Phillies

Mets 6, Phillies 4: A golden opportunity squandered in another series loss

Mets 6, Phillies 4: A golden opportunity squandered in another series loss

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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.

Good-bye, lead

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.

Not good

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.

Health check

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.

Up next

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)

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Here's the scoop on Manny Machado's visit to Philly

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Here's the scoop on Manny Machado's visit to Philly

The Manny Machado Free Agent Tour is coming to Philadelphia.

Machado will be in town Thursday for a recruiting visit with Phillies officials, according to a person with knowledge of the situation.

The trip to Philadelphia is part of a busy week for the star infielder. Chicago-based baseball reporter Bruce Levine has reported that Machado will be in that city to visit with White Sox officials this week and George King of the New York Post reports that Machado will visit the Yankees in New York on Wednesday.

The Phillies have strong interest in signing Machado to be their third baseman. However, landing Machado will not be easy as the player has had a long desire to play for the Yankees. The Yankees could even offer Machado a chance to play shortstop, at least for part of the 2019 season, as Didi Gregorius recovers from elbow surgery. Machado is an elite defensive third baseman, but shortstop is his favorite position.

Though the Phillies favor Machado over Bryce Harper, this winter's other mega free agent, they remain interested and engaged with Harper and pursuit of the outfielder could intensify if they don't land Machado.

Earlier this offseason, the Phillies hosted pitcher Patrick Corbin for a recruiting visit at Citizens Bank Park. He also visited the Yankees and Washington Nationals and ended up signing a six-year deal with Washington.

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Why Andrew Miller would be better for Phillies than Zach Britton

Why Andrew Miller would be better for Phillies than Zach Britton

The Phillies should go get Andrew Miller.

They're pursuing him hard, two sources told Jim Salisbury Wednesday night. We know the Phillies are also after Zach Britton, but if forced to choose between the two, it should be Miller all the way.

Miller, when healthy, is the best left-handed reliever in baseball. From 2014-17, he made 260 appearances and had a 1.72 ERA with 421 strikeouts in 261 innings. There was simply no weakness in his game over those four years. Nobody hit him. Few players homered off him. He had an elite walk rate. Batters from both sides struggled mightily.

Miller's 2018 season was incomplete because of three different injuries to his shoulder, knee and hamstring. In 37 games, he had a 4.24 ERA and every peripheral number was worse. He appeared in two playoff games, allowing three walks and a hit while recording one out.

The biggest consideration is Miller's health. He was recently given a clean bill of health from Mets team doctor David Altchek, who once gave Roy Halladay a second opinion on his shoulder and performed surgery on Sixers legend Andrew Bynum.

If Miller is indeed fully healthy, he would significantly improve the Phillies' ability to prevent runs. A healthy Miller would be closer to that dominant 2014-17 stretch because his repertoire remains the same. 

He still has a funky, whip-like delivery with a low arm slot that deceives hitters and keeps them uncomfortable. Most lefty hitters have no chance.

He still has a mid-90s fastball and a devastating slider. How devastating? From 2014-17, Miller's opponents hit .118 against the slider. They made an out in 550 of the 612 at-bats ending in his slider.

The reasons to like Miller go even beyond that, though. He also has stamina and the willingness to pitch in any role, which Gabe Kapler of all managers would love. Sixth inning, seventh inning, ninth inning, whatever. Miller just wants to pitch in high-leverage situations.

From 2014-17, Miller went more than one inning 61 times. In the 2016 playoffs with the Indians, he went at least two innings seven times. Re-read that sentence. He went at least two innings seven times. There's just no other reliever used this way, except maybe Josh Hader in 2018.

If the Phillies get Miller, the combo of Miller and Seranthony Dominguez would be one of baseball's most unique bullpen duos. They possess different strengths, and it's a good mix of youthful energy and veteran experience.

The addition of Miller would obviously help the Phillies a ton against tough lefties, but he's far from a platoon specialist. From 2013-17, righties hit between .131 and .155 off Miller each season.

Britton is no slouch, but a healthy Miller is better, with more versatility.

What kind of contract might it take? Well, Jeurys Familia found $30 million over three years from the Mets, and Joe Kelly is set to receive $25 million over three years from the Dodgers. Miller is coming off a four-year, $36 million contract with Cleveland. Something like three years, $36 million seems about right this time around.

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