Phillies

Questionable calls, miscues set stage for walk-off HR in Phillies' extra-inning loss to Mets

Questionable calls, miscues set stage for walk-off HR in Phillies' extra-inning loss to Mets

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NEW YORK – The New York Mets don’t have much to feel good about this season other than Jacob deGrom and Brandon Nimmo.

Those two did a job on the Phillies on Wednesday night.

DeGrom held the Phillies scoreless over eight innings and Nimmo came off the bench to slug a three-run home run against Mark Leiter Jr. in the bottom of the 10th inning.

Nimmo’s homer, the 13th of his breakout season, lifted the Mets to a 3-0 win on a night when the Phillies also received an excellent effort from their starting pitcher, Vince Velasquez (see first take).

“Super tough loss, but I thought Vinny went toe to toe with one of the best pitchers in baseball and held his own,” Phillies manager Gabe Kapler said. “Not just held his own but he was simply dominant.”

Velasquez, who spent the previous 10 days on the disabled list after taking a line drive off his right forearm, gave up just two hits over six scoreless innings. He walked one and struck out three. He threw a very economical 85 pitches.

DeGrom gave up just five hits, walked one and struck out seven. He lowered his ERA to 1.68 – the best mark in the majors.

“We had a hard time getting the offense going off one of the best pitchers in baseball,” Kapler said. “You have to tip your cap to their pitchers. They did a good job of shutting down our offense. And that really is the story of the game.”

The Phillies ended up splitting the four-game series with the Mets. The Phils are 51-40, tied for first place with Atlanta in the NL East, heading into Baltimore for a makeup game with the Orioles on Thursday.

Despite being shut down by the Mets’ pitchers, the Phillies had some chances. They had a replay challenge on a catch/trap in centerfield go against them in the seventh inning, erasing what would have given two men on base and one out against deGrom.

And in the top of the 10th inning, Andrew Knapp ran into the third out on the bases. Knapp got too aggressive rounding second on an infield hit by Cesar Hernandez. Third baseman Jose Reyes did not make a throw on the play and caught Knapp rounding second. If Knapp doesn’t get caught, the Phillies would have had runners at first and second with one out for Rhys Hoskins.

“I was trying to be aggressive,” Knapp said afterward. “I didn't think it was a for-sure hit play. I thought he would make a throw to first base. I saw the arm go. I was really trying to get to third base so Rhys could just get a nice base hit and we could score a run. Just a little bit too aggressive.”

Kapler supported Knapp.

“It certainly stung,” Kapler said of the play. “We teach aggressiveness and in many ways that play was aggressive. Knappy is coming around second base, he's looking for the ball moving towards first base. If it goes towards first base, which is what he is expecting in his mind, he stands on third base and we're in a great position to score on a passed ball. He wasn't able to see the ball out of hand. He just saw the arm and made an aggressive play. I stand behind him.”

Knapp, the Phillies’ catcher, was in the center of it all again in the bottom of the 10th after Leiter allowed a two-out double to Amed Rosario and a full-count walk to Jose Reyes to bring up Nimmo, who did not start the ballgame but is having a big year with an OPS of .894.

The Phillies’ dugout believed that Reyes swung at Leiter’s full-count changeup. The umpires ruled that Reyes checked his swing and Nimmo came up and ambushed a first-pitch curveball for the win.

“I thought he went, yeah,” Knapp said of Reyes’ check swing. “I think a lot of guys go, just from my point of view. But, yeah, it's such a judgment call. That umpire thought he didn't go.”

Leiter, dejected after the loss, was not sure whether Reyes swung or not.

“Maybe he went,” he said. “But that’s part of it and I have to get the next guy. Didn’t get it. You have to give Nimmo credit. That was a great swing. Good for him. Good job by him.”

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Bryce Harper plays MLB The Show 19 on NBC's 'The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon'

Bryce Harper plays MLB The Show 19 on NBC's 'The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon'

With the Phillies in New York this week playing a drama-filled series against the Mets, Bryce Harper paid a visit to NBC's "The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon."

Harper's segment aired Wednesday night, a little over an hour after Rhys Hoskins purposefully strolled around the Citi Field bases following a statement home run off of Mets pitcher Jacob Rhame (see story).

So it's fitting Harper and Fallon duked it out in a Home Run Derby on MLB The Show 19, the video game in which the Phillies' 13-year, $330 million man dons the cover.

Fallon tried rattling Harper. Not happening.

"You suck, you suck, you suck," Fallon said in the slugger's face.

"That's fine," Harper said. "I heard it a lot worse last night."

Fallon used Aaron Judge in Yankee Stadium … no advantage there.

Harper went with the sly move of knocking the controller out of Fallon's hands.

It sort of worked.

Ultimately, Harper's visit to Fallon was not victorious. But it did go better than Gritty's trip.

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Rhys Hoskins, Phillies get their retaliation against Mets in an even more satisfying way

Rhys Hoskins, Phillies get their retaliation against Mets in an even more satisfying way

NEW YORK — Roman Quinn's groin strain aside, the Phillies needed a night like this. 

They blanked the Mets, 6-0, Wednesday for their first shutout win of the season (see observations).

They finally cashed in with runners in scoring position to break the game open, something they failed to do for most of their 2-5 road trip through Colorado and New York.

They got a strong starting pitching performance from Vince Velasquez and solid work from four different relievers who took down an inning apiece.

And they had their dramatic moment late in the game when Rhys Hoskins exacted revenge on fringe major-league pitcher Jacob Rhame 24 hours after seeing two high-90s fastballs whiz past his head. Hoskins took Rhame deep to left field ... and then took his time strolling the bases.

Hoskins' trot around the bases needs to be seen in entirety to fully appreciate.

"Oh yeah, I enjoyed the moment," he said postgame. "I just enjoyed the moment. I think to put an exclamation point on a win like that when we really needed it, I think that's what everyone in here is most excited about."

The situation was reminiscent of Chase Utley vs. Jonathan Sanchez in San Francisco in the summer of 2009. Sanchez threw a ball over Utley's head, earned a glare from the stoic second baseman, and Utley homered a few pitches later.

"If a ball goes over your head the night before, the best way to get back at the pitcher is to put the ball in the seats," manager Gabe Kapler said. "I think it was worthy of Rhys having that moment and soaking it all in. He deserved that. He earned it."

Did Hoskins care that the Mets may take offense? Hoskins isn't one for one-word answers, but he was in this case.

"No," he said flatly.

Does he care that there seems to be some bad blood brewing between the Phillies and Mets?

"I think that's what a rivalry is," he said. "I think there's always going to be a little bit of bad blood in a rivalry."

The home run was Hoskins' seventh of the season. It gave the Phillies the last word in a series they lost, and it gives the Mets a little something to chew on during the two-month period before these teams meet again.

The Quinn injury was a sour subplot on an otherwise cathartic evening for the Phillies. He strained his groin legging out a perfectly executed safety squeeze, which enabled the Phillies to expand their lead in the eighth inning. The guy just can't catch a break. Injury after injury. On top of the 3-for-25 start to the season, which included 14 strikeouts.

"I ran out there and I just couldn't believe it," Kapler said of watching Quinn get hurt again. "He's worked so hard to get back. I really feel for Roman. It's nothing he's doing. His body's just not responding. We keep thinking about different ways we can keep him healthy and all he wants to do is get going and stay going. It's tough. I really want the best for Roman."

The Phillies over this last week dealt with injuries, flat offensive performances, a blown extra-inning lead with one strike remaining, an ejection to their best player and two near misses on beanballs. It all came without the respite of an off day. 

"This was a long, hard road trip," Kapler understated. 

Now the Phillies come back home to take on the Marlins for four games. Success against the Marlins may determine this tight NL East. The division has played out as expected through the season's first month. The Phillies, Mets, Braves and Nationals are separated by 1½ games and the Marlins are already 10 games under .500.

Between the Marlins series, an off-day Monday, two games with the offensively-challenged Tigers and another off-day, the Phillies have a chance to quickly put the frustrations of this road trip behind them. If they take care of the business they should take care of.

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