NEW YORK -- The Phillies can’t win a series even when Mother Nature tries to give them one.
The Phils suffered a 6-4 loss to the New York Mets at rainy Citi Field on Sunday afternoon. The Mets scratched ace starting pitcher Jacob deGrom shortly before the first pitch, but the Phillies could not take advantage and were beaten by a cast of Mets’ relievers.
Vince Velasquez could not hold an early lead for the Phillies. Michael Conforto drove in four of the Mets’ runs.
The Phillies are 6-14 since Aug. 18. That is the worst record in the National League over that span. They lost two of three to the Mets. They have not won a series since sweeping the Marlins Aug. 2-5. The Phillies are 11-20 over that span.
The game was played in a steady rain. The loss put the Phillies in jeopardy of falling 4 ½ games behind first-place Atlanta in the NL East with 20 games to play. Atlanta was playing at Arizona.
Mets are Difference Makers in NL East
The Mets are buried in the standings, but they are having something to say about the division race.
The Phillies are 6-10 against the Mets this season.
The first-place Braves are 12-4 against the Mets.
Is .500 in jeopardy?
The Phillies were 15 games over .500 after sweeping the Marlins on Aug. 5.
Now, it’s reasonable to wonder if they will even finish .500. They are 74-68 overall, just six over.
Hoskins heating up
Rhys Hoskins continued to emerge from his slump. He powered a two-run homer over the wall in left to give the Phils a 2-0 lead in the top of the first inning. Hoskins’ third homer in as many games gave him 30 on the season. He is the Phillies’ first 30-homer guy since Ryan Howard in 2011. That’s a while.
Carlos Santana hit his 23rd home run with two outs in the ninth.
The slow fade
Phillies starter Velasquez began squandering his early lead in the bottom of the first inning when he allowed a leadoff triple to Amed Rosario and a one-out single to Conforto. Velasquez got away with a hit batsman and a walk, both with two outs, later in the inning, but they foreshadowed a rough day.
The lead totally disappeared in the bottom of the fifth inning when Velasquez faced four batters and failed to record an out. He gave up a leadoff double to Dominic Smith and hit Rosario with an 0-2 count before Jeff McNeil tied the game with a single. Conforto was the next batter and he popped a first-pitch fastball over the wall in left for a three-run homer to give the Mets a 5-2 lead.
Velasquez hit two batters, both with the count 0-2. One of them scored. Hector Neris walked Brandon Nimmo in the seventh. He scored.
Have a day
Conforto also came up big with his glove. The Mets leftfielder reached into the seats to catch a foul pop up by Carlos Santana to end the top of the sixth. The Phils had a run home in the inning and had two men on base. The clutch defensive play helped the Mets maintain a two-run lead heading into the bottom of the sixth.
A big break squandered
Because of the wet field, the Mets scratched deGrom shortly before game time. That was a huge break for the Phillies because deGrom leads the majors with a 1.68 ERA and has dominated them to the tune of 7-1/2.20 in 14 career starts.
The Phillies, of course, did not take advantage of the break.
Roman Quinn was out again because of a broken toe. He is confident he will play again before the season is over.
Nick Williams is the latest banged-up Phillie. He is fighting a sore shoulder. That is the reason manager Gabe Kapler went with Jose Bautista in right field.
The Phillies return home Monday night to open a nine-game homestand that will bring the Nationals, Marlins and Mets to town. First up, the Nationals. (The Phillies will miss Max Scherzer in the series). Here are the pitching matchups:
Monday night – RHP Jake Arrieta (10-9, 3.61) vs. RHP Tanner Roark (8-15, 4.23)
Tuesday night – RHP Nick Pivetta (7-11, 4.66) vs. RHP Stephen Strasburg (7-7, 4.04)
Wednesday night – RHP Aaron Nola (16-4, 2.29) vs. RHP Joe Ross (NR)