Mets snag first win behind Marcus Stroman, bullpen redemption
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PHILADELPHIA — Marcus Stroman’s first regular-season appearance in more than 18 months went exactly to a script that could have been written by the Mets right-hander in spring training.
The ball was put in play Tuesday, Stroman’s defense responded and scoring was a challenge for the opposition. It’s a different methodology for sure than Jacob deGrom uses with his overpowering stuff, but the results deGrom and Stroman received on consecutive nights weren’t much different. And this time the Mets bullpen protected a lead.
With Stroman in charge, the Mets rolled to an 8-4 victory over the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park, cleansing their palates somewhat of the bitter taste of a wasted deGrom beauty in Monday’s season opener.
Over six innings Stroman allowed one earned run on three hits with three strikeouts and two walks. He was removed for a pinch hitter in the seventh after throwing 85 pitches.
Miguel Castro, Trevor May and Jeurys Familia worked the final three innings to close it. Castro allowed a run in the seventh before May escaped trouble in the eighth. Familia allowed two soft-contact hits in the ninth that turned into runs.
Stroman, who opted out from last season, had last appeared in a major league game for the Mets on Sept. 27, 2019, when he beat the Braves at Citi Field. A free agent last offseason, he returned to the Mets on a qualifying offer worth $18.9 million.
Pete Alonso put the icing on the victory with a two-run homer in the ninth. Dominic Smith also homered for the Mets, who totaled just five hits but drew eight walks.
Stroman walked a tightrope in the sixth to keep the Mets’ lead at 2-1. After J.T. Realmuto reached on Jeff McNeil’s fielding error and advanced on a wild pitch, Didi Gregorius hit a grounder that a diving Alonso gloved near the foul line and turned into the second out. With the tying run at third base, Stroman retired Jean Segura.
Smith’s two-run blast to left in the fourth inning was the Mets’ first homer of the season. Smith had remained on the bench a night earlier as manager Luis Rojas utilized Kevin Pillar at leadoff and in center field and moved Brandon Nimmo to left. Smith’s bat was missed on a night the Mets didn’t produce an extra-base hit.
Vince Velasquez looked brilliant in striking out the side in the sixth. But in the seventh the Phillies right-hander couldn’t find the strike zone and walked four batters before he was mercifully removed. Nimmo’s walk with the bases loaded extended the Mets’ lead to 3-1. Francisco Lindor’s ensuing sacrifice fly — his first RBI with the Mets — added another run.
But the Mets weren’t finished in the inning. Nimmo and Pillar executed a double steal, with the latter breaking for the plate as Realmuto’s throw went to second base. Pillar was credited with the Mets’ first steal of home since Eric Campbell in 2014. Michael Conforto’s ensuing two-out RBI double extended the Mets’ lead to 6-1, providing a comfortable cushion for the bullpen.
Gregorius smashed an 0-1 sinker from Stroman into the shrubbery behind the center-field fence in the fourth for a solo homer that sliced the Phillies’ deficit to 2-1. The homer was the first allowed by the Mets this season.
Stroman escaped trouble in the second, drilling Roman Quinn to load the bases with two outs before retiring the pitcher Chase Anderson. Realmuto beat out a grounder to Lindor for a single leading off the inning.
On Monday, deGrom fired six scoreless innings, but May and Aaron Loup surrendered five runs in the eighth in the 5-3 loss.
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