Philadelphia Phillies beat New York Mets in London Series opener

National League East leaders the Philadelphia Phillies opened their two-game London Series against divisional rivals the New York Mets with a 7-2 victory in front of 53,882 at London Stadium.

The Mets, who went two-for-11 with runners in scoring position, took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first, but starter Sean Manaea was pulled after just 3.2 innings having given up seven hits, including home runs to Bryce Harper and Whit Merrifield in an explosive six-run fourth inning for the Phillies.

Major League Baseball’s last two London Series at the same venue had coincided with heat waves in Britain, weather which on Friday both managers posited could partially explain why those editions had been hugely high-scoring affairs.

Saturday evening in Stratford was a much cooler 18 degrees when Ferris Bueller’s Day Off star and Mets fan Matthew Broderick threw out the ceremonial first pitch for the “home” team, who emerged from an abysmal May to complete a three-game sweep of the Washington Nationals before crossing the Atlantic.

The Mets opened the scoring in the bottom of the first when Starling Marte hit a two-out double to the left field corner to bring in leadoff hitter Francisco Lindor, but stranded two after Phillies starter Ranger Suarez struck out third baseman Mark Vientos to end the inning.

It remained 1-0 until the top of the fourth, when Phillies first baseman Harper – who changed his walk-up song to the Spice Girls’ ‘Wannabe’ for the occasion – celebrated his solo homer with a football-style knee slide, Edmundo Sosa hit an RBI single, Merrifield landed his three-run shot in the visitors’ left-field bullpen and Kyle Schwarber singled to make it 6-1.

That was the end of the afternoon for Manaea as Mets manager Carlos Mendoza called for reliever Sean Reid-Foley, who prevented further damage, but the Mets could not close the gap with their next at-bats and catcher Luis Torrens struck out to end the inning with runners on second and third.

The Mets finally clawed a run back when Lindor beat the throw at home on a fielder’s choice, then emerged empty-handed from a two-out rally in the sixth, when Orion Kerkering came on to replace Suarez, who struck out six across his 5.2 innings.

Mendoza had called to his bullpen twice more by the time the seventh-inning stretch rolled around and the combination of Adrian Houser – who replaced Reid-Foley in the top of the fifth – and Danny Young silenced the Phillies bats through three scoreless innings.

It was 7-2 for the visitiors, however, after right fielder Nick Castellanos hooked a solo shot just inside the foul pole in left field in the top of the eighth and Mendoza turned to reliever Adam Ottavino, who as a member of the New York Yankees took part in the first London Series in 2019.

Dominican righty Seranthony Dominguez made quick work of the Mets in the bottom of the eighth, and though Jake Diekman, Mendoza’s fifth reliever, pitched a scoreless frame, it was the same old story for the hosts who had the bases loaded with one out in the bottom of the ninth before JD Martinez grounded into a game-ending double play.