The Phillies continue to play wasteful baseball. They wasted a strong start from Aaron Nola in losing to the New York Mets on Friday night. On Saturday, they came back and squandered several good scoring chances in suffering a 6-3 loss to the Mets.
The Phils (69-64) wasted one more thing Saturday: A chance to pick up a game on the Chicago Cubs for the last spot in the NL wild card race. The Cubs lost to Milwaukee but still lead the Phillies by 3 ½ games. The Phils have 28 games left.
Phillies hitters went 1 for 9 with runners in scoring position and left eight men on base. Phillies hitters struck out 12 times, including three times with a runner in scoring position.
The Mets were backed by a large and vocal contingent of their fans in the crowd of 40,690. They stood and cheered loudly as Seth Lugo got J.T. Realmuto to ground out to end the game.
Too many base runners
Phillies starter Jason Vargas stranded four base runners in the first two innings as he did a good job limiting early damage. But Vargas allowed 13 base runners in four-plus innings of work and that was not going to work very long. He faced four batters in the fifth inning and all reached base on a single, a walk and back-to-back doubles. Vargas left trailing, 5-1. He gave up nine hits, including three doubles, three walks and hit a batter. Vargas, acquired from the Mets in July, has allowed 19 earned runs in 33 innings pitched (5.18 ERA) with the Phillies.
The Phillies did not take advantage of a big chance to take control of the game in the bottom of the sixth inning. Bryce Harper led off the frame with a solo homer, his 29th, to cut the Mets’ lead to 5-2. The Phils then proceeded to load the bases on an error and two singles against Steven Matz.
Bases loaded. No outs. One run in.
The Mets brought in lefty Luis Avilan to turn Cesar Hernandez around to the right side. Hernandez lined out to third base with Todd Frazier making a leaping grab on a ball that came off the bat at 89 mph. Pinch-hitter Andrew Knapp then worked a walk to bring home a run and make it a two-run game for Adam Haseley. The thing the Phillies could not afford most was a double play and that’s just what Haseley bounced into to end the inning.
Down two runs in the bottom of the seventh, the Phils got a leadoff double from Jean Segura. He did not move off of second as relievers Jeurys Familia and Justin Wilson carved through Realmuto, Harper and Logan Morrison.
The Phillies’ bullpen, hammered for 10 runs the night before, did a good job keeping the game close, Blake Parker, Ranger Suarez and Jared Hughes, in particular.
Something to keep an eye on
Corey Dickerson, who had 24 RBIs in the month of August, appeared to injury his right hand or wrist on a check swing in the eighth inning. He was checked by athletic trainer Scott Sheridan and stayed in the game. He struck out and was seen flexing his hand as if in discomfort as he walked back to the dugout. The Phils have little margin for error in the final month of the season. Losing Dickerson for any period of time would hurt badly.
Usually mild-mannered Rhys Hoskins was ejected for the first time in his career for arguing a called third strike with home plate umpire Will Little in the third inning. Hoskins spiked his helmet at home plate and said a few choice words to Little.
Hoskins had a point. The call stunk. The pitch was up and out of the strike zone and Harper died at second base in what was still a one-run game.
Rosters expand on Sunday. The Phillies are expected to bring up several players from the minors this week, starting with Jay Bruce. He is expected to come off the injured list and be available as a bat off the bench Sunday night.
The series concludes Sunday night with a nationally televised game. Zach Eflin (8-11, 4.50) pitches against Marcus Stroman, who is 1-1 with a 4.91 ERA in five starts with the Mets.
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