PHILADELPHIA — The Mets’ 5-4 loss to the Phillies on Thursday night came with an ignominious footnote: They clinched a losing record for a fifth time in seven years.
At 71-82 with nine games to go, the 2023 team is permanently stuck under .500, long a likelihood — especially after the front office gave up at the trade deadline — that now is official.
Technically, the Mets remain mathematically eligible for the postseason. Their elimination number in the NL wild-card race is whittled down to two.
“Nobody here thought this is where we were going to be at this point of the year,” Jeff McNeil said.
The difference Thursday was Nick Castellanos, who went 2-for-3 with four RBIs. He had a two-run single in the first — when David Peterson was a strike away from escaping a bases-loaded, one-out jam — and a go-ahead homer in the sixth.
Peterson allowed four runs in four innings, alternating between long innings and perfect ones, a sequence he called “a mixed bag.” He struck out seven and walked two (the first pair of batters he faced).
The Mets twice erased two-run deficits against lefthander Ranger Suarez, who gave up four runs in 6 2/3 innings. But the Phillies’ third lead, via Castellanos’ long ball that went an estimated 454 feet, proved insurmountable.
The Mets stranded the potential tying run on third base in the eighth inning and second in the ninth.
McNeil finished 3-for-4, falling a home run short of the cycle. He is hitting .357 over his past seven games (and .314 over his past 30), looking much more like his batting champion self.
“It means a lot [to rebound from a deep first-half slump],” said McNeil, whose average is .271. “I wasn’t feeling myself. It’s not where I want to be. I’m happy I was able to kind of turn it around, but it was a little late.”
Manager Buck Showalter said: “It doesn’t surprise anybody. Very quietly, he’s worked his way up.”