Jacob deGrom

Gabe Kapler is more concerned with in-house improvements than the trade deadline, and he got them Friday night

Gabe Kapler is more concerned with in-house improvements than the trade deadline, and he got them Friday night

NEW YORK — Phillies manager Gabe Kapler was asked about the approaching July 31 trade deadline before Friday night’s game against the New York Mets.

And why not?

The Phils have recently been headed in the wrong direction in the standings and they clearly have needs.

They could use a starting pitcher, a back-end bullpen arm and even a bat. (How ‘bout Mets third baseman Todd Frazier as a three-month rental?)

Kapler, as he is wont to do, deferred to the front office when the subject of the Phillies’ needs came up. He said he was pouring his energy into the players currently in his clubhouse, “trying to find ways to help the players who have track records of success perform to their capability and helping the young players develop at the most rapid possible pace.”

He added that improvements needed to come from within first.

“We need to get healthy, stay healthy, reduce the number of homers we’re giving up, walk fewer batters, slug a little bit more, reach base a little bit more,” Kapler said. “I can point to lots of areas where we should and need to improve.”

As if on cue, the Phils improved in several of these areas later Friday night as they rallied to beat the Mets, 7-2, at Citi Field (see observations)

The pitching staff gave up just one home run, a big victory considering it had been tagged for eight of them the previous two nights in Atlanta.

Five Phillies pitchers walked just one batter in nine innings.

Relievers Tommy Hunter and Adam Morgan continued to get healthy and combined on two scoreless innings.

And Scott Kingery, J.T. Realmuto, Jean Segura and Bryce Harper did some slugging.

You can scoff if you want because the Mets are the only team the Phillies have been able to beat with any consistency lately. (The Phils have won just seven of their last 18 games and five have come against the Mets.) But this was a big win because the Phillies need to stop the spiral of losing that has recently plagued them and it came on a night when they were facing one of the best pitchers on the planet in 2018 NL Cy Young winner Jacob deGrom.

“Pretty big win for us,” Kapler said. “Look, when you're facing Jacob deGrom, you know that it's going to be a dog fight. He brought every bit of what he normally brings. Our guys just stood in there and battled.

“A really good, all-around team win with contributions from a great many people.”

The Phillies scored six runs in the final three innings to erase a 2-1 deficit. Realmuto had important doubles in the seventh and ninth innings. His double against deGrom in the seventh helped tie the game. His double in the ninth against Edwin Diaz began a decisive five-run rally that featured big hits by Segura, Harper, Sean Rodriguez and Jay Bruce.

The Phillies needed this win so badly that Kapler used his most trusted reliever — Hector Neris — with a five-run lead in the ninth.

“We wanted to lock down this game,” Kapler said.

Starter Vince Velasquez gave the Phils five solid, walk-free innings and the bullpen combined on four scoreless innings.

The game began with Kingery ambushing deGrom’s first pitch, a 98-mph heater, and sending it into the second deck above left field, 433 feet away from home plate. DeGrom retired 15 of the next 16 batters, allowing only a walk, and did not allow his second hit until the seventh inning.

The Phils face another power arm in Noah Syndergaard on Saturday night.

Jake Arrieta will make his final start before the All-Star break for the Phils.

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Phillies 7, Mets 2: Phillies break through against Mets' bullpen after struggling to hit Jacob deGrom

Phillies 7, Mets 2: Phillies break through against Mets' bullpen after struggling to hit Jacob deGrom

BOX SCORE 

NEW YORK — If only the Phillies could play the New York Mets every night.

On a night when the Phils had just one hit through six innings, they managed some late offense and pulled out a 7-2 win over the Mets at Citi Field.

The Phillies have won just seven of their last 18 games. Five of those wins have come against the Mets.

Coming in, the odds were stacked against the Phils as they had to face Jacob deGrom, the 2018 NL Cy Young winner.

DeGrom was tough. He struck out 10. But the Phils rallied to tie the game against him in the seventh. They took the lead against Edwin Diaz in the ninth. J.T. Realmuto led off the inning with a double, his second of the game, and scored on a base hit by Jay Bruce. Sean Rodriguez, Jean Segura and Bryce Harper all had hits to pad the lead.

Manager Gabe Kapler used his closer, Hector Neris, to get the final three outs in a five-run game. Kapler had previously used Adam Morgan, Tommy Hunter and Jose Alvarez for scoreless relief work. The skipper’s trust level in the rest of the bullpen is clearly pretty low.

The Phillies entered the game in third place in the NL East, 6 ½ games behind first-place Atlanta.

Big power

Scott Kingery showed some big power when he launched the first pitch of the game into the second deck above left field. Kingery was clearly looking to ambush a first-pitch fastball from deGrom and he got one. It came in at 98 mph, left the bat at 106 mph and traveled 433 feet.

DeGrom is de goods

Kingery’s leadoff homer apparently did not sit well with deGrom. He retired 15 of the next 16 hitters, allowing only a walk, and did not give up his second hit of the night until the seventh inning.

The Phillies tied the game in that inning on a walk, a double by Realmuto and an RBI infield hit by Cesar Hernandez. They eventually put runners on second and third with two outs. Having already used lefty-hitting Brad Miller as a pinch-hitter, Kapler used switch-hitter Andrew Knapp as the pinch-hitter. DeGrom struck out Knapp and the Phils left two men in scoring position in a tie game.

An inning later, Rhys Hoskins took a called third strike from Seth Lugo with a runner on second to end a threat. The Phils finally erupted in the ninth against the Mets’ bullpen.

Velasquez’ night

Phillies starter Vince Velasquez pitched five innings and did a good job on everyone not named Pete Alonso. Alonso clubbed his 29th homer in the fourth and doubled home a run in the fifth. Velasquez got the first two outs in the fifth then gave up a two-out hit to Jeff McNeil to set up Alonso’s double.

Manager Gabe Kapler would not commit to Velasquez getting another start after the All-Star break, but the right-hander’s performance, coupled with the fact the Phillies don’t have many options, will probably get him another one.

Long ball lunacy

The Phillies only gave up one home run, not bad considering they were tagged for eight the previous two nights in Atlanta. The Phils have allowed 151 homers, most in the NL, in 88 games.

Suspended

Odubel Herrera has been disciplined (see story).

Transaction

Reliever Austin Davis was sent back to Triple A Lehigh Valley and Yacksel Rios was recalled.

Up next

The series continues on Saturday night. Jake Arrieta (8-6, 4.43) opposes Noah Syndergaard (5-4, 4.56).

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Mets' Jacob deGrom wins NL Cy Young Award as Phillies' Aaron Nola comes in 3rd

Mets' Jacob deGrom wins NL Cy Young Award as Phillies' Aaron Nola comes in 3rd

New York Mets ace Jacob deGrom was the landslide winner of the National League Cy Young Award when the results were announced on Wednesday night.

Max Scherzer of the Washington Nationals finished second in the voting and Phillies ace Aaron Nola placed third.

DeGrom received 29 of a possible 30 first-place votes from members of the Baseball Writers Association of America. Scherzer, a three-time Cy Young winner, received one first-place vote.

Nola received 27 third-place votes, two fourth-place votes and one fifth-place vote to easily outdistance Colorado's Kyle Freeland, the fourth-place finisher in the NL.

DeGrom, 30, had just 10 wins, fewest ever by a Cy Young-winning starting pitcher in a full season, for a Mets club that finished eight games under .500. However, he led the majors with a brilliant 1.70 ERA.

Nola, 25, was the Phillies’ first-round draft pick in 2014. He blossomed into an ace in his fourth season in the majors in 2018. He finished second in the NL in ERA (2.37) and third in innings (212 1/3) and WHIP (0.97).

Scherzer, 34, led the majors in innings (220 2/3) and strikeouts (300) in 2018 while recording  a 2.53 ERA, the second best of his career.

Nola became the first Phillie to finish in the top 10 of the NL Cy Young voting since Cole Hamels placed sixth in 2014. The last Phillies to finish in the top three were Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee, who finished second and third, respectively, in 2011. Halladay won the award in 2010.

Tampa Bay’s Blake Snell won the American League Award over Houston’s Justin Verlander and Cleveland’s Corey Kluber.

Here's the breakdown of the National League voting, courtesy of BBWAA.com:

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