PHILADELPHIA — The Mets took the phrase “never say die” to an entirely 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 chaos in the City of Brotherly Love as the Mets beat the Phillies, 8-7, at Citizens Bank Park on Thursday night in the most unlikely win of their season to date.
“I’m trying not to be giddy,” said Buck Showalter, business as usual manager. “That is a good club there. We’ll let everyone know that as long as we get some outs, we have a chance.
“A night like this makes you realize what could be.”
Starling Marte started and ended the play when he led off the ninth with an infield single to short. As the Mets dodged the order, Marte put the punctuation mark on the game with a go-ahead double off the center-field wall to score a rushing Brandon Nimmo from first.
But, in the locker room after the game, Showalter and other players agreed that it was Francisco Lindor who really started the comeback. With Marte on first base with his infield single, Lindor snapped his 18-0 streak with a two-run homer to right-center. Marte said, through interpreter Alan Suriel, that the star shortstop’s monster play was “euphoric.” Brandon Nimmo, who was the ninth batter of the ninth inning, said he began to believe a comeback was possible after Lindor cut the club’s deficit from 7-1 to 7-3.
“It’s a great team win, extremely special,” Lindor said. “The way everyone believed in each other, counted on each other, special without a doubt. Wins like this add up throughout the year and they are 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 on a historic night for the franchise. Like that no-hitter, Thursday’s victory featured a team-wide effort. JD 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 collected key hits in the ninth inning.
“I was involved in a lot of other things to start cheerleading, but I sure felt like it,” Showalter said of her emotions during the team rally. “I could have. If it were me, I’d get some pom poms out. But I can’t, there’s too much going on.”
Mets reliever Adonis Medina earned his first major league win after pitching 2.2 scoreless innings in his cleanup duty starting in the sixth inning. Thursday was just the seventh time Medina has pitched in the major leagues.
Edwin Diaz easily closed out Philadelphia’s lineup in the top of the ninth, as if he knew he was called for a save opportunity all the time. Diaz retired the team to record his sixth save of the season, sending the Mets into a frenzy of locker room cheer as it was apparent these types of games are few and far between.
“This doesn’t happen every day,” Nimmo said. “No-hitters don’t happen every day. Five-race ninth innings don’t happen every day. Seven-race ninth innings don’t happen every day. I mean, those guys are getting paid a lot of money to get us out. They are good at it. So this is not a normal circumstance. Don’t get me wrong, we are prepared and going to battle. But this does not happen every day. It will surprise you a bit.
Surprise is an understatement after Taijuan Walker put the Mets in an early 4-0 hole in the first inning, helped by Lindor’s crucial fielding error on a suspected double play. Walker coughed up seven runs, six earned, on nine hits in four innings and 80 pitches in his third start of the season. Mets fans experienced a familiar gloom after the right-hander allowed back-to-back home runs to Bryce Harper and Nick Castellanos in the fourth inning, sinking the Amazin into a 7-0 vacuum.
The Mets (19-9) were stifled for seven innings by Aaron Nola’s dominance. Nola allowed only three Mets to reach base, including Marte’s solo homer 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 got excited because it told the shortstop that the Phillies were trying to shut down the Mets. Lindor wasn’t having it. He encouraged his teammates on the bench to string together some runs.
“It’s happening, it’s happening,” Lindor said of his emotions on the bench during the wild ninth-inning rally. “You don’t get too many nights like this.”
The seven-run comeback was the first time since 1997 that the Mets have won after trailing by six runs or more entering the final inning, according to ESPN. They were 0-330 in those games leading up to Thursday. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the last MLB team to win a game after being down by more than 6 runs entering the 9th inning was the Padres on June 14, 2019 at Colorado.
While Thursday night’s incredible win may seem like a watershed moment — another turning point in the already impressive season for the No. 1 Mets — Showalter and his players disagreed. Yes, the rally and comeback against the Phillies was exciting, and the Mets will enjoy their unlikely victory. 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 the defining moments when they’re savoring October baseball.
“We treat this game almost like any other win,” Marte said. “Like I always say, the game isn’t over until that team gets 27 outs. So we go out there, we compete, we hope to come out victorious and let the game play out.”