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.”