Nick Plummer will remember exactly one moment from his first major league start.
The Mets hero of the night hadn’t recorded his first major league hit until the ninth inning of the Mets’ 5-4 win over the Phillies on Sunday. And he sent Phillies reliever Corey Knebel’s first pitch to him that inning into the abyss to tie the game, sending him into extra innings.
The Mets won in the bottom of the tenth inning, courtesy of Eduardo Escobar’s brace, sweeping the three-game series.
Plummer, whose marching song is affectionately Super Mario’s theme song, was celebrated with the in-game tune that appears when Mario rescues Princess Peach, after hitting her home run.
Coincidentally, the last Met to hit their first league home run was Jeremy Hefner – now the team’s pitching coach – who did it exactly ten years ago to date.
That was enough to ratchet up the pressure on the exhausted crowd at Citi Field and the Mets, who just the previous inning looked like they were headed for a loss.
Reliever Adam Ottavino replaced Joely Rodriguez in the eighth inning with a two-run lead, two runners at first and second and two outs. Ottavino then gave up a lead-changing three-run home run to Nick Castellanos, on a 96-mph four-seam fastball, erasing all the work the Mets offense and Chris Bassit did to start and carry the match. Two of those runs were added to Rodriguez’s earned run total on the night.
The Mets (32-17) were getting the hits and they pitched the quality of the tee shot to match. All that, plus a Phillies defense (21-27) that has suffered more than it has lately.
To sum up just the first inning of Sunday night, Bassitt needed 12 pitches to strike out his first three Phillies. The Mets’ first three hitters in the lineup, Luis Guillorme, Starling Marte and Francisco Lindor, each scored in incredible late innings.
Guillorme first threw a hard-hit brace, from ex-Met Zack Wheeler, into the left corner of the field to start the rally. Marte followed with a single. Lindor hit what should have been easy ground to convert a double play, but what really played out was a bunch of Phillies hesitation that ultimately ended in a home throwing error, allowing Guillorme to score. And Lindor was able to reach base safely on picking a defender.
The Phils confusion continued when Pete Alonso hit what should have been a regular flyout to the right. But even with Castellanos, Rhys Hoskins and Jean Segura all chasing him, the ball was able to fall to the ground for a single to charge the goals. Even Alonso looked surprised his shot hadn’t been caught, while increasing oo-ings and oh-ings from the crowd as the ball descended seemed to foreshadow play before it fully materialized.
Escobar and Mark Canha grounded back-to-back in the second and third innings. Those three runs were all the Mets would have needed — at least until the eighth inning — even after Bassitt’s tough third inning.
Bassitt’s early career as a Mets starter did not go unnoticed.
He had his highs, like the four wins and one no-decision he won in which he didn’t allow more than one point on his watch in those games.
And he’s had some tough lows, like the two losses and two other no-decision games in which he allowed three or more earned runs. The worst of those outings came in San Francisco against the Giants on May 24, when his ERA soared to 3.91 after allowing eight earned runs on eight hits.
He has always played a big part in the Met’s five wins. Sunday was certainly a welcome rebound for Bassitt after his last brutal outing in San Francisco.
Bassitt struck out six of his first seven batters before loading the bases on a double and back-to-back walks in the third inning. The Mets bailed him out by turning a double play on Alec Bohm’s grounder, which still allowed a runner, Odubel Herrera, to score. He came out of the inning after walking another hitter, Bryce Harper, and striking out Castellanos.
He left the mound unhappy with the latest set of events, but breathed a sigh of relief that the round was over and the damage had been kept to a minimum.
The Phillies made Bassitt work, but he was able to finish with just one earned run on two hits with three walks and seven strikeouts in six innings.