Ranger Suarez

Sloppy Phillies suffer embarrassing 24-4 loss to Mets in Game 1 of doubleheader

Sloppy Phillies suffer embarrassing 24-4 loss to Mets in Game 1 of doubleheader

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This was about as ugly as it can get.

Less than 24 hours after one of their best wins of the season, the Phillies turned in an absolutely embarrassing performance in losing, 24-4, to the New York Mets in the first game of a doubleheader at Citizens Bank Park on Thursday.

The Phillies made four errors in the ballgame and allowed 11 unearned runs, the most since they allowed a club-record 12 in a game during the 1923 season.

Things got so ugly that the Phillies had to use two position players, Roman Quinn and Scott Kingery, to pitch the final three innings.

Quinn, who has a long injury history, got through 1 2/3 innings and 42 pitches healthy, but he was tagged for six hits, two walks and seven runs.

Kingery allowed two runs in the ninth inning. He lobbed the ball so slowly that it did not register on the stadium radar gun. Mets hitters dug in and teed off. Players in the Mets’ dugout giggled. Fans, who had booed earlier in the day, also giggled as the game was reduced to a comic act. The whole thing was an embarrassment to the sport (see Gabe Kapler's reaction). And to think, it came one day after the Phillies came back from three runs down to beat the Boston Red Sox, 7-4. Boston is far and away the majors' best team.

The Mets pulverized Phillies pitching for 25 hits. The Mets had 11 extra-base hits, including three homers.

Rookie lefty Ranger Suarez was called up from Triple A to start the first game of the doubleheader. He was hit hard to the tune of 11 hits and eight runs in four innings. Half of the runs Suarez allowed were unearned.

Mark Leiter Jr., also recalled earlier in the day from Triple A, was tagged for seven runs in the fifth inning. All the runs were unearned.

Maikel Franco made a pair of errors at third base. Catcher Jorge Alfaro made a throwing error and Rhys Hoskins dropped a ball in left field for another error. All the errors set up runs — multiples of them.

Poor defense is nothing new for these Phillies. They entered the game ranked second to last in the majors in defensive runs saved (minus-85), according to Fangraphs. Only Baltimore at minus-95 was worse.

The four errors gave the Phils 92 on the season, tying them with St. Louis for most in the majors.

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Carlos Santana still the Phillies' regular first baseman; Zach Eflin ready for start vs. Mets Thursday

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Carlos Santana still the Phillies' regular first baseman; Zach Eflin ready for start vs. Mets Thursday

Wilson Ramos wasn’t the only newcomer in the Phillies’ starting lineup on Wednesday night.

Justin Bour, acquired last week from Miami, got his first start with his new club. He played first base and batted second.

Bour got the start over Carlos Santana, who has been a polarizing player in his first year of a three-year, $60 million contract.

Santana’s supporters, which include the front office and manager Gabe Kapler, love the way he works counts and gets on base. His on-base percentage is .349 and his 66 RBIs are second-most on the club.

Santana’s detractors see his .214 batting average and want more.

Both sides have a point.

Don’t get used to seeing Bour at first base. Kapler reiterated before the game that the Phils acquired Bour to be a difference-making bat off the bench. Kapler wants to get Bour an occasional start — like Wednesday night — to keep him sharp for pinch-hitting assignments.

“Santana's going to play every day,” Kapler said. “Santana's going to play regularly.”

But what if Bour’s bat gets hotter than a habanero?

“Bour is going to be a weapon off the bench for us,” Kapler said. “Look, we can't see the future in its entirety. Santana's going to play every day. Right now, Bour is a weapon off the bench for us. He can start for us occasionally.”

Ramos, acquired at the trade deadline, was activated from the disabled list, started behind the plate and batted sixth. To make room for him on the roster, the Phillies sent catcher Andrew Knapp to Triple A.

Eflin ready 

Zach Eflin and Ranger Suarez will be the starters in Thursday’s doubleheader against the Mets. Suarez will start the first game and Eflin will start the second. 

Suarez will be promoted from Triple A for the start. The Phillies will have to clear a roster spot for him.

Eflin is technically on the Triple A roster after being optioned on Sunday. He will be added to the roster as the 26th man. Teams are allowed to have an extra player for a doubleheader.

Eflin will go back to Triple A on Friday and return after his 10-day option assignment is complete early next week. He will not miss a big-league start.

Sending Eflin to the minors was a controversial move as it cost him about $20,000 in pay and big-league service time. The Phillies sent Eflin out because they wanted to carry an extra man and the 26th roster spot and a day off on Monday allowed them to assign Eflin to the minors without him missing a turn in the big-league rotation.

Eflin was not happy with the move, but he said he understood it. He and Kapler had breakfast together in Philadelphia earlier in the week and talked out the situation.

“It’s been different being away from the team, but at the end of the day we all understand the move,” Eflin said. “It just wasn’t too easy to swallow. The only thing you can do is be positive and move forward and use it as motivation.

“I think what everyone is focused on is me losing service time or losing money, but the only thing I’ve been worried about the whole time is being away from my teammates and losing those eight days of relationships in the middle of a pennant race. That’s what affected me the most. I could not care less about the money I missed or the days I missed. It’s more about the relationships and the brothers you have in this clubhouse that I was missing out on.”

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Maybe it's time to take Rhys Hoskins' advice and start believin' in these Phillies

Maybe it's time to take Rhys Hoskins' advice and start believin' in these Phillies

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CINCINNATI — You have to go back 20 years to find a night when the Phillies turned on the power like this.

Back then, the names were Rico Brogna, Kevin Sefcik, Bobby Estalella and Marlon Anderson. That quartet combined to set a team record with seven home runs in a victory over the New York Mets on Sept. 8, 1998, at Veterans Stadium.

All these years later, the names were Rhys Hoskins, Maikel Franco, Nick Williams and Carlos Santana. Like their red-pinstriped cousins from two decades ago, this foursome combined to hit seven home runs on Thursday night. The power display led a rousing 9-4 win over the Cincinnati Reds and gave rookie lefty Ranger Suarez a win in his big-league debut (see first take). The Phils are a season-high 14 games over .500 and 2½ games up on Atlanta for first place in the NL East.

They are on a roll.

“I think we’re just having a ton of fun,” Williams said. “It feels like we’re kids at recess right now. It’s been a good run.”

Williams was one of three Phillies to hit a pair of home runs Thursday night. Hoskins and Franco also hit a pair. All six of those homers were solo shots. Carlos Santana belted a two-run shot in the top of the first as the Phillies built a 3-0 lead.

After a loss in Miami on the day before the All-Star break, manager Gabe Kapler predicted the team’s power would improve in the second half. So far, he’s been right. The Phils have hit 20 homers in seven games since the All-Star break. They are 5-2 over that span, averaging 6.7 runs per game.

“I’ve talked about the talent of our team, the true talent, and not getting caught up in these two-week stretches,” Kapler said. “So whenever our offense is struggling for a couple of weeks, or our bullpen is struggling for a couple of weeks, we try to remember the true talent of our club and the true talent of our club is what is showing right now.

“It's the ability to look over pitches, having longer at-bats, driving the baseball into the gaps, over the fence and out of the ballpark, and then a bullpen that has been nothing short of extraordinary. So it’s the talent we were depending on.”

In addition to big offense, the Phils got four more scoreless innings from the bullpen. It has been the best in baseball in July with a 2.32 ERA.

The Phillies came into Thursday night’s game on an emotional high after taking two of three from the Los Angeles Dodgers at home. Before the team’s flight to Cincinnati, de facto team captain Rhys Hoskins sent out a tweet that said, "Start believin'" — and it included a hashtag that said, “Be Bold,” a reference to the season motto that was put in place by Kapler over the winter.

“I saw that tweet and I saw the hashtag,” Kapler said. “What that told me is that the clubhouse, because Rhys is just a representation of the clubhouse, is especially confident. They believe. The field staff has continued to believe and I think the city of Philadelphia is definitely beginning to believe, as well.”

Hoskins has six homers and three doubles in his last six games. His confidence is clearly visible. You can see it in his swing. It is easy and smooth. When Hoskins produces, the Phillies are a different team, a winning team, a team filled with confidence.

You can see it in his tweet.

Start believin'.

“The Dodgers are a really good team, one of the best in the NL,” said Hoskins, explaining the timing of his tweet. “We had a chance to win all three of those games at home. What a great atmosphere. It was intense baseball. It was fun. As competitors, that’s what you hope for, especially late in the year. It’s getting into August. It’s meaningful baseball. We’re a confident bunch and I think we’re showing it.

“The Dodgers have good pitching and we were able to put some runs on them all series. Obviously, that was able to carry over into tonight.”

Any pitcher would be happy to get nine runs of support. Suarez was especially thrilled. He survived a pair of home runs and pitched into the sixth inning. It was just what the Phillies were looking for in a spot start.

Suarez, 22, has a bright future. Nonetheless, he was sent back to Triple A after the game. The Phillies will add a player — Roman Quinn? Dylan Cozens? — for Friday night’s game. Nick Pivetta will be on the mound.

Will the power stay on?

Will the fun continue?

Will the confidence keep growing?

Stay tuned. These Phillies are on a roll.

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