Phillies edged by Mets as drama, ejection kick off season series

Phillies edged by Mets as drama, ejection kick off season series

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The New York Mets hit 34 home runs in 19 games against the Phillies last season.

The most dramatic one came late at night on Sept. 22 when Asdrubal Cabrera smoked a three-run, walk-off homer against Edubray Ramos to give the Mets a 9-8 win in 11 innings at Citi Field.

Cabrera celebrated like a lottery winner as the ball jetted through the New York City night. He delivered a two-handed bat flip and raised his arms in triumph as Ramos began the lonely walk to the Phillies clubhouse after what turned out to be his final pitch of the 2016 season.

Ramos must have stewed about Cabrera's home run and reaction all winter because when he came face to face with Cabrera as the Mets and Phillies renewed their rivalry on Monday night, he did something about it.

Something that manager Pete Mackanin did not like.

Something that contributed to the Phillies' losing, 4-3, to the Mets (see Instant Replay).

With one out in the eighth inning of a tie ballgame, Ramos fired a 96-mph fastball over Cabrera's head. Cabrera was stunned. He straightened up, glared at Ramos and shouted, "What the hell are your doing?" Tempers began to simmer and Mackanin was actually ejected from the game. But order was restored quickly and Ramos continued to pitch to Cabrera with a warning from the umpire. Ramos ended up walking Cabrera and two batters later Jay Bruce swatted a two-run homer against Joely Rodriguez to give the Mets a 4-2 lead. Brock Stassi's first big-league hit, a solo homer in the ninth, tightened the score, and the Phils had the tying run at the plate before Mets closer Addison Reed retired Cesar Hernandez and Howie Kendrick to end the game.

It was the Mets' 27th win over the Phillies in 39 games since the start of the 2015 season.

After the game, Mackanin was critical of Ramos.

"There might have been [some history between the two]," Mackanin said. "There probably was. But I don't think about that over the course of the game. I'm trying to win the game. If he did, in fact, do that intentionally for whatever reason, we don't play that way. I don't play that way. It's inappropriate, especially in a tie game in the eighth inning."

Through a team translator, Ramos said the pitch "got away" and was not intentional. He said the home run that Cabrera hit last year was "in the past." Asked if Cabrera's celebratory reaction at the time upset him, Ramos admitted, "Yeah, a little, but again that was last year."

Ramos and Cabrera are both from Venezuela, but don't know each other.

In fact, after the game, Cabrera said he did not even know Ramos was the same guy he hit his walk-off homer against last September.

"I just found out now," Cabrera said in the postgame clubhouse.

"What happened last year was last year. I think when you hit a homer to win the game … I just enjoyed that homer. If you want to hit somebody, you've got to make sure to throw the ball down, not to the head."

Mackanin said he would speak with Ramos on Tuesday.

Given the skipper's distaste for Ramos' actions, he probably won't tell the pitcher the next time he decides to make a statement, he can't walk the hitter. Walks hurt the Phils in this one. There was the one to Cabrera that preceded Bruce's tie-breaking homer in the eighth. And there was one to Bruce by Jerad Eickhoff that turned into the tying run in the seventh.

Eickhoff pitched another strong game -- seven innings, two runs -- and got little run support. He gave up a solo home run to Bruce in the fourth inning. That home run cut the Phils' lead in half. They scored twice against Jacob deGrom in the first inning and were looking at more until Stassi grounded into a 1-2-3 double play with the bases loaded.

"It would've been nice to [hit my first homer] in the first inning, for sure, and blow this thing open," Stassi said. "I'd never seen deGrom and he threw me a good changeup."

The Phillies and Mets play 18 more times this season, including Tuesday and Wednesday night, and three times next week in New York.

Ramos' message pitch that he says wasn't a message pitch surely fired up the Mets on Monday night. Will the heat linger?

"Of course it's going to fire them up," Phillies catcher Cameron Rupp said. "But it needs to go away now."

Instant Replay: Phillies 6, Diamondbacks 1

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Instant Replay: Phillies 6, Diamondbacks 1

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PHOENIX -- Mark Leiter Jr.'s first big-league start was a memorable one. The 26-year-old right-hander from Tom's River, N.J., pitched six shutout innings to lead the Phillies to a 6-1 win over the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field on Friday night.

The win was the Phillies' second in a row and just their third in the last 16 games. It came against an Arizona club that entered the day in second place in the NL West. The D-backs are 46-28 and have the best home offense in the majors, averaging 6.48 runs per game in their ballpark.

But Leiter, called up to replace injured Jerad Eickhoff, held off that lineup for his first big-league win. He also had his first big-league hit.

The Phillies are 24-48, worst in the majors.

Starting pitching report
Leiter held one of baseball's best offenses scoreless for six innings. He gave up three hits, walked just one and struck out five. The right-hander had one trouble spot. It came in the fourth when he allowed a one-out double to David Peralta then walked Paul Goldschmidt to put runners on first and second. Leiter then retired Jake Lamb and Chris Owings to get out of the inning. He punched his glove with excitement as he left the field. Leiter retired the final six batters he faced and left with a 1-0 lead.

Arizona's Patrick Corbin pitched one-run ball over 6 2/3 innings.

Bullpen report
Pat Neshek pitched a scoreless seventh inning to protect a one-run lead. Neshek, the subject of some controversy in recent days (see story), has allowed just two runs in 29 2/3 innings this season.

Joaquin Benoit allowed a run in the eighth, but got the final two outs with the tying run at third.

Hector Neris pitched a scoreless ninth inning.

Arizona's bullpen gave up five runs in the final two innings.

At the plate
Freddy Galvis tripled with one out in the first inning and scored on a groundout.

Maikel Franco put the Phils up, 2-0, on a solo homer in the top of the eighth. He got the green light on 3-0 and hammered a liner over the right-field wall.

The Phillies were clinging to a 2-1 lead when they erupted for four runs in the top of the ninth, highlighted by Tommy Joseph's two-run homer. Cameron Rupp and Howie Kendrick (pinch-hitter) also had important hits in the ninth.

The D-backs got on the board on an infield single by Rey Fuentes and a triple by Daniel Descalso in the eighth.

In the field
Odubel Herrera had an adventurous night in center field. He misplayed a ball into a double in the third inning then promptly gunned down the runner at third as he tried to advance on a fly ball.

Galvis made a tremendous snag on a hard liner by Peralta for the second out of the eighth inning. Galvis made the play up on the grass with the potential tying run on third.

Health check
Kendrick was scratched from the starting lineup with left hamstring tightness. Andres Blanco started at second base. Kendrick had a pinch-hit double in the ninth.

Up next
The series continues Saturday night with Ben Lively (1-1, 3.33) pitching against Arizona lefty Robbie Ray (7-3, 2.87).

For Pat Neshek and Pete Mackanin, goal is same: Contribute without risking injury

For Pat Neshek and Pete Mackanin, goal is same: Contribute without risking injury

PHOENIX -- Pete Mackanin and Pat Neshek talked on Friday.

"We're good," Mackanin said. "If there was some miscommunication, I'll put it on me."

"Yeah," Neshek confirmed. "I think it's just miscommunication. There's really no story. We laughed about it. We were like, 'This is kind of a stupid issue.' There's really nothing."

A mini-drama evolved over Neshek's availability to pitch the last few days. On Wednesday, the right-handed reliever was a no-go in a close game. Afterward Mackanin said he checked in with Neshek before the game and the pitcher had indicated he was sore. Neshek took some issue with that, saying he was told by Mackanin that he was getting a day off even before his condition was discussed.

In Thursday's 5-1 win over St. Louis, Neshek got two outs on five pitches in the eighth inning. It was his seventh appearance in 11 games. After the game, reporters asked Mackanin if he considered having Neshek, the team's best reliever, stay on for the ninth inning. Mackanin said he had but Neshek told him after the inning that he'd had enough. After the game, Neshek said the conversation never occurred, which was technically true because he had spoken to pitching coach Bob McClure, not Mackanin.

While the events of the last few days have been kind of silly, they have underscored something everyone already knew: The Phillies are going to be careful with Neshek and watch his workload closely. And Neshek is going to do the same. As he said Friday, he's a Tommy John surgery survivor and will protect himself.

Entering Friday, Neshek had allowed just 18 hits and two runs in 28 2/3 innings, many in high-leverage situations. That excellent work could make him an attractive trade chip for the Phillies in the coming weeks. This has put Mackanin on a tightrope as he looks to get contributions from Neshek without jeopardizing the 36-year-old pitcher's health and trade value.

Does that make Neshek just a one-inning reliever?

"I wouldn’t say he is," Mackanin said. "You know what? Let’s put it this way: I don’t want to upset or lose something that’s really working for us. If I push him, I’d hate for him to come up with something wrong with his arm. Last year, I don’t think he pitched a lot of full innings. He was pretty much a situational right-hander. I’m more cautious with him than he would be with himself."

Neshek pitched just 47 innings with Houston last year, mostly in medium- and low-leverage situations. The Astros were a contending team with a good bullpen. These Phillies are the worst team in the majors with a poor bullpen. Because of that, Neshek has been asked to pitch in more high-leverage situations and there could be a temptation to overextend him, to ask him to go more than an inning.

"I could do that," Neshek said Friday.

"I don't know about tonight," he added with a laugh.

"When you have a good bullpen, you usually don't need guys to do that kind of stuff," Neshek added. "I mean, a lot of guys, you know, kind of have been struggling here, so you're going to have to pick it up if that’s the case. But I mean, when you have a bullpen that's fully functional you'll never see that. In Houston we never had that problem, so I never did that. In St. Louis, a couple times we had that problem. But, I mean when you’re pitching middle relief you'll see a lot of 1 1/3 and stuff like that. … It's not an issue, man. If it's the playoffs, yeah, you're going out two innings. When you're down 30 games in the standings and I'm tired. … Yeah, I've been through Tommy John surgery. It's not any fun and I don't ever want to have to go through that again, so I'm going to protect myself."