Mets have an imperfect night to remember
By Tyler Kepner
The New York Mets and Philadelphia Phillies had done this before in Flushing. On Father’s Day in 1964, Philadelphia’s Jim Bunning twirled a perfect game against the Mets at Shea Stadium. Bunning needed only 90 pitches in an effort now memorialized in Cooperstown, New York, on his Hall of Fame plaque.
If Bunning’s game was a masterpiece for a museum, the Mets’ was something more suited for the refrigerator door. Both are works of art. One is just a little less perfect.
It took five Mets pitchers and 159 total pitches to no-hit the Phillies on Friday, winning 3-0 at Citi Field. The starter, Tylor Megill, was pulled after 88 pitches and five innings. A bullpen relay of Drew Smith, Joely Rodríguez, Seth Lugo and Edwin Díaz finished it up, with the pitchers combining to issue six walks along the way.
It added up to the first no-hitter in the majors this season, the 17th ever with more than one pitcher and the first with precisely five. The 159 pitches are the most for a no-hitter since at least 1988, when pitch-count data became widely available.
Smith, Rodríguez and Lugo said they were unaware of the no-hitter until the ninth inning. Seated with them at a postgame news conference, Díaz was incredulous: “So nobody knew but me?” he said.
By the final three outs, of course, everybody knew. And as clunky as the box score looks, Díaz ended the evening with a flurry of dominance, striking out three All-Stars — Bryce Harper, Nick Castellanos and J.T. Realmuto — with hard, biting sliders.
The players burst onto the field, mobbing Díaz and showering each other with sunflower seeds. The victory lifted the Mets’ record to 15-6, the best in the majors. They have not lost a series yet.
“The most impressive part of our team is, if it’s not one guy that’s going to get you, it’s another guy,” catcher James McCann said. “And that’s kind of what you see tonight — guys picking up each other coming out of the pen, putting up more zeros in multiple columns. That’s kind of been the identity of our team early in the year. It’s been a full team effort.”
Megill is now 4-0 with a 1.93 ERA, numbers befitting Jacob deGrom, the injured ace he has replaced in the rotation. Megill said he had never been part of a no-hitter at any level, and center fielder Brandon Nimmo — who dove to catch a sinking liner by Jean Segura in the third inning — had not, either.
McCann had, in 2020, when he caught Lucas Giolito’s complete-game no-hitter for the Chicago White Sox. But that game, McCann noted, was played without fans because of pandemic restrictions. The Mets sold 32,416 tickets for Friday’s game, and McCann made adjustments for the noise.
When Díaz arrived at the mound for the ninth, McCann told him he would use traditional signs — with fingers, that is — instead of the new PitchCom system, which sends the signs audibly, through a receiver in the pitcher’s cap.
“It’s going to be loud,” McCann warned Díaz, who was eager to finish off hitters with the slider.
“It was really good today,” said Díaz, who has 17 strikeouts in 10 innings this season. “In the bullpen, it was nasty. I knew he would call the slider a lot because I’m facing the heart of the order.”
Lugo, who got the last two outs of the eighth, had retreated to the weight room for the ninth inning. While Díaz warmed up, Lugo noticed on the Mets’ broadcast — called by Gary Cohen, who was celebrating his 64th birthday — that the Phillies had gotten no hits.
“Drew, don’t say nothing, but look,” Lugo told Smith. “We need to get outside.”
So they crowded into the dugout with their teammates, including Pete Alonso, who had homered in the sixth inning but was removed for defense in the ninth. Alonso said the dugout felt like a soda can, shaken up but still capped, ready to explode. The closest he had ever come to experiencing a no-hitter, Alonso said, was watching highlights on television.
“You get this, like, super-tingly feeling of excitement,” he said. “You’re like, I hope this is it, I hope he doesn’t hit a broken-bat duck fart over somebody’s head or anything. You’re just praying, like, please, please, please let this happen.”
For decades, those prayers were never answered for the Mets. It took them until their 51st season, in 2012, to get their first no-hitter — by Johan Santana, also on a Friday at Citi Field. Santana threw 134 pitches, including one that was stung by the St. Louis Cardinals’ Carlos Beltrán. It landed in fair territory but was called foul, preserving Santana’s gem.
After so many near-misses — including two bids by Tom Seaver broken up in the ninth inning — the Mets were probably due for a cosmic break. But the postscript was sobering for Santana, who made only 10 more starts in the majors, with an 8.27 ERA, before shoulder trouble ended his career.
The Mets are taking no chances with Megill, who has made 23 major league starts and not yet thrown 100 pitches. They needed to use Rodríguez and Lugo, manager Buck Showalter said, because neither had pitched in a while. Those pitchers did their job, and Smith and Díaz were simply overwhelming, fanning seven of the eight batters they faced.
It is far too early to say, for certain, that things are finally breaking the Mets’ way. But the team has played 9,507 games in its history and Friday’s was just the second no-hitter. As imperfect as it was, the achievement was something that the players, the fans — and broadcasters turning 64 — will remember when they get older, losing their hair, many years from now.