The Phillies are losing ground in the National League wild-card race.
They suffered a brutal 11-5 loss to the New York Mets at Citizens Bank Park on Friday night. The defeat dropped the Phillies to 3 ½ games behind the Chicago Cubs for the second wild-card spot with 29 games to play.
The Phils entered play Tuesday night just a game back in the wild-card chase.
Friday night’s loss was troubling on a couple of counts: The Mets had lost six in a row coming in. Also, the Phillies wasted a second straight solid start from Aaron Nola because they couldn’t generate enough offense. Mets starter Zack Wheeler held the Phils to one run over six innings. The Phils scored four garbage-time runs in the ninth.
The Phillies’ bullpen, with the exception of Jose Alvarez, did not do the job.
Mike Morin and Jared Hughes, both picked up in recent weeks after being cut loose by Minnesota and Cincinnati, respectively, combined to give up five runs in the top of eighth inning as the Mets broke a 1-1 tie. The Mets scored five more in the ninth to salt it away.
The Phillies ace turned in another strong outing — 6 1/3 innings, four hits, one run, two walks, seven strikeouts.
Nola rattled off six shutout innings and gave up just two hits before tiring in the seventh and allowing three of the first four batters in that inning to reach base. The fifth batter, pinch-hitter Wilson Ramos, drove a pinch-hit single up the middle to tie the game.
Nola then got a huge assist from lefty reliever Alvarez, who came on and got two outs with the bases loaded to keep the game tied at 1-1.
The awful eighth
Morin entered a tie game in the eighth and allowed three singles, a walk and two run as the Mets broke a 1-1 tie. Manager Gabe Kapler then went to Hughes as Todd Frazier came to the plate with two men on base. Frazier, 30 for 162 (.185) since the All-Star break, hit Hughes’ second pitch into the left field seats for a three-run homer.
Frazier hit another three-run homer (against Edgar Garcia) in the ninth.
What about that sinker?
Hughes has not been good since joining the Phillies after being waived by the Reds. He has faced 27 batters and given up four homers, not a good ratio for any pitcher, but especially for a sinkerballer.
How ‘bout some runs?
It would be nice if the Phillies could get Nola some run support. He had one bad inning Sunday in Miami and lost, 3-2. He went seven innings in that game. The Phils scored just one run with Nola in the game in this one. They nearly had two runs behind Nola, but Mets left fielder J.D. Davis threw out Corey Dickerson at the plate to end the fifth inning as he tried to score from second.
Nola vs. the Mets
In his last 11 starts against the Mets, Nola has allowed just 17 earned runs in 68 2/3 innings for a 2.23 ERA.
Not too shabby.
Rhys Hoskins continued to show signs of emerging from a hellacious second-half slump. He had two singles and flied out deep to right in his first three at-bats.
Hoskins entered Wednesday night’s game hitting .166 since the All-Star break. He doubled and tripled in that game.
It goes without saying that the Phils could really use a hot Hoskins over the final month.
Actually, it’s a necessity.
Rosters expand on Sunday. The Phillies are expected to activate Jay Bruce from the injured list at that time. He will serve as a bat off the bench. The Phils are expected to call up several other players next week.
The Phillies will send Jason Vargas (6-6, 4.09) to the mound Saturday afternoon to face Mets lefty Steven Matz (8-8, 4.06). Game time is 4:05.
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