In 2020, having the starting pitcher forced from the game in the fourth inning would have been a death knell for the Phillies. The bullpen was barely capable of delivering one quality inning in a game, let alone 5.2 of them. But thanks to newcomers like Brandon Kintzler, Sam Coonrod, and Jose Alvarado, the Phillies were able to minimize the damage on Monday night, setting up a 5-3 comeback win over the Mets.
After the team received a trio of strong starts over the weekend, Matt Moore made his debut in red pinstripes. He held the Mets scoreless for the first three innings, but began the fourth by walking two batters. Those batters scored thanks to Adam Haseley inexplicably not catching an easy fly ball, and a bloop single by pitcher Jacob deGrom.
deGrom’s RBI marked the end of Moore’s night, and last year, it would have marked the end of the Phillies’ chances for victory. But Kintzler entered the game and induced a double play to avoid further damage. Kintzler, Coonrod, and Connor Brogdon kept the Mets from scoring over the next four innings as well, keeping the team in a game where their bats were quiet.
Phillies bullpen through four games:— Joe Giglio (@JoeGiglioSports) April 6, 2021
We knew it would be a tough night for the Phillies’ offense. Thanks to the Mets’ delayed start to their season, the Phillies would have to face ace Jacob deGrom. The Phillies fared about as expected against deGrom, but were given a lifeline when Mets manager Luis Rojas pulled a Gabe Kapler and lifted his ace from the game after just six innings and 77 pitches. And much like they did to Kapler, the baseball gods made it clear what a bad decision that was.
In the bottom of the eighth, facing a pitcher who is not Jacob deGrom (Trevor May to be precise), the Phillies loaded the bases for Bryce Harper. The Mets countered with former Phillie Aaron Loup, who promptly hit Harper with a pitch. J.T. Realmuto followed with an RBI single, and a throwing error by third baseman Luis Guillorme allowed two more to score. Didi Gregorius then tacked on an insurance run via sacrifice fly.
Mets are still going to Mets tonight!— John Clark (@JClarkNBCS) April 6, 2021
5 runs in the 8th for the Phillies!
With closer Hector Neris unavailable, it was up to Alvarado to finish off the Mets. Wild Thing 2.0 may be the most exciting Phillies’ pitcher in some time, and this save opportunity was both awesome and terrifying. He struck out the first two batters, often using 100+ MPH fastballs. But three singles later, and the Mets had the tying run on first base. Thankfully, Alvarado was able to finally close things out by getting Pete Alonso to fly out.
With the win, the Phillies improved to 4-0. History says that they’re bound to lose a game at some point, but if the bullpen can continue to perform like they did on Monday night, those losses might come a lot less frequently than last year.