PHILADELPHIA — Baseball is one of the only sports in which a game can end before it barely begins.
The Mets suffered through their worst 1st inning, since July 19, 1988, during the team’s 14-3 blowout loss to the Phillies on Tuesday night at Citizens Bank Park. Steven Matz and Drew Gagnon combined to give up 10 runs before the fifth batter in the Mets’ lineup even got a chance to hit.
Matz’s shortest start of his career may as well have been confused for a coach throwing batting practice against the Phillies. The left-hander gave up eight runs (six earned) against eight batters faced in the 1st inning.
He surrendered a double, hit Bryce Harper on the hand, gave up another double, a three-run home run, a walk and another solo homer before manager Mickey Callaway had seen enough. Nowhere in that final pitching line did Matz record an out. He was pulled as the Mets trailed the Phillies, 8-0.
“I was leaving the ball up in the zone,” Matz said. “Poor effort tonight. I’ve been here before, so at this point I know I can come out of it. It’s not going to define me or define the season. Just gotta wash it and look forward.”
Amed Rosario’s butterfingers accounted for two runs in the Phils’ early eight-run mark. The Mets shortstop bobbled two grounders that landed right in his glove, but Rosario failed to get a grip on them. On both occasions, the ball slipped away and the Phils made him pay by virtue of the long ball.
Scott Kingery’s three-run home run scored Andrew McCutchen, the batter who reached base on Rosario’s first error. And Maikel Franco’s three-run home run drove in Aaron Altherr, the second batter to reach thanks to Rosario’s miscue.
Rosario recorded 16 errors over 146 games last season, and just six errors across 45 games in 2017. Tuesday night’s blunders were his first of the current season.
“Tough game for him, tough game for Matzy,” Callaway said. “Guys have those every now and again, they’re not fun. Rosie’s been fantastic and he’ll get passed it.”
After Matz departed with his head hanging low, in came the Mets newest reliever on their 25-man roster: Drew Gagnon. Though he walked onto the mound with empty bases, Gagnon was unable to limit the Phillies damage in the 1st.
The 28-year-old issued a pair of walks that Phils catcher J.T. Realmuto drove home on a two-run double to center field that also ended Brandon Nimmo’s night with a stiff neck injury. The Phillies scoring massacre finally ended at 10 runs in the 1st, but the Mets were in too deep a hole to climb out of.
The Mets offense was able to tack on three more runs – including a solo homer off the bat of Wilson Ramos for his first dinger as a Met – but an early 10-run deficit had sealed their fate.
Still, Gagnon pitched well enough to rest the Mets bullpen – a relief corps that’s been heavily taxed to start the season. Matz was the fourth consecutive Mets starter to pitch no more than five innings. Though in Matz’s case, he made the team’s relievers responsible for the full 27 outs.
Gagnon hurled 5.1 innings and struck out five batters, holding the Phillies to five earned runs on seven hits. His 97 pitches helped the Mets limit Tuesday’s bullpen management to just two relievers. Paul Sewald closed the game on 2.2 scoreless innings and gave up two hits and one walk.
“That’s the job. Come in, be a long guy,” Gagnon said. “I knew that was my role coming up. You have to be ready from the get-go. You don’t know what could happen.”