NEW YORK -- Much has been made of the players no longer with the Mets, due to either injury or trade, but the reality is that many younger players now find themselves in what is essentially an audition for next season and beyond.
The players who took the field Monday against the Phillies clearly took advantage of the opportunity, as the Mets' offense erupted in a six-run fourth inning en route to an 11-7 victory on Labor Day at Citi Field.
Philadelphia starter Mark Leiter Jr. -- nephew of revered Met Al Leiter -- lasted only 3 1/3 innings and surrendered nine runs (eight earned), as the Phillies couldn't carry the momentum they built in Miami -- where they won three of four -- to New York. He threw 63 pitches (46 strikes).
"Yeah, I thought about that. I think there definitely could have been something that I maybe could've done a little differently," said Leiter when asked if he might have thrown too many strikes. "Maybe a few more misses off the plate. Try to get them to chase some balls, maybe. It's kind of funny sometimes. You don't throw enough strikes, sometimes you might throw too many. It's something to look back at and maybe use as a learning tool, try and find a way to minimize it when things start to spiral out a little bit."
Jose Reyes, extending his hitting streak to 10 games, and Asdrubal Cabrera homered off Leiter in the third, before the Mets hung six on the Phillies in the fourth. Mets starter Rafael Montero saw his career-high scoreless-innings streak snapped at 12 1/3 in the fifth, allowing four earned runs over 5 1/3 innings while walking five and striking out three.
Trailing, 10-0, at one point, the Phillies battled back with the run in the fifth and four in the sixth, when Hyun Soo Kim doubled in two runs. Montero had been in the dugout for approximately 40 minutes during the long inning, which may have contributed to him lacking sharpness.
"I think he lost the edge a little bit, but he's still got to stay aggressive," Mets manager Terry Collins said. "I think he tried to go to the corners again. I think it really just took the air out of him a little bit."
However, it was too little too late and the Mets added another run in the sixth on Brandon Nimmo's RBI single to make it 11-5. Again, the Phillies responded, scoring two runs in the ninth before interim closer AJ Ramos was forced to enter and record the game's final out.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Plawecki's squib and steal leads to first run: With one out in the second, Mets catcher Kevin Plawecki experienced some BABIP luck when he was jammed and sent a squib toward second. The rotation of the ball made it difficult for Phillies second baseman Cesar Hernandez, and Plawecki made it to first without a throw. He then stole second for the first swipe of his career, putting him in scoring position, which Juan Lagares cashed in with an RBI single to right. The throw from Kim in right was slightly up the line but beat Plawecki to the plate; a good slide from Plawecki allowed him to be safe, though.
Plawecki finished 2-for-4 with a walk and two runs.
"It's good to see the results," he said. "I feel very good at the plate."
Everyone hits: The Mets plated the six runs and sent 11 men to bat in the fourth, chasing Leiter after he recorded only one out, before taking reliever Kevin Siegrist to task. Gavin Cecchini recorded a two-run single to start things. An error by Freddy Galvis at second negated what would have been the first out and eventually led to two unearned runs in the frame. Nimmo and Reyes, who later scored on a wild pitch, also had run-scoring singles. By the end of the inning, the Mets led, 10-0.
"When you score early in the game, you're going to put pressure on the other team," Reyes said.
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Phillies left fielder Hoskins went 0-for-3 with two walks, but he saw 35 pitches in five plate appearances. He worked a full count four times. He has worked a full count in 24 of 105 (22.9 percent) plate appearances this season. That puts him in the same neighborhood as hitters like Aaron Judge (26.1 percent), Edwin Encarnacion (22.7 percent), Paul Goldschmidt (19.9 percent) and Joey Votto (18.8 percent).
Reyes has now scored a run in 10 consecutive games in which he's recorded an at-bat, a new career high.
"Yeah, I guess you can call it a mistake," Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said. "If I'm on second base, I'm just going to wait to see what the third baseman does. I'm not going to run into an out."
WHAT'S NEXT Phillies: Right-hander Ben Lively (2-5, 4.22 ERA) faces the Mets on Tuesday night at Citi Field, with first pitch set for 7:10 ET. Center fielder Odubel Herrera, who has not started since Aug. 14 because of a strained left hamstring, is expected to rejoin the lineup.
Mets: Seemingly the only stable part of the starting rotation, Jacob deGrom (14-8, 3.43 ERA) will look to get back on track after taking the loss in Cincinnati his last time out (three earned runs in six innings). First pitch is scheduled for 7:10 p.m. ET.