Phillies

Phillies take down Noah Syndergaard for 'special' series win over Mets

Phillies take down Noah Syndergaard for 'special' series win over Mets

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NEW YORK -- Noah Syndergaard came out firing Thursday night. The right-hander with the electric arm and the power forward's body struck out the Phillies' first three hitters on 14 pitches to open the game. Thirteen of those pitches were strikes. Three of them reached triple digits on the radar gun and five of them came up just a mile per hour short at 99.

A penny for your thoughts at that point, Pete Mackanin.

"It looked like he might be having one of his best nights," the Phillies manager said.

Syndergaard actually had a pretty good night. But the Phillies, as a team, had a better night and they managed to escape Citi Field with a 6-4 victory and just their third winning series against the Mets in the last 18 (see Instant Replay). The Phils' last series win over the Mets came in early April of last season.

"It sure is nice to win a series here against the Mets," Mackanin said. "It's always nice to win a series. But against these guys, it was special, as much as they've beat us up over the last year."

Syndergaard pitched seven innings and did not walk a batter while striking out 10. For the season, he has 30 strikeouts and no walks in 26 innings over four starts.

But the Phils, with the help of the Mets' sloppy defense, managed to get some baserunners and some big hits against Syndergaard. He gave up five runs, two of which were unearned.

Aaron Nola struggled to protect an early 5-1 lead but never relinquished it, and the bullpen was outstanding in locking down the win.

Lefty Joely Rodriguez got six huge outs to protect a one-run lead and Mackanin surprised folks by using Joaquin Benoit in the eighth inning and Hector Neris in the ninth to close it out. 

Last week, Mackanin installed Benoit as closer after Jeanmar Gomez lost the job. Mackanin used the qualifier "for now," when announcing that Benoit would close. The "now" did not last too long. Benoit blew a save in Washington over the weekend and now Neris is getting a look. He has the stuff -- a power fastball, a good splitter and more than 11 strikeouts per nine innings last season -- to do the job.

"I think [Benoit] looks more comfortable [in a setup role]," Mackanin said. "Over in Washington, I didn't see that good changeup. He spiked a couple of changeups and didn't have command of it. Tonight, he threw some great ones. So that was great to see. In general, we have two guys I feel comfortable with. I'll probably use Neris again. But it's nice to have somebody that when one guy's not available, the other guy is."

The Phillies' starting lineup included two guys -- Maikel Franco and Tommy Joseph -- who entered the game hitting under .160. Syndergaard did not figure to be the best guy to get right against, but baseball is a funny game. Franco extended his career-long slump to 0 for 22 in the second inning but came back in the fourth with an RBI double -- a liner over the left fielder's head on a 97-mph fastball -- against Syndergaard in the third inning. In the eighth, Franco homered to left against Fernando Salas.

Meanwhile, Joseph had three hits, including an RBI double down the right-field line on a 100-mph heater in the second inning to score the Phillies' first run.

The Phils scored three in the second and two in the third against Syndergaard. In both innings, the Mets made costly errors. Andrew Knapp started at catcher in place of Cameron Rupp and had an RBI double in the second inning.

"It's a tough chore," Mackanin said of facing Syndergaard. "We made him work. We scored early on him. It was great to see. He's a bulldog. He was still throwing 98 in the seventh inning. We just took advantage of some mistakes he made. I give the guys a lot of credit for battling him and not being intimidated.

"You never know what to expect. That's what's so unique about baseball."

Nola was not crisp. He had a ton of trouble putting hitters away with two strikes. He walked Syndergaard with two outs in the second inning after being up in the count, 0-2, and that came back to haunt him when Rene Rivera delivered an RBI single. In the third inning, Nola gave up a three-run homer to Neil Walker on an 0-2 curveball. That made it a 5-4 game.

"I had terrible two-strike pitches, especially 0-2," Nola said.

Nola lasted just five innings. He gave up seven hits and walked four as he ran a high pitch count. He got the win thanks to his mates' timely hitting and good bullpen work.

For the season, Nola has made three starts and given up 20 hits and eight earned runs in 16 innings. He has walked six and struck out 15.

Why no Justin Bour vs. Jacob deGrom? Gabe Kapler explains

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Why no Justin Bour vs. Jacob deGrom? Gabe Kapler explains

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Why wasn't Justin Bour in the starting lineup?

That was the question on seemingly every Phillies fan's mind Saturday — at least if Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, emails and texts are any indication — as they were being shut down by the amazing Jacob deGrom on Saturday afternoon.

Coming into the game, Bour had gone 8 for 21 (.381) with two homers and a double off deGrom. No, it's not some massive sample size. But the only players in baseball with more career extra-base hits off deGrom than Bour are Giancarlo Stanton, Bryce Harper and Freddie Freeman.

When you're facing the Ace of Aces, don't you want as much offense in the lineup as possible?

"I thought long and hard about Bour starting today," manager Gabe Kapler said. "I had the conversation with Justin as well. I said look, I really wanted to find a way to get you in there today but with Jake Arrieta on the mound, it's very important that we put our best defensive infield out there. 

"We want to give Jake every chance because, with the high groundball rate, we know he's going to induce a lot of ground balls. We know that we're going to need to play sound defense behind him. And Carlos Santana is a very, very good defensive first baseman despite a play he wasn't able to make today. He's very good over there, he makes our infielders look good. 

"So when Jake is on the mound, when Aaron Nola is on the mound, sometimes we optimize for defense over putting a guy in the lineup whose had some success against deGrom, and he has been good against him."

Santana made outs in his first three at-bats and was booed after striking out with Rhys Hoskins on second base to end the sixth inning. Santana did begin the ninth inning with a single up the middle, which had meaning in a two-run game.

Bour pinch-hit in the eighth and struck out swinging on three pitches.

The Phillies managed just an unearned run in their 3-1 loss to deGrom and the Mets (see first take). Even that involved frustration because the play, along with the inning, ended with Odubel Herrera rounding first base and being tagged out before he could dive back safely.

That seventh inning was the only time all afternoon the Phillies had multiple baserunners against deGrom. The next inning, Hoskins stepped to the plate representing the tying run after doubling and singling earlier against the Mets' Cy Young candidate. Hoskins struck out swinging … on a 98.1 mph fastball that was deGrom's fastest pitch of the day to that point.

The guy is just ridiculous. 

In 25 starts this season, deGrom is 8-7 with a 1.71 ERA. The Mets have lost 14 of his starts because they're the Mets and they struggle to score. But, as usual, the Mets' deficiencies haven't stopped them from beating the Phillies. The Mets are 7-5 against the Phils and 18 games under .500 against everyone else.

There has been plenty of cap-tipping this season by the Phillies when they struggle to score runs. This was an instance when you do just truly tip your cap to maybe the best pitcher in baseball. 

"You think can he keep going? Can he keep going? And then he just does," Mets catcher Devin Mesoraco said of his battery mate. "A lot of life on his fastball and his best slider of the year. He had everything working."

The Phillies, again, did not have their defense working. Arrieta made his fourth errant pickoff throw of the season, Santana muffed a grounder to start the sixth and Herrera collided with Cesar Hernandez on a pop-up that was caught. There's been a lot of that in shallow center field this season.

The Phillies have 96 errors, most in the majors and 15 more than they averaged from 2008-11. The defense has been a serious issue, so even if Kapler's decision to sit Bour seemed strange, it's a bit more defensible because of all the unearned runs scored with Arrieta on the mound.

But, quite frankly, even without the miscues, the Phillies probably wouldn't have won this game.

"He's the story," Arrieta said of deGrom. "He's having a historic season. Hopefully, he keeps it up, it's really fun to watch that. You don't want to see it against your guys, but when a guy is on top of his game like that, sometimes you just sit back and enjoy it.

"Hopefully he does it against the Braves for us."

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Jacob deGrom dominates Phillies, who sat player who had hurt him most

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Jacob deGrom dominates Phillies, who sat player who had hurt him most

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The Phillies couldn't do what so many other teams have done to the Mets this season when Jacob deGrom pitches: Stay in the game long enough to eke out a win.

The Phils were completely shut down by deGrom, whose ERA is a microscopic 1.71. They lost 3-1 in a game that included a 41-minute rain delay after the top of the fourth which did not affect either starting pitcher.

The fastest pitch all day from deGrom came with two outs and two strikes on Rhys Hoskins in the eighth inning. With Hoskins representing the tying run, deGrom blew a 98 mph fastball right on by him.

Over the last 18 years, the only pitcher with an ERA this low in at least 25 starts was Zack Greinke in 2015.

Despite deGrom's league-best ERA, the Mets are just 11-14 in his 25 starts because they rarely score runs for him. However, they've now won three of his starts in a row, and he remains in a close competition with Max Scherzer and Aaron Nola for the NL Cy Young award.

Jake Arrieta started for the Phillies and pitched well but was hurt by another poor throw on a pickoff. 

Luis Garcia gave up two runs in the seventh on a solo home run by Devin Mesoraco and an RBI triple from Jeff McNeil.

The Phils scored their only run in the next half-inning when deGrom couldn't catch a throw at first on a potential double play. The ball trickled past him and Nick Williams came around to score (an unearned run), but Odubel Herrera had made a turn around first base and was nabbed before he could slide back in safely.

The loss makes the Phillies 68-55. They're one game back in the NL East pending the Braves' result tonight against the Rockies.

The Mets are 7-5 against the Phillies and 18 games under .500 against everyone else.

Why no Bour?

Justin Bour is one of the few major-leaguers with good numbers against deGrom, so it was quite a surprise to see Carlos Santana get the start at first base.

Bour is 8 for 22 (.364) with two homers and a double lifetime off deGrom. It's not a huge sample, obviously, but why not get all the offense you can against an ace like this?

Santana made outs in his first three at-bats before singling to begin the ninth.

Bour struck out on three pitches as a pinch-hitter in the eighth.

This will likely be the first question asked of Gabe Kapler after the game. Stay tuned to hear the reasoning.

Decent day for Hoskins

Hoskins went 2 for 4 off of deGrom with a single, double and stolen base. Hoskins has reached base in 6 of 14 plate appearances against deGrom and 10 of 20 against deGrom and Noah Syndergaard.

Unfortunately for the Phils, they put two men on base in only one of seven innings against deGrom.

Jake does his job

Arrieta gave the Phillies six more very good innings but was pinch-hit for to begin the bottom of the sixth. 

Arrieta caught Austin Jackson looking with two men on base to end his outing. It was his third strikeout of Jackson and sixth of the game. For the third time all season, he did not walk a batter.

Arrieta's ERA is down to 3.26, and he's allowed two earned runs or fewer in 15 of 24 starts. 

The lone run he allowed came after an errant pickoff attempt advanced a runner from first base to third base. It was Arrieta's fourth error of the season and all four errors have come on bad pickoff attempts.

With Santana's error to begin the sixth, the Phillies have 96 on the season, most in the majors. To put in perspective how high this error total is, the Phillies averaged 81 per season from 2008-11.

Whew

In the fourth inning, Wilson Ramos took a two-seam fastball from Arrieta directly off his wrist. It looked like he didn't expect as much movement as Arrieta had on the pitch, and the result was a passed ball.

Ramos was clearly in some pain and was checked on by Phillies trainer Scott Sheridan but stayed in the game. He went 0 for 4 with a strikeout and three groundouts, including a 6-4-3 double play in the ninth.

Up next

The Phillies and Mets finish up their five-game series in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, Sunday night at 7:10 in the 2018 MLB Little League Classic. 

Nick Pivetta (7-9, 4.37) faces 35-year-old lefty Jason Vargas (2-8, 8.10).

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