In what might have been the Phillies’ biggest game in a decade, they hung on to beat the Mets in a tense, 4-2 win and overtook the lead in the NL East.
The Phils have a half-game lead over the Mets and are in first place for the first time since play began on May 8.
The Mets had led the division for 90 straight days (their longest streak in 14 years) and 106 of the season’s 128 days so far.
Bryce Harper provided much-needed insurance and the exclamation point to the night with a two-run home run in the eighth inning off of Edwin Diaz. The Phillies had been clinging to a one-run lead the prior three innings.
"This is what you work so hard for," manager Joe Girardi said. "You do all your work in the winter and in spring training, you go through the first 100 games, not a lot went right for us, then you come home and you're a half-game out of first place. There's been a lot of emotion. We've had a lot of walk-off wins of late which has kind of fueled that emotion. Emotion is important in this game."
Kyle Gibson made his second start with the Phils and it was a very good one. In front of 30,106 fans and pitching at home as a Phillie for the first time, Gibson allowed one run over six innings and wiggled his way out of jams all night. The Mets had a baserunner in every inning against him but went 1 for 15 with men on base.
He was pumped up coming off the mound after each of his final three innings. There was a definite playoff feel to this game, between the tight score, the stakes, the larger-than-usual crowd and the emotion players showed.
"Man, that was so much fun," he said after the game. "Overall, I’m a fairly even-keeled guy, but that overflow of emotions just kinda happens in big situations.
"I can get used to all these big moments and big spots being meaningful and a lot on the line. These fans are great. They hang on every pitch, they get the big moments and what we’re trying to do out there."
Gibson also helped himself with an RBI single in the fifth inning. It was the first career RBI for Gibson, who spent his first nine seasons in the American League before the Phillies acquired him at the trade deadline.
Gibson showed veteran savvy by pitching his way out of a bases-loaded, no-out jam in the fourth inning with the game tied. He struck out pitcher Marcus Stroman and got a first-pitch double-play ball from Brandon Nimmo to escape.
The next inning, Jeff McNeil hit a leadoff double but was left there when Gibson retired three in a row.
Gibson overcame poor defense behind him, too. The Mets’ fourth-inning threat was caused by a ball that went underneath Brad Miller’s glove at first base. The Phils' corner infielders had two errors in the first four innings, plus a slightly difficult ball to Alec Bohm's left that he probably should have had. Bohm made another error in the seventh inning, sailing a throw with two outs and nobody on. He has 14 errors, the most among all major-league third basemen. He was replaced by Ronald Torreyes in the field the next inning.
Hector Neris, Archie Bradley and Ian Kennedy finished the game. Neris and Bradley pitched a scoreless inning apiece. Kennedy gave up a solo home run, the third homer he's allowed in four games with the Phillies. He has been shaky so far, but he had enough wiggle room because of Harper's homer.
"You live for those moments and grind for those moments so you can perform for your team, your city, your organization," Harper said. "It's just so much fun playing games that matter, games that make you emotional and super intense."
Harper received MVP chants all night. He's certainly making a push toward the award with his recent slugging contributing to Phillies wins.
"Whenever you have a fanbase that does that, not just the chants but the way they show up and show out, they make us better," Harper said. "They make us want to be great. That’s why I came here. That’s why I wanted to be a Phillie, because of this fanbase. It fires us all up, the way they’re in it every single inning. I can’t say it enough. It just excites me walking up the steps and seeing it first-hand."
Didi Gregorius drove in the first run with a solo blast to the second deck in right field. He has been swinging it better this week. He opened the week with a three-hit, three-RBI game in Pittsburgh and has homered twice in three nights with another near-miss in D.C. He entered Friday’s game hitting just .147 over his last 75 at-bats but homered and tripled in his first two at-bats.
Gregorius was also hit on the elbow by a pitch, which is worth monitoring. It is the same elbow that has caused him to miss ample time this season. He was lifted in the eighth inning for Luke Williams and Girardi said after the game that he likely will not play Saturday.
Gregorius is even more important right now than usual with the Phillies missing two middle-of-the-order run producers in Rhys Hoskins (sore groin) and Andrew McCutchen (sore knee).
The win was the sixth in a row for the Phillies, their longest winning streak since June of 2018. The Mets have lost seven of nine. The Braves, who trail the Phillies by a game, are rooted in this race as well.
At 57-53, the Phillies are the farthest they’ve been over .500 since they opened the season 5-1.