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: Manny Machado in center of bad blood as Red Sox beat Orioles

Best of MLB: Manny Machado in center of bad blood as Red Sox beat Orioles

BALTIMORE -- A tempestuous three-game series between the Red Sox and Baltimore wound up with Matt Barnes being ejected for throwing a fastball behind the head of Orioles star Manny Machado in Boston's 6-2 victory Sunday.

Barnes' ejection was the latest facet of this tense rivalry between AL East rivals. His high, very inside pitch came two days after Machado took out Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia with a spikes-high slide.

Pedroia watched from the dugout for a second straight day Sunday with knee and ankle injuries. Machado apologized with a text message on Friday night, but that evidently wasn't the end of it.

When Machado batted in the sixth inning, Eduardo Rodriguez threw three pitches down and in near the knees. He came up again in the eighth and Barnes' pitch whizzed behind Machado and hit his bat. The ball hit Machado and rolled foul, and plate umpire Andy Fletcher tossed Barnes (see full recap).

Bour's 3-run homer lifts Marlins past Padres
SAN DIEGO -- Justin Bour hit a three-run homer to cap the six-run sixth inning and help the Miami Marlins to a 7-3 victory Sunday against the San Diego Padres.

The first six Marlins batters reached and scored in the sixth, helping Tom Koehler (1-1) to his first win of the season.

San Diego's Luis Perdomo came off the disabled list and shut down the Marlins through five before hitting the wall in the sixth. Martin Prado hit a leadoff single, Christian Yelich walked and Giancarlo Stanton hit an RBI single to chase Perdomo.

Craig Stammen (0-1) came on and allowed Marcell Ozuna's RBI double just past the glove of first baseman Wil Myers and J.T. Realmuto's RBI single to left before Bour hit a no-doubter to right field, his third.

Kevin Quackenbush relieved and got three straight outs (see full recap).

Astros use 2-run 10th to beat Rays
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Brian McCann and Yuli Gurriel both had RBI singles in the 10th inning, and the Houston Astros rallied from an early four-run deficit to beat the Tampa Bay Rays 6-4 on Sunday.

Carlos Beltran opened the 10th by drawing a walk from Ryan Garton (0-1) and went to second on Jose Altuve's single. After reaching third on Carlos Correa's fly to center, Beltran scored to make it 5-4 on McCann's hit to right.

Gurriel's two-out single put Houston ahead 6-4.

Luke Gregerson (1-1) went a scoreless ninth before Ken Giles got three out for his fifth save.

The Astros tied it at 4 on pinch-hitter Evan Gattis' sacrifice fly off closer Alex Colome, who was bidding for a two-inning save, in the ninth.

Brad Miller had an RBI triple, Steven Souza Jr. hit a two-run homer, and Jesus Sucre added a run-scoring single as the Rays went up 4-0 in the first (see full recap).

With new body, new swing, Cesar Hernandez keying Phillies' late-game power surges

With new body, new swing, Cesar Hernandez keying Phillies' late-game power surges

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A constant theme during the Phillies' playoff run from 2007-11 was that even when the offense was sputtering, it never felt like they were out of a game. That group of players picked up so many late hits and mounted so many comebacks that even a five-run deficit heading into the final three innings felt like a winnable game.

The 2017 Phillies are a much different, much less experienced, much less powerful team, but their late-game offense has been a surprisingly fun development this April.

The Phillies used back-to-back-to-back home runs in the eighth inning Sunday to pick up a 5-2 win over the Braves and a series sweep (see Instant Replay). Cesar Hernandez hit a go-ahead, two-run shot off hard-throwing reliever Arodys Vizcaino. Aaron Altherr followed with a solo shot on the next pitch. The Braves switched pitchers, then Odubel Herrera hit a solo homer of his own.

Just like that, ballgame.

The Phillies lead the majors with six home runs in the eighth inning. That's more than the Cubs, Red Sox, Rockies, Angels, Mariners, Pirates, White Sox, Tigers, Rangers, Giants and Astros have combined.

They've scored 14 runs in the eighth inning and 27 in innings 7-9. Both figures rank third-best in the National League behind only the Diamondbacks and Nationals.

Unexpected late-game heroics and unexpected power from some unlikely sources.

"It's always a bonus to have a team like that," manager Pete Mackanin said. "These guys pull for each other. We have a good bench, we have some interchangeable players that can step in and do a good job. ... They're fighters and it's good to see."

Hernandez continues to open eyes with his developing power. He has four home runs through 18 games after hitting six all of last season. He has more extra-base hits (nine) than Giancarlo Stanton, Kris Bryant, Paul Goldschmidt and Robinson Cano, among many others.

And he's done it without sacrificing his eye at the plate and slap-hitting ability. Hernandez is hitting .338 through 80 at-bats.

Hernandez gained muscle over the winter and reported to spring training looking noticeably bigger, but Mackanin credits the power surge to a change in his swing plane.

"He had an uppercut swing," Mackanin said. "He worked underneath the ball, which made him a low-ball hitter. I think the fact that we convinced him to level out his swing and stay on top of the ball -- work above the ball and work your way down through the strike zone -- I think has not only given him more power but also (the ability) to hit more line drives and use the whole field."

Makes sense. Managers, hitting coaches and players talk all the time about how you don't hit a home run when you're trying to hit a home run, you hit one when you're thinking up the middle and catch the ball with the barrel.

Hernandez hasn't lofted more balls because he's trying to loft them, he's done it by getting stronger and developing a more consistent swing.

"He's an on-base guy and a leadoff hitter and now I'm starting to think of him as a cleanup hitter as well," Mackanin said jokingly. "It is nice. It's good to see. He's not trying to hit home runs. He's trying to hit line drives and when you work above the ball and level your swing out and you hit the bottom half of the ball, the ball is going to go up with a line-drive swing. Because of that, he's hitting more gaps and hitting for more power."

In a way, it's similar to what Herrera did last season, jumping from eight home runs as a rookie to 15 as a sophomore as he continued learning the strike zone, learning major-league pitchers and learning of his own capabilities.

"I love watching Cesar hit the ball," Herrera said. "He has a beautiful swing and he makes great contact on the ball. It's great to be behind him."

With Hernandez leading off and Herrera batting third, the top of the Phillies' lineup has gotten on base a ton. They've gotten a .384 on-base percentage from the 1-3 spots in the order. Just imagine how many additional runs the Phillies would have produced to this point if Maikel Franco or Tommy Joseph were hitting consistently.

"I like all three right there," Mackanin said. "I like Howie Kendrick, also. I'm anxious for him to get back (from the DL) and then we'll go from there. We've got some good things going. We've got a good bench. We've got Altherr, (Daniel) Nava, (Andres) Blanco. We've got (Andrew) Knapp who's doing a good job behind the plate. I think we're in pretty good shape that way."

It's not going to be an explosive, league-leading offense, but it's certainly a deeper offense than it was a year ago. An addition like Nava, for example, has proven to be underrated and pay early dividends. Remember, he was one of the last men chosen for the opening day roster. So far this April, he's succeeded in every role in which the Phillies have used him.

Despite not playing regularly, Nava has reached base in 16 of his first 31 plate appearances, something no first-year Phillie has done since Jeremy Giambi in 2002.

"Nava is really valuable to us," Mackanin said. "He's a part-time player that gives you good at-bats, quality at-bats. He works the count, obviously the first game of the season he showed us he's got power. Gap power and the occasional home run from both sides of the plate. 

"Watching a guy like that, you can't help but notice. If it was me and I was a free swinger, I'd go up to him and ask him, 'How do I tone it down a little bit?' He just doesn't get himself out."