Reed entered in the seventh inning and recorded four outs before turning the ball over to Familia for his 32nd save in 32 attempts, and the Mets beat the Philadelphia Phillies 5-3 in the second-half opener on Friday at Citizens Bank Park.
Bartolo Colon retired the first 13 batters he faced, but his outing unraveled after an error in the sixth. With three unearned runs having scored and the Phillies having pulled within 4-3 in the frame, Hansel Robles entered and coaxed a pop out from Freddy Galvis to strand two baserunners.
Lacking a lockdown seventh-inning reliever, Mets manager Terry Collins chose to play matchups once Ryan Howard produced a one-out single on a squibber up the third-base line in the seventh against Robles. Lefty specialist Jerry Blevins entered and struck out Odubel Herrera. Reed then entered and coaxed an inning-ending comebacker from Peter Bourjos.
Reed also handled the eighth, and it is that type of four-out workload that would be alleviated if the Mets acquired one more reliever. Team officials say that’s the priority as the Aug. 1 non-waiver trade deadline approaches, if for no other reason than to avoid burning out Reed and Familia.
“Really, it was about trying to get a good start in the second half,” Collins said about Reed's usage. “I just said, ‘You know? They haven’t pitched in a week, so we’ll give him the extra hitter.’ Normally, I don’t like to bring those guys in for too much more than an inning.”
The Mets do have Jim Henderson on a rehab assignment with Triple-A Las Vegas, but his productivity had diminished before he landed on the disabled list on June 21 with right biceps tendinitis.
Dating to last season, the All-Star Familia has converted 48 consecutive regular-season saves. That breaks a tie with Brad Lidge (2007-09 with the Houston Astros and Phillies) for the fifth-longest streak in MLB history.
Meanwhile, Lagares’ 420-foot solo shot in the third inning, which opened the scoring, was the longest homer of his career. Lagares found himself in the starting lineup because Yoenis Cespedes' week-old right quadriceps strain acted up when he tried to run the bases before the game.
“Certainly, two years ago, we thought Juan was going to be an outstanding offensive player who combined some power with a guy that could spray the ball all over the field,” Collins said. “And last year, he just had an off year against right-handed pitching. We brought some left-handed hitters in this year, but he’s done a nice job when he’s been in there. Right now, with Ces’ leg, we’ve certainly got to take a look at seeing if Juan should get some more playing time.”
The Mets have produced 14 homers in four games in Philadelphia this season, including four by Walker.
Walker’s homer on Friday came on a day that Pittsburgh reassigned struggling left-hander Jonathon Niese to the bullpen and Pirates general manager Neil Huntington acknowledged on local radio that the trade had been a flop from Pittsburgh’s perspective.
“Given the thinness of the starting pitching market, given the dollars that we had available, we felt that was our best return, and it has not played out that way,” Huntington told The Fan in Pittsburgh, regarding the trade of Walker for Niese in December.
The first baserunner against Colon (8-4) on Friday came on Cameron Rupp’s one-out single up the middle in the fifth. An inning later is when an error opened the door for the Phillies to close to within 4-3.
Herrera sent a one-out grounder to first baseman James Loney. Loney’s errant toss to Colon covering first base allowed Herrera to safely reach.
Bourjos followed with a triple and Maikel Franco plated him with a groundout. The next three batters all singled, with Cody Asche dropping a bloop hit into shallow left field to pull Philadelphia within a run and chase Colon.
“Everything worked out for the most part,” Colon said through an interpreter. “Just around the fifth and sixth inning, I got a little tired, and that’s when things got a little complicated.”
Verrett will need to improve on last weekend’s performance against the Nationals if he wants to maintain the rotation spot. He allowed five runs on four hits and five walks in 6⅔ innings against Washington. The Mets have Gabriel Ynoa and Sean Gilmartin waiting in the wings at Las Vegas for the next turn, should Verrett stumble.