Mets split London Series with Phillies: What we learned as wild double play caps hectic ninth inning



For once, the New York Mets were the beneficiary of a ninth-inning meltdown. The Mets scored three ninth-inning runs against Philadelphia Phillies closer José Alvarado on Sunday to earn a split in the two-game London Series (NYM 6, PHI 5). The Phillies won Saturday’s game 7-2. MLB’s 2024 international slate is over and the two teams now head back across the pond.

The Mets have had major bullpen issues lately — they’ve lost six games when taking a lead into the ninth inning since May 1 — but they were on the right side of a blown save Sunday. It wasn’t an easy finish, of course. The Phillies loaded the bases with one out in the ninth, but Nick Castellanos banged into a game-ending 2-3 double play. Check it out:

Incredible play by catcher Luis Torrens. The 2-3 double play is extremely rare as it is. Doing it there, on that stage and against that opponent, was a truly magnificent ending the London Series. 

Sunday’s win boosted New York’s record to 28-36. Earlier in the day Mets owner Steve Cohen said he’s not focused on selling at the trade deadline, and wants the team to chip away in the standings and compete for a wild-card spot. Sunday was a step in that direction. The Phillies still have baseball’s best record at 45-20 despite the loss.

Here now is what you need to know about Sunday’s London Series finale.

Walker kept the Mets guessing

The Phillies have had the best rotation in baseball this year — their starters lead all teams with 12.5 WAR, far ahead of the second place Red Sox at 9.0 WAR — and Taijuan Walker has been the one weak spot. He went into Sunday’s game with a 5.73 ERA in seven starts since returning from a spring shoulder injury. All other Phillies starters have a 2.31 ERA.

It was impossible to tell Walker is having a tough season in London though. He held the Mets to two singles and one walk in 5 2/3 innings of two-run ball. Both runs scored when Walker was out of the game — reliever Gregory Soto inherited two runners from Walker in the sixth inning and allowed both to score, plus a runner of his own to tie the game 3-3.

Walker struck out five batters Sunday, all looking, and he mixed his pitches exceptionally well. He had the Mets guessing all game. Here is Walker’s pitch usage breakdown (79 total pitches):

Sinker

17

22%

Four-seam fastball

16

20%

Splitter

15

19%

Sweeper

14

18%

Curveball

14

185

Cutter

3

4%

There is such a thing as throwing too many different pitches. You don’t want to get beat on your fifth- or sixth-best pitch, you know? This is not unusual for Walker though. He went into Sunday throwing all six pitches at least 8% of the time, and five pitches at least 14% of the time. The difference between Walker’s first seven starts and Sunday was execution. He located very well.

Philadelphia’s offense and the rest of the rotation are so good that they can live with Walker being a below-average-ish veteran innings guy in the No. 5 spot. He was more than that on Sunday though. Getting something close to this Walker moving forward would elevate an already excellent rotation.

The bottom of the Phillies order had a great game

Alec Bohm opened Sunday’s scoring with a first inning run-scoring double play, and the Phillies added in the fourth thanks to the bottom of the order. Castellanos, the No. 5 hitter, beat out an infield single, then No. 6 hitter Edmundo Sosa doubled into the gap and No. 7 hitter Whit Merrifield stroked an RBI single to give Philadelphia a 3-0 lead.

The Mets came back to tie the game with three runs in the sixth inning, two on J.D. Martinez’s single. In the bottom of the seventh, the Phillies regained the lead, and again it was the bottom of the order. David Dahl, pinch-hitting for the No. 9 hitter Rojas, clubbed a go-ahead solo home run off righty Dedniel Núñez. That gave Philadelphia the 4-3 lead they took into the ninth.

Dahl is 4 for 6 with a double and two home runs since being called up to replace the injured Brandon Marsh last week. He was hitting .340 with 12 homers in Triple-A. Including Dahl’s pinch-hit appearance, Philadelphia’s 6-7-8-9 hitters went a combined 5 for 15 with three runs scored and three runs driven in Sunday. 

Alas and alack, the No. 5 hitter hit into the game-ending double play, so the bottom of the order didn’t get a chance to play hero again in the ninth inning.

Alvarado melted down

New York’s three-run game tying rally in the sixth inning happened quick. Walker, uh, walked Pete Alonso on four pitches to put runners on first and second with two outs, then Soto allowed an RBI single to Brandon Nimmo in a 2-1 count and game-tying two-run single to Martinez on the first pitch. From a 3-0 lead to a tied score in the span of five pitches.

After Dahl’s homer, the Phillies handed a 4-3 lead to their closer in the ninth inning, and Alvarado unraveled. The Mets tied the game on a walk (Tyrone Taylor), a single (Jeff McNeil), and an RBI infield single (Mark Vientos). Bohm was unable to make the barehanded grab, though the ball was hit so weakly that he didn’t have a play at home and probably didn’t have one at first either.

Another walk followed, then the Mets took the lead when Alvarado hit Alonso in the thigh with a 2-2 pitch to force in a run. He was a pitch away from a strikeout and the second out of the inning. Instead, the hit-by-pitch forced in a run. The Mets added an insurance run on a J.T. Realmuto passed ball. New York scored three runs in the ninth with one ball leaving the infield.

The bullpen never makes it easy on Mets fans and Reed Garrett and Drew Smith made a mess in the ninth — Smith walked Bohm with the bases loaded to force in a run — before Torrens turned that incredible 2-3 double play. The Mets have blown a ton of ninth-inning leads this year, but they also have four wins when trailing in the ninth, the most in baseball. Sunday was their biggest.

This was the lowest-scoring London Series

This was the third ever London Series and they have progressively gotten lower-scoring. The Red Sox and Yankees played arena baseball in 2019. Those games were chaotic. The Cardinals and Cubs played much more normal games last summer, and that continued with the Mets and Phillies this year. Here are the London Series tallies (all two-game series):

2019

Red Sox vs. Yankees

50 (!)

2023

Cardinals vs. Cubs

22

2024

Mets vs. Phillies

20

Saturday’s nine runs were the fewest ever in a London Series game.

Up next

MLB’s international slate for the 2024 season is complete. The Dodgers and Padres split the two-game Seoul Series in March, the Astros swept the Rockies in the two-game Mexico City Series in April, and now the the Mets and Phillies split the London Series. The two teams travel back to the United States immediately following Sunday’s game and will have an off-day Monday. The Phillies begin a three-game series with the Red Sox in Boston on Tuesday. The Mets return home and start a three-game series with the Marlins that day.





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