NEW YORK — The Phillies need to figure out a way to convince Maikel Franco that he's playing the Mets every day. Brainwashing, hypnosis, whatever it takes.
Franco continued his savagery over the Mets with a two-run shot to the second deck in left field in Sunday's 10-7 win. The Phillies had just taken a one-run lead in the sixth inning of a back-and-forth affair when Franco delivered the decisive blow against former teammate Luis Avilan.
Franco later banged a double off the wall in left-center. In 15 games against the Mets this season, Franco has hit .345 with 7 homers and 19 RBI. He has 9 homers and 32 RBI in his 92 other games.
The Phillies fell behind 3-0 in the first inning but came back to win the game and the series. It is only their second series win against a team with a winning record since the All-Star break. The other came Aug. 13-15 at Wrigley Field.
It was a miserably slow September game that lasted 4 hours and 29 minutes. It fell one minute short of setting the record for the longest nine-inning game in Phillies history. That record is 4 hours and 30 minutes, set last July against the Pirates.
At 74-68, the Phillies trail the Cubs by two games for the NL's second wild-card spot. The Phils also trail the Diamondbacks by a half-game and are tied with the Brewers.
1. Harper returns
Bryce Harper was out of the lineup for a second straight game with a right-hand contusion suffered Friday night on a hit by pitch. Harper did more muscle testing Sunday morning but was still deemed unable to start.
He did, however, pinch-hit with two outs and the bases loaded in the seventh inning. Harper fouled off several two-strike pitches in a lengthy plate appearance before walking in a run for his 101st RBI. Obviously a good sign that he's able to grip a bat again.
Manager Gabe Kapler expressed optimism Sunday morning that Harper could start Monday's series opener against the Braves.
J.T. Realmuto also had the day off, which made the win a bit more impressive.
2. Another big hit from Dickerson
On an 0-2 count, Corey Dickerson put the Phillies ahead in the middle innings with a two-run single. He has hit .381 with runners in scoring position as a Phillie with 23 RBI in 42 at-bats.
Kapler last week referenced Dickerson's strong two-strike approach. Dickerson chokes up, spreads out and spoils two-strike offerings as well as any hitter in the National League. It has allowed him to produce even when he hasn't gotten good pitches to hit early in counts.
Dickerson did the same thing in his fourth at-bat, fouling off six pitches with two strikes before finally punching out on pitch No. 10.
3. Opposite-field approach
The Phillies effectively used the opposite field against Syndergaard, with Rhys Hoskins doubling to the wall in right and Adam Haseley homering to left-center. With a hard thrower, that's often the most logical and successful approach to take.
The Phillies have not been fooled at all by Syndergaard this season. In three games against him, they've hit .355 and Syndergaard has a 7.80 ERA.
As always, the running game was working against the big right-hander who is slow to the plate and has trouble making pickoff throws. The Phillies were 3 for 3 swiping bags against Syndergaard and catcher Wilson Ramos, which has to be one of the worst batteries in the game at holding on runners.
Cesar Hernandez had two of the steals and Scott Kingery had the other. Jean Segura later added one of his own.
4. Up next
The Phillies come home for four against the Braves Monday-Thursday, before an off-day Friday and a quick two-gamer against the Red Sox Saturday and Sunday.
Aaron Nola will start twice this week: Monday against Atlanta and Saturday against Boston.
Monday night at 7:05 — Aaron Nola (12-4, 3.63) vs. Mike Foltynewicz (5-5, 5.28)
Tuesday night at 7:05 — LHP Jason Vargas (6-7, 4.27) vs. LHP Max Fried (16-4, 3.86)
Wednesday night at 7:05 — Zach Eflin (8-11, 4.31) vs. LHP Dallas Keuchel (7-5, 3.47)
Thursday night at 7:15 — LHP Drew Smyly (3-6, 6.65) vs. Julio Teheran (10-8, 3.31)
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