Words by Jerry Beach of the Associated Press |
Daniel Murphy, who hit .529 with four homers during the 2015 NLCS and won MVP honors when the Mets swept the Chicago Cubs, threw out a ceremonial first pitch to his son Noah in the Mets matchup against the Phillies on Saturday. Watch it below.
Murphy retired following the pandemic-shortened 2020 season but came back this year with the independent Long Island Ducks. He then played for the Los Angeles Angels’ Triple-A Salt Lake team and hit .295 with one homer in 38 games before retiring again in August.
“I considered this adventure a bit of an experiment,” Murphy said. “And it was just ‘play’ — like my sons, like they do when they’re unsupervised. Just play. And it was great.”
Murphy crushed it on Long Island.
In 37 games with the Ducks, Murphy led his team in hits (47), batting average (.331), and on-base percentage (.410). He also totaled two home runs, 19 RBIs and 20 runs.
Recap of the game
Francisco Álvarez’s hit his first grand slam Saturday night, has more homers before turning 22 than any catcher since Johnny Bench and has earned praise for his defensive work with the New York Mets.
“I think I can do better than that,” Álvarez said after he drove in a career-high six runs to power the Mets to an 11-4 win and a doubleheader sweep of the playoff-bound Philadelphia Phillies.
Mets right-hander Tylor Megill unveiled his attempt at throwing Kodai Senga’s Ghost Fork in the opener, when he threw a career-high 7 1/3 innings in a 4-3 victory.
“We’ve been calling it the American Spork,” Megill said. “Off-brand version.”
Álvarez hit a two-run homer off the signage along the second deck in left field to cap a three-run second against Michael Plassmeyer (0-1). He hit his slam off Plassmeyer almost to the same spot, extending the Mets’ lead to 8-0 in the third.
The 21-year-old has 26 career homers, 16 fewer than Bench from 1967-69.
“I want to do better with my batting average, I want to do better with my OPS, I want to take more walk, I want to have more RBIs,” Álvarez said. “I want to do better with my defense. I want to have better communication with the pitchers.”
Álvarez’s first homer snapped an 0-for-23 skid. In the sixth, he made a basket catch on Kyle Schwarber’s popup.
“His body of work’s been very good for a 21-year-old guy,” Mets manager Buck Showalter said. “I love the way he’s catching every pitch whether it’s 11-4 or flip side.”
Brett Baty and Tim Locastro had run-scoring singles for the Mets in the nightcap while Francisco Lindor hit his 31st homer.
Reed Garrett (1-0) struck out four over three innings to earn his first big league win in relief of José Quintana, who struck out five in four innings. The southpaw gave up a run-scoring single to Cristian Pache in the fourth and Schwarber followed with a three-run homer.
Plassmeyer, pitching for the Phillies for the first time since last Oct. 5, surrendered 10 runs — nine earned — in 3 2/3 innings.
“He laid it on the sword for us,” Phillies manager Rob Thomson said.
Trea Turner left with a bruised left elbow after being hit by a pitch in the seventh. Thomson said Turner is fine but will sit out Sunday’s finale.
Megill gave up four hits and struck out seven while throwing a handful of split-fingered fastballs he learned from Senga, the Mets’ Rookie of the Year contender.
“Just watching him go and throw it — they know it’s coming and getting the swings that he has, it’s like, why not try to implement that in?” Megill said. “I’ve got the fingers, my hands spread out super far, so it feels natural to me.”
Megill exited with two on in the eighth, when Brooks Raley gave up an RBI single to Edmundo Sosa. Adam Ottavino earned his 12th save in 15 chances despite surrendering Marsh’s RBI double and Weston Wilson’s run-scoring single.
Baty and Pete Alonso each had RBIs in the first and Omar Narváez homered leading off the second off Taijuan Walker (15-6), who is in line to start a Game 3 of an NL Wild Card series on Thursday. Walker went seven innings and finished the season with a career-high 172 2/3 innings and 31 starts.
“Lot of ups and downs, wasn’t as consistent as I wanted to be, but I was proud I was able to come in and give us some good innings and make every start,” Walker said.
Mets’ last game of the season
Alec Bohm hit a tiebreaking homer in the sixth inning, sending the playoff-bound Philadelphia Phillies to a 9-1 victory Sunday in Buck Showalter’s final game as New York Mets manager.
Bryce Harper and the defending NL champion Phillies will head home to face the Miami Marlins in a best-of-three wild-card series starting Tuesday. Miami went 7-6 against Philadelphia this season.
“They won the season series, so they match up well with us,” Phillies manager Rob Thomson said. “We have a lot of prep to do. They can beat you in a lot of different ways.”
Brandon Marsh homered and finished with four RBIs for the Phillies (90-72), who won four more games than a season ago, when they qualified as the final National League wild card before reaching the World Series. Bryson Stott, Johan Rojas and Garrett Stubbs each had RBI hits, and Bohm also had a sacrifice fly.
Matt Strahm tossed a perfect first inning as an opener before Nick Nelson (1-0) won his season debut with 5 1/3 innings of one-run ball.
“We are going to try and find a way to win a game,” said Kyle Schwarber, who finished with 47 homers, tied for the fourth-most in franchise history. “At the end of the day, it doesn’t need to look pretty. It doesn’t need to look sexy or anything like that. We just have to find a way to win a game at the end of the day.”
For the Mets, the day began with Showalter concluding his pregame news conference by saying he was told the team was “going to go in a different direction with the manager next year.” New York plans to introduce David Stearns as president of baseball operations on Monday.
Showalter’s exit after two seasons — the shortest of his five big league stints — clears the way for Stearns to pick the next manager.
“I wish things could have gone better this season because the Mets fans deserve that,” Showalter said as he appeared to fight back tears. “In my heart, I always wonder what could have happened if this happened or that happened, but I try not to live in that world.
“It’s not the ending I wanted, but I still love this city and the players.”
Mets players and coaches stood in front of the dugout and joined the crowd of 41,212 in giving Showalter a standing ovation as he exchanged lineup cards before first pitch. A message reading “Thank You Buck” was displayed on the scoreboard.
“He’s an unbelievable manager,” Mets first baseman Pete Alonso said. “I think he’s a great mentor and I think that he does a great job of understanding his personnel, not just their talents and what they do day to day on the field. I think that he understands how they tick and how each guy ticks on the roster as an individual.”
Showalter received another warm ovation as he headed back to the dugout following a pitching change in the ninth inning.
Showalter led the Mets to a 101-61 record last season, when he was voted NL Manager of the Year. New York lost to San Diego in a wild-card series, then added three-time Cy Young Award winner Justin Verlander to its pitching staff during the offseason.
The Mets boosted their payroll to a record $355 million on opening day, but wound up dealing Verlander, Max Scherzer and several other veterans ahead of the Aug. 1 trade deadline.
The Mets fell to 74-87 on Sunday — the largest season-to-season drop-off in the majors this year and the largest in franchise history.
“It doesn’t seem real — I think it’s going to take some time to digest all these things,” center fielder Brandon Nimmo said. “We had a lot of great memories, a lot of great times last year with the 101 wins. We had a lot of great times this year as well. There was lots of high points in the year, even despite the way things turned out.
“But it is very interesting that one year removed from that season, we’re sitting here in this position.”
Showalter is 1,726-1,665 (.509) in 22 seasons as a big league manager with the Yankees, Diamondbacks, Rangers, Orioles and Mets — guiding all those organizations to the playoffs besides Texas.
José Butto (1-4) gave up two runs and struck out four in six innings.
Tim Locastro homered in the third — the first of just two hits for the Mets.