Phillies

Phillies-Mets observations: Mark Leiter Jr.'s early hole proves too deep to climb out of in loss

Phillies-Mets observations: Mark Leiter Jr.'s early hole proves too deep to climb out of in loss

BOX SCORE

NEW YORK — The Phillies continued to struggle against the New York Mets in an 11-7 loss Monday afternoon.

Phillies starter Mark Leiter Jr. was hit hard in taking the loss.

The Phillies are 3-9 against the Mets this season and 16-36 against them since the start of the 2015 season. The Phils have lost 21 of their last 30 games at Citi Field, dating to July 2014.

The Phillies made mistakes on the bases and in the field. This wasn't their worst game of the season, but it would probably rank in the top 5. At one point, the Phils trailed 10-0. 

The Phillies are 88-103 all-time on Labor Day.

• Leiter does not have overpowering stuff. When he's been successful, he has pitched at the knees and been able to work inside on hitters. He had trouble keeping his fastball out of the middle of the plate in this one. He gave up two homers in the third inning (to Jose Reyes and Asdrubal Cabrera), both virtually on the same pitch — 90 mph fastballs down the middle. Leiter was tagged for nine hits and nine runs.

• The Phillies have gone 141 consecutive games without using a left-handed starting pitcher. It is their longest such streak in nearly a century — since 1919. Adam Morgan was the Phillies' last lefty starter on Sept. 28 of last season. Speaking of Morgan, he has shined in the bullpen lately, showing a 96-mph fastball, a good slider, poise and control. That has prompted some to wonder if the Phils might give Morgan another shot to start down the stretch. Though he did not rule it out, manager Pete Mackanin did not sound like that was a route he wanted to take. "That's going to be a debate that we'll have, a conversation we'll have," he said. "Then the question becomes: Has he found his niche, or do you want to mess with that? I wouldn't want to.”

• Nick Williams had an adventure on the base paths in the fourth inning. He stole his first base as a big-leaguer, but he would have been out by six feet if hadn't contorted his diving body to elude the second baseman's tag after an off-line throw from the catcher. Moments later, Williams made the third out when he simply ran into third baseman Cabrera instead of making him throw the ball across the diamond. 

• Rhys Hoskins returned to the starting lineup. Odubel Herrera will do so Tuesday night (see story).

• Herrera entered the game as a pinch-hitter with two outs in the ninth inning. He ended a nine-pitch at-bat with an RBI single, raising his hitting streak to 18 games.

• Hoskins did not get a hit, but he was on base twice with a pair of walks. He worked a 10-pitch walk in the second inning.

• Hoskins had the bat taken out of his hands when Cesar Hernandez was caught stealing to end the top of the first.

• Maikel Franco grounded into his 19th double play of the season in the second inning. He and Tommy Joseph both rank in the top 10 in the NL in that category. Joseph entered the day ranked second in the league with 21, two behind leader Matt Kemp of the Braves.

• Lefty reliever Kevin Siegrist, picked up on waivers from St. Louis, became the 47th player to appear in a game for the team this season. His debut was not good. He allowed a hit, two walks and a run. Thirteen of his 24 pitches were balls.

• Andres Blanco came off the bench and had three of the Phillies' 10 hits.

• Triple A Lehigh Valley clinched a berth in the International League playoffs Sunday. That won't delay J.P. Crawford's arrival to the majors. He will join the Phillies in New York on Tuesday (see story). The IronPigs were picked clean by the big club this season. Surging to make the playoffs is a nice accomplishment.

• The Phillies are using three rookie starters in this series. Ben Lively (2-5, 4.22) pitches Tuesday night against Jacob deGrom (13-8, 3.43). 

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.

Rookie Nick Pivetta (5-9, 6.28) will start for the Phillies on Wednesday against Matt Harvey (4-4, 5.97).

Analyzing the roads ahead for Phillies and Braves

Analyzing the roads ahead for Phillies and Braves

Exactly a month from today, the Phillies and Braves will meet for the first time since May 23.

The Phillies have 27 games between now and then; the Braves have 29.

The Phils missed a golden chance to pick up ground in the NL East race this weekend by losing the final two games of the Mets series while the Braves were swept at home in a four-game series against the Rockies.

As a result, the Phillies are a half-game back in the division with the regular season 75 percent complete. The wild-card picture is crowded, with the Phillies currently tied with the Rockies and Brewers.

What's been going on with the Braves?

Prior to being swept by the Rockies, the Braves had gone nearly three weeks without losing two in a row. They've been carried lately by rookie Ronald Acuña Jr., who on Sunday did not reach base to begin the game. It was notable because he had reached base to lead off nine games in a row, the longest streak in 18 years.

The Braves have some challenging series ahead but will be a threat down to the final days of the season because of their dynamic top-of-the-order and the consistently solid, clutch production from Freddie Freeman and Nick Markakis. Whether or not you believe in "clutch," the icy, contained, contact-heavy approach Freeman and Markakis have in pressure situations sets them up for more success than most with runners in scoring position.

In the rotation, lefty Sean Newcomb has allowed five-plus runs in four of his last eight starts. Kevin Gausman has been a valuable addition so far, allowing two runs in six innings, one in eight and three in five since the trade from Baltimore.

The Braves' bullpen has been shaky. With closer Arodys Vizcaino on the DL, second-year lefty A.J. Minter has been closing games. He had an ugly meltdown Saturday night with two outs, nobody on and the Braves ahead 3-0. He's blown two of his last six games.

The upcoming schedules

The Braves have just one off day between Aug. 20 and Sept. 13. 

They begin a seven-game road trip tonight — three in Pittsburgh, four in Miami. 

The Pirates have faded from contention but are a pesky team that makes a lot of contact and has a very good bullpen combination with Felipe Vazquez and Keone Kela. These should be low-scoring games.

The Braves are 7-1 against the Marlins since the All-Star break. Miami can't be relied on for much spoiling at this juncture.

Following that for the Braves is a nine-game homestand against the Rays (2), Cubs (1), Pirates (3) and Red Sox (3).

Hopefully, the Red Sox still care about wins and losses two weeks from now. Their lead is so big. 

After that comes a real test for the Braves, a late-season, seven-game West Coast road trip to Arizona and San Francisco. The Diamondbacks are in the thick of the race and the Giants are on the periphery but still far from a doormat. 

The Phillies, meanwhile, have just one series left all season outside the Eastern Time Zone.

After that West Coast trip, the Braves have three with the Nationals, three with the Cardinals, then come the Phillies.

Just to review, the Braves' schedule leading up to Phillies series:

• 3 at Pirates
• 4 at Marlins
• 2 vs. Rays
• 1 vs. Cubs
• 3 vs. Pirates
• 3 vs. Red Sox
• 4 at Diamondbacks
• 3 at Giants
• 3 vs. Nationals
• 3 vs. Cardinals

And the Phillies' schedule leading up to that point:

• 3 at Nationals
• 3 at Blue Jays
• 3 vs. Nationals
• 3 vs. Cubs
• 3 at Marlins
• 3 at Mets
• 3 vs. Nationals
• 3 vs. Marlins
• 3 vs. Mets

More on the Phillies

Krukcast: Memories from Little League

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Krukcast: Memories from Little League

On this edition of Krukcast, Gregg Murphy and John Kruk share memories of Little League Baseball. Kruk on what it was like covering the Little League World Series. Also, the guys discuss what they hope today's kids experience playing in Little League.

1:00 - Kruk was a dominant Little Leaguer.
5:00 - What made Little League so enjoyable.
9:00 - Lessons Kruk learned growing up in Little League.
14:00 - Covering the LLWS.

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