Bruce, with his third home run of the season in the fourth inning, bailed out starter Jacob deGrom (ND), who struggled in the first inning, putting the Mets into a 2-0 hole. Batting cleanup for the first time this season, Bruce cut the lead to 2-1. With the scored tied 2-2 in the eighth, Bruce hit a bomb well into the second deck at Citizens Bank Park, with two strikes and two outs, putting the Mets ahead, 4-2. He already has four home runs in just seven games.
When Bruce was traded to the Mets on July 31st last year, he had already hit 25 home runs with the Reds. He then hit two home runs in his first five games, but didn’t hit another one until September 1st. Bruce hit just eight home runs with the Mets in his 50 games.
Prior to the home run, Asrdubal Cabrera was buzzed by Phillies pitcher Edubray Ramos (L, 0-1) with a pitch well over his head and into the backstop. The pitch was payback for Cabrera’s bat flip last September, when he hit a walk-off home run in extra innings against Ramos. Although the pitch didn’t hit Cabrera, it caused a stare down and some finger pointing, resulting in a walk to Cabrera, who scored on Bruce’s home run.
Both benches were warned and Phillies manager Pete Mackanin was ejected for arguing after the warning was issued.
DeGrom uncharacteristically walked leadoff batter Cesar Hernandez to start the game and found himself in a base loaded, one out situation after consecutive singles. Michael Saunders then singled to right for the third straight hit, to give the Phillies a 1-0 lead. Again, deGrom was facing the bases loaded and issued a 3-2 walk to Cameron Rupp to make it 2-0. With deGrom struggling, Brock Stassi then hit it right back to the pitcher and deGrom started the 1-2-3 double play to get out of the inning.
The Phillies (3-4) wouldn’t score again.
DeGrom willed his way through six innings (2 ER, 2 W, 3K), giving the Mets a chance to get back in the game. Trailing 2-1 in the seventh, Bruce led off with a walk and went all the way to third on an infield single by Curtis Granderson when the throw to first skipped past Stassi. Neil Walker then brought Bruce home with a sacrifice fly to center to tie the game, setting up the fireworks and heroics in the eighth.
The Mets bullpen did the rest, with a little drama along the way. Jerry Blevins (W, 1-0) finished off the seventh inning for Josh Smoker, who put two runners on with a single and a walk as the Mets caught Howie Kendrick off first base in a run-down play after a pitch escaped Travis d’Arnaud. Blevins then needed a double play to end the eighth after a two out single put the tying run at the plate.
In the ninth, Addison Reed came in for the save and gave up a home run to Stassi leading off the inning to make it 4-3, as Stassi got revenge for hitting into the double play in the first inning. Reed then got a strikeout before Daniel Nava got a base hit to put the tying run on base. But Hernandez filed out to center and Reed struck out Kendrick for his second save of the year.
Matt Harvey (1-0) gets the start tomorrow against Clay Buckholtz (0-0) as the Mets try to make it three in a row. Mets complete the series with the Phillies on Wednesday, then travel to Miami for a four-game weekend series. The Mets play their first 24 games of the season against the NL East, including six with Washington.
POSITIVES: DeGrom got his 500th career strikeout in only his 77th career game, the third fastest Met to 500K behind Doc and Harvey … Mets had only four hits and Bruce had two of them. Three of their hits went for extra bases … Granderson’s hit got him up to .208 … Blevins still hasn’t allowed a run
NEGATIVES: Reyes went 0-4, dropping down to .037 … Phillies had 10 hits and Mets issued four walks … Mets were 0-5 with runners in scoring position
Paul DiSclafani is a featured writer on “A View From The Bench”, which has been recognized by Major League baseball as one of the top 100 blog sites.