NEW YORK — The New York Mets came home lugging a four-game losing streak Monday and in the visiting dugout found the perfect remedy for their ills.
The Mets hung an 11-7 loss on the Phillies in a Labor Day game that was laborious to watch (see observations).
The Mets are 36-16 against the Phillies since the start of the 2015 season.
Don't be fooled by Monday's final score. It wasn't that close. The Mets led 10-0 after four innings. The Phils, sparked by reserve Andres Blanco's three hits off the bench, showed some late life, but not enough to overcome the early wounds.
"It was good to see our guys come back," manager Pete Mackanin said. "We play nine innings and I'm happy to see that."
With a pitching staff that has been decimated by trades and injuries, the Phillies are using four rookies in their five-man rotation these days.
Things did not go well for one of them on Monday. Mark Leiter Jr. was hit hard in taking the loss. He gave up nine hits and nine runs in 3 1/3 innings. His downfall started with a pair of home runs in the third inning, a first-pitch solo shot by Jose Reyes and a two-run blow on a 2-0 pitch by Asdrubal Cabrera. Both homers came on 90-mph fastballs over the heart of the plate. No pitcher can survive there.
"Leiter missed location with his fastball too often," Mackanin said. "He made a lot of mistakes over the plate. It seemed like the balls they hit were right down the middle. He just couldn't locate his pitches like he's capable of doing, like he's done in the past."
Leiter agreed with the manager's assessment.
"I got too much of the plate," he said.
This was a special start for Leiter. He grew up on the Jersey shore and attended games in New York (as well as Philadelphia) as a kid. His uncle, Al, pitched in the World Series for the Mets.
"I would’ve rather it gone a different way," Leiter said after the game. "But it’s close to home. It was cool. I had a lot of people here. I just wish the results went differently."
Leiter threw 63 pitches and 46 of them were strikes.
"I think there definitely could have been something that I maybe could’ve done a little differently," he said. "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."
The game marked the return of cleanup man and rookie Rhys Hoskins to the lineup. He had missed Sunday's game after taking a fastball off his right wrist on Saturday. Hoskins was not added to the lineup until about 90 minutes before game time, after he received clearance from the team's athletic training staff.
"It felt fine," Hoskins said after the game. "I was surprised how well it responded."
Hoskins did not get a hit, but he worked two walks and saw 35 pitches in five plate appearances as he showed the selectivity for which he is known. The Phillies front office would like more of these types of hitters. One of them is on his way. Shortstop prospect J.P. Crawford will join the club in time for Tuesday night's game (see story).
The Phillies will face a tough challenge in that game. Mets starter Jacob deGrom owns the Phillies. He is 6-0 with a 2.10 ERA in 10 career starts against the Phils. He is 2-0 with a 1.37 ERA (three earned runs in 19 2/3 innings) in three starts against the Phils this season. He has struck out 24 and walked just three.
The Phillies will counter with right-hander Ben Lively, one of four rookies in their current rotation.
He will try to hold down the Mets' lineup that Leiter could not Monday.
"These guys are all young," Mackanin said. "You can't really expect them to pitch like seasoned major league pitchers. They're going to make mistakes. They're going to have good outings and bad outings. Little by little, hopefully, they learn from their mistakes and improve with their command."