Phillies doomed by defense, a bad call and a hanging splitter


The Phillies' inability to win two games in a row becomes a little more remarkable every day.

They began the month of May with a 5-4 loss to the New York Mets at Citizens Bank Park on Saturday night.

The Phils entered the game in first place in the NL East after a 2-1 win over the Mets on Friday night. The Phils have not won two games in a row since the third and fourth games of the season, a span of 23 games.

After trailing 4-0 in the first inning, the Phillies battled back to tie this one in the bottom of the sixth inning.

The Mets got a solo homer from Michael Conforto leading off the top of the ninth inning to break the tie.

Conforto's homer came on the second pitch he saw from Hector Neris, an 0-1 splitter that hung up in the zone.

The Phils, now 13-14, were once again hurt by poor defense, a season-long weakness, and a blown call by second base umpire Jose Navas in the bottom of the seventh did not help.

Manager Joe Girardi used the word "terrible" to describe the call.

"It might have cost us the game," he said.

Phillies starter Zack Wheeler had an eventful start. He needed 31 pitches to get through the top of the first inning and allowed four runs on two doubles, two singles, a hit batsman and a walk. Two of the runs scored when Andrew McCutchen totally missed a Conforto line drive that went for a double. 


"He just missed it," Girardi said. "He didn't make any excuses."

Nonetheless, Wheeler wasn't right in the first inning. He was hit hard and being down 4-0 was not good math for the Phillies, who entered the game averaging 3.73 runs per game, which ranked 26th in the majors.

Though he looked primed for an early exit, Wheeler made a tremendous turnaround after the first inning. He threw just 33 pitches over the next three innings and pitched through the seventh, allowing just three more hits and no more runs.

"I don't know why," Wheeler said of his first-inning struggles. "I wish I could have fixed it earlier."

Wheeler kept his team in the game and that allowed for the Phillies to chip away at Taijuan Walker. The Phils scored twice in the second inning — Wheeler knocked in one of the runs — and came all the way back to tie it on Alec Bohm's two-run homer in the bottom of the sixth.

After tying the game, the Phils nearly got something going in the seventh but a horrendous call by Nava took them out of that inning. Navas ruled McCutchen out of the baseline as McCutchen ran to second on a ground ball. Replays showed McCutchen ran in a straight line. The call was not reviewable.

Girardi and the Phillies' dugout were irate over the call. Bryce Harper, who was out of the lineup, was ejected for voicing his disapproval of the call.


Wheeler opened the game with a quick strikeout of Brandon Nimmo, but that was hardly a harbinger of things to come, at least in the first inning.

The right-hander labored through the inning. He had poor command and seemed to work at a slow pace. Twelve of his first 22 pitches were balls. 

After striking out Nimmo, Wheeler hit Francisco Lindor with a slider in the dirt. The next five batters all reached base on a walk, two doubles and two singles as the Mets ran out to a 4-0 lead. Of course, one of the doubles was the catchable ball that McCutchen missed.

Only a 3-6-1 double play, started nicely by Rhys Hoskins, got Wheeler out of the inning.

Wheeler had plenty of pop on his fastball in the first inning, so health wasn't an issue. His command was just off. One of those nights.

With J.T. Realmuto out of the starting lineup for the second day in a row with a sore right hand — he took a ball off the base of the hand trying to block a wild pitch on Thursday — Wheeler was paired with Andrew Knapp for the first time this season. If there was any issue in the two connecting, it certainly disappeared after the first inning.

Wheeler and Knapp worked together in three games last season and the right-hander had a 3.15 ERA over 20 innings in those games.

It's not clear whether Realmuto will return for the series finale Sunday night. Zach Eflin will get the start in that one.


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