London shows just how wide chasm is between Phillies, Mets

The conversion rate, when it comes to baseball, is unchanged regardless of which side of the Atlantic you are on. 

The Mets can’t hang with the Phillies in the National League or the International League. The Mets lost three of four last month when the teams played two games at each club’s stadium, which are separated by 116 miles. 

Roughly 3,500 miles away at a facility mixed with fans of both teams — though with considerably more Phillies red on display than Mets orange and blue — nothing much changed. The Phillies were dominant, the Mets disappointing. 

The Mets flopped in the first game in London. Charles Wenzelberg / New York Post

The Phillies were brutish before the British, clubbing three homers. Two came off starter Sean Manaea in a torture-chamber fourth inning in which Bryce Harper merged two sports: think sock-er. Starling Marte showed his poor defense is not limited to North America. And a Mets offense that percolated in the U.S. capital in scoring 23 runs in three games to sweep the Nationals was tamed in the capital of the United Kingdom. 

The NL-best Phillies won, 7-2. The Mets will get one more shot Sunday, this time as the designated visiting team, to try to avoid a two-game sweep at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, which houses London Stadium, before returning to Queens. For now, though, the 17 ¹/₂ games that separate the Phillies from the Mets feels further away than home — a symbolic distance between teams that share a time zone and precious little else. 

“The standings are the standings, you can’t deny those,” Carlos Mendoza said. “We have a good team obviously, but they are deep. They are a good team.” 

The Phillies excel at every phase of the game, are playoff tested and have a band-of-brothers unity about them. All nine position players recorded a hit Saturday and all but J.T. Realmuto either scored a run or drove one in. The Mets actually scored first in the opening inning via doubles by Francisco Lindor and Marte. But Ranger Suarez, who came in as MLB’s ERA leader and one of four Phillies starters with a strong All-Star case, tamed the inopportune Mets afterward. 

The Phillies broke though with one big inning. Charles Wenzelberg / New York Post

Meanwhile, a first-inning Harper double was the only ball that Manaea allowed out of the infield during three shutout innings to open the game. 

But with one out in the fourth, Harper clobbered a homer to right field and celebrated theatrically by sliding on his knees as he approached the Phillies dugout, arms raised and roaring akin to how many soccer goals are celebrated here in the home of West Ham United. 

What followed Manaea described as “a blur.” Alec Bohm sharply singled. Nick Castellanos flied out. Manaea walked Bryson Stott after getting ahead 0-2. Still, the score was tied 1-1 at this point when Edmundo Sosa lifted a lazy fly to right field. 

Bryce Harper watches his mammoth solo home run. Charles Wenzelberg / New York Post

Marte and center fielder Harrison Bader said the sunny field was making reads difficult. But they also acknowledged that both teams were dealing with the same conditions. And there is just no ignoring the decline in Marte’s fielding. He must lead the majors in getting within 5 feet of catching a ball and not actually doing so, and he added to his total here, pulling up as the ball plopped in front of him. 

Who knows if that was the third out. The score, after all, was still just 1-1. Manaea took accountability by stating, “I didn’t do a good job of controlling anything.” 

Whit Merrifield hit his first multi-run homer since Aug. 12 of last year, a three-run shot, then Cristian Pache doubled and Kyle Schwarber drove him in. Five runs scored after Marte’s non-catch. 

Starling Marte had trouble with a fly ball in right field. Charles Wenzelberg / New York Post

With two days off before this series and one after, should Mendoza have had someone warming quicker and in the game quicker? Perhaps. By the time Sean Reid-Foley entered after the Schwarber hit, the game was essentially over. 

“It was just one inning and it got away from us,” Lindor said. “If they don’t have that one inning, you know, but I guess that is what good teams do. They score when they have runners in scoring position.” 

Sean Manaea couldn’t keep the Phillies in check. Charles Wenzelberg / New York Post

It is what good teams do. Regardless, if the game is on one end of the New Jersey Turnpike or the other or five hours ahead of home in the London Series, you can change continents, but not constituents. The Phillies are who they are and the Mets have the third-worst record in the NL. 

On Saturday, the environment changed. Nothing else. 

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