PHILADELPHIA — To end an ugly road trip, the Mets found a particularly ugly way to lose.
Edwin Diaz gave up five runs on two homers in the ninth inning as the Mets dropped another to the Phillies, 6-3, at Citizens Bank Park on Thursday afternoon. That meltdown came minutes after the Mets’ three-run rally in the top of the inning, highlighted by Todd Frazier’s go-ahead, two-run homer against closer Hector Neris.
And so concludes a miserable 3-8 swing through Atlanta, Chicago and Philadelphia for the Mets (37-45), who got swept in this four-game series and have lost five in a row. They led each of those games by at least two runs.
“This one stings the worst because it just happened,” manager Mickey Callaway said. “This is a game that we all felt we really needed to win.”
Diaz’s blown save was his fourth, matching his total from 2018, and the Mets’ 20th, most in the majors. They are the only team with more blown saves than saves (18).
The Mets’ long-standing bullpen problems went next-level during this trip, with the relievers combining for a 8.71 ERA and four blown saves in 11 games.
Their save percentage this season is 47 percent. Put another way: If the Mets’ lineup is good enough in a given game to hand a late lead to the bullpen, the relievers blow it one out of every two tries.
This time, the blame goes to Diaz, the Mets’ marquee offseason addition along with Robinson Cano. He has a 4.94 ERA.
“You go out there and you give it your all and you don’t get the results,” Callaway said. “Obviously, we have a lot of relievers that are kind of in that boat right now. That’s tough on him.”
Diaz’s mess began with a lead-off walk of Cesar Hernandez, who watched a 3-and-2 slider, a pitch choice Callaway questioned afterward. Maikel Franco blasted a two-run homer, his third of the series, to left-center to tie it. A few batters later, Jean Segura won it with a three-run shot to left.
“Just a bad day for me,” Diaz said through an interpreter. “I was trying to make the best pitches I could, but it seemed like they were prepared for every pitch.”
Said Callaway: “Last night he was electric, right through the middle of the zone and they couldn’t hit it. From the side, it looked like the same life to the fastball, and tonight they’re not swinging through it.”
All that distracted from what had been quite the pitchers’ duel. Zack Wheeler was good, allowing one run and two hits in six innings, but Phillies righthander Aaron Nola was even better, lasting seven shutout innings and striking out 10. The only hit he gave up was to Wheeler, a grounder up the middle to begin the sixth.
Nola’s effectiveness had the Mets frustrated. After Michael Conforto walked with two outs in the sixth, Frazier batted with two runners on. He sent a rocket to shortstop, where Segura made a smooth backhanded pick to turn it into a groundout, robbing Frazier of an RBI single. Frazier slammed down his helmet as he reached first base.
That kept the score at 1-0 Phillies until the ninth.
“You know the whole spiel,” Frazier said. “We’re trying. We’re trying. We just can’t find ways to finish games. Hopefully that starts soon, because we’re in a slide here and we’re not stopping.”