Phillies-Mets 5 things: Will retaliatory sparks fly tonight?

Phillies-Mets 5 things: Will retaliatory sparks fly tonight?

Phillies (3-4) vs. Mets (4-3)
7:05 p.m. on CSN; streaming live on CSNPhilly.com and the NBC Sports App

The Phillies lost a game they should have won Monday, failing to break things open in the first inning with the bases loaded and one out against Jacob deGrom, playing shaky defense to let the Mets tie the game, and then falling behind during a wild eighth inning.

The story coming out of the game was Edubray Ramos' 96-mph fastball behind the head of Asdrubal Cabrera, who flipped the bat against Ramos after a dramatic walk-off home run last September.

Pete Mackanin said he'd talk to Ramos today but it was clear the manager wasn't happy with the pitch, calling it "inappropriate," especially at that time and place.

Will some more sparks fly tonight? Let's take a look at Game 2:

1. Ramos will learn
Look, it was a bad decision by Ramos to do what he did to Cabrera last night in the eighth inning of a tie game. He put his own motives ahead of the team's and that's not acceptable unless one team is comfortably ahead or behind. 

But let's remember that this is a 24-year-old kid with all of three months of major-league service time. It was an immature action but he'll learn from it, and hopefully he won't ever put his own feelings ahead of the team's again.

That three-run bomb Ramos gave up to Cabrera last September was the final pitch he threw in 2016. So he had all offseason to stew about it. Really, though, Cabrera didn't do anything egregious. He was excited that he turned an 11th-inning, 8-6 deficit into a Mets win that inched them closer to the playoffs. He reacted. 

Ramos really wasn't within his right to take exception to Cabrera there. Especially considering all of the things his own teammate Odubel Herrera flips the bat over. Do you see pitchers go after Herrera every day?

2. Harvey on the hill
The Phillies faced Max Scherzer last Friday, Stephen Strasburg on Sunday, deGrom last night and now they draw Matt Harvey. 

Just a nice, easy start to the season, huh?

Harvey pitched well in his first start last week against the Braves, giving up two runs over 6 2/3 innings to pick up the win. His fastball averaged 94.4 mph and reached as high as 95.9. It was a good sign for the Mets in Harvey's first regular-season start since undergoing surgery to correct thoracic outlet syndrome last summer.

Last season was a frustrating one for Harvey, who to that point had known nothing but success at the big-league level. He had a 2.53 ERA with 9.5 strikeouts per nine innings in 65 starts from 2012 to 2015. Then last season he just couldn't get right, going 4-10 with a 4.86 ERA in 17 starts and striking out just 7.4 batters per nine.

This is an important year for Harvey as he looks to reestablish himself as an ace. At this point, he's fallen behind Noah Syndergaard and deGrom in the pecking order, but remember it was just two years ago that we were looking at Harvey as one of the very best pitchers in baseball.

In nine career starts against the Phillies, Harvey is 6-2 with a 2.65 ERA. The Phils have hit him around the last two years, though, scoring 13 runs on 26 hits and five homers in his 24 1/3 innings. With Chase Utley and Ryan Howard gone, the only homer off Harvey by an active Phillie belongs to Herrera.

Current Phils have hit .310 off him, with Cesar Hernandez going 3 for 6 with a walk and Freddy Galvis going 3 for 9 with a walk.

3. Buchholz's second start
The Phillies acquired Clay Buchholz from the Red Sox in a trade similar to the acquisition of Jeremy Hellickson from the D-backs the previous offseason. Bring in a veteran starter, hope he pitches well and enables you to flip him in a trade.

Hellickson's been pretty consistent for the Phillies since 2016 began, often keeping them in the game and minimizing damage. "Consistent" isn't the word you'll often see applied to Buchholz.

In his Phillies debut last week in Cincinnati, Buchholz allowed four runs and put 10 men on base over five innings. That's how a lot of Buchholz's starts tend to go: slow pace, lots of baserunners, early exit. It won't go that way every time, but Phillies fans should get used to it for the time being.

The slow pace of Buchholz combined with the long innings can make him frustrating to watch at times. Over the last three seasons, he's had the fourth-slowest pace in the majors between pitches. Here's that list:

1. David Price: 26.1 seconds
2. Yu Darvish: 25.3
3. Jeremy Hellickson: 25.3
4. Clay Buchholz: 25.2

It's much more noticeable from Hellickson and Buchholz because they aren't aces who rack up strikeouts like Price and Darvish. There's so much else to talk about when it comes to Price and Darvish.

Current Mets have hit just .237 off Buchholz but have 15 walks for a .363 on-base percentage. 

Jose Reyes has seen him the most from his days in Toronto, going 8 for 32 (.250) with four walks. Curtis Granderson has six walks against Buchholz but is just 2 for 17 with nine strikeouts. Cabrera has had by far the most success, going 6 for 14 with a double, two homers and three walks.

4. Adjusting the plan vs. Bruce
Jay Bruce destroyed a baseball Sunday night off Marlins right-hander Edinson Volquez for a 428-foot home run. Entering this series, the Phillies knew about Bruce's ability to change the complexion of a game with one swing, but they also knew about the many holes in his swing.

Well, Bruce is clearly locked in. He homered twice last night -- both were no-doubters -- accounting for the first run off Jerad Eickhoff and the game-winning runs off Joely Rodriguez.

Some questioned the Phillies' decision to pitch to Bruce in that eighth inning with struggling lefty Granderson on deck, but consider this: Bruce was 0 for 9 off lefties to that point and had hit .204 against them dating back to 2014. Rodriguez is in a major-league bullpen to get lefties out so he went after him.

Buchholz and the Phillies' relievers tonight just need to handle Bruce with an extra level of caution because of how few other Mets are hitting. New York is hitting .192 through seven games. Yoenis Cespedes and Neil Walker are both 4 for 26 (.154) and Granderson is 5 for 24 (.208). You can take your chances with those who are slumping.

5. This and that
• Right-hander Zach Eflin, who late last season had surgery on both knees, was activated from the DL Tuesday and optioned by the Phillies to Triple A Lehigh Valley. He'll start tonight for the IronPigs in Scranton. 

Eflin showed some flashes over his 11 starts with the Phillies last summer but ended with a 5.54 ERA. 

He'd dealt with pain in both knees for more than a decade so hopefully, the newfound comfort allows him to continue developing as a sinkerballer. Eflin just turned 23 on April 8.

• Wouldn't shock me if the Mets throw at Herrera tonight. It would be a bit of retaliation for Ramos' pitch to Cabrera, and it was just last night that Herrera flipped the bat on a flyout he thought would be an extra-base hit.

• Maikel Franco seems to be locking in. After walking twice and lining out sharply against Strasburg on Sunday, Franco singled in his first two at-bats off deGrom Monday and later walked to get the tying run to the plate in the eighth inning.

• If the Phillies see acting Mets closer Addison Reed again tonight, they could do some damage. Reed threw straight 92 mph fastball after straight 92 mph fastball last night and several of those pitches were center-cut. By far his best pitch of the inning was the two-strike paint job he had on Howie Kendrick, low and on the outside corner to end the game.

Ryan Howard agrees to minor-league deal with Rockies

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Ryan Howard agrees to minor-league deal with Rockies

After going unsigned for three months, Ryan Howard agreed to a minor-league deal Saturday with the Colorado Rockies. It is unclear to which Rockies affiliate Howard will report.

The Phillies declined Howard's team option last fall. Howard was without a team until April, when he inked a minor-league contract with the Atlanta Braves. He batted .184 with one home run and 11 strikeouts in 38 at-bats for Triple A Gwinnett before the Braves released him on May 6.

Howard hit 25 home runs in a limited role for the Phillies last season, but he batted just .196 while losing the first base job to Tommy Joseph by midseason. The 37-year-old slugger spent all 13 of his MLB seasons with the Phillies.

Rockies first basemen are 10th in baseball with a .842 OPS. They've struggled some in the second half with Ian Desmond on the disabled list and Mark Reynolds dealing with a hand injury.

MLB Notes: Red Sox put Dustin Pedroia back on DL with knee woes

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MLB Notes: Red Sox put Dustin Pedroia back on DL with knee woes

NEW YORK -- The Boston Red Sox have put star second baseman Dustin Pedroia back on the 10-day disabled list for the third time this season because of knee trouble.

The AL East leaders made the move before playing at Yankee Stadium on Saturday. The move was retroactive to Thursday, and left-hander Robby Scott was recalled from Triple-A Pawtucket.

Pedroia is out with inflammation. He has been hobbled by knee problems since being injured in a late slide by Manny Machado in Baltimore on April 21.

The 33-year-old Pedroia leads the team with a .303 batting average and a .378 on-base percentage. He has six home runs and 54 RBIs.

Pedroia tops major league second basemen with a .997 fielding percentage, making only one error this year. That miscue ended his Red Sox-record of 114 straight games without an error by a second baseman.

Pedroia was 0 for 4 as a designated hitter Wednesday at Tampa Bay in his first game since July 28. He also was on the DL from May 30 to June 9.

Scott was 1-1 with a 3.38 ERA in 41 games for Boston this year (see full story).

Yankees: RHP Tanaka placed on DL with shoulder inflammation
NEW YORK -- The New York Yankees have put right-hander Masahiro Tanaka on the 10-day disabled list because of shoulder inflammation.

The Yankees made the move Saturday before hosting the AL East-leading Boston Red Sox. Righty Giovanny Gallegos was recalled from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

Tanaka issued a career-high five walks in four-plus innings at Toronto on Wednesday. After the game, Tanaka told the team he was ailing.

"We decided he needs a break," manager Joe Girardi said.

Girardi said there is nothing structurally wrong with Tanaka. Rather, he'll rest and strengthen his shoulder, and is expected back soon.

The former Japanese ace is 8-10 with a 4.92 ERA in 23 starts during an up-and-down season. He was scheduled to start Monday night when the New York Mets play at Yankee Stadium.

Girardi said Bryan Mitchell and Luis Cessa are candidates to pitch in Tanaka's place (see full story).

Yankees: LHP Montgomery OK after hit in head at batting practice
NEW YORK -- Yankees pitcher Jordan Montgomery is in uniform after being hit in the head by a flyball while signing autographs as the Boston Red Sox took batting practice.

The accident happened Saturday while the AL East-leading Red Sox warmed up at Yankee Stadium.

The Yankees said the 6-foot-6 rookie was examined by the team's medical staff. The club said Montgomery was expected to make his start Sunday night against Boston ace Chris Sale.

Montgomery was in foul territory far down the right field line and behind a protective screen when the ball flew over and struck him. He got help leaving the field. It was not known which Red Sox player hit the ball.

Montgomery is 7-6 with a 4.05 ERA in 21 starts for New York since making his major league debut this season.

The lefty recently lost his rotation spot and was sent to the minors when the Yankees traded for starters Sonny Gray and Jaime Garcia. He was recalled from Triple-A when CC Sabathia was put on the disabled list Friday.