MLB London Series: Mets' deadline plans, a wild ninth inning and Trea Turner's status (2024)

LONDON — The best thing the New York Mets have going for them is that they reside in the top-heavy National League.

Despite their poor record and failure to get on a roll, the Mets (28-36) remain in the playoff picture with a handful of other sub-.500 clubs. They held on to beat the Philadelphia Phillies 6-5 on Sunday, a victory that left them 3 1/2 games out in the wild-card standings.

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From Mets owner Steve Cohen’s perspective, the situation merits time before decisions get made regarding the trade deadline.

“I know everyone is focused on the trade deadline but we have a lot of games to play,” Cohen said before the game. “Let’s stay focused on what’s happening now. We’re down nine games to get to .500 but four games out of the wild card and we shouldn’t be proud of that. But it gives us an opportunity to end the season on a success.”

At some point, however, the Mets must make a decision. A couple of weeks ago, club sources suggested that decision-makers were still a few weeks away from having a strong enough idea about whether the Mets could make a run.

Steve Cohen feels that the decision-making of the Mets as an organization is "a lot sharper" than it has been in the past

Cohen with more on the big picture of the Mets: pic.twitter.com/KnPKb881yA

— SNY (@SNYtv) June 9, 2024

If the Mets were to be sellers, first baseman Pete Alonso would be the most attractive trade candidate followed by designated hitter J.D. Martinez, starting pitcher Luis Severino and a host of others. In what’s shaping up to be a seller’s market, the Mets hold a ton of intrigue because of their position in the standings and how many players they have on expiring deals.

Cohen said the Mets have played better lately, and he’s not wrong. Before their trip to London, the Mets had won five of their past seven. However, the gap between them and the Phillies — one of MLB’s top teams — looked large in Saturday’s loss.

“You certainly want to have high standards,” Cohen said. “If you get into the playoffs and you’re four games under .500, it’s nice to make the playoffs and anything can happen, but still you’ll say, ‘Wow, that was not optimal.’ It’s not the way you would envision it. But I’ll say it again we have a lot of games left. I think the team is starting to show signs and hopefully we’ll keep winning some games.”

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Mets hold on after an eventful ninth

A wild ninth inning ended with one last dramatic flourish, as catcher Luis Torrens engineered a game-saving double play.

With the bases loaded and one out, Mets reliever Drew Smith coaxed a broken-bat dribbler off the bat of Nick Castellanos.

Torrens sprang from his crouch and barehanded the ball a few feet up the first-base line. He whirled to step on home plate for the forceout before firing an off-balance but accurate throw to first to get Castellanos for the final out.

Darren Fletcher of TNT Sports (British MLB Broadcaster) calls the game ending double play as the Mets win 6-5 over the Phillies in London: pic.twitter.com/EnYhJPRYxZ

— MLB Clutch Moments And Walk Offs (@MLBWalk_Offs) June 9, 2024

“It was wild,” Mets second baseman Jeff McNeil said of the ninth inning. “I feel like we play a lot of games like that against the Phillies. It’s never over until it’s over. You have to fight for the win.”

The most impressive part of Torrens’ play is that he released the ball just as pinch runner Garrett Stubbs came sliding hard into the plate. The catcher made his rushed throw off his back foot, looking like a quarterback under duress.

Torrens limped off the field. Did Smith think he was hurt?

“I did and I pumped my fist and didn’t realize what had happened,’’ the pitcher said. “Then I saw him on the ground and made sure he was OK and he said he’s good.”
The frantic sequence capped a ninth inning in which the Mets rallied from a 4-3 ninth-inning deficit against Phillies closer José Alvarado, who gave up three runs (two earned).

Smith was summoned for the save in a 6-4 game with two on and one out in the bottom of the inning. He promptly gave up a single to Bryce Harper and a walk to Alec Bohm to make it 6-5.

But the Castellanos double-play ball provided the theatrical ending.

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“It was great and that’s what you live for,’’ Smith said. “Ideally I would like to strike out Harper and Bohm and be done with it. That would be the ideal situation, but I made some pitches when I needed to, came through and that’s what it’s all about.”

Phillies’ Turner could return soon

Phillies manager Rob Thomson left open the possibility that shortstop Trea Turner could return to the lineup within the next week. Turner, who has been out since May 3 with a strained left hamstring, did some work on Saturday on the West Ham United practice field next to London Stadium.

“It went well,” Thomson said. “Wherever he was before we got here, we’re going to keep him right there, which is roughly 70, 80 percent. He did very well on the grass yesterday and he did all his ground-ball work and hitting the cages.”

A twist on tradition

MLB returned to London Stadium on Sunday and players continued from where they left off the night before, but in a slightly different fashion.

After J.D. Martinez grounded into a double play with the bases loaded at the bottom of the ninth on Saturday, Sunday started with the first ceremonial double play in the game’s history via a comedy act from Rob McElhenney, Kaitlin Olson, Chase Utley and Bryce Harper.

The “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” star and Wrexham football club owner McElhenney was due to throw the ceremonial first pitch, which proceeded with a mound visit from his wife, Olson, out of the dugout and Utley from home plate. Fresh from his iconic soccer celebration the night before, Harper then ran onto the field to complete the routine.

Rob McElhenney just couldn't choose between Bryce Harper and Chase Utley to catch his first pitch … so he turned a double play with them instead 😂#LondonSeries pic.twitter.com/F3zcFAQyWn

— MLB (@MLB) June 9, 2024

Lindor: Keep calm and carry on

Francisco Lindor called the London Series “fantastic” and said the “atmosphere is great.” The two games drew a combined attendance of 108,956. (That’s 53,882 for the first game and 55,074 for the second game.)

But the Mets shortstop noted that the extra rest built into the schedule disrupted the regular-season flow.

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“I do think that we had too much time off,’’ the four-time All-Star said. “I get that there’s a process that you have to sell the games and stuff like that, but to me, showing up to a place and playing right away, and playing the next day, I think that would have been a little more beneficial.

“It almost feels like an All-Star Game, like All-Star-type festivities. We’re in the regular season where games do matter. If it was up to me, let’s have the experience, but let’s show up and play the next day and get things done quicker.”

Phillies arrive in numbers

MLB London Series: Mets' deadline plans, a wild ninth inning and Trea Turner's status (1)

Rob McElhenney, a Philadelphia native, said the London crowd made him feel right at home. “It felt like Citizens Bank last night.” (Ryan Pierse / Getty Images)

McElhenney, the Philadelphia native, felt right at home at London Stadium. The only thing missing were the cheesesteaks.

“It felt like Citizens Bank last night,’’ McElhenney said before the game. “I can tell you, objectively, there are a lot of Philly fans here, when you look around, when we were driving in, it seems like it’s 75 percent Phillies fans, so I don’t know, at some point the Mets fans will show up, but it might just be a little bit later.”

McElhenney got involved with the London Series at the urging of Utley, the former second baseman who spent 13 seasons with the Phillies starting in 2003.

“To get a call from one of my best friends, Chase, and MLB to be a part of growing the sport of baseball in the UK was just such a great honor and a great opportunity,” he said.

Harper could be a DJ in the U.K.

Harper clearly put some thought into his walk-up songs and embraced the chance to create a London-themed playlist. His musical choices included “Wannabe” by the Spice Girls, “Here Comes the Sun” by The Beatles and “Werewolves of London” by Warren Zevon.

“I’ve been thinking about it for about a week now, seeing what I wanted to do, I thought I picked some pretty good ones,” Harper said after the game on Saturday night

(Top photo: Kirsty Wigglesworth / Associated Press)

MLB London Series: Mets' deadline plans, a wild ninth inning and Trea Turner's status (2024)
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