Matt Harvey

Phillies suffer a shifty loss and fall to 1-3

Phillies suffer a shifty loss and fall to 1-3

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NEW YORK — Whether in Cincinnati with the Reds or New York with the Mets, Jay Bruce has long been a Phillies killer. He entered this season hitting .317 (82 for 259) with 21 homers, 59 RBIs and a .990 OPS in 71 games against the Phils.

So it stood to reason that the Phillies would pitch Bruce carefully and defend him strategically when he came to the plate with a runner on first base in the sixth inning of a scoreless game in the first meeting of the season between the Phils and Mets at frigid Citi Field on Tuesday night.
 
Phillies starting pitcher Ben Lively did just what he wanted to do when he got Bruce to hit the ball on the ground to shortstop J.P. Crawford. However, the Phillies were in a defensive shift with Crawford on the right side of the second base bag and that made it impossible to turn a double play. It was a game-changing moment in the Phillies’ 2-0 loss to the Mets (see breakdown). The shift allowed Yoenis Cespedes, who had been hit by a pitch, to reach second base and he scored on a double by Todd Frazier. Later in the inning, Travis d’Arnaud singled home Frazier.

“That’s what the shift does,” Lively said after the game. “You can’t really do anything about that. It sucks but you have to move past it and make pitches to the next hitter.”

Manager Gabe Kapler acknowledged the role that the shift played in the outcome.

“It was a double play almost anywhere on the field,” he said.

“But we have to shift Bruce in that position. That’s the one ball we’re not going to be able to turn it on, but over the course of time we feel like that’s the best positioning for Jay Bruce.”

The play would not have loomed so large if the Phillies delivered any kind of offense. They had just three hits — all singles — and one was a bunt hit by Cesar Hernandez. Mets starter Matt Harvey pitched five innings of one-hit, five-strikeout ball and the Mets’ bullpen delivered four scoreless innings. Seth Lugo had two of them and struck out four. Jeurys Familia survived a leadoff walk and a one-out single by Odubel Herrera in the ninth and earned the save. Familia retired Scott Kingery and Andrew Knapp with runners on the corners to end the game.

Lively went 5 2/3 innings, the longest by a Phillies’ starter in the young season. He allowed six hits, a walk and struck out five.

“I thought Lively was exceptional,” Kapler said. “We knew that he was going to be gritty on a really cold night. He showed that tremendous competitiveness and really sort of did the Lively style of pitching — attacked the strike zone with his fastball, landed that slower curveball, kept hitters off-balance, stayed off barrels and was everything we hoped he’d be.”

The shift bit Lively. But the lack of offense hurt even more. The Phils were 0 for 7 with runners in scoring position.

The Phillies are 1-3 under Kapler. They are 19-39 against the Mets since the start of the 2015 season. It'll be Aaron Nola and Noah Syndergaard in the series finale Wednesday afternoon.

Just 3 hits for Phillies as club blanked by Mets

Just 3 hits for Phillies as club blanked by Mets

BOX SCORE

NEW YORK — The Phillies were held to just three hits in suffering a 2-0 loss to the New York Mets on a wintery Tuesday night at Citi Field.

The loss dropped the Phils to 1-3 after four games. The Mets are 39-19 against the Phillies since the start of the 2015 season.

The Mets have opened the season at 3-1.

The game time temperature was 40 degrees — and dropping. It was not a good night to hit and the Phillies did not do much of it. All of their hits were singles; one was a bunt hit by Cesar Hernandez.

Matt Harvey pitched five innings of one-hit ball for the win. He walked one and struck out five. Lefty Jerry Blevins got a big out when he induced a pop-up from Odubel Herrera with two men on base to end the top of the sixth.

The Mets’ bullpen pitched four shutout innings. Seth Lugo had two of them and struck out four. Jeurys Familia survived a rocky ninth for the save. He allowed a leadoff walk to Aaron Altherr and a one-out single to Herrera before retiring Scott Kingery and Andrew Knapp to end the game.

The Phils were 0 for 7 with runners in scoring position.

The Mets scored both of their runs in the bottom of the sixth inning after starter Ben Lively hit Yoenis Cespedes with a pitch to open the frame. Lively induced a potential double-play groundball from the next hitter, Jay Bruce, but the Phillies were in a defensive shift and had to settle for a single out with Cespedes moving to second. Todd Frazier then followed with a one-out double, scoring Cespedes, and Travis d’Arnaud plated Frazier with a two-out single.

Lively went 5 2/3 innings, the longest by a Phillies’ starter in the young season. He allowed six hits and a walk and struck out five.

The first game of the series was postponed because of wintery weather. That allowed the Phillies to shuffle their rotation. They will send Aaron Nola to the mound Wednesday afternoon. Noah Syndergaard will pitch for the Mets.

Nick Pivetta will now pitch the home opener against Miami on Thursday. Vince Velasquez will pitch Saturday night and Jake Arrieta will debut on Sunday.

MLB Notes: Mets starters Noah Syndergaard, Matt Harvey begin throwing programs

MLB Notes: Mets starters Noah Syndergaard, Matt Harvey begin throwing programs

NEW YORK -- Noah Syndergaard and Matt Harvey began their throwing programs Monday, playing catch together at Citi Field in their first steps toward returning to the mound for the New York Mets.

Whether either one gets back in time to make a difference this season, well, that remains to be seen.

On the mend from significant injuries, both right-handers said they felt good -- but neither would put a timetable on his recovery. Harvey hasn't been sidelined as long as Syndergaard, but both are at least several weeks away from coming off the disabled list.

"We'll try and get back as quick as we can," Harvey said.

Syndergaard, an All-Star last season, has been out since May 1 with a torn lat muscle on his right side. Harvey, the oft-injured former ace who has faded the past two years, went down in mid-June with a stress injury to his right shoulder.

Pirates: Marte humbled in return from suspension
PITTSBURGH -- Starling Marte insists he still isn't sure exactly how the illegal steroid that cost the Pittsburgh Pirates outfielder an 80-game suspension got into his system. All set to return Tuesday night, he stressed he did not inject himself with Nandrolone but understands he was "careless" while spending last offseason in his native Dominican Republic.

"That's something I regret, not being careful enough," Marte said through translator Mike Gonzalez on Monday in the final hours before his forced half-season sabbatical ends.

The 28-year-old, a two-time Gold Glove winner and one-time All-Star, apologized to his teammates in the minutes after his suspension was handed down on April 18. He offered a broader one to the organization and the fan base, well aware his misstep could follow him for the remainder of his career.

'"'I can't lie to you, there is a bit of a concern," Marte said. "But I respect anything that's thrown my way, I understand it. I would wish that things would go smoothly but I can't say that they will. Whether it goes positively or negatively, I will be motivated" (see full story).

Braves: Rodriguez, Santana activated from DL
ATLANTA -- The Atlanta Braves have activated utility players Sean Rodriguez and Danny Santana from the disabled list.

Right-hander Jason Hursh and infielder Jace Peterson were optioned to Triple-A Gwinnett.

Rodriguez will start at third base in his Braves debut against the Cubs on Monday night. Freddie Freeman is starting at first base.

Rodriguez needed surgery to repair a torn rotator cuff in his left shoulder after a vehicle he was driving was rammed by a stolen police car in Miami on Jan. 28. His wife, Giselle, and two of their children were hospitalized and have recovered from their injuries.

There were concerns Rodriguez would miss the season after the surgery. He signed a two-year, $11.5 million deal with Atlanta in November.

Rodriguez set career highs by hitting .270 with 18 homers and 56 RBIs for Pittsburgh in 2016.

Santana missed the minimum 10 days with a bacterial infection.