Michael Conforto

Hector Neris blows another save in Phillies' demoralizing loss to Mets

Hector Neris blows another save in Phillies' demoralizing loss to Mets

BOX SCORE

The Phillies’ streak of spectacular starting pitching continued on Friday night.

So did Odubel Herrera’s spectacular on-base streak.

But the Phillies suffered an excruciating 3-1 loss to the New York Mets after closer Hector Neris melted down and allowed a pair of home runs with one out in the top of the ninth inning.

It was Neris’ second ugly blown save in less than a week. Without the two blown saves, the Phillies (22-16) would be looking at a seven-game winning streak (see story).

Jake Arrieta pitched 7 1/3 scoreless innings and left with a 1-0 lead thanks to Herrera’s solo homer in the first. The homer improved his on-base streak to 40 games. He leads the NL with a .360 batting average.

Neris came on with a 1-0 lead in the ninth. He retired Adrian Gonzalez for the first out then allowed a booming two-run homer to right to Michael Conforto on a 1-2 fastball. Two pitches earlier, Conforto nearly homered on a splitter. The ball went just foul. Devin Mesoraco followed Conforto's homer by hammering a first-pitch slider over the left-field wall to make it a 3-1 game.

Neris was booed lustily after giving up both homers and again after the third out.

Jeurys Familia came on in the bottom of the ninth and saved it for the Mets, who are 41-17 at Citizens Bank Park since 2012 and 41-19 overall against the Phillies since the start of the 2015 season.

With Arrieta's 7 1/3 scoreless innings, Phillies starting pitchers have allowed just four runs in 32 innings and struck out 45 over five games on this homestand.

The streak of strong starting pitching actually goes back seven games. Over that span, the starters have allowed just six runs in 43 innings. The team is 5-2 over that span, both of the losses coming when Neris could not hold a lead in the ninth.

Arrieta has a 2.59 ERA in seven starts. He has allowed one run in 13 1/3 innings over his last two starts.

The 32-year-old right-hander gave up five hits and two walks. He struck out five and threw 101 pitches.

One of Arrieta’s last throws was a beauty — a perfect pickoff throw to first baseman Carlos Santana to get Jose Reyes and end the top of the seventh. It was the fourth time a Phillies pitcher has picked a runner off first base in the last 10 games. Aaron Nola has done it twice and Zach Eflin and Arrieta once each. Santana has been on the receiving end of all four pickoffs. The guy has exceptionally quick hands.

Notes
• Pitcher Mark Leiter Jr., on the DL with a right forearm strain, is slated to pitch 2 1/3 innings at Single A Clearwater on Saturday. Jerad Eickhoff, recovering from a lat strain, is scheduled for three innings or 50 pitches for Clearwater on Monday.

• Pitching coach Rick Kranitz was excused from the game to attend his daughter’s graduation. Assistant pitching coach Chris Young handled pitching coach duties and Sam Fuld was in uniform on the bench. Fuld is the team’s player information coordinator and also works with outfielders during pregame workouts.

Instant Replay: Mets 6, Phillies 2

Instant Replay: Mets 6, Phillies 2

BOX SCORE

Rhys Hoskins picked up his first big-league hit in his fourth game Sunday, but poor baserunning from his teammates and two more home runs from the Mets did the Phillies in during a 6-2 loss.

Trailing 4-1 in the bottom of the fifth inning, the Phillies loaded the bases with no outs but managed just one run. Odubel Herrera, who otherwise had another nice offensive day, made a costly baserunning blunder by not paying attention to Freddy Galvis or third base coach Juan Samuel.

With nobody out and the sacks full, Nick Williams hit a fly ball to medium-deep center field, but Galvis faked a tag-up from third base. An unfocused Herrera ran to third with his head down and the Phillies had two men on third. Herrera was tagged out for an inexcusable double play.

The Phillies dropped three of four games to the Mets to fall to 43-72 on the season.

Since 2012, the Phils are 15-39 at home against the Mets, who have 55 home runs in their last 23 games at Citizens Bank Park.

Starting pitching report
Zach Eflin pitched pretty well most of the afternoon but the Mets' two most powerful lefties — Michael Conforto and Curtis Granderson — touched him up with two-run home runs.

Eflin allowed four runs on seven hits over 5⅓ innings with no walks and five strikeouts. He has a 5.76 ERA in 10 starts after posting a 5.54 ERA in 11 starts last season.

Mets right-hander Chris Flexen put 10 men on base and needed 98 pitches to complete five innings but allowed just two runs, lowering his ERA from 8.49 to 7.02.

Bullpen report
Jesen Therrien came on in relief of Eflin and got two quick outs for his second straight scoreless outing.

Adam Morgan pitched two scoreless innings of relief. He's lowered his ERA from 6.43 to 5.35 over his last four appearances.

At the plate
Herrera had the baserunning blunder but once again, the good outweighed the bad. Herrera singled and walked twice, extending his hitting streak to 16 games, the longest single-season streak by a Phillie since Raul Ibanez hit in 18 straight in 2010.

We've outlined many times how hot Herrera has been since the beginning of June, but another promising development is his recent control of the strike zone. At the All-Star break, hitting coach Matt Stairs pushed him to walk more than he struck out in the second half. Since then, Herrera has 12 walks and 17 K's. Prior to the All-Star break, he had 16 walks and 84 K's.

Hoskins picked up his first big-league RBI in the first inning and his first hit in the fifth. Hoskins started his Phillies career 0 for 12, matching Chris Coste in 2006 for the longest hitless streak to start a Phils career since Lonnie Smith in 1978-79.

Hoskins also walked for the third time in four games.

Williams had a rough day, going 0 for 3 and leaving seven men on base.

Conforto and Granderson each stayed hot for the Mets.

In 31 career games against the Phillies, Conforto has hit .295 with a 1.040 OPS, seven doubles, nine homers and 25 RBIs.

Granderson, who could still be traded at some point this month, has been locked-in since mid-May. He's hit .284/.407/.597 since May 15 with 14 doubles, 15 home runs and 36 RBIs and it seems like nobody has noticed.

Yoenis Cespedes had the day off.

In the field
Reliever Edubray Ramos fielded a groundball from Asdrubal Cabrera in the seventh and threw it in the dirt to first base. Hoskins, in his first major-league start at first base, couldn't make the tough scoop.

Up next
The Phillies head to California for a seven-game road trip this week that includes three games in San Diego and four in San Francisco.

Monday, 10:10 p.m. — Jerad Eickhoff (3-7, 4.45) vs. LHP Travis Wood (2-4, 6.71)

Tuesday, 10:10 p.m. — TBA vs. Dinelson Lamet (6-4, 5.00)

Wednesday, 3:40 p.m. — Nick Pivetta vs. LHP Clayton Richard (5-12, 5.14)

Phillies-Mets 5 things: Much better matchups this weekend for Rhys Hoskins

Phillies-Mets 5 things: Much better matchups this weekend for Rhys Hoskins

Phillies (42-70) vs. Mets (52-60)
7:05 p.m. on CSN; streaming live on CSNPhilly.com and the NBC Sports App

The big stories coming out of last night's Phillies game were the debut of Rhys Hoskins and the confusing finger injury that limited Vince Velasquez to one inning.

The game's result was yet another embarrassing Phillies loss to the Mets, continuing a theme that has lasted six seasons. 

1. Wait ... whose house is this?
The Mets' personnel doesn't even seem to matter at this point. When they get to South Philadelphia, all they do is clobber baseballs.

Even without CBP-lovers Jay Bruce (now with Cleveland) and Lucas Duda (now with Tampa), the Mets hit four homers that accounted for nine of their runs in a 10-0 win. 

The Phillies are 14-37 against the Mets since 2012 ... at home. That's a .275 winning percentage. That's a 45-117 full-season pace. That's pathetic.

That 14-37 mark vs. the Mets since 2012 is the second-worst divisional record for any major-league team at its own park. (The Mets are 15-41 at home since 2012 against the Nationals.)

In the last 22 meetings at Citizens Bank Park, the Mets have 50 home runs. Ricky Bottalico said last night on Phillies Postgame Live that if he was in the Mets' front office, he'd be pushing to have Citi Field's dimensions changed to CBP's — and he wasn't joking.

The Mets had 16 men on base last night. The Phillies had five. Granted, the Phillies faced a locked-in Jacob deGrom.

2. Hoskins' debut
How 'bout that for a first test? "Hey Rhys, we know you've been playing left field for three days, but go do it in a major-league park, and while you're at it, face one of the game's best pitchers."

Batting seventh, Hoskins went 0 for 2 with a walk.

In his first at-bat against deGrom, Hoskins took the first pitch out of the strike zone but it was called a strike because deGrom is an ace and Hoskins is a rookie. Those little subconscious biases exist for umpires. The at-bat ended with a nasty two-seam fastball that froze Hoskins for a strikeout.

In his second at-bat, Hoskins hit a ball sharply up the middle but the Mets had him positioned perfectly so it was a double play.

In his final plate appearance, Hoskins fouled off two pitches on a 3-2 count and worked a leadoff walk.

Every major-league pitcher poses some sort of challenge, but these next three games against the Mets should give Hoskins a chance to succeed. Tonight, he'll face Seth Lugo, who has a 4.55 ERA. On Saturday, the Phillies face Steven Matz, who has a .315 opponents' batting average vs. righties. On Sunday, the Phils get Chris Flexen and his 8.49 ERA.

3. One of two extremes
This matchup feels like it will either be great or terrible for Nick Pivetta. He's a hard-throwing right-hander who strikes out a lot of batters and gives up a lot of home runs. The Mets are a boom-bust offense that strikes out a lot and hits a lot of home runs.

The guess here is that we'll either be looking at a Pivetta line of six innings, a couple runs and 10 strikeouts, or 3⅔ innings, three homers and a bunch of runs. Either is a possibility for a pitcher who has a mid-to-high-90s fastball and a tight slider but throws too many pitches in the heart of the plate.

Pivetta is 4-7 with a 5.89 ERA in 16 starts. He's struck out 84 batters in 84 innings and allowed 17 home runs, 15 to right-handed hitters. Lefties have hit .228 with a .658 OPS against Pivetta; righties have hit .298 with a 1.005 OPS.

Pivetta had an excellent start against the Mets on July 2, but that was at pitcher-friendly Citi Field, where the Mets' dominance over the Phillies is not nearly as pronounced. On that night, Pivetta allowed just one hit over seven innings, a solo homer to T.J. Rivera.

With how frustrating the season has been for Vince Velasquez, the Phillies would really like to see Pivetta finish strong so they can enter the offseason knowing they have at least one decent, hard thrower in the rotation. Both pitchers have a lot of upside but it's tough to have two guys so inconsistent on the same five-man staff. 

4. Conforto or Nola?
It's a debate we'll be having for years. Michael Conforto was taken three picks after Aaron Nola in the 2014 MLB draft and both have had eerily similar careers to this point.

Conforto, just like Nola, was very impressive as a rookie in 2015 before struggling in 2016. Just like the Phillies with Nola, the Mets went into last winter seeking some answers about Conforto.

Both have been the most promising part of their team's 2017 season. Nola has been on a historic run of allowing two or fewer runs, and Conforto has been an on-base and power machine. In 389 plate appearances this season, Conforto has hit .290/.396/.573 with 24 homers and 61 RBIs. He's either going to be atop the Mets' lineup or in the middle of it for years.

I sent out a Twitter poll last May asking fans which of the two players they'd take if they got into a time machine and went back to draft night 2014. The response was 85 percent Nola, and that was before he hit a new level this season. I sent it out again Friday and am curious to see whether it changes.

5. This and that
• Mark Leiter Jr. made some Phillies history last night, becoming the first Phillies reliever ever to strike out at least seven batters in two straight appearances.

In his last two outings, Leiter has allowed one run in 9⅓ innings with no walks and 16 K's. Might the Phillies have found themselves a Chris Devenski-like relief weapon?

• Can Jorge Alfaro get a start? Cameron Rupp has been behind the plate for seven of the Phillies' last eight games.

• If you didn't already believe this was the year of the home run, check this out: In 2014, there were 57 players with 20-plus home runs. This season, with about 50 games remaining for every team, there are already 59 players to do so. The Phillies have none of the 59, but Maikel Franco and Tommy Joseph will likely both reach 20.