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

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


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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10 years ago today: Unheralded Ryan Madson key to Phillies' World Series run

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10 years ago today: Unheralded Ryan Madson key to Phillies' World Series run

Ten years ago this month, the Phillies won their second World Series title in franchise history. Over the next few weeks, Jim Salisbury will look back at the team's run through the NLCS and World Series.

Baseball is an everyday game of rhythm and momentum and when a team is riding a good wave the last thing it wants is a day off. The Phillies got six of them between their NLCS clincher in Los Angeles and Game 1 of the World Series in St. Petersburg.

The Tampa Bay Rays had advanced to the World Series by beating the favored Boston Red Sox in the ALCS and they were a majors-best 57-24 at home.

So heading into Tropicana Field, the Phillies needed a quick start for a lot of reasons, mostly to knock off any rust that had accumulated after a weeklong layoff. They got it from two of the offensive forces of their team. Jayson Werth drew a one-out walk against Scott Kazmir in the first inning and Chase Utley followed with a two-run homer to give the Phillies the quick lead they needed. The Phils manufactured a run in the fourth to go up, 3-0, and pitching and defense made it all stand up for a 3-2 win. (The pitching and defense had to be good because Phillies' hitters were 0 for 13 with runners in scoring position and stranded 11 men.)

The starting pitching matchup featured two exciting, young lefties. Kazmir had been the 15th overall pick in the 2002 draft. Cole Hamels was the 17th overall pick. Hamels continued his breakout month with seven innings of two-run ball to improve to 4-0 in that postseason. In 29 innings, he'd struck out 27 and allowed just five runs to that point.

Hamels got some assists in this one. Manager Charlie Manuel liked to use slick-fielding Pedro Feliz at third base behind lefties Hamels and Jamie Moyer. The move paid off when Feliz made a big play to start a clutch 5-4-3 double play to get Hamels out of a bases-loaded jam in the third.

Brad Lidge wrapped it up with his sixth save of the postseason but before that Ryan Madson logged a scoreless eighth inning. To that point in the postseason, he'd pitched 10 innings and given up just one run.

Late in the season, Madson became a demon out of the bullpen for 2008 Phillies. Something clicked for him. His shoulder, which had bothered him a year earlier, got healthy and he became more serious about his craft. He gained confidence and attacked hitters with a high-90s fastball and a knee-buckling changeup. So many things came together for that championship team. Madson's emergence might have been overshadowed at times, but it was huge.

"Ryan's confidence is like a closer's right now," Lidge said after the Game 1 win. "He's learned how to dominate guys."

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Previously in this series

Reds name former Phillies third baseman David Bell manager

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Reds name former Phillies third baseman David Bell manager

A former Phillies third baseman has landed his first MLB managing job in Cincinnati, and no, it's not Scott Rolen.

The Reds on Sunday morning named David Bell their next manager and will introduce the former Phillie on Monday afternoon. It's a three-year contract with a club option for a fourth.

Bell was the Giants' vice president of player development in 2018 and previously managed the Reds' minor-league system. He managed Cincinnati's Double A affiliate, the Carolina Mudcats, from 2009-11 and then its Triple Affiliate, the Louisville Bats, in 2011. Bell, a Cincinnati native, was reportedly up for the  Blue Jays and Rangers manager jobs.

Phillies fans will remember Bell from his four-year, $17 million contract he signed with the team in the winter of 2002. Bell never duplicated the success he had with San Francisco here. He had an abysmal first season here, hitting just .195 in 85 games. He bounced back the next year for a respectable .291/.363/.458 slash line with 18 homers and 77 RBIs, but that was as good as it got.

The Phillies were able to move on from Bell in 2006, trading the third baseman to the Brewers.

But now the 46-year-old has worked his way up the coaching ranks and has a chance to manage the team he grew up rooting for. That doesn't happen too often.

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