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David Wright Returns; Mets Make History

Wright homers in first at-bat off DL

David Wright (Photo by Drew Hallowell/Getty Images)

David Wright (Photo by Drew Hallowell/Getty Images)


Adding to the notion that, at long last, 2015 just might be the Mets year: On the worst night of Jacob deGrom’s career, the Mets had, by one metric, their best offensive game in franchise history, and David Wright returned to add to his legend.

On Monday night in Philadelphia, deGrom gave up a three-run homer to Ryan Howard in the first inning. Wright, returning after a 4 1/2-month absence with spinal stenosis, led off the second inning and, on the third pitch he saw, hit a 1-1 pitch from left-hander Adam Morgan into the upper deck in left field.

That only cut the Phillies led to 3-1, but it was the third time in Wright’s career that he returned from an injury by hitting a home run in his first at-bat (all in Citizen’s Bank Park, too), and it conveyed the impression that the Mets’ captain was there to pick up the team’s best starting pitcher on a night when it was already evident he was struggling.

It only got worse from there for deGrom, but it only got better from there for the Mets’ football-like offense, which has scored 14, 14, 5, and 16 runs in their last four games. The Jets, with Ryan Fitzpatrick at quarterback, should do so well.

deGrom gave up home runs in the second and third innings, as well as three walks and a wild pitch, and was finally, mercifully and shockingly removed from the game after 2 2/3 dreadful innings.

But the Mets were in a comfort zone at bat, playing in a park where they almost never lose, and buttressed by the support of a fan base that had followed the team en masse to Philadelphia. Since they moved into first place at the beginning of August, the Mets have been represented by significant fan followings in every city they’ve visited: Miami, Tampa Bay, Baltimore, and even Denver. In Monday night’s record-breaking 16-7 victory over the Phillies, the scales were tipped so profoundly toward the Mets that at least 75 percent of the ballpark seemed to be Mets fans–more than enough to drown out the largely silenced Phillies’ contingent, which was unable to meet the challenge of drowning out the chants of New York backers.

Wilmer Flores finished with two of the Mets’ franchise-record eight home runs and hit the ball hard–really, really hard–in five of his six at-bats. Travis d’Arnaud hit the longest of the team’s eight rockets, a 464-foot bomb over the center field bleachers. Only No. 8 batter Ruben Tejada was denied a home run of the starting position players in the Met lineup. Perhaps frustrated by feeling left out of the party, Tejada, in his last at-bat, rifled a line drive off Phillies’ pitcher Adam Loewen’s backside in his final at-bat. Alas, even that one didn’t go for a safety for poor Ruben.

Meanwhile, after deGrom left a desultory mess for his teammates to clean up, left-hander Sean Gilmartin came in and threw 3 1/3 innings of game-restoring shutout relief, and Hansel Robles, Eric O’Flaherty and Carlos Torres each contributed a shutout inning to close off the Phillies’ offense from the fourth inning on.

After the smoke from all the fireworks (the Mets and Phillies’ combined total of 11 home runs tied a National League record) cleared, the Mets ended the night with a 5 1/2-game lead in the National League East. Not only is it the biggest lead either the Mets or the Nationals have held in the division the entire season, but it’s the biggest lead the Mets have had since they led the Phillies by 7 games on Sept. 12, 2007. Two days later, the Phillies came to Shea Stadium, swept three games from the Mets and wrested the balance of power in the division away from the Mets for years to come.

But the Phillies have been headed downward for the last four seasons now, and the Mets may be a year ahead of schedule in their timetable for contention. The year they’re having now, they probably were not planning on having until 2016. But the moment seems at hand, and they may never have a better chance to seize it.

Phillies vs. Mets tickets remain available for the finale of the series for less than $20.  Out of town fans can find cheap hotels near Citizens Bank Ballpark for as little as $79.

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