Instant Replay: Phillies 6, Mets 2 (10 innings)

Instant Replay: Phillies 6, Mets 2 (10 innings)

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NEW YORK -- The Phillies rallied for the tying run in the eighth inning then scored four more times in the 10th to beat the New York Mets, 6-2, at Citi Field on Tuesday night.
 
Andres Blanco came off the bench with a game-tying, two-out double in the eighth inning and Cameron Rupp followed with a sacrifice fly to right field in the 10th to key the come-from-behind win.
 
The Phils gave up two runs in the first inning and none the next nine innings.
 
The victory was the Phillies' first in four games against the Mets this season and just their 13th against the Mets in 40 games since the start of the 2015 season.
 
The Phils are 5-8 on the season. The Mets are 7-7.
 
Starting pitching report
Zach Eflin, called up to take the place of injured Clay Buchholz, went five innings and gave up three hits and two runs. He walked three, all in the first inning, and two of those walks turned into Mets' runs, one on his own wild pitch.
 
Mets starter Zack Wheeler ran a high pitch count -- 99 in five innings -- but managed to hold the Phillies to just one run on four hits and two walks. He struck out seven.
 
Bullpen report
The Phillies got good bullpen work from Joely Rodriguez, Edubray Ramos, Hector Neris and Luis Garcia. They all pitched a scoreless frame. Garcia got the win. Joaquin Benoit protected a four-run lead in the bottom of the 10th.
 
Jerry Blevins gave up the tying, pinch-hit double to Blanco. The Phillies' rally in the 10th came mostly against Rafael Montero. He took the loss.
 
At the plate
Odubel Herrera's first home run of the season, a solo shot against Wheeler in the first inning, accounted for the Phillies' first run.
 
The Phillies rallied for a run in the eighth inning to tie the game. Rupp drew a two-out walk and Mets third baseman Jose Reyes extended the inning when he dropped a pop up by Freddy Galvis. The next batter, pinch-hitter Blanco, tied the game with a ground-rule double to left, scoring Rupp. Galvis had to halt at third. Galvis did not run hard on his pop up to third. If he had, he could have been on second and scored on Blanco's double.
 
The Phillies have rallied for five runs in the eighth inning in their last three games.
 
Michael Saunders and Tommy Joseph opened the decisive 10th inning with singles, setting the table for Rupp's sacrifice fly. Aaron Altherr knocked in an insurance run with a base hit and Daniel Nava followed with a two-run single to push the lead to four.
 
Michael Conforto and Yoenis Cespedes both drew full-count walks in the first inning against Eflin and scored. Conforto scored on a hit by Jay Bruce. Cespedes scored on a wild pitch.
 
Health check
Buchholz had season-ending surgery after just two starts. Club president Andy MacPhail talked about the decision to trade for him and the fragility of pitching as it pertains to future acquisitions (see story).
 
Howie Kendrick was placed on the disabled list and reliever Mark Leiter Jr. was brought up from Triple A (see story).
 
Up next
The series continues on Wednesday night. Vince Velasquez (0-2, 9.00) opposes Mets' right-hander Robert Gsellman (0-1, 9.28).

Pete Mackanin 'not pleased' with Odubel Herrera's base-running blunders

Pete Mackanin 'not pleased' with Odubel Herrera's base-running blunders

Odubel Herrera’s return to the dugout was so slow that home plate umpire Nic Lentz had to clap to speed him along. Herrera obliged, accelerating to an effortless jog until he left Lentz’s sight. Then he went back to a hung head and a crawling pace as he reached the steps. Boos met his ears through it all. 

Herrera was picked off at third base by Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina for the second out of the fourth inning on Thursday. It didn’t matter much as the Phillies beat the Cardinals, 5-1 (see Instant Replay), guided by Aaron Nola’s the best outing in a long time. 

However, Herrera made a base-running blunder at the same spot Wednesday night, when he blew through a Juan Samuel stop sign and was out by a mile at home plate to make the final out in the 9th inning of a tie game. And later on Thursday, while on second during a running count and Maikel Franco behind him at first, Herrera didn’t run on the pitch.

These are mistakes any big-leaguer should avoid. And when he’s the only player a team has signed to a long-term deal, which is supposed to last into a new era that involves winning games, the mistakes sting a bit more. 

“I’m not pleased about it,” Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said. 

Had Wednesday night’s gaffe been avoided, maybe the Phillies could have gone on to win. Thursday’s was more embarrassing than damaging. While displeased, Mackanin, who said he thought about giving Herrera Thursday off, understood what happened this time around.

“He was running contact. And when you’re running contact, you’re susceptible to getting picked off by a catcher, especially with a left-handed hitter up,” Mackanin said. “You have to be aware of that. They’re taught to be aware of that. He just didn’t take that first hard step back. And that deters the catcher from throwing to third base. It happened.” 

The Phillies have been picked off eight times this season. Entering Thursday, only four teams had been picked off more. 

The Phillies own a run scoring percentage (percentage of base runners that eventually score) of 28.0, which puts them in the bottom third of the league. While much of that can be attributed to bad bats, mistakes like Herrera’s are not helping the cause. 

At 25, Herrera is still figuring this whole thing out. But he was the Phillies’ only All-Star last year and is supposed to be a consistent presence in the lineup. 

Andres Blanco, on the opposite end of the spectrum, first saw major-league action in 2004, and should be providing a consistent presence in the Phillies’ clubhouse. Yet on Thursday, starting at second base instead of Howie Kendrick, Blanco’s contribution on the base paths felt like the remedy to Herrera’s mental lapses.

In the bottom of the fifth, with two outs and Blanco on second base, Freddy Galvis grounded a ball up the middle. Cardinals shortstop Aledmys Diaz sent and errant flip to second to get the final out, and Blanco was smart enough to round third after the ball got loose in the infield.Mackanin called it a heads-up play. 

“That’s the kind of players you’re looking for, the guys that are going to look for those kinds of things to happen,” Mackanin said, “and they don't assume a play is going to be made and assume they might be able to take an extra base.

“He’s a veteran. I’m glad he paid attention.”

Aaron Nola's best start of the season has Phillies confident he's locking in

Aaron Nola's best start of the season has Phillies confident he's locking in

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When Aaron Nola pitches like he did Thursday, there aren't too many teams capable of beating him.

Nola was locked in against the Cardinals in the Phillies' 5-1 win, allowing just one run on four hits over 7 1/3 innings with a season-high eight strikeouts (see Instant Replay). His first seven innings were scoreless and his pitch count was at just 89, so he had the chance for his first-ever complete game and the Phillies' first of the season.

But Paul DeJong greeted Nola in the eighth with a solo homer, and after a one-out walk to Matt Carpenter, Nola's day was done. He left to a loud ovation from Phillies fans who have been waiting a long time to see this guy again.

"Well that's the Nola we all have come to know and love," manager Pete Mackanin said. "He was outstanding today. ... He was painting on both sides of the plate. Real good curveball. Threw a lot of good changeups. I think he got tired in that eighth inning, but it was great to see him rebound from the struggles he's been going through."

Nola had elite command of his two-seam fastball and curveball on this day. Five of his eight strikeouts were looking as he continuously froze Cardinals hitters with two-seamers that started outside and darted back over the outside corner. Everything was low in the zone. The curveball was sharp and biting with late life, and St. Louis' hitters kept swinging over top of it.

This was the Nola worth drafting in the first round. This was the Nola who can legitimately be a top-of-the-rotation arm.

"I know what I'm capable of and I know what I can do and today was me," Nola said. "I felt confident in all my pitches today and commanding all my pitches when I wanted to. It was all good in those areas.

"I always try to visualize [success]. I know what I'm capable of doing and what pitches I can command. It's just those days where you feel really good about it and you're really confident about executing to both sides of the plate."

Last year during spring training, Mackanin compared Nola's skill set to that of a pitcher he managed in 1985 in the Class A Midwest League. That pitcher was Greg Maddux. 

"I'll just say this and I probably shouldn't, but I'm just gonna say it: Aaron Nola reminds me a bit of [Maddux]," Mackanin said last February.

"He shows no fear, he's very confident in his abilities and he has the uncanny ability to locate his fastball down in the zone on both sides of the plate. And he really believes in himself."

On Thursday, Nola fit every piece of that description. And just like Nick Pivetta built confidence with his nine-strikeout performance last week against the Red Sox that carried over into a 10-K night against the Cardinals (see story), this has a chance to be a real building block for Nola.

Throwing first-pitch strikes to 18 of 24 hitters will get you a long way.

"He got ahead of almost every hitter I guarantee you, he was strike one," catcher Cameron Rupp said.  

"And when you do that, that opens up so many doors with your pitch sequence, being able to pitch and get in on guys, maybe throw a purpose pitch for a ball, maybe they swing and you're 0-2 and that opens up the outer half even bigger. He threw strikes, he pounded the zone, and when you do that, you're going to have so much success. 

"That's what he did his first year-and-a-half up here. He got away from locating his pitches and the injuries, I'm sure, didn't help, but he attacked the zone and did a great job for us. ... When you do that, the sky is the limit, and he showed that today."