Phillies-Mets thoughts: Rookies continue to thrive; Matt Harvey scratched

Phillies-Mets thoughts: Rookies continue to thrive; Matt Harvey scratched

Phillies (53-85) at Mets (59-79)
7:10 p.m. on CSN; streaming live on and the NBC Sports App

Youth was served in the Phillies' 9-1 win over the Mets Tuesday night. 

There were the homer and four RBIs from pitcher Ben Lively, who also went seven innings and allowed just one run.

There was Rhys Hoskins reaching base in four of five plate appearances.

There was Jorge Alfaro's 3-for-5 night. 

There was the three-RBI game from Nick Williams.

And, of course, there was the debut of J.P. Crawford, who went 1 for 5 with a bloop single to center field.

As a result, the Phillies beat Jacob deGrom for the first time in his 11 career starts against them (see story)

• For as much as the Phillies have struggled in 2017, they're seeing some of what they need to see right now. Hoskins, Williams and Alfaro have all produced at the plate and created some hope and momentum for 2018.

In 417 combined plate appearances, that trio has hit .298/.369/.538 for a collective .907 OPS. To put that in perspective, that slash line falls somewhere between the 2017 seasons of Nelson Cruz, Marcell Ozuna and Ryan Zimmerman. Not bad for three rookies.

• Per Jayson Stark, Lively last night became only the fourth pitcher in the last 100 years to homer twice in his first 11 games. The others were John Montefusco (1974), Don Durham (1972) and Tom Griffin (1969). 

So this means that Lively is the first pitcher to do it in 43 years.

• According to CSN producer Dan Roche, last night was the first time since 2010 that all nine Phillies in the starting lineup scored a run.

Matt Harvey was supposed to start for the Mets tonight on short rest but has been scratched because the forecast calls for heavy rain. As of noon on Wednesday, the forecast called for more than a 70 percent chance of rain from 5 p.m. through midnight. 

In terms of postponement, this is the last time in 2017 the Phillies travel to New York. The teams do have a common off-day on Sept. 11. Making up the game that day could be an option, as could canceling it altogether since both teams are already mathematically eliminated from the playoffs.

If the game is played tonight, Robert Gsellman will make the start for the Mets.

Nick Pivetta (5-9, 6.28) starts for the Phillies. He's coming off his best outing since July 31 after limiting the Marlins to one run in six innings last Friday.

Pivetta has been able to keep the ball low more effectively in his last two starts and as a result, has induced 21 groundballs. That's more than he generated in his previous four starts combined.

Pivetta last faced the Mets on Aug. 11 and allowed six runs (five earned) in 4⅔ innings. The last time he faced them at Citi Field, though, he pitched seven innings of one-run ball.

Will losing deter free agents from joining Phillies? Gabe Kapler weighs in

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Will losing deter free agents from joining Phillies? Gabe Kapler weighs in

DENVER — Sometimes you look at the mounting losses and wonder why Bryce Harper would want to be part of this.

Or Manny Machado.

Or Patrick Corbin.

The Phillies will be active in this winter’s free-agent market. They have the money. They have the desire. If you know owner John Middleton, you might call it an obsession.

But lately there’s been a feeling that all the Phillies’ losing — another loss Tuesday night made it 31 in the last 46 games — coupled with the unorthodox managerial stylings of Gabe Kapler might be a turnoff to free agents.

We don’t particularly buy this narrative because 1) the signing of one or two key free agents could help turn the losing around next season and 2) in free agency it’s all about the Benjamins and the Phillies have lots of them.

Kapler, whose team led the NL East on Aug. 5, does not believe the shine has worn off the Phillies as a free-agent destination.

“I think it’s likely a more attractive destination because I think people are very aware of the resources that the Philadelphia Phillies have,” Kapler said. “I don’t think that there’s any shortage of information on how we intend to be especially competitive in 2019.

“I think it’s really important to not respond to, and when I say not respond I mean not evaluate, based on a 45-game stretch. We haven’t played good baseball for quite some time. You cannot argue with that fact. It’s unacceptable. But it’s a fact. You also cannot argue with the fact that we played very good baseball for a half-plus of the season. And finally, you can’t argue with the fact that we have tremendous resources and a very young and talented core group of players. So if you look at all of those things combined, I think you have an especially attractive destination.”

No changes on coaching staff

Kapler said his entire coaching staff would return next season. All are under contract for 2019.

“I love our staff,” Kapler said. “I think they’ve done a tremendous job. They’ve worked especially hard all year long. They look out for each other and I think they are already seeking process improvement for 2019.”

The game

The Phillies gave up 10 runs for the second straight night in a 10-3 loss to the Rockies.

The Phils have lost six in a row and are 6-17 in September. They are under .500 for the first time since April 9. They had been 15 games over .500 on Aug. 5. The Phils need to win four of their remaining five games to finish with a winning record.

Odubel Herrera drove in the Phillies’ first run. He also dropped a ball in right field and did not run hard on a ground ball in the first inning. In other words, Odubel being Odubel.

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If you're waiting for Gabe Kapler to pitch a fit, keep waiting – ‘I won’t be a character’

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If you're waiting for Gabe Kapler to pitch a fit, keep waiting – ‘I won’t be a character’

DENVER — After falling flat on their faces, losing four straight games and being officially eliminated from postseason contention, the Phillies arrived in Coors Field for the first of four games with the Rockies on Monday night.

The Phils were hammered, 10-1. The defeat marked their 30th loss in 45 games and dropped them to the .500 mark for the first time since April 10 when the season was just 10 games.

An embarrassing loss like Monday night’s — coming on top of a steady wave of losses — might have caused some managers to give the boys a good ol' butt-chewing after the game. Some managers might have kicked over a chair in the clubhouse or gone off on an umpire. Anything to ramp up the urgency and send a message that what’s happening is not acceptable.

Gabe Kapler did none of this.

It’s not him. He prefers his conversations with players to be private and not for show.

“For me, the way that I personally operate, I need more than ‘sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t work,’“ he said Tuesday. “That’s just my personality. I’m not flipping a coin. I’m not throwing (crap) against the wall to see what sticks. I just don’t do that. I want a reason. If I’m going to get the group together and have a conversation, I want a reason for it. I want to be very confident that it’s going to be helpful.”

Would it be?

“I don’t know,” he said.

Kapler is an amazingly aware guy. He’s plugged-in, connected, never far away from his iPad. He is social-media savvy. He knows people think he’s too positive. He knows fans want to see him pull a Larry Bowa or a Dallas Green or even a Charlie Manuel.

Not happening.

“I think, honestly, people have a hard time with it,” he said. “They want me to be that character. It’s hard. It’s not who I am. However, I think one of the things that’s been missed in this season is that I feel what people feel. I suffer with people. I am extremely, extremely competitive. I (bleeping) hate to lose. So all these things I share in common. People don’t tend to really read it on me. And I think that’s confusing for people. That’s OK.

“I read everything. I know what people think of me. I know how people are responding to me. Some of it I can do something about and I will. There are other things … First, I’m not willing to compromise my integrity to be a character. My job is to help the Philadelphia Phillies win baseball games. It’s not to be a persona. But that doesn’t mean I don’t (bleeping) feel. Yes, I promise I get mad. Yes, I promise there are conversations that get loud. I promise I pound my fist from time to time. I’m not going to do it for who. It’s not who I am.”

Kapler mentioned two of his managerial mentors, Terry Francona and Joe Maddon. He played for Francona in 2004 when the Red Sox won the World Series. Francona never held a team meeting that season.

“I think there’s something to my experience in that clubhouse that leads me to lead this clubhouse in a similar fashion,” Kapler said. “That’s who he was. He let the players police the clubhouse. He had some veterans that were very good at it. And when he spoke, he spoke to guys individually. That doesn’t mean that it’s the only way to do it.”

But it’s Kapler’s way.

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