Phillies

Matt Klentak acknowledges Ruben Amaro for leaving strong foundation

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Scott Lauber/Twitter

Matt Klentak acknowledges Ruben Amaro for leaving strong foundation

Phillies general manager Matt Klentak is not a regular presence on the field during batting practice, but he did descend from the executive level at Citizens Bank Park to greet New York Mets bench coach Gary Disarcina, a former coworker in the Los Angeles Angels organization, before Friday night’s game.

Klentak also got a chance to chat with the Mets' first base coach — none other than Ruben Amaro Jr., the man who preceded Klentak as Phillies GM.

“It was nice,” Amaro said Saturday. “I’ve talked to him once or twice since I moved on. I remember texting him when he got the job. I congratulated him and wished him the best of luck. He’s been in front offices with Anaheim and Baltimore, he was in the Commissioner’s office, so we’ve talked over the years.”

During their conversation around the batting cage, Amaro complimented Klentak on the Phillies’ strong start.

“I said, 'It seems like things are going pretty good,’ and Matt said, ‘A lot of it is because of you,’” Amaro related.

The Phillies embarked on a teardown and rebuild in the fall of 2014 and Amaro was let go in September 2015. He did not leave the cupboard bare. In fact, eight of the players who were supposed to start Saturday night — including starting pitcher Zach Eflin and Odubel Herrera, the majors’ leading hitter — entered the organization as a draft pick, an international signing, a Rule 5 draft pick or a trade pick-up during Amaro’s time as GM. Klentak has acknowledged this fact before. To do it directly to his predecessor “was a very nice thing to say,” Amaro said.

Amaro also had a “nice chat” with Phillies manager Gabe Kapler during the pregame exchange of lineup cards Friday.

“I said, ‘How you doing?’ and he said, ‘Well, after that first week … it was a little bit of a rough first week, but after that, it’s been OK,’" Amaro said. “I told him, ‘Hey, just like any other place, and maybe more so than others, if you guys keep playing well the fans will really appreciate it and things will turn around.

“I told him, and this was actually something Matt and I talked about, too, the fans will start coming out more regularly. I mentioned that the Sixers and Flyers were over so the focus will be on the Phillies and the fans are going to see it’s a pretty darn good product and they’ll appreciate it and come out.”

This is Amaro’s second time back to Citizens Bank Park since his firing. He came in with the Boston Red Sox as their first base coach last season. This time, he said, everything feels a little more comfortable.

“Time heals a lot of stuff,” he said. “And the fans have been great. I get some boos, but I really don’t take a lot of heat. I flipped someone a ball (Friday night) and someone said, ‘You still love us, Ruben, and we love you, too.’ It was nice.

“During BP, I look around the stadium and I get nostalgic. Yeah, I really do. Actually, it felt really neat emotionally on Friday because I consider this home for me. I know I work for a different company and ballclub and I worked for a different ballclub last year, and I’m here trying to beat the Phillies, but I still consider Philadelphia home. That will never change.

“And this ballpark will always be special to me. I remember looking out on the field that first year (2004) when we came back from Clearwater and seeing that grass on the field and thinking, ‘Holy Smokes, this is so cool. Look at the grass. This is our ballpark now.’ That was a moment, a big moment.

“So this place will always be special.”

Amaro has often said he wished he could have stayed around to see the rebuild through. Instead, Klentak gets to see it through. He has made changes along the way, but much of Amaro’s foundation remains. In fact, Eflin, who was scheduled to pitch before Saturday night's game was rained out, came in the first trade Amaro made after the team embarked on its rebuild.

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

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

BOX SCORE

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

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

BOX SCORE

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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