Phillies

Mark Leiter Jr. shelled in brief outing as Phillies' struggles against Mets continue

Mark Leiter Jr. shelled in brief outing as Phillies' struggles against Mets continue

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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 Phillies.

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."

Phillies-Padres postponed, rescheduled as part of doubleheader Sunday

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Phillies-Padres postponed, rescheduled as part of doubleheader Sunday

Saturday night’s Phillies-San Diego Padres game has been postponed because of rain.

The game will be made up Sunday as part of a separate admission doubleheader.

The start of Sunday’s regularly scheduled game (game 50 ticket) will be moved from 1:30 p.m. to 12:05 p.m. Gates will open at 11:05 a.m.

The makeup game (game 49 ticket) will start at 6:05 p.m. According to the team, fans holding tickets for Saturday night's game may use them for Sunday night’s 6:05 p.m. game. Fans unable to attend that game may exchange them for any remaining home game this season.

Vince Velasquez and Nick Pivetta will be the Phillies’ starting pitchers in Sunday’s doubleheader. Pivetta will start Game 1 and Velasquez will take the mound for Game 2.

The Phillies returned from the All-Star break and posted an 11-5 win over the Padres on Friday night. That game began a stretch of 19 of 29 games against non-contending teams for the Phillies.

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It didn't take long for Freddy Galvis' defense to wow the Padres

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It didn't take long for Freddy Galvis' defense to wow the Padres

It didn't take long for Freddy Galvis to open the eyes of his new teammates.

"I can think of maybe two balls all year long where he did not make a play," Padres manager Andy Green told the San Diego Union-Tribune at the end of June.

"It's the most accurate arm I've ever seen from a shortstop," first baseman Eric Hosmer said in the same piece.

The Phils obviously didn't move on from Galvis because of his defense. They moved on from him because he never reached a higher level with his bat and because they had two young infielders — Scott Kingery, J.P. Crawford — they were ready to move forward with.

The Galvis trade was a good one for the Phillies. In exchange for one year of his services, they got a solid young pitcher with upside in Enyel De Los Santos.

It was a move they had to make because Galvis will be a free agent after the season and this gave them the extended look they needed at Kingery and Crawford.

There's no question, though, that the 2018 Phils have missed Galvis' defense. Phillies shortstops have committed 13 errors, seventh most in baseball. Padres shortstops have committed five errors, fewest in the National League and second fewest in the majors.

At the beginning of Galvis' major-league career, his flashy plays stood out but he wasn't as effective with routine plays as Jimmy Rollins was. That changed after Galvis made 17 errors in 2015. In the three seasons since, he's committed just 20 errors combined.

Galvis can make the flashy play, but he also makes almost every single routine play. He knows where to position himself for every hitter, how quickly to release the ball to throw out a speedy runner. 

Over the years, more than a few teammates have commended Galvis' baseball instincts as some of the best they've ever seen. You can't quantify baseball instincts the way you can quantify offensive stats, so there's a portion of fans that will always scoff when Galvis' value is brought up.

"His internal clock, as far when he releases the ball, how much times he has, he just knows all that stuff beforehand," Hosmer told the Union-Tribune. "He's about as fundamentally sound as any infielder I've ever seen."

The Phillies have not gotten the look at Crawford they wanted in 2018. Injuries have limited him to just 34 games, 112 plate appearances and 93 defensive chances at shortstop.

As for Kingery, he should benefit from the everyday playing at shortstop. He's improved defensively as the season has worn on. In a few years, he'll likely be even better with the glove — and, equally important, a more selective hitter.

Galvis has hit .234/.294/.331 this season. Phillies shortstops have hit .238/.286/.352 and played worse defense. 

If this ends up being the worst offensive year of Kingery's career, then his worst numbers would fall in line with Galvis' career averages (.244/.288/.367).

It will be interesting to see where Galvis ends up this offseason. A team with a powerful and deep lineup — the Brewers, the Diamondbacks — can win with Galvis and effectively hide him in the 8-spot. If the Phillies had better offenses all those years, the weak aspects of his game wouldn't have been as pronounced.

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