NEW YORK — Phillies manager Gabe Kapler was asked about the approaching July 31 trade deadline before Friday night’s game against the New York Mets.
And why not?
The Phils have recently been headed in the wrong direction in the standings and they clearly have needs.
They could use a starting pitcher, a back-end bullpen arm and even a bat. (How ‘bout Mets third baseman Todd Frazier as a three-month rental?)
Kapler, as he is wont to do, deferred to the front office when the subject of the Phillies’ needs came up. He said he was pouring his energy into the players currently in his clubhouse, “trying to find ways to help the players who have track records of success perform to their capability and helping the young players develop at the most rapid possible pace.”
He added that improvements needed to come from within first.
“We need to get healthy, stay healthy, reduce the number of homers we’re giving up, walk fewer batters, slug a little bit more, reach base a little bit more,” Kapler said. “I can point to lots of areas where we should and need to improve.”
As if on cue, the Phils improved in several of these areas later Friday night as they rallied to beat the Mets, 7-2, at Citi Field (see observations).
The pitching staff gave up just one home run, a big victory considering it had been tagged for eight of them the previous two nights in Atlanta.
Five Phillies pitchers walked just one batter in nine innings.
Relievers Tommy Hunter and Adam Morgan continued to get healthy and combined on two scoreless innings.
And Scott Kingery, J.T. Realmuto, Jean Segura and Bryce Harper did some slugging.
You can scoff if you want because the Mets are the only team the Phillies have been able to beat with any consistency lately. (The Phils have won just seven of their last 18 games and five have come against the Mets.) But this was a big win because the Phillies need to stop the spiral of losing that has recently plagued them and it came on a night when they were facing one of the best pitchers on the planet in 2018 NL Cy Young winner Jacob deGrom.
“Pretty big win for us,” Kapler said. “Look, when you're facing Jacob deGrom, you know that it's going to be a dog fight. He brought every bit of what he normally brings. Our guys just stood in there and battled.
“A really good, all-around team win with contributions from a great many people.”
The Phillies scored six runs in the final three innings to erase a 2-1 deficit. Realmuto had important doubles in the seventh and ninth innings. His double against deGrom in the seventh helped tie the game. His double in the ninth against Edwin Diaz began a decisive five-run rally that featured big hits by Segura, Harper, Sean Rodriguez and Jay Bruce.
The Phillies needed this win so badly that Kapler used his most trusted reliever — Hector Neris — with a five-run lead in the ninth.
“We wanted to lock down this game,” Kapler said.
Starter Vince Velasquez gave the Phils five solid, walk-free innings and the bullpen combined on four scoreless innings.
The game began with Kingery ambushing deGrom’s first pitch, a 98-mph heater, and sending it into the second deck above left field, 433 feet away from home plate. DeGrom retired 15 of the next 16 batters, allowing only a walk, and did not allow his second hit until the seventh inning.
The Phils face another power arm in Noah Syndergaard on Saturday night.
Jake Arrieta will make his final start before the All-Star break for the Phils.
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