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Mets fall to Phillies after historic bullpen meltdown, Buck Showalter ejection

Things went from bad to worse for New York on Sunday in the span of two hit batters.

Buck Showalter of the New York Mets looks on during the eighth inning against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park on June 24, 2023 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images

Things have not been going great for the New York Mets of late, with Steve Cohen’s record payroll producing a roster that entered play on Sunday mired in fourth in the NL East at 35-41. But hey, New York got a strong effort from Max Scherzer to beat the Philadelphia Phillies on Saturday, and Sunday was looking pretty good too: the offense jumped on former Met Zack Wheeler, middle relief did its job and the team took a 6-3 lead into the bottom of the eighth inning. Their first series win in the month of June was almost at hand.

And that’s went things went horribly, almost inconceivably wrong. First, Josh Walker surrendered a single and two walks before being removed without recording an out. You might think that, with the tying run on first and no one out, manager Buck Showalter might turn to David Robertson — hands down the team’s best reliever this season — to get out of the jam. You would be mistaken.

Showalter instead handed the ball to Jeff Brigham, who entered Sunday holding a 4.00 ERA and had issued four walks over his last three innings. To Brigham’s credit, he induced a tailor-made double-play ball to third base ... only for rookie Brett Baty to get the ball stuck in his glove.

From there, things went totally off the rails. Brigham walked Brandon Marsh — New York’s third walk of the inning, for those keeping score at home — to cut the lead to 6-5. A strikeout of Kody Clemens got the Mets one out away from getting out of it ... only for Brigham to plunk two batters in a row to force across the tying and go-ahead runs.

If losing a game on consecutive plunkings sounds like a pretty rare occurrence, well, you’re not wrong.

To recap: New York managed to give up four runs on precisely one hit, thanks to two walks, two HBPs and an error. The heart of the Mets order went down meekly against Craig Kimbrel in the top of the ninth, sealing quite possibly the worst loss of a nightmare season — but not before Showalter got tossed for arguing a check-swing call.

To their credit, Baty and Brigham both took full responsibility after the game. Showalter, meanwhile — who, again, declined to use his best reliever until after the three-run lead had already been blown — thought he did a bang-up job.

At this point, it feels like some drastic changes are needed in Queens, for morale as much as anything else.