“Hit it to Alec Bohm” shaped us as the winning formula in Philadelphia Monday night. The Mets kept beleaguering the Phillies’ third baseman, grounding balls in his direction; compelling him to pick them up; and forcing him to do something with them. Errant throws ensued in such volume that he was henceforth to be known as beleaguered Phillies third baseman Alec Bohm. By the third inning, Bohm had three errors and the Mets had three runs. Although only one of the errors took place in an inning with runs, and although the runs were earned, the 3-0 Met advantage came across as a product of shoddy Phillie defense. “Don’t get defensive, Philadelphia,” was an early favorite of the hypothetical Banner Day judges.
Also by the third inning, Taijuan Walker  had thrown two perfect innings. That, however, is where threes stopped being relevant. The Mets would have to move on to a second pitcher because Walker, whose knee gave him trouble in Spring Training, left with shoulder irritation. You’re familiar with the phrase “shoulder irritation”. It resides in that same instantly repeatable section of the baseball dictionary where a couple of weeks ago a million Mets fans simultaneous turned to define “scapula ”. Now the secret words were shoulder irritation. Find cause to say it aloud and lose a starter for at least the rest of the night.
To our rescue came David Peterson , good-looking young pitcher from two years ago, less good-looking last year, reborn in the moment as a brilliant piggyback reliever. Peterson — who Ubered over from the taxi squad when Edwin Diaz went on bereavement leave — jumped on the back of Walker’s two zeroes and totaled four of his own. The Mets were up, 4-0, by the middle of the seventh, with James McCann  having stolen everybody’s commodity, an insurance run. A catcher should get to do that now and then. After he ran the bases with tempered abandon and was rewarded for his efforts, James returned to his main job of catching pitching. The Mets were on their third pitcher at this point, Trevor May . May and McCann, a vaudeville team in the making if I’ve ever heard one, had their act together.
Formidable four-run Met lead. Largely faultless Met pitching. All that was left to do was take a generous sip of water and see how the game turned out.
(Excuse me while I wipe my desktop monitor dry.)
Trevor May stuck around to start the eighth. Apparently, he hadn’t stuck around for a second inning of work in all of 2021 when he pitched a lot, but always within the confines of one inning. Was it the right call? It’s hard to say, because May, after walking redemption-seeking Bohm, had to vacate the mound so as not to make his teammate Taijuan feel so all alone in injury purgatory. Trev & Tai: not as fun a combo as May & McCann, since the hurlers’ two right arms were linked in discomfort. Trevor’s deal was described as arm fatigue. It’s tired from not enough Spring Training, he suggested later. Not a big deal, he guessed. Walker didn’t think his situation was all that alarming, either. Pitchers know themselves until they don’t. Let’s hope they both feel swell, they both have MRIs that confirm best-case scenarios and neither finds himself grouped with Jacob deGrom  in the one context where a pitcher wouldn’t crave the honor of Jake’s company. This here IL ain’t big enough for every Met arm in creation.
It’s not that you can’t have too much pitching. It’s that you can have too many innings. Based on recent samples, the eighth seems like an ideal one to eliminate. Sunday’s eighth yielded three Nationals runs. Monday’s eighth provided the Phillies with five. The math for a team that had scored two on Sunday and four on Monday would prove punishing. May to Joely Rodriguez  to Seth Lugo  added up to a 5-4 deficit not to be overcome  when the Mets faced old acquaintance (I’d hardly call him a friend) Brad Hand. They’re on a two-game losing streak after riding a three-game winning streak. That cackle in the distance belongs to beleaguered Alec Bohm, proprietor of the last laugh until the next grounder flummoxes him.