Phillies

Mets 7, Phillies 6 (11 innings): Rhys Hoskins' error dooms Phils as Aaron Nola struggles again

Mets 7, Phillies 6 (11 innings): Rhys Hoskins' error dooms Phils as Aaron Nola struggles again

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The Phillies suffered a 7-6 loss in 11 innings to the New York Mets on Monday night.

The Mets scored the go-ahead run on a two-out fielding error by Phillies first baseman Rhys Hoskins.

The Phillies had a chance to win it in the 10th but Jean Segura, the hero of Sunday’s 14-inning win in Miami, struck out with runners on the corners.

The Mets are 46-22 at Citizens Bank Park since the start of the 2012 season.

Aaron Nola did not pitch well in his fourth start of the season. He finished third in the NL Cy Young voting last season, but has not looked like the same guy in his first four starts of the new season.

The Phils are 9-6. The Mets are 10-6.

The keys

• Hoskins could not handle a hot smash from Michael Conforto in the 11th and that allowed the go-ahead run to score.

• Down a run in the bottom of the eighth, the Phillies got the first two men on base against Jeurys Familia. With the count 3-1, Maikel Franco smoked a one-hopper to third. Jeff McNeil made a terrific play to his glove side to take away a hit from Franco and start a 5-4-3 double play.

The Phillies still managed to tie the game in the inning as Andrew Knapp and Andrew McCutchen both drew walks against Familia to load the bases. The Mets replaced Familia with Robert Gsellman and he walked Segura on four pitches to force home Odubel Herrera with the tying run. Herrera had started the frame with a single. The Phils still had the bases loaded for Bryce Harper after Herrera trotted home with the tying run. However, Harper swung at the first pitch and popped out to shortstop.

• Drew Anderson, just up from Triple A, and Adam Morgan combined on four innings of scoreless relief to keep the Phillies alive.

• Franco tied the game with a two-run homer against Noah Syndergaard in the bottom of the fourth. The Mets went ahead on a solo homer by Brandon Nimmo against Jose Alvarez in the sixth.

• The Mets scored five two-out runs against Nola. Wilson Ramos smacked a hanging curveball for a two-run single in the third and Robinson Cano belted a 91 mph sinker for a two-run double in the fourth.

Nola's night

The Phillies’ ace, coming off a season in which he pitched a career-high 212 1/3 innings, has not looked particularly good in any of his four starts. Sure, he pitched six innings of two-hit, one-run ball on opening day, but he walked five batters in that game. Nola lasted just four innings in this one. He gave up seven hits, three walks and five runs. He has given up four or more earned runs in three of his four starts this season. By contrast, he gave up four earned runs in just four of 33 starts last season.

Nola’s fastball is down a smidge from its average of 92.7 mph last year and his off-speed stuff is not as sharp as it was last year. Nola’s biggest issue has been the lack of his typical pinpoint command. He has walked 11 in 19 1/3 innings. That’s over five batters per nine innings or double his career mark entering the season. Nola’s command issues also show up in his inability to fill the zone with first-pitch strikes. He threw a first-pitch strike 69.4 percent of the time last season, second best in the majors to St. Louis’ Miles Mikolas. This season, Nola has thrown a first-pitch strike just 47 percent of the time.

Nola’s ERA after four starts is 7.45.

Sights and sounds

All the players wore No. 42 in remembrance of Jackie Robinson, who debuted in the majors on April 15, 1947.

Health check

Reliever David Robertson was placed on the injured list. Anderson was recalled from Triple A (see story).

Up next

The series continues on Tuesday night with Nick Pivetta, another pitcher who has struggled in the early season, taking the mound for the Phillies against Mets lefty Steven Matz.

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Will we see Scott Kingery start in center field regularly?

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USA Today Images/Bill Streicher

Will we see Scott Kingery start in center field regularly?

Sunday was Scott Kingery’s first career start in center field and it came in his first game back. Kingery was sidelined for a month with a hamstring strain that was worse than the ones suffered by Jean Segura and Odubel Herrera. 

Kingery fared well in his return. There were no issues in the field, and at the plate he went 1 for 3 with a walk and a stolen base. The hit was a smooth line drive to left field in his first at-bat. 

With Herrera not providing much at the plate (.234 batting average, .297 OBP), Kingery will continue to see time in center field. It doesn’t make sense right now to sit Cesar Hernandez for him given how hot Hernandez has been for the last month. But Herrera and Maikel Franco are different stories. 

Kingery will not start Monday night in Chicago. The Phillies are monitoring his workload with him fresh off the IL. He will, however, likely start multiple games in the Cubs series. The Phillies face lefties Jose Quintana, Cole Hamels and Jon Lester in consecutive games Tuesday through Thursday. Seems like a logical spot to sit Herrera for Kingery. 

Kingery was hitting .406 when he was sidelined. He started the season looking like a completely different player than last season. 

“The most important thing (while I was out) was trying to keep my timing,” Kingery said after the Phillies’ 7-5 win over the Rockies Sunday. “As soon as I could pick up the bat I was in the cage, working on my swing, fastball machine, doing whatever I could, seeing live arms BP-wise and stood in on a few bullpens just to see some different pitches. That's about all you can do when you're hurt. I feel good now.”

Defensively, Kingery will face some adjustments. Center field is not his natural position nor does he have extensive experience there. But his speed, range and instincts give him a chance to be an above-average defender there. 

“I think the main goal is my arm slot has always been for an infielder,” Kingery said. “So I have to work at getting a little more over the top and get a little more carry on the ball. I'd say that's one of the most important things for me right now.”

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Bryce Harper back to feeling like Bryce Harper as Phillies head to the Midwest with something to prove

Bryce Harper back to feeling like Bryce Harper as Phillies head to the Midwest with something to prove

For a little while, all of those "What's wrong with Bryce Harper?" pieces can be shelved. 

Harper's not on the verge of breaking out of his slump. He's already broken out of it.

"It's not a close thing, I think he's there," manager Gabe Kapler said after the Phillies completed a weekend sweep of the visiting Rockies with a 7-5 win.

Harper had the game-winning home run, a 404-foot blast into the Phillies' bullpen to untie the game in the sixth inning (see observations). It was his second straight game with a homer and gave him four extra-base hits in his last three games. He's raised his slugging percentage by 47 points over that span.

"He might not get two hits and a home run tomorrow, but that doesn't mean he's not where he needs to be," Kapler said. "I think the home run that he hit to center field (Saturday) was the turning point and the moment where he started to feel more like Bryce."

In the all-important sixth inning Sunday, J.T. Realmuto tied the game with a pinch-hit home run off of a right-handed reliever and Harper followed three batters later with the deciding home run against a left-handed reliever. The inning highlighted how the Phillies' best hitters are equipped to deal with specialists from both sides. 

Realmuto's longball came against veteran reliever Bryan Shaw, who has lasted 10 years in the bigs because of his ability to retire right-handed hitters. Coming into Sunday, righties were 8 for 58 against Shaw, hitting .138.

Realmuto, like Rhys Hoskins, has reverse career platoon splits. Realmuto's hit .286 against righties with a .777 OPS compared to .250 vs. lefties with a .730 OPS. From 2016-18, Jean Segura and Realmuto ranked second and third in the majors, respectively, batting .292 and .291 against right-handed breaking balls.

The pitch Realmuto hit out from Shaw was not a breaking ball but a changeup. It was his first career pinch-hit home run and it came a few days after Kapler noted that Realmuto's power should be coming based on the quality of hard contact he'd been making.

Harper, meanwhile, took Dunn deep for the second time in a month. He is hitting .304/.407/.537 this season against lefties with six doubles and three homers.

Rare is the left-handed power hitter who doesn't have a major hole in his swing against lefties. Harper is that rare lefty. Last season, he had nine homers, 12 doubles and an .857 OPS against southpaws. The pace he's on this year is even better.

Harper knows he's faced Dunn a ton but doesn't pay attention to his career numbers against him or many other pitchers for that matter.

"He's always been a tough matchup for me," Harper said of Dunn. "Since I was younger, 2012, faced him my rookie year in the East when he was with Miami. Being able to face a guy like that, see his tendencies ... got him today.

"I just go with the feel. I don't really look at (the batter vs. pitcher matchup). Any given day, you could go out there and punch me out in three pitches, it's part of the game. Just gotta keep going. Any given day could be different."

In the span of three days, the Phillies removed the bad taste of the Brewers series from their mouths. They followed a season-high three straight losses with three straight wins. They head to Chicago leading the Braves by 2½ games, the Mets by 6½ games and the Nationals by 7½ games, pending Sunday night's result.

In Chicago, Harper's sample size of 54 plate appearances against lefties will grow. The Phillies face three straight lefties Tuesday through Thursday in Jose Quintana, Cole Hamels and Jon Lester.

The Phillies aren't looking past the Cubs, who are the hottest team in baseball. But they definitely have the following series circled.

"We're really looking forward to getting back at Milwaukee," said Jerad Eickhoff, who started Sunday's game. 

"We didn't put our best foot forward against them. We're gonna take care of Chicago first and go into Milwaukee with a chip on our shoulder."

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