — completed an excellent first week for the Mets’ rotation. It leads the majors in ERA (1.29) and innings (35), despite the absence of Jacob deGrom, who is out indefinitely with a stress reaction in his right shoulder blade.
Mets starting pitchers have allowed five runs. Four of those have come against Scherzer.
Scherzer was not in top form — the result, apparently, of being healthy again. He deemed his right hamstring, which has been sore for the past couple of weeks, “not an issue.” But he had to adjust to being able to pitch normally, as opposed to pitching around that minor injury.
“It was just recalibrating everything back to when you feel good,” he said. “I had gotten a rhythm pitching a throttle down last start, to now being full go. In the first [inning], I had a case of the just-misses. There wasn’t anything wrong. I just wasn’t completely executing every pitch where it needed to be.
“I didn’t know that was going to happen, but it didn’t surprise me that that happened.”
He walked the bases loaded during that 29-pitch opening inning, then settled in. The Phillies scored only in the fourth, when Bryson Stott eked a line-drive single over the glove of a leaping Lindor. He finished with 96 pitches, the most of any Mets starter so far.
In his final frame, Scherzer had to face the top of the Phillies’ order for a third time. J.T. Realmuto’s single was sandwiched by outs from Kyle Schwarber (strikeout), Harper and Nick Castellanos.
“That’s probably as impressive as you’re going to see,” Showalter said. “Didn’t let it get away from him, never gave in. He’s fun to watch compete. Not a whole lot of fun to think about taking him out of the game.”