Mets sweep Phillies with 4-2 win on the backs of Max Scherzer and Mark Canha

Max Scherzer Mets
Max Scherzer (Lloyd Mitchell, amNew York)

The New York Mets completed their three-game sweep of the Philadelphia Phillies on Thursday with a 4-2 victory that was powered by seven strong innings from Max Scherzer and a two-run home run by Mark Canha. 

It took over 50 games before the New York and Philadelphia faced off in 2023, but when they finally did, the Mets didn’t miss their chance. The sweep of the Phillies puts the Mets just 3.5 games behind Atlanta for first place in the NL East, while the Phillies drop to six games under .500. 

The Mets only mustered four hits on the day, but they made the most of their opportunities and gave Scherzer just enough breathing room to secure his fifth win of the season. 

Mark Canha Mets
Mark Canha trots around the bases after hitting a home run for the Mets (Lloyd Mitchell, amNew York)

Scherzer struggled to start the game, allowing a one-out single to Trea Turner and walking Bryce Harper on five pitches. On the third pitch of the next at-bat Turner and Harper executed a double steal and rookie catcher Francisco Alvarez airmailed the throw into left field, allowing Turner to score and Harper to advance to third. 

Two pitches later, Nick Castellanos hit a fly ball to the wall in center field, scoring Harper to give the Phillies a 2-0 lead before the Mets could even pick up their bats.

Scherzer would settle down from there, keeping the Phillies off the scoreboard for the rest of the game, while allowing just four more hits. He completed seven innings, allowing just one earned run and five hits while striking out nine Phillies. 

The right-hander leaned heavily on his fastball today, throwing it 50% of the time and inducing whiffs on 63% of the swings against his fastball. It was crucial for him because he’s still not getting the swings-and-misses he usually gets on his slider, which posted just a 20% whiff rate on Thursday.

“I marvel at the level that he does it at at the stage in his career,” Mets Manager Buck Showalter said about Scherzer’s pitching. “It’s the pure stuff. Starts a little down and the knowledge of pitching, everything comes up. You saw it a lot with guys like (Greg) Maddux and (Tom) Glavine and these guys used to throw 94-95. And they were throwing 89-90-92 with great. Max got a very talented hand. He can move the ball and make pitches. Change the shape a little bit of his slider and cutter, and changeup.”

According to Scherzer, that all comes down to pitch sequencing. 

“I had good stuff, but I thought the sequencing was even better,” he said after the game.”Now that I’m older, I don’t throw the same way I used to throw, but I’ve got so many off-speed pitches it makes the hitters worry about what they have to guard against so my fastball plays up because of that.” 

For a few innings, that early 2-0 lead was enough for former Mets starter Taijuan Walker. The right-hander, who won 19 games and posted a 3.98 ERA in two seasons with the Mets, cruised through the first 2.2 innings before he started to lose control. 

With two outs in the bottom of the third inning, Walker walked both Brandon Nimmo and Francisco Lindor before Jeff McNeil laced a line drive to center to plate Nimmo and bring the Mets to within one run, 2-1. Then, in the fourth inning, Walker hit Starling Marte and then allowed a two-run home run to Mark Canha that left his bat at 103 mph. 

Walker was only able to go four innings on the day, allowing three earned runs on two hits with three walks and two strikeouts. His season ERA sits at 5.65. 

It was the second straight day with a home run for Canha, who went 2-3 with a home run and four RBI on Wednesday and was 3-for-5 with six RBI in his two starts this series. He also has four home runs in his last three games against the Phillies, dating back to last year, with all of those home runs either tying the game or giving the Mets the lead. 

“He also has quite the self-confidence, so it doesn’t surprise us. He’s another guy that chases perfection,” Showalter said of Canha.

The kids also got in on the fun for the Mets in the 6th inning. After Brett Baty led off with a double and was bunted over to third by Starling Marte, Mark Vientos pinch-hit for Daniel Vogelbach and lined out to deep center, allowing Baty to trot home to give the Mets a 4-2 lead.

After Jeff Brigham threw a shutout 8th inning, left-hander Brooks Raley came in to start the 9th inning for New York. He struck out Bryce Harper to start the inning but then allowed a two-strike single to Castellanos before striking out Kyle Schwarber. 

When the Phillies pinch hit for left-hander Brandon Marsh with Drew Ellis, Mets’ manager Buck Showalter called on right-hander Drew Smith to shut the door. 

He got a first-pitch fly out to Brandon Nimmo to close the game out. 

The Mets will get no time off as they welcome Toronto to town for a three-game series before starting next week in Atlanta against the NL East-leading Braves. 

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Brett Baty Mets
Brett Baty of the New York Mets celebrates his 6th inning double (Lloyd Mitchell, amNew York)