Adam Ottavino #0 of the New York Mets looks on...

Adam Ottavino #0 of the New York Mets looks on from the mound after surrendering a seventh inning two run home run against Kyle Schwarber #12 of the Philadelphia Phillies at Citi Field on Saturday, Apr. 30, 2022 in the Queens borough of New York City. Credit: Jim McIsaac

These Mets have offered little reason to complain in the opening weeks of the season, tying for the MLB lead in victories, boasting one of the best rotations in the majors, putting together wild late comebacks and displaying a general togetherness through occasions such as more than one benches-clearing episode.

But if you are the nitpicking and/or pessimistic type — if you don’t feel quite right unless something feels wrong — they have presented an option: the bullpen.

The Mets lost to the Phillies, 4-1, on Saturday night after Adam Ottavino allowed three runs in the seventh inning. They brought the potential go-ahead run to the plate in the eighth, but Brandon Nimmo grounded out.

Of the Mets’ seven losses — which is an impressively low number after more than three weeks — four can be pinned on relievers giving up difference-making runs in the late innings.

“Pitch four innings out of the bullpen, to think you’ll get four shutout innings against a team like Philadelphia is a stretch,” manager Buck Showalter said. “At times, everybody down there has done a good job for us for the most part, with very few exceptions. But we’re not going to use the same people every night and it’s not going to be perfect every day. It’s hard to do.”

Entering the day with a 3.16 bullpen ERA, good for seventh-best in the majors, the Mets (15-7) had that figure increase when Ottavino entered against the middle of the lineup.

The Phillies (11-11) took the lead when Kyle Schwarber blasted a two-run home run to centerfield. They tacked on another run when Odubel Herrera slashed a two-out RBI double down the leftfield line.


Schwarber’s blast was his first hit in five games against the Mets. He had been 0-for-14 with seven strikeouts (and four walks), a significant improvement for the Mets after he crushed them for nine home runs and an absurd 1.610 OPS in 10 games last year.

“I was trying to go up and away. I threw down and in. So that’s a full miss there,” Ottavino said of the home run pitch. “But also, I wasn’t fully convicted on the pitch like I should have been.

“ . . . I’m trying to pitch to Schwarber while trying to hold a guy [J.T. Realmuto] on. And I went fastball [for a] strike and then I threw two changeups in a row for balls — both pretty bad misses. Off that situation, he’s probably thinking fastball. So in my mind, I was thinking maybe I should go slider here. But then I was worried about the stolen base a little bit in the back of my head. So I have faith in my four-seam and I felt like if I could throw it up and away, it would be a good choice.”

None of the Mets’ four hits left the infield. They also had eight walks. Phillies righthander Kyle Gibson grinded through 4 1⁄3 innings on 84 pitches, yielding just an unearned run. “We didn’t take advantage of the baserunners we had,” Showalter said.

Jeurys Familia, making his first appearance at Citi Field as a visiting player after doing so 253 times as a member of the Mets, was vintage Familia: three outs, two walks, no runs in the seventh and eighth innings.

In his return from the injured list after a bout of bursitis in his right shoulder, righthander Taijuan Walker was strong, holding the Phillies to two hits in five scoreless innings. He struck out one and walked two.

There were moments, however, when Walker lived dangerously. He allowed the first two batters of the second inning to reach base (he picked off one of them and the other was erased by a double play). Philadelphia had two on and one out in the third but failed to capitalize. And Bryce Harper led off the fourth with a fly ball to center that Nimmo caught at the wall.

“Getting though five innings finally and feeling good with it — my shoulder feels great, my knee feels great,” said Walker, who dealt with right knee soreness at the end of spring training before the shoulder problem popped up. “I’m looking forward to getting into my routine.”


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