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.

Hurts so good: Phillies win third straight with a wacky walkoff

Hurts so good: Phillies win third straight with a wacky walkoff

BOX SCORE

Brock Stassi's toe hurt.
 
Maikel Franco's ribs and head hurt.
 
Pain never felt so good.
 
The Phillies pulled off their most dramatic win of the young season when they rallied for two runs in the bottom of the 10th inning to beat the Atlanta Braves, 4-3, at chilly Citizens Bank Park on Saturday night (see Instant Replay).
 
Franco completed a three-RBI night when he smacked a two-out, two-run, bases-loaded single to right to give the Phillies the walk-off win. It was the Phillies' third straight win and fifth in the last seven games as they improved to 8-9 with a chance to sweep a series and even their record at .500 on Sunday afternoon.
 
Franco will be in the lineup.
 
But he might need a couple of Advil to get going.
 
After his game-winning hit, Franco was hilariously chased into right field by his euphoric teammates. The Phillies third baseman absorbed a beat down with Andres Blanco delivering a blow to the top of Franco's head.
 
"You see that -- boom!" Blanco said in the happy clubhouse after that game.  
 
Franco did more than see it.

He felt it.
 
"Whitey got me," he said, laughing and pointing to his head and ribs. "My body is screaming right now."
 
Across the clubhouse, Stassi was feeling Franco's pain. His foot got stepped on during the happy scrum.
 
"My toe is killing me," he said with a laugh.
 
Stassi, too, might need an Advil before Sunday's game. He has a good chance to be in the lineup at first base because Tommy Joseph seems like a candidate for a day off after a tough night. Joseph made a costly throwing error in the top of the 10th inning that helped the Braves take a 3-2 lead.
 
Stassi helped rescue the Phillies from that deficit. His 10th inning single was the first of three one-out hits that the Phils collected against Braves' closer Jim Johnson. With the bases loaded, Johnson made Odubel Herrera look bad with a swinging strikeout for the second out. That brought up Franco. New hitting coach Matt Stairs is constantly encouraging Franco to use the whole field and that's just what the cleanup man did in lacing a liner to the warning track in right.

"To right field! How 'bout that," manager Pete Mackanin said.
 
It was Franco's second single of the night. He would have been awarded a game-winning double if he had reached second base. But, alas, he was chased into right field.
 
In the clubhouse after the game, Franco was told by a club official that he could have had a double had he touched second.
 
Franco's eyes widened in disbelief.
 
"Ah, Mikey!" he said, scolding himself.
 
Then he laughed.
 
Across the clubhouse, Joseph could laugh about the miscue that saw him throw to an empty third base after a sacrifice bunt in the 10th. With everything moving fast, he mistook shortstop Freddy Galvis for a baserunner as Galvis streaked to cover third.
 
Joseph's error put a man on third and the Braves scored the go-ahead run on an infield hit.
 
The ironic part about Joseph's error was the Phillies played excellent defense -- Herrera and Aaron Altherr made great catches in the outfield and Galvis was Galvis at short -- until the 10th.
 
They pitched well, too, from starter Jerad Eickhoff's five innings of one-run ball to the stingy relief work of Joely Rodriguez, Luis Garcia and Pat Neshek. They teamed on three shutout innings.
 
With his top late-game tandem of Joaquin Benoit and Hector Neris in need of a night off, Mackanin asked Edubray Ramos to close it out. Ramos struck out the first two batters in the ninth and was one out away from his first big-league save when Brandon Phillips unloaded on a hanging slider to tie the game at 2-2.
 
Ramos rebounded and got the final out of the inning. As he walked off the field, he covered his mouth with his glove and shouted. Best guess: He said a naughty word. But ultimately his teammates got him off the hook. Parts of it were pretty. Parts of it were ugly. But when the night was over, the Phillies had a win.
 
"It was really a wacky game," manager Pete Mackanin said. "We played well overall, then there was a flurry of activity at the end."
 
Mackanin reached for a bottle of water.
 
"I'm going to drink more of this Smart Water," he said. "It's a happy day."

Best of MLB: Gonzalez, Nationals beat Mets 3-1 for 6th straight win

Best of MLB: Gonzalez, Nationals beat Mets 3-1 for 6th straight win

NEW YORK -- Gio Gonzalez mentioned the tasty Latin food served in the visitors' clubhouse. And the airplanes that fly overhead. And the pretty features of the ballpark.

But if there's a real reason why the Washington lefty is so successful at Citi Field, he isn't saying.

"Any secrets?" he offered. "No."

Gonzalez pitched no-hit ball into the sixth inning to win again at the Mets' stadium, and the Nationals beat New York 3-1 on a drizzly Saturday for their sixth straight victory (see full recap).

Contreras' slam powers Arrieta, Cubs to 12-8 win over Reds
CINCINNATI -- After a sputtering start, the Cubs' offense is finally rolling. And it's no surprise that they're breaking out at Great American Ball Park, a place that's just their style.

Wilson Contreras hit his first career grand slam and Anthony Rizzo and Jason Heyward added three-run shots on Saturday, powering Chicago to a 12-8 victory over the Cincinnati Reds.

Jake Arrieta (3-0) returned to the mound where he threw his second career no-hitter last April 21 and struggled mightily at the outset, giving up two homers in the first inning. Chicago's offense pulled him through with another homer-filled game at Great American Ball Park. Arrieta helped with an RBI triple (see full recap).

Homers by Mancini, Schoop carry Orioles past Red Sox 4-2
BALTIMORE -- Just when it appeared Steven Wright had finally gained command of his fluttering knuckleball, the Baltimore Orioles found their groove.

The result: Another early exit for the 2016 All-Star in Boston's 4-2 loss Saturday night.

Trey Mancini and Jonathan Schoop homered in succession off Wright, Jayson Aquino won his first big league start and the Orioles used one big inning to secure their fourth straight victory (see full recap).

Simmons belts grand slam to lead Angels past Blue Jays 5-4
ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Andrelton Simmons hit a tiebreaking grand slam, Tyler Skaggs pitched into the eighth inning and the Los Angeles Angels held off the slumping Toronto Blue Jays 5-4 Saturday night.

Simmons cleared the bases in the third inning off Casey Lawrence (0-2) for his second career grand slam, helping the Angels snap a three-game losing streak and win for the second time in 11 games.

Skaggs (1-1) gave up a run in the first but settled down to hold the Blue Jays to five hits over the next six innings, getting the Blue Jays to hit into three double plays along the way. He was lifted after Ryan Goins doubled to lead off the eighth (see full recap).