The New York Mets eked out an 8-7 win over the Philadelphia Phillies on Sunday night at Citizens' Bank Park (box score). With the win, the Mets took the three-game series and at 11-11 pulled into a first-place tie with the 12-12 Washington Nationals atop the National League East standings.
On the other side, the loss, which drops Joe Girardi's club to a season-worst two games below the .500 mark, was a crushing one for Philly. After home runs from Andrew McCutchen and Didi Gregorius and a strong start from Zach Elfin, the Phillies led 4-2 going into the eighth inning, which gave them an 87 percent chance of winning the rubber game of the series.
Kevin Pillar began the top of the eighth with a home run off Brandon Kintzler, and then Jonathan Villar followed with a single. One out later, Jose Peraza slapped a single to right side, and Villar took advantage of an inattentive and frustrated Rhys Hoskins and conjured up one of the most impressive hustle plays of the still young season. Have a look:
Tie game. At that point, Girardi turned to Jose Alvarado, who was available only because he appealed his three-game suspension for touching off a benches-clearing incident in Friday night's game against the Mets. Alvarado allowed the first three batters he faced to reach, which gave the Mets a 5-4 lead. David Hale was summoned to face Pete Alonso to the plate, and then this happened:
That made it 8-4 Mets and gave the Mets a 97 percent chance of winning the game. One would think that would be sufficiently miserable for the Phillies and their partisans, but wait: there's more.
The Phillies went quietly in the eighth, but in the ninth they began mounting a threat against Mets closer Edwin Diaz. Gregorius worked a leadoff walk, and soon after Roman Quinn gapped a one-out triple to make it 8-5. Odubel Herrera struck out, and Matt Joyce walked. That brought up Hoskins -- author of that major gaffe in the prior inning -- as the potential tying run. What happened? This:
Game-tying clutch bomb by Hoskins? That was the call on the field, but unfortunately for the Phillies replay review exists.
As you see above, the ball actually hit the railing, which means it was still in play. The umps permitted two runs to score on the play, but Hoskins -- the third and tying run -- was at second base. Instead of an 8-8 tie, the Mets clung to an 8-7 lead. Up next was Bryce Harper, who appeared to tweak his wrist on a swing-and-miss in his prior at-bat. Jeurys Familia, in for the incinerated Diaz, needed six pitches to whiff Harper, who may not have been 100 percent at the time.
It takes a special confluence of miseries for a team to out-Mets the Mets, but, by golly, the Phillies managed to do just that on Sunday night. The consoling news is that this is the NL East, and it's tightly bunched at the moment -- the last place Miami Marlins are just 2 1/2 games out. Given the generally underwhelming play up and down the division, it might remain as such. For now, the Mets are riding high, and the Phillies are absorbing one of the most peculiar and painful losses anyone's suffered this season.