Phillies

With Bryce Harper and J.T. Realmuto out of the lineup, Phillies pound Noah Syndergaard again en route to series win over Mets

With Bryce Harper and J.T. Realmuto out of the lineup, Phillies pound Noah Syndergaard again en route to series win over Mets

BOX SCORE 

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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Indians' Shane Bieber pushes Phillies one step closer to the end

Indians' Shane Bieber pushes Phillies one step closer to the end

CLEVELAND — Time continues to run out for the Phillies.

They suffered a 5-2 loss to the Cleveland Indians on Friday night.

Meanwhile in Milwaukee, the Brewers hammered the Pittsburgh Pirates, 10-1.

These two outcomes dropped the Phillies five games back in the NL wild-card race with just 10 games to play. The math is against the Phillies. Their elimination number is down to five. If Milwaukee plays just .500 ball over its last eight games, the Phillies would have to go 10-0 just to tie. For a team that hasn’t won more than four games in a row all season, that’s bad news.

“We’ve got to win. Period,” Jay Bruce said. “Can’t worry about anything else. You listen. You read. You concern yourself too much about it and it doesn’t do any good. So we have to win and see what happens. There are no promises. But we know we can’t go where we want to go if we don’t win.”

The Phillies didn’t win Friday night because they did not get a good start from Drew Smyly and they did not hit Cleveland starter Shane Bieber.

The loss was the Phillies’ second in a row and it came with J.T. Realmuto, arguably the team’s MVP, getting the night off. Jean Segura also did not play because of a sore ankle.

Realmuto has carried the heaviest load of any catcher in baseball and manager Gabe Kapler decided to give him a recovery day on the opener of a crucial series. Kapler explained his reasons before the game (see story). Realmuto was not available before the game and he refused to speak with reporters after the game. He is expected to start behind the plate on Saturday night when Jason Vargas looks to stop the losing skid. Vargas has lasted just three innings in each of his last two starts.

Smyly allowed seven base runners and gave up four runs in the first two innings Friday night. He was gone after walking the first batter in the bottom of the third. The lefty appeared perturbed upon leaving the game, but it wasn’t with Kapler’s decision to pull him. The bullpen allowed just one run the rest of the way to keep the Phils in the game.

“I wasn’t upset,” Smyly said. “I was just upset with how the game went. I just wasn’t very good tonight at all. I wasn’t very good with my command and put the team in a hole.”

The Phillies got a two-run double from Maikel Franco, a late add to the starting lineup after Segura was scratched, in the fifth inning and that was the extent of their offense.

Bieber, a 24-year-old right-hander, scattered seven hits, walked none and struck out seven in 7 1/3 innings of work. He looked very much like the guy who was the MVP of the All-Star Game in July.

“He showed why he’s one of the best young pitchers in baseball,” Kapler said. “He brought his A-game tonight. He was able to execute all of his pitches, threw strikes, attacked the zone, and had some wipeout stuff below the zone.”

“He’s the true definition of a pitcher,” Bruce added. “He’s got good stuff, commands both sides of the plate and doesn’t give in. He’s very confident in every pitch he has. He did what he wanted tonight. He hit his spots, he got ahead, he finished guys with different pitches.”

Bieber, who is 15-7 with a 3.23 ERA this season, was a product of the 2016 draft. He went in the fourth round, which means there are 29 clubs out there kicking themselves for passing on him. The Phillies made four picks in that draft, including Mickey Moniak at No. 1 overall, before the Indians selected Bieber out of the University of California, Santa Barbara. The Phils selected pitcher Kevin Gowdy, infielder Cole Stobbe and pitcher Jo Jo Romero with their next three picks. Moniak played at Double A this season and Romero pitched at Double A and Triple A. Gowdy missed time recovering from Tommy John surgery and pitched at Lakewood this season. Stobbe also played there. Moniak, Stobbe and Gowdy were all chosen out of high school.

A familiar name closed the door for the Indians. Carlos Carrasco, the former Phillies prospect who was traded for Cliff Lee a decade ago, got the final four outs for the save. Carrasco is one of the game’s best inspirational stories. He was treated for leukemia this summer and is back helping the Indians in a playoff chase.

The 91-win Indians are tied with Tampa Bay for the second AL wild-card spot.



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Drew Smyly puts Phillies in an early hole they can't overcome against Indians

Drew Smyly puts Phillies in an early hole they can't overcome against Indians

BOX SCORE 

CLEVELAND — The Phillies moved one step closer to being eliminated from postseason contention in a 5-2 loss to the Cleveland Indians on Friday night.

The loss dropped the Phillies 4 ½ games out in the wild-card chase and they could be five out depending on the outcome of the Milwaukee-Pittsburgh game.

There are just 10 games remaining.

Like the Phillies, Cleveland is in must-win mode. The Indians (91-63) entered the night tied with Tampa Bay for the second American League wild-card spot.

The Phillies did not get a good start from lefty Drew Smyly.

The Indians, meanwhile, got a very good one from right-hander Shane Bieber. He gave up two runs over 7 1/3 innings.

The Phillies are 78-74. They need to win four of their final 10 games to have their first winning season since 2011.

Smyly’s night

It wasn’t good. He walked the first batter in the bottom of the third inning and was lifted by manager Gabe Kapler.

Smyly allowed the first four batters in the bottom of the first inning to reach base on a walk and three hits. Two of them scored. He gave up two more runs in the second inning. Both were unearned after a throwing error by Rhys Hoskins.

Smyly did not appear happy when Kapler pulled him from the game. But eight base runners in two-plus innings was a little much and the bullpen was able to settle things down and keep the game close.

Bieber’s night

The All-Star right-hander improved to 15-7 and lowered his ERA to 3.23.

He struck out seven and walked none. It was the eighth time this season that he’d registered at least seven strikeouts and no walks.

Bieber is a product of the 2016 draft. The Indians picked him in the fourth round out of the University of California, Santa Barbara. That was a notable draft for the Phillies because they had the first overall pick. They selected outfielder Mickey Moniak with that pick. The Phils picked pitcher Kevin Gowdy in the second round, infielder Cole Stobbe in the third round and pitcher Jo Jo Romero in the fourth round, 15 picks ahead of Bieber. Moniak played at Double A this season and Romero pitched at Double A and Triple A. Gowdy missed time recovering from Tommy John surgery and pitched at Lakewood this season. Stobbe also played there. Moniak, Stobbe and Gowdy were all chosen out of high school.

Carrasco comes up big

Carlos Carrasco, the former Phillies prospect who was traded to the Indians in the Cliff Lee deal a decade ago, registered a huge out when he retired Jay Bruce on a ground ball with runners on the corners to end the top of the eighth. Bruce could have tied the game with one swing, but Carrasco won the battle.

Carrasco is winning another battle, as well. He was treated for leukemia earlier this summer and has made it back to help the Indians’ playoff chase.

Carrasco stayed on for the ninth inning and got the save.

Scratched

Shortstop Jean Segura was a late scratch from the starting lineup. He has a sore left ankle. Maikel Franco was inserted into the lineup at third base and Scott Kingery moved over to shortstop. Franco drove in the Phillies’ runs with a double in the fifth.

Realmuto rests

Kapler gave J.T. Realmuto a rest at a crucial point of the season. The manager explained why (see story).

Up next

The series continues Saturday night. Jason Vargas (6-8, 4.48) pitches for the Phillies against Cleveland right-hander Zach Plesac (8-6, 3.64). Yes, he’s Dan’s nephew.



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