PHILADELPHIA — An unsexy but important piece of the Mets’ hot start was on display again Sunday: They have not been streaky.
In splitting a doubleheader against the Phillies — a 3-2 loss to Philadelphia in the opener and a 6-1 win in Game 2 — the Mets kept alive a curious statistic: More than a month into the season, they have lost consecutive games only once (April 10-11). They also haven’t managed more than a three-game winning streak (though they have reached that number on four occasions).
This time, Pete Alonso ended the skid before it began, collecting two home runs and five RBIs to power the Mets to a rebound victory. That came after Max Scherzer gave up three runs and 10 hits in six innings in the first game and took his first regular-season loss since May 30, 2021 — a whopping 25 starts ago.
As they approach the one-fifth mark of the season, the Mets are 20-10 and lead the NL East by six games, the largest division margin in the majors. The fourth-place Phillies are 12-16.
Manager Buck Showalter attributed the Mets’ ability to bounce back to “good players with good makeup.” Chris Bassitt suggested a different, if potentially related, reason.
“We have five quality starters,” said Bassitt, who benefited from Alonso’s support and held the Phillies to one run in 5 2⁄3 innings. “Any time you have five quality starters, it’s relentless. Every game, we’re in it because we have five quality starters. Obviously, our bats are our bats. Our lineup is really good one through nine. But overall, we have five guys that will show up every day.”
Alonso added: “We’ve played such great team baseball. Everyone’s answered the bell.”
His big game started with a two-run blast in the first inning off Cristopher Sanchez, a short-notice replacement for Zach Eflin, who earlier in the day landed on the COVID-related injured list (alongside former Met Zack Wheeler).
Facing reliever Nick Nelson in the fifth, Alonso added a three-run homer to the very back of the leftfield seats.
Bassitt had trouble early, including allowing a home run by Jean Segura in the second. But he settled in to retire 11 consecutive batters after J.D. Davis’ fielding error at third base put two on with none out in the third inning.
“Just make pitches,” he said. “A lot of [pitchers] try to do too much and then they get destroyed.”
Of the Phillies’ 10 hits against Scherzer, nine were singles — and five of those were softly hit. After Bryce Harper demolished a home run in the first inning, Philadelphia’s other runs came on a series of bloops and bleeders.
It was just the third time in six years — and the 14th time in 413 career games — that Scherzer allowed double-digit hits.
“Today was just a grind,” he said. “I know I made a mistake to Harp, but I was executing pitches. It’s part of baseball for them to get some singles that get in. It just felt like they got a lot of singles to fall in . . . Any one of those innings could’ve gotten out of control, and it didn’t. That’s the good.”
Given the circumstances, Showalter was impressed. Scherzer was supposed to pitch Friday but had his outing delayed two days by rainouts, was facing the Phillies for the third time in a month and had trouble gripping the baseball because of the cold, windy elements. That forced him to lean heavily on his fastball and cutter, less on his slider.
“It was one of those days where balls fell in,” Showalter said. “I was proud of Max.”
Scherzer called his streak of not losing — which included time with the Nationals and Dodgers in addition to the Mets — “kind of a team stat.”
“But it’s good to have a role in it,” he said. “Heck of a run.”
Opposite Scherzer, Kyle Gibson allowed two runs in six innings and looked even better for most of it. He faced the minimum number of batters in the first five frames before the Mets reached him for four hits and a pair of runs in the sixth. Francisco Lindor’s RBI double went off the rightfield wall; a few feet higher and it would been a tying homer.
The Mets stranded the would-be tying run on second base in the sixth and seventh innings and on first in the eighth. Jose Alvarado walked his first two Mets in the seventh, inspiring pitching coach Caleb Cotham to come out to chat. He struck out the next three batters.
“They had a good mound visit,” Showalter said. “It looked like he got back in sync.”
And so did the Mets in Game 2.