jorge alfaro

Phillies 5, Mets 2: Aaron Nola zeroing in on history

Phillies 5, Mets 2: Aaron Nola zeroing in on history

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After five futile innings against left-hander Steven Matz, the Phillies finally broke out for five runs in the sixth inning Tuesday against the Mets' bullpen.

Using extra men paid off for Gabe Kapler in the 5-2 win. A pinch-hit RBI single from Wilson Ramos and a pinch-hit RBI double from Justin Bour preceded Jorge Alfaro's three-run home run.

The moves resulted in J.P. Crawford and Scott Kingery leaving midway through the game, but the Phillies are desperate for runs and wins. Kapler will continue to employ "every marginal advantage," as he puts it.

Some fans sneer at what they consider over-managing, but there's not much of a debate that Ramos is a better hitter than Crawford and Bour is a better hitter than Kingery. If Crawford and Kingery would have made outs to end that inning, many would be asking, "Why not go to Ramos or Bour there?"

Aaron Nola started but did not get a decision. He was pulled with two outs in the sixth as his pitch count rose above triple-digits.

Carlos Santana reached base all four times with two singles and two walks. He's up to .234/.358/.426 on the season.

The Phillies are 77-73. With the Braves' 8-1 loss to the Cardinals, the Phillies are 5½ games back in the NL East.

Nola chasing history

The month of September has reminded us that Nola is, indeed, human.

For the third time in four starts this month, Nola couldn't make it out of the sixth inning. He didn't pitch poorly but wasn't at his best, allowing two runs to the Mets over 5⅔ innings with nine strikeouts.

The Phils are 5-1 against the Mets this season when Nola starts and 2-10 when anyone else does.

Nola is up to 199⅓ innings on the season. His opponents are hitting .201. No Phillies pitcher in more than 100 years has pitched at least 200 innings in a season and held his opponents under .200.

"It speaks to durability," Kapler said. "Look, if you're the best option for your team, more times than not, the manager is going to give you the opportunity to take down an additional inning.

"Almost always, Nola feels like the best option to get the next three hitters out. Piling up 200 innings is a huge accomplishment."

Nola's next start, No. 32, will be this Sunday in Atlanta. He'll face the Braves in both of his remaining starts.

Hurt by his counterpart

Nola was taken deep by opposing pitcher Steven Matz, who homered for the second consecutive start.

It was the first home run Nola has allowed to a pitcher since his MLB debut back on July 21, 2015 against Tampa Bay's Nate Karns.

The homer came after Nola had retired seven of the first eight hitters, five via the punchout. It was the eighth homer Nola has allowed in his last four starts after giving up just eight in his previous 27 starts.

Matz walked five but shut the Phillies out over five innings.

Up next

The last Phillies-Mets game of 2018 is Wednesday evening at 6:05.

Zach Eflin (10-7, 4.26) opposes Noah Syndergaard (12-3, 3.26).

The Phillies have hit .348 vs. Syndergaard in three games this season. He has a 5.51 ERA against them.

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Marlins 2, Phillies 1: Failure to take advantage of a huge opportunity

Marlins 2, Phillies 1: Failure to take advantage of a huge opportunity

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MIAMI — The Phillies wasted a golden chance to make up ground in the NL East race on Wednesday night.

The Phils were manhandled by Miami Marlins rookie right-hander Sandy Alcantara in a costly 2-1 loss.

Alcantara, in just his second big-league start, held the Phils to three hits over seven scoreless innings.

The loss kept the Phillies three games behind first-place Atlanta with 23 games to play.

Atlanta lost earlier in the day, but the Phillies could not capitalize.

The Phillies lost the series to Miami. They have not won a series since Aug. 2-5.

Offense continues to be an issue for the Phillies. They have scored two or fewer runs in five of their last six games.

A big chance
Yes, Phillies players watched the Braves-Red Sox game in the clubhouse before their game. Yes, they saw the Sox come back from a 7-1 deficit to stun the Braves. The Braves’ loss gave the Phils a chance to cut their deficit in the division to two games and manager Gabe Kapler managed this one with playoff-level urgency. Down 2-0 in the top of the fifth inning and looking for offense, he used Odubel Herrera as a pinch-hitter for starting pitcher Nick Pivetta. Herrera grounded into a double play.

Looking for offense
Kapler’s desire to get some offense could be seen in his starting lineup. He sacrificed defense for offense in giving Carlos Santana his first start at third base in four years. That allowed him to get Justin Bour’s bat in the lineup at first base. Bour batted second. “This is a lineup top-heavy in on-base potential,” Kapler said before the game. “We feel like our lineup has a chance to score some runs tonight.” The plan was to substitute with stronger defense if the Phils got a lead, but they never did.

Free passes kill
The Marlins' two runs, both against Pivetta, initially reached base on a leadoff walk and a leadoff hit batsman. Ouch.

A costly play on the bases
Down 2-0, the Phils got a leadoff single from Roman Quinn in the eighth. Santana then hit a line drive to second and Quinn was doubled off first. It was a killer play because Jose Bautista then came off the bench and stroked a pinch-hit double to right-center. Bautista then scored the Phillies’ first run on a base hit to left by Asdrubal Cabrera. Facing Kyle Barraclough, Cabrera hit an 0-2 to pitch to left field to make it a 2-1 game. Rhys Hoskins stranded pinch-runner Scott Kingery at first base when he swung at a pitch out of the zone for his third strikeout of the night. Hoskins is 0 for his last 11 and that hurts.

A late chance
Down by one run, the Phils put two runners on base with one out in the ninth, but Marlins reliever Drew Steckenrider struck out Pedro Florimon and Quinn to end the game.

Santana comes alive
Santana continued to swing it well out of the leadoff spot. He doubled with one out in the third, but the Phils could not get him home.

Good work by the pen
Tommy Hunter and Seranthony Dominguez combined on four scoreless innings to keep the Phils alive.

Miami madness
Miami dismantled its roster before the season and went into a rebuilding mode. That created the opportunity for NL East teams to clean up on the Marlins. First-place Atlanta did that. It went 14-5 against the Marlins this season.

The Phils are 9-7 against the Marlins with three more games to play in Philadelphia. The Phils went 3-6 in Miami. Their performance against the lowly Marlins could end up being the difference between first and second place in the NL East.

Phils lose pitching inventory
The Phillies lost pitcher Ben Lively on waivers to the Kansas City Royals. Lively, who opened the season in the Phillies’ major-league rotation, was designated for assignment earlier in the week. He is the second pitcher that the Phils have lost on waivers in the past week. Mark Leiter Jr. was claimed by Toronto.

Up next
The Phillies are off on Thursday. They open a three-game series in New York against the Mets on Friday night. Here are the pitching matchups for series:

Friday night — RHP Aaron Nola (15-4, 2.23) vs. LHP Steven Matz (5-11, 4.20)

Saturday night — RHP Zach Eflin (9-6. 4.05) vs. RHP Noah Syndergaard (10-3, 3.33)

Sunday night — RHP Vince Velasquez (9-10, 4.10) vs. RHP Jacob deGrom (8-8, 1.68).

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Nationals 5, Phillies 4: Defense and bullpen conspire to ruin Aaron Nola's latest gem

Nationals 5, Phillies 4: Defense and bullpen conspire to ruin Aaron Nola's latest gem

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Aaron Nola out-pitched three-time Cy Young winner Max Scherzer for the second time in a week, but the Phillies blew a three-run lead in an awful 5-4 loss to the Washington Nationals on Tuesday night.

Nola went seven innings and scattered four hits. One of the two runs he gave up was unearned.

Nola allowed two runs in the seventh, one coming on an error. The Phils led, 3-2, to open the top of the ninth. Tommy Hunter walked Bryce Harper to lead off the inning. Pat Neshek then allowed a two-run homer to Anthony Rendon and it went downhill from there.

Nola's ERA is 2.10, second best in the NL to the Mets’ Jacob deGrom, who entered his start at Chicago on Tuesday night with a 1.71 ERA. Scherzer has a 2.22 ERA. One of these three is going to win the NL Cy Young Award.

The race
The Phillies have lost eight of 10 and 14 of their last 21. They entered the night trailing first-place Atlanta by 3½ games in the NL East. The Braves beat Tampa Bay, 9-5, to increase their lead to 4½ games.

A wasteful team
In the last week, the Phils have suffered four losses in which they have blown a sizable lead. They have blown a pair of 4-1 leads, a 5-0 lead and a 3-0 lead.

More Nola
Nola struck out eight. He got Harper three times, on an 0-2 changeup, a full-count changeup and a 1-2 curveball. Last week in Washington, Nola blew two 95-mph fastballs by Harper with the game on the line in the eighth inning of a 2-0 win. Nola has all the weapons.

Walks kill
Hunter walked Harper on six pitches to lead off the ninth. Rendon hit a 1-2 slider against Neshek to put the Nats ahead.

Grind ‘em down
For much of the night, Gabe Kapler was a happy man. His team grinded out at-bats, saw a lot of pitches and got into the Nats’ bullpen early. That's the style of ball Kapler likes.

Scherzer was gone after five innings and 99 pitches. Nick Williams had an at-bat in the fourth inning that surely excited Kapler. He saw 11 pitches — and fouled off seven of them — before looking at a fastball down the middle for a third strike. Maybe Williams just got tired. But so, too, did Scherzer. He allowed a two-run homer to Jorge Alfaro the next inning as the Phillies went up, 3-0. Odubel Herrera gave the team a 1-0 lead with a homer in the fourth.

Another error
Nola took a 3-0 lead into the seventh inning and gave up two runs. One came when first baseman Carlos Santana made a throwing error. It was the Phillies’ 101st error of the season, the second most in the majors. Defense remains an issue for the club.
 
And another error
After going up 4-3 in the ninth, the Nats scored another run on a costly throwing error by catcher Alfaro.

That error was the Phils' 102nd. St. Louis entered the day with 102 errors, most in the majors. The Phils might win that race, after all.

The Nats' fifth run was huge because it allowed them to hold off the Phils after they had rallied for a run in the bottom of the ninth on back-to-back doubles by Williams and Wilson Ramos. The game ended when pinch-runner Vince Velasquez left early from second base on a fly ball to center field and was called out on a double play. It was a surreal ending — and another miscue for a team that is slowly imploding under the weight of its own mistakes.

Another small crowd
Though the Phillies have struggled recently, they are still in a pennant race and there is excitement in that. However, many fans have not bought in and it has shown the last two nights at the turnstiles.

The paid attendance for Tuesday night’s game was just 21,083. That’s 23,000 below capacity and not what you’d expect for a showdown between two of the game’s best pitchers.

The paid attendance on Monday night was just 21,261 and the actual in-house number was about 15,000, according to a person in the know.

Whatever the actual number was Tuesday night, it’s worth pointing out that the fans who did come out were lively, supportive and loud — at least until the Phillies imploded in the late innings. Then the crowd let its frustration be heard and it was hard to argue with them.

Joey Bats arrives
The Phillies acquired slugger Jose Bautista in a waiver trade with the Mets earlier in the day and he was in uniform for the game.

Bautista will fill a distinct role for the club. He will come off the bench as a pinch-hitter, most often against lefties, and get an occasional start in right field against lefties.

Bautista had 55 hits in part-time duty with the Braves and Mets this season. He hit 11 homers.

Bautista struck out as a pinch-hitter in the seventh inning.

Up next
The Phils and Nationals close out the series on Wednesday night with Jake Arrieta (9-9, 3.37) opposing Washington lefty Gio Gonzalez (7-11, 4.35). 

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