By Connor Thomas
Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: the New York Mets did something dumb in a baseball game last night. The Phillies NL East rival has long had a reputation of falling apart when it counts most, and the start of New York’s 2021 campaign was more of the same. Unluckily for Philadelphia, last night was the season opener for the Mets, due to a cancelled series with the Washington after the Nationals had a COVID outbreak. That meant that the Phils would have to deal with the man who had won the NL Cy Young 2 of the last 3 years, one Jacob deGrom. deGrom was as advertised, touching triple digits on the gun and twirling a dominant 6 scoreless innings, scattering 3 hits and a pair of walks. Phillies newcomer Matt Moore, who made his red pinstripes debut on Monday night, showed flashes of why the team wanted him as their number 4 starter, retiring the first 7 batters he faced.
But in the top of the 4th Moore ran into trouble, allowing 2 runs and leaving the bases loaded with 1 out as Joe Girardi elected to go to the bullpen as early as he has so far this year. Brandon Kintzler saw his first action in Philadelphia, immediately rolling a double play to get out of the jam, but the damage had been done. With deGrom looking otherworldly per usual, the Phillies did not create much noise at the dish, but with 77 pitches thrown at the end of the 6th inning and the pitcher’s spot in the order not coming up, Mets manager Luis Rojas made the, frankly, stupid decision to pull his ace in favor of the bullpen. The 7th was uneventful, but the 8th inning proved exactly why you let a dominant starter just continue to be dominant. I guess the Rojas was not watching the World Series this past year. Trevor May struck out Adam Haseley to start the bottom of the 8th, but Brad Miller had a pinch hit single, followed by an Andrew McCutchen walk and a Rhys Hoskins single to load the bases. Aaron Loup, who the Mets added to the bullpen this offseason via free agency, came in with the bases loaded and promptly hit Bryce Harper to force across a run, and then gave up a single to JT Realmuto through the left side to tie the ballgame. Compounding upon Rojas’ mistake to pull deGrom, Luis Guillorme made a terrible play on a ground ball from Alec Bohm, overthrowing a force out at home to allow both Hoskins and Harper to score.
With the lead surrendered, Loup decided to give up a sacrifice fly in the inning to Didi Gregorius for good measure, and in the blink of an eye a 5 run inning had undone all of the work deGrom had put in. Jose Alvarado closed out the 9th, and though he did give up the bullpen’s first run of the year, he was able to shut the door on the mistake-ridden Mets. The Phillies had no business winning last night’s game, and honestly they did not do too much to help themselves win. The biggest asset the team had was the poor decision making of their opposition, but when you face a Jacob deGrom, you’ll take them any way you can get them. Let’s hope that the Mets continue to fight themselves as the teams finish out the rest of their 3 game series.