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: Cardinals erupt for 9 runs during 8th inning of comeback

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Best of MLB: Cardinals erupt for 9 runs during 8th inning of comeback

CHICAGO -- Paul DeJong hit a tiebreaking two-run double in St. Louis' nine-run eighth inning, and the Cardinals cooled off the Chicago Cubs with an 11-4 victory on Friday.

Chicago carried a 3-2 lead into the eighth, looking for its seventh consecutive win. But St. Louis sent 14 batters to the plate in its highest-scoring inning of the season, taking advantage of a combined six walks by three relievers while improving to 4-4 since the All-Star break.

Carl Edwards Jr. (3-2) was pulled after the first three batters reached. Hector Rondon then walked Jedd Gyorko, tying it at 3, and DeJong followed with a drive into the ivy in right-center for a ground-rule double. The Cardinals were off and running from there.

Matt Bowman (2-3) got the final out of the seventh for the win.

The Cubs played without third baseman Kris Bryant, who sprained his left little finger on a headfirst slide on Wednesday. X-rays were negative, but Bryant is experiencing soreness and there is some concern about gripping a bat (see full recap).

Andrus' hustle gives Rangers win in 10th inning
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Elvis Andrus homered early, and then snapped a 10th-inning tie with a two-out infield single that gave the struggling Texas Rangers a 4-3 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays on Friday night.

Andrus, who homered in the first inning, hit a sharp grounder off Brad Boxberger (2-1) that forced Evan Longoria to make a diving stop. Pinch runner Delino Shields scored when the third baseman to was unable to complete the throw to first base.

Alex Claudio (2-0) pitched two innings in relief of Yu Darvish to get the win. The left-hander gave up a leadoff single to Steven Souza Jr. in the 10th, but avoided further damage by getting Adeiny Hechavarria to bunt into a double play and Mallex Smith to fly out.

Texas ended a five-game losing streak.

Rays starter Alex Cobb took a three-hitter and a 3-1 lead into the ninth, but couldn't finish off the Rangers, who erased their deficit with Joey Gallo's double and Shin-Soo Choo's 14th homer within a three-pitch span (see full recap).

Encarnacion powers Indians past former team
CLEVELAND -- Edwin Encarnacion homered and drove in four runs against his former team, and the Cleveland Indians broke open a close game with an eight-run seventh inning to rout the Toronto Blue Jays 13-3 on Friday night.

Encarnacion, who played the last six seasons with Toronto before signing a three-year, $60 million contract with Cleveland in January, hit a leadoff home run in the second, broke a 3-all tie in the fifth with a two-run double and added an RBI single in the seventh.

Encarnacion was 3 for 4 with a walk and nearly added to his total later in the seventh, but center fielder Kevin Pillar tracked down his fly ball on the warning track with two runners on.

Abraham Almonte hit a three-run homer and rookie Bradley Zimmer added a two-run single in the seventh as the Indians won for just the second time in eight games (see full recap).

With evolving changeup and 4-pitch mix, Aaron Nola raising his own ceiling

With evolving changeup and 4-pitch mix, Aaron Nola raising his own ceiling

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Once upon a time, Cole Hamels was a two-pitch pitcher: fastball and changeup. The changeup was so good so consistently that it didn't matter that Hamels' curveball command was often shaky. Two very good pitches were enough.

It wasn't until Cliff Lee and Roy Halladay arrived that Hamels began incorporating a fourth pitch, the cutter, and along the way, his curveball command improved substantially. Suddenly, a two-pitch lefty had a legitimate four-pitch mix and it took him to another level.

Watching Aaron Nola dominate the Brewers in Friday night's 6-1 Phillies win (see Instant Replay), Hamels' evolution came to mind. Nola allowed one run and struck out nine over seven innings, at one point whiffing eight of nine Brewers. And he did with a four-pitch mix that included 31 sinkers, 27 fastballs, 20 changeups and 18 curveballs.

It's no longer sinker-curveball only with Nola. He's now giving his opponents more to worry about in the form of additional velocity on the fastball and a changeup that is becoming a money pitch.

"Nola was outstanding. He's been working on that changeup all year and it's really one of his better pitches right now," manager Pete Mackanin said. 

With a four-seam fastball that has been maxing out at 95 mph lately, a curveball that buckles hitters from both sides of the plate, a sinker with wicked two-seam movement and a changeup that he's beginning to feel comfortable throwing to righties and lefties alike, Nola may be making his jump to the next level before our very eyes.

"No question about it," Mackanin said. "That changeup, he threw a ton of them tonight to righties and lefties. I talked to him when we took him out of the game and he was real excited about throwing the changeup not just to lefties but to right-handers as well. If he can do that with the rest of the arsenal that he has, I expect a real good performance from him every time out."

The win made Nola 7-6 with a 3.38 ERA, which essentially means he's given up three runs every eight innings. Any team will take that from a starting pitcher. 

Over his last six starts, Nola has been lights-out — 1.70 ERA, .190 opponents' batting average, 50 strikeouts in 42 1/3 innings. Perhaps most impressively, he's held his opponents to a .118 batting average with runners in scoring position, second in the National League over that span to only Clayton Kershaw.

"My changeup ... I'm feeling consistent with it right now," Nola said. "It's evolved. I really didn't have much of a feel for my changeup [when I first came up]. It's a thing I worked on in spring training a lot this year, threw it in counts when I usually wouldn't. That's what spring training is for and I think it helped."

The changeup is a feel pitch and its success is usually dictated by the pitcher's arm angle and speed. If he throws it the same way he throws a fastball, that's where the deception of the slower speed comes into play. Nola has worked hard on those aspects of the pitch and it's clearly paying off.

Nola induced 15 swinging strikes on the night, six of them on changeups and five on curveballs. His strikeout numbers stand out because he was not billed as this kind of pitcher when he was drafted or was coming up through the Phillies' system. In the minor leagues, Nola struck out 7.6 batters per nine innings. In the majors, he's struck out 277 in 275 innings (9.1 per nine).

"I'm real happy about the way he's come along, especially after the elbow issues," Mackanin said. "He has increased velocity. His pitches are crisper. He's better now than before. It's really a nice jump for him to make."

Indeed it is. Perhaps Nola's ceiling is higher than No. 2 starter.