With so much uncertainty building in their rotation, the Phillies needed Kyle Gibson to step up the way he did Sunday afternoon, pitching six innings of two-run ball against the Mets to help them to a 3-2 win over the Mets in Game 1 of a doubleheader.
Gibson outdueled Max Scherzer, who allowed 10 hits and three runs. Scherzer will give up his share of home runs but does not often get hit around like this. He had allowed double-digit hits just twice in the last seven seasons, a span of 179 starts.
Gibson owns a 2.94 ERA on the season and the Phillies have won the last three times he's pitched. He will be even more important if Zach Eflin and Zack Wheeler remain out. Both right-handers were placed on the COVID-related injured list Sunday morning. Eflin was supposed to start Game 2 Sunday and Wheeler was supposed to start Tuesday in Seattle.
Gibson opened with five scoreless innings before allowing two runs in the sixth. He induced three double plays, including a clutch twin-killing started by Alec Bohm in the sixth inning. Bohm back-handed a ball off the bat of James McCann and fired a strike to Jean Segura at second base, who finished it off. If Bohm doesn't make that play, it's probably a big inning for the Mets and a totally different game.
"Really good play going to his right," Gibson said. "Sometimes the first throw can be the hardest one, especially when you're going away from the base like that. He threw a strike to Seggy and let Seggy do what he needed to do. Defense played awesome. I needed it quite a few times and they picked me up."
The Phillies' bullpen also came through with three scoreless innings to end it. Seranthony Dominguez walked his first two hitters in the seventh before striking out three in a row. Jose Alvarado punched out two more in the eighth. Corey Knebel earned his fifth save three days after blowing one and taking the loss.
Bryce Harper got to Scherzer twice with a solo home run in the first inning and a two-out RBI single in the third. In the third and fourth innings, the Phillies had a stretch of seven singles in nine plate appearances against Scherzer but managed to push only two runs across, the last on Bryson Stott's RBI single to left.
Stott, recalled from Triple A Lehigh Valley on Saturday when Didi Gregorius went on the injured list, has three hits off of Scherzer this season and two against all other pitchers.
The win makes the Phillies 12-15 after they opened May with four consecutive losses. The first of these three games was one of the worst losses in Phillies history, but they have a chance to win the series against the Mets with a victory in Game 2.
"A couple of days off gives guys a chance to take a breath, get away from the situation a little bit on Thursday and kind of hit the reset button," Gibson said. "You're gonna have times throughout the year when the reset button is pretty important and I think it was good for us."
Chris Bassitt (3-2, 2.61) goes for the Mets, while the Phillies will give a spot start to lefty Cristopher Sanchez, recalled Sunday as the 27th man for the doubleheader.
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