PHILADELPHIA — The Mets took the phrase “never say die” to a completely different planet.
Down six runs in the ninth, the Mets put together a seven-run rally against two Phillies pitchers, including closer Corey Knebel, to mount the comeback of all comebacks. It was pandemonium in the City of Brotherly Love as the Mets beat the Phillies, 8-7, at Citizens Bank Park on Thursday night in the unlikeliest win of their season to date.
“I’m trying not to be giddy,” said the typically business-as-usual manager Buck Showalter. “That’s a good club over there. We’ll make everybody know that as long as we got some outs, we got a chance.
“A night like tonight makes you realize what could be.”
Starling Marte began and ended the rally when he led off the ninth inning with an infield single to short. When the Mets batted around the order, Marte put the punctuation mark on the game with a go-ahead RBI double off the centerfield wall to score a hustling Brandon Nimmo from first.
But, in the clubhouse after the game, Showalter and other players agreed that it was Francisco Lindor who truly put the comeback in motion. With Marte on first with his leadoff infield single, Lindor snapped his 0-for-18 streak with a two-run home run to right-center field. Marte said, through interpreter Alan Suriel, the star shortstop’s monster dinger was “euphoric.” Brandon Nimmo, who was the ninth batter of the ninth inning, said he started believing a resurgence was possible after Lindor trimmed the club’s deficit from 7-1 to 7-3.
“It’s a great team win, extremely special,” Lindor said. “The way everybody believed in each other, counted on each other, special for sure. Wins like this, they add up throughout the course of the year, and they’re huge.”
Boos rained down on the Mets from the home crowd as they embarrassed the Phillies for the second time in six days. The first time came less than a week ago at Citi Field, when five Mets pitchers combined to no-hit the Phillies in a historic night for the franchise. Much like that no-hitter, Thursday’s win featured an all-team effort. J.D. Davis pinch-hit for Tomas Nido in the ninth and contributed to the comeback with an RBI double down the left field line. Pete Alonso, Jeff McNeil, and Mark Canha all collected key base hits in the ninth.
“I was involved in too many other things to start cheerleading, but I sure felt like it,” Showalter said of his emotions during the team’s rally. “I could have. If it were me, I’d have some pom poms out. But I can’t, there’s too many things going on.”
Mets reliever Adonis Medina earned his first major-league win after pitching 2.2 scoreless innings in mop-up duty beginning in the sixth inning. Thursday was only Medina’s seventh time pitching in the big leagues.
Edwin Diaz easily shut down the Philly lineup in the top of the ninth, like he knew he’d be called for a save opportunity all along. Diaz retired the side to record his sixth save of the season, sending the Mets into an overjoyed frenzy in the locker room as it was evident these kinds of games are few and far between.
“This doesn’t happen every day,” Nimmo said. “No-hitters don’t happen every day. Five-run ninth-innings don’t happen every day. Seven-run ninth innings don’t happen every day. I mean, those guys are getting paid a lot of money to get us out. They’re good at it. So this is not a normal circumstance. Don’t get me wrong, we’re prepared and we’re going up there to battle. But this doesn’t happen every day. It’ll surprise you a little bit.”
Surprise is an understatement after Taijuan Walker put the Mets in an early 4-0 hole in the first inning, aided by Lindor’s crucial fielding error on a would-be double play. Walker coughed up seven runs, six earned, on nine hits across four innings and 80 pitches in his third outing of the season. Mets fans experienced a familiar doom and gloom after the right-hander gave up back-to-back home runs to Bryce Harper and Nick Castellanos in the fourth inning, sinking the Amazin’s into a 7-0 void.
The Mets (19-9) were stifled for seven innings by Aaron Nola’s dominance. Nola allowed just three Mets to reach base, including Marte’s solo home run in the sixth, and at one point retired 13 consecutive batters. Once Nola threw his 101st pitch and was replaced by former Mets reliever Jeurys Familia, Lindor was fired up because that told the shortstop that the Phillies were trying to shut the Mets down. Lindor wasn’t having it. He encouraged his teammates in the dugout to string some runs together.
“It’s happening, it’s happening,” Lindor said of his emotions in the dugout during the wild ninth-inning rally. “You don’t have too many nights like this.”
The seven-run comeback was the first time since 1997 that the Mets won after trailing by six or more runs entering the final inning, according to ESPN. They were 0-330 in those games leading up to Thursday. According to Elias Sports Bureau, the last MLB team to win a game after trailing by 6-plus runs entering the 9th inning were the Padres on June 14, 2019 at Colorado.
While Thursday night’s unbelievable win may seem like a defining moment, another turning point in the first-place Mets’ already impressive season, Showalter and his players disagreed. Yes, the rally and comeback against the Phillies was thrilling, and the Mets will enjoy their improbable win. But it’s just one step of many more to come in a long season that certainly doesn’t end on May 5.
In other words, talk to the Mets about defining moments when they’re tasting October baseball.
“We treat this game almost as every other win,” Marte said. “Like I always say, the game doesn’t end until that team gets 27 outs. So we go out there, we compete, we hope to be victorious and we let the game play out.”
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