Sometimes it’s just a break from the smallest attention to detail that causes a team to unravel. Maybe a guy hesitates on a fly ball ever-so slightly or doesn’t use two hands when making a catch.
Maybe it’s when a pitcher takes a hitter for granted or leaves one up in the zone.
For the Phillies in their 8-0 loss to the Mets on Sunday at Citizens Bank Park, it was all of the above (see Instant Replay).
A mental lapse on a routine fly ball by Ben Revere opened the floodgates in a game-breaking fifth inning as lefty starter John Lannan unraveled after cruising through the first four.
Though the Mets had 12 hits with nine for extra bases -- including a 4-for-5 showing from David Wright, who fell shy of the cycle by a single -- Revere’s miscue in center field fell under the most scrutiny after the game.
Revere made the catch on a can-of-corn fly hit by Juan Lagares for what appeared to be the first out of the inning. But as Revere got ready to throw the ball back to the infield, he dropped it while Lagares dashed around the bases, stopping at third before the Phillies realized that the out hadn’t been recorded.
Revere caught it, but the umpire felt as though he didn’t display the ball before he muffed the exchange from one hand to the other and it fell to the ground.
“I asked him, I said, ‘You saw where I had the ball in my glove for a good three or four seconds.’ And he said, ‘It’s just you had to have complete control.’” Revere said of his conversation with second-base umpire D.J. Reyburn. “I was like, ‘Complete control? Like all the way through to throw the ball?’ He was like, ‘No, the glove.’ And I said, ‘I had the glove, I had the ball in my glove the whole time.’ I guess it's just a bad call. Terrible call.”
It might have been a bad call, but manager Charlie Manuel doesn’t believe Revere’s error was the reason why Lannan came undone or even why the Phillies lost the game. Lannan’s outing went from good to horrible in a handful of pitches because the lefty lost concentration when pitching to Mets ace Matt Harvey.
“I think what might have thrown him off his rhythm was giving up a hit to the pitcher,” Manuel explained. “I think if he keeps the ball down, if he throws a sinker or slider down, he more than likely would have gotten him out. … Kind of a bad pitch.”
Harvey drove in Lagares with the double. That was followed by another double from Eric Young Jr. and then a double from Wright six pitches later. After holding the Mets to a run on three hits in the first four innings, Lannan gave up four doubles and three walks to the next 10 hitters he faced.
“I knew I had a job to do there, and I wasn’t thrown off [by the error]. I just wasn’t making pitches,” Lannan explained. “I wasn’t as sharp as I wanted to be today, but I made some pitches when I needed to, but right there, I didn’t. From then on, I really did not make a pitch.”
Even if Lannan made his pitches and Revere handled the exchange after his catch, it probably wouldn't have mattered for the Phillies on Sunday afternoon. With the way the Harvey dominated the game, the Phillies needed to do a lot more than make routine plays.
Harvey allowed a flair single to Ryan Howard and a double to Chase Utley to blank the Phillies through six innings. The big righty struck out six, faced two three-ball counts and allowed one runner to get into scoring position before a rain delay ended his afternoon.
Only nature could slow down Harvey (7-1, 2.05) from nailing down his first career complete game and shutout.
“He was getting the ball over the plate. He’s good, especially when getting his slider over and challenging with his fastball,” Manuel said about Harvey. “He’s pretty good. He comes right at you. At same time, he uses all of his pitches. He definitely was putting some sliders on the outside part of the plate to both lefties and righties. But when he wanted to, he reached up there at 96, 97, 98.”
Harvey struck out Revere to end the second inning with a fastball that registered 100-mph on the scoreboard radar. He also retired the last eight hitters he faced, had four 1-2-3 innings and threw first-pitch strikes to 13 of the 21 hitters he faced.
In other words, the Phillies never had a chance. Even when they knew what pitches were coming.
“He has a good changeup and everything, but he's a fastball guy,” Revere said. “It just zooms out of his hand.”
And right past the hitters. His 121 strikeouts in 110 innings leads the National League.
In the meantime, there is plenty that the Phillies need to clean up. Lannan said he needs to be more consistent throughout the game and survive rough patches by getting the outs that are sitting there for him.
As for Revere holding down the important center-field position, Manuel sees plenty of potential, but a lot of growing pains, too.
“He’s got room to grow,” Manuel said. “He’s quick. He can run down his mistakes. He needs to work on routes and has a weak arm. He definitely has to work on routes, things like that. If you work hard at it, you could get it. Talent’s there for Ben. Had a rough day today.”
Actually, at 36-40 and 7½ games off the pace in the NL East, it’s been a rough year for the Phillies. According to Manuel, things are going to have to go very well for the Phillies to make a serious run this season.
“I think things really have to fall right for us. I think we have to play really tremendous baseball and that includes defense, offense, pitching and we’ve got to get enough of each,” the manager said. “Sometimes, you catch somebody not playing good, can win some games. If we stay after it, we’re going to win some games. At same time what seen so far, going to have to play extraordinary baseball.”