Phillies

Phillies

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NEW YORK -- You want prospects, you got prospects.

The Phillies actually had a couple of them on the field for Friday night's 2-1 loss to the New York Mets at Citi Field (see Instant Replay).

Nick Williams, of course, came up earlier in the day, replacing the injured Howie Kendrick, and the left-handed hitting outfielder stroked a single (he also struck out and lined out to center field) in three at-bats against a pretty good pitcher in Jacob deGrom in his big-league debut.

But Williams, 23, wasn't the only prospect on the field for the Phillies in this one.

Remember, Ben Lively was the Phillies' minor-league pitcher of the year in 2015, and the 25-year-old right-hander, promoted to the majors a month ago, is now taking a regular turn in the team's rotation.

Six starts into his big-league career, Lively has been pretty good. He only has one win to show for his work, but his ERA is a respectable 3.72, and five of his starts have fit the description of quality — six or more innings, three or fewer earned runs.

Lively delivered another Q-start in this game. He held the Mets to two runs over 6 1/3 innings, good enough to win on a lot of nights, but not on a night when your team supports you with just four hits, one of which was a routine fly ball that fell in because centerfielder Curtis Granderson lost it in the twilight.

 

Just not enough offense. It has been a familiar refrain for these Phillies, who have the worst record in the majors at 26-52.

"Tough to lose that game," manager Pete Mackanin lamented afterward. "Not one of our first five hitters got a hit and we struck out a little too much."

Phillies hitters struck out 13 times. Twelve of those K's came against deGrom, who gave up just one run and has allowed just three earned runs over 32 innings in his last four starts.

"I can see why he's 7-3, that’s for sure," Williams said. "He's got good stuff."

deGrom is now 8-3.

Lively is just 1-3 in his six starts. With just a little more run support, he might have won this one, however.

In the end, the game turned out to be a good learning experience for Lively — as in, the walks will kill you. Lively issued four of them in the first two innings. He largely skirted damage with the help of a pair of double plays, but a two-out walk in the second extended the inning and preceded an RBI hit by Granderson. That was the Mets' first run. The second scored in the fourth when Jose Reyes tripled and Travis d'Arnaud singled. Centerfielder Odubel Herrera had a shot to catch Reyes' drive at the wall but couldn’t make a difficult play.

"It was a tough play," Mackanin said. "That wall comes into play. He had a chance. I've seen him make great catches like that before. But I can't fault him for that. It was close. It was a big play."

The lack of run support really made that two-out walk in the second a killer for Lively.

"I wish I could tell you why," Lively said when asked about the four walks in the first two innings. "I felt like I was delivering the ball fine and it just kept getting away from me. Then [after the second inning] it kind of clicked. I'm glad I figured it out. It could have been worse."

Mackanin praised Lively for his ability to improve mid-start and keep his team in the game. Lively doesn't have power stuff, but he's got a bulldog mentality and lots of deception in his delivery. Mackanin likes that. It will be interesting to see how Lively fares in the second half of the season, if he can pitch his way into a rotation spot for 2018.

Williams struck out in his first at-bat, caught looking at a 2-2 fastball from deGrom on the outside corner.

"He froze me on that first bat at-bat, fastball away. It was paint there, you know," Williams said.

Williams lined out to center on a 2-2 fastball in the fifth and singled to center on a first-pitch sinker in the seventh, both against deGrom.

 

"I liked my second at-bat better because I laid off some tough pitches," he said.

Williams handled the anxiety of his first big-league start well.

"I think I was more nervous on defense than offense," he said. "At the plate, I felt pretty comfortable. In the field, I was just looking around and thinking, 'Jeez, this place feels huge.'"