NEW YORK (AP) — Francisco Álvarez 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 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 RBI,” 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 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.
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