NEW YORK – Pete Mackanin didn’t nibble around the edges in summing up this one.
He threw it right down the middle.
“Tonight was embarrassing,” the Phillies manager said after his team was knocked around like a ragdoll in a 12-1 loss to the New York Mets at Citi Field on Saturday night (see Instant Replay).
The Phillies have lost the first two games of the series by a combined score of 21-5.
“Bad pitching,” Mackanin said.
And no real offense in this one. The Phils had just three hits.
But Mackanin was right. The pitching has been awful in the first two games. Phillies pitching has given up eight home runs – good for 18 runs – in the two games.
“The Mets seem to know what's coming,” Mackanin said. “They just seem to feast on our pitching. We've just got to regroup.”
In this game, the Mets feasted on Jeremy Hellickson, who had been the Phillies’ most consistent pitcher for weeks.
The right-hander was tagged for five runs, the most he’d given up in a start since June 10, in just four innings of work. All the runs came on a pair of homers.
“They’re an aggressive lineup and they’re hot right now,” Hellickson said of the Mets, winners of seven of their last eight. “They’re not missing mistakes. They’re grinding out at-bats and making us work.”
Hellickson entered the game with a 2.60 ERA in his previous 11 starts.
“He just didn’t have the command he usually has,” Mackanin said. “He's allowed to have a bad start. He's been so good for us. But it wasn't one of his better ones.”
Hellickson’s recent success made him attractive to at least one other team this month. According to sources, he was claimed on waivers recently, but the Phillies pulled him back. That makes him ineligible for a trade, so he will stay for the rest of the season and head off to free agency this winter. The Phillies will be awarded a compensation draft pick if they extend Hellickson a qualifying offer for 2017 and he rejects it.
Hellickson gave up a two-run homer to Asdrubal Cabrera in the third inning and a three-run shot on a full-count fastball to Yoenis Cespedes in the fourth.
Hellickson walked three, his most in a game since June 15.
“When I got ahead, I couldn’t put them away,” he said. “And I had three walks. That can’t happen.”
Phillies starting pitchers have had a poor month of August. They have allowed 92 earned runs in 114 innings for a 7.26 ERA and given up a majors-high 33 homers.
And yet, amazingly, the club is 11-11 in the month.
“From what we've seen over the last couple of weeks it hasn't been the same as it was the first four months of the season,” Mackanin said of the pitching. “We've just got to regroup and put these two games behind us.”
The Phillies have been manhandled by Mets pitching in these two games. Bartolo Colon got them on Friday and Noah Syndergaard in this one. The gas-throwing right-hander reached 100 mph on his heater. He held the Phils to two hits in seven innings and struck out seven. He gave up a solo homer to Freddy Galvis in the third inning for the Phillies’ only run.
The Phillies problems on the mound continued after Hellickson departed. Reliever Michael Mariot was tagged for six runs in the seventh inning, four on Kelly Johnson’s pinch-hit grand slam.
The Phils have lost 13 of their last 17 at Citi Field. They are 9-21 against the Mets the last two seasons.
The series concludes Sunday afternoon. Vince Velasquez will try to stop the skid. He'd better keep that fastball out of the heart of the plate because these Mets hitters are locked in.