Marcus Stroman was rightfully more than satisfied with his performance in the first half of the season, but the Mets right-hander has dropped off a bit since then and hasn’t been able to pitch as deep into games lately.
During the Mets’ 4-2 loss to the Phillies in the series-opener Friday night at Citizens Bank Park, which dropped the Amazin’s out of first place for the first time in 90 days, Stroman was able to keep the game relatively under control while he was on the mound.
Didi Gregorius did smash a home run to the second deck in right field in the second inning for the 1-0 lead, but Stroman struck out the next two batters to escape the inning only trailing by one.
“Felt my sinker was really good,” Stroman said after the loss. “I think me and [Tomas] Nido had a pretty good mix going into the game. I felt like I was just able to execute. Didi was a great at-bat. Man hit a slider out, put some really good at-bats together. You could tell their whole lineup is kind of locked in by the way they’re swinging it.”
The Mets tied the game 1-1 on Dominic Smith’s RBI single in the third, which scored Brandon Nimmo from second base. The Phillies, however, made it a 2-1 game in the fifth when opposing pitcher Kyle Gibson singled off Stroman for his first career RBI, before the home team blew it open with Bryce Harper’s two-run homer off closer Edwin Diaz in the bottom of the eighth.
In the fourth inning, the Mets loaded the bases with nobody out when Michael Conforto singled, Jonathan Villar reached on an error by first baseman Brad Miller and Tomas Nido walked on eight pitches. But Stroman, who said he was advised not to swing, struck out looking at three pitches before Nimmo grounded into a 4-6-3 double play to end the inning.
“Stroman didn’t look good against [Gibson] the first time he faced him,” manager Luis Rojas said of instructing Stroman not to swing with the bases loaded. “Forcing a play at home plate was something that we wanted to stay out of knowing that Nimmo and [Jeff] McNeil were coming behind with the bases loaded situation.”
Stroman finished with two earned runs, five hits, one walk and five strikeouts in five innings.
While he had command of his strike zone throughout the night, Stroman has pitched into the sixth just twice in his last eight starts. In the first half, the 30-year-old pitched six or more innings 11 times.
Since mid-July, Stroman has only gone more than five innings once in five starts — his stellar eight-inning performance in the Mets’ 7-0 thrashing of the Reds on July 21. Stroman’s one-hit, seven-strikeout showing through eight scoreless innings was certainly one of his best outings in a Mets uniform, and one the team needed with the bullpen spent at the time.
After earning the loss Friday, Stroman is now tied for the National League lead in losses (11) with the Cubs’ Adbert Alzolay. Stroman’s ERA also dropped to 2.83, which currently ranks 11th in the NL.
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