Phillies 'change the trend' against Mets with 10-inning road win

Phillies 'change the trend' against Mets with 10-inning road win

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NEW YORK -- The New York Mets did not hit a home run against Phillies pitching on Tuesday night.

That almost qualifies as a stop-the-presses moment these days because it seems as if all the Mets do is take Phillies pitchers deep.

The Mets have out-homered the Phillies, 79-35, since the start of the 2015 season. They hit 10 of them in sweeping a three-game series from the Phillies last week at Citizens Bank Park. That sweep helped the Mets build a 29-12 record against the Phils since the start of 2015 entering Tuesday night's matchup at Citi Field.

Not only did the Phillies keep the Mets in the yard Tuesday, they out-homered them -- Odubel Herrera hit his first of the season in the first inning -- and beat them, 6-2, by scoring the tying run in the eighth inning and four more in the top of the 10th (see Instant Replay).

"It was really good to beat those guys," manager Pete Mackanin said. "We had to change the trend a little bit. Hopefully, it gives us some confidence playing them from here on out. You hold a team like that to two runs and you've done a good job."

The Phillies' pitching was a huge part of the win.

Zach Eflin made his season debut with the big club. He was shaky out of the gate, giving up three walks in the first inning. Two of them turned into runs.

But Eflin did not give up another run the remainder of his five innings of work and the bullpen was exceptional with Joely Rodriguez, Edubray Ramos, Hector Neris, Luis Garcia and Joaquin Benoit combining on five shutout innings.

Mackanin often talks about how this team does not quit and the proof is in the line score over the last three games. In that span, the team has scored five eighth-inning runs to either tie the game or take the lead.

In this game, the Phils pushed across one in the eighth. It started with Cameron Rupp drawing a two-out walk. The Mets were on their way to getting out of the frame when Freddy Galvis skied a pop up to third base. Third baseman Jose Reyes and catcher Travis d'Arnaud converged. The ball hit off Reyes' glove and fell to the ground for an error and a break the Phillies capitalized on when pinch-hitter Andres Blanco stroked a ground-rule double to score Rupp with the tying run. The Phillies might have gotten another run there if Galvis had run out the pop-up and been on second base.

"Freddy thought the ball was foul and he didn't run," Mackanin said. "It was so unlike Freddy to do that. It was disappointing. But Freddy knows he should have run. He thought it was foul and it drifted fair. He knows what he did."

Galvis owned up to the mistake.

"It was my fault," he said.

He added that he "felt bad" when he had to stay on third base because Blanco's double bounced over the wall.

Michael Saunders started the 10th-inning rally against reliever Rafael Montero with an infield hit and Tommy Joseph followed with a line-drive hit to right, sending Saunders to third.

With runners on the corners in a tie game in the 10th, the Mets played the infield back instead of up to cut the run. That seemed to indicate that they had little regard for the Phillies' offense and full confidence that they could rally against the bullpen in the bottom of the inning if the Phillies did score.

With the infield back, Rupp lifted a long fly ball to right to get the go-ahead run home. The Phils then scored three more times on hits by Aaron Altherr and Daniel Nava to take a four-run lead.

"We were talking about that," Mackanin said of the Mets' decision to play the infield back. "We couldn't figure it out. Maybe they thought with their offense they could give up one and get a double play. That's probably the most likely scenario."

Rupp saw the infield back.

"Maybe they thought if they gave up one they could get two," he said. "I don't know. I was just thinking about getting the ball in the air."

He did that.

The RBI was just Rupp's third of the season. He is one of several Phillies off to a slow start at the plate. Four regulars -- Rupp, Joseph, Galvis and Maikel Franco -- are all hitting under .200.

"It's still too early to do any panicking, but I'd like to see them get a few hits here and there," Mackanin said. "From four through seven, we're not swinging the bats like we're capable of. We're not this bad. These guys are better hitters than they're showing. It's time for them to get it going.

"Hopefully a win like this will give them some confidence. It's just good to beat these guys."

Best of MLB: Aaron Judge breaks Mark McGwire's HR rookie record, Yankees top Royals

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Best of MLB: Aaron Judge breaks Mark McGwire's HR rookie record, Yankees top Royals

NEW YORK -- Aaron Judge circled the bases for the 50th time this season, breaking Mark McGwire's major league record for home runs by a rookie, and returned to the Yankees dugout to exchange handshakes, hugs and high-fives with excited teammates.

And then, he walked up the steps and back onto the field.

Embarrassed by the attention, he managed four short waves with his right hand before heading back to the bench just three seconds later.

"They kind of told me: `You got to go out there. You got to go out there,'" he would later recall. "First curtain call. I hope it was a good one."

Judge had his second straight two-homer game in an 11-3 rout of Kansas City on Monday. On an unseasonably warm autumn afternoon, the Yankees won for the 16th time in 22 games during a playoff push that earned no worse than a wild card.

The 6-foot-7, 25-year-old slugger tied McGwire's 1987 mark with a two-run drive to right-center off Jakob Junis (8-3) in the third inning that put New York ahead 3-0, driving a 93 mph high fastball 389 feet about a half-dozen rows into the right field seats (see full recap).

Russell makes food run, Cubs beat Cards to near clinch
ST. LOUIS -- Say cheese!

Addison Russell and the Chicago Cubs were all smiles after moving within a victory of another division title Monday night.

Russell hit a three-run double in the first inning, then made a food run for a fan in enemy territory while the Cubs beat the St. Louis Cardinals 10-2. Chicago can wrap up the division with a win Tuesday against the Cardinals or a loss by Milwaukee against Cincinnati.

Russell helped the Cubs get to starter Luke Weaver (7-2) early, then made some friends out of rival fans. After diving into the stands chasing a foul ball down the third-base line and spilling a man's tray of chips, Russell emerged from the dugout a few innings later with a plate of nachos and delivered it to the fan. Russell stopped to take a selfie before heading back to play shortstop.

"That was pretty entertaining," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said (see full recap).

Donaldson, Blue Jays stop Red Sox winning streak at 6
BOSTON -- The Boston Red Sox would like to get the AL East wrapped up quickly so they can start resting some banged-up players.

Josh Donaldson homered and drove in three runs, powering the Toronto Blue Jays past the first-place Red Sox 6-4 on Monday night.

Boston's six-game winning streak was snapped and its magic number to clinch a second straight division title remained at three. The Red Sox lead the second-place New York Yankees, who beat Kansas City earlier in the day, by four games with six remaining.

But the most important thing for the Red Sox was the loss of two key players to injuries. For how long? They don't know yet.

Eduardo Nunez and Mookie Betts both left the game early. Nunez aggravated a right knee injury that sidelined him for 13 games, and Betts came out with pain in his left wrist (see full recap).

Rangers fall to Astros, wild-card hopes fading
ARLINGTON, Texas -- Marwin Gonzalez had four hits and three RBIs as the AL West champion Houston Astros beat Texas 11-2 on Monday night, putting the Rangers on the brink of elimination in the wild-card race.

Houston second baseman Jose Altuve, the American League leader with 199 hits and a .348 batting average, left in the eighth inning after he was hit by a 95 mph fastball. The team said X-rays were negative and Altuve had a bruised forearm.

Gonzalez had two hits and scored twice in an eight-run fourth, including a two-run single that chased starter Andrew Cashner (10-11). Gonzalez later hit his 23rd homer, a solo shot in the sixth.

Collin McHugh (4-2) struck out six while throwing 112 pitches in five innings. The right-hander is 15-0 with a 2.94 ERA in 19 starts in September or October during his four seasons with the Astros (see full recap).

In final start of 2017, Aaron Nola establishes himself as Phillies' best pitcher in loss

In final start of 2017, Aaron Nola establishes himself as Phillies' best pitcher in loss

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Before beginning a season-ending six-game homestand Monday night, Phillies manager Pete Mackanin singled out Aaron Nola when asked about the positives of what is mostly a dismal 2017 season. 

“Nola has really established himself,” Mackanin said pregame. “To me, he’s a solid No. 3 starter.”

Nola then looked the part in what was likely his final start of the year, using a sharp curveball to strike out nine over six innings in the Phillies’ 3-1 loss to the Washington Nationals at Citizens Bank Park (see observations)

“I felt like just the command and getting ahead of hitters helped out this year,” Nola said. 

Returning from elbow surgery that ended his 2016 season in July, Nola (12-11) became the best starter on the team thanks to the development of a changeup in spring training to go with his fastball and dominant curveball. 

“I felt a lot stronger,” the soft-spoken Nola said when asked to sum up his season. “I felt like I was using my legs more and that increased my velocity a little bit.” 

Nola allowed two runs or fewer in 18 of his 27 starts. His 184 strikeouts are the most by a Phillies pitcher who made fewer than 30 starts in a season. 

“I wouldn’t call him a power pitcher. He doesn’t appear to be a strikeout pitcher,” Mackanin said. “But when you can locate your fastball and get ahead with your fastball down in the strike zone and have that kind of curveball and then you add that kind of changeup, now the hitter has three pitches to worry about.”

He struck out 36 over his final four starts and 25 1/3 innings, using his sweeping curve as an out pitch. All but one of his strikeouts Monday night came on the curve. 

“It’s been good,” Nola said. “I’ve been able to command it on both sides of the plate and down, which has helped me. I felt like my fastball command was better this year than it was last year.” 

In a rotation in which basically nothing else is settled, Nola gives the Phillies an anchor for next season. The 24-year-old LSU product has a 3.54 ERA and the changeup gives him three quality pitches. 

“It’s been kind of the cherry on top, a little bit, being able to throw that right-on-right,” catcher Andrew Knapp said of the changeup. “It’s a hard pitch to hit when you’re a left-handed hitter. But when you’re right-handed and coming to that back foot, it’s a really good pitch.” 

Nola retired the first four hitters before Jayson Werth singled and Michael A. Taylor followed by crushing a 3-1 fastball into the left-field seats for his 17th homer. 

It was the 18th home run allowed by Nola. But he got into a groove from there. Facing a lineup without Bryce Harper, Daniel Murphy and Anthony Rendon, Nola held the NL East champions to two runs and five hits with two walks. 

But it didn’t prevent the Phillies from losing for the fourth time in five games. 

Odubel Herrera’s solo home run on an 0-2 pitch from A.J. Cole (3-5) in the fourth was all the offense the Phillies could muster. They’ve managed seven runs in four games. 

Rhys Hoskins is slumping (0 for 4 and hasn’t homered since Sept. 14) and Nick Williams struck out three times. 

“Our bats have gone silent for a few days now,” Mackanin said. 

They still have to win one more to avoid 100 losses, and many changes are possible in the offseason. Mackanin said before the game that “I still don’t know if I’ll be back here next year," (see story)

It’s a team that still has plenty of holes and lots of questions ahead of 2018. 

Nola, though, appears to be someone they can rely on. 

“The goal is to have five [reliable] guys on every start. But it’s nice,” Mackanin said. “When Nola pitches, we all expect to win. He’s done an outstanding job. He’s had the arm issues, but he came back from that better than he was before.”