Phillies-Mets: What you need to know

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Phillies-Mets: What you need to know

New York Mets (16-13) at Phillies (14-16), 7:05 p.m. on PHL 17

The Phillies suffered yet another frustrating, late-inning loss on Monday night. They had runners on first and second with no outs in both the seventh and eighth innings but couldnt score, and with two outs in the ninth Jonathan Papelbon allowed a double then a three-run homer as the Mets went on to win, 5-2.

It was the Phillies sixth loss this season when they entered the eighth inning either tied or with a lead. A record two games under .500 with Chase Utley and Ryan Howard out is OK, but you cant ignore a chain of deflating losses.

Starting Pitchers
Joe Blanton is charged with the task of avoiding the Phillies fifth series loss of the season and second to the Mets. Blanton, 3-3 with a 2.83 ERA, is coming off of his best start as a Phillie.

On Thursday in Atlanta, it took Blanton 88 pitches for his first complete game and shutout of his Phillies career. The start before that, Blanton allowed two runs over 7 13 innings, walking none and striking out eight.

Blanton has the lowest walk rate of any major-league pitcher. Hes issued free passes to just three batters in 35 innings this season.

He is opposed Tuesday by 41-year-old journeyman Miguel Batista, who was forced into starting duty when Mike Pelfrey went down for the season with an elbow injury. Batista has pitched for 12 different teams over 20 major league seasons. Hes also written a book of Spanish poetry and a murder novel.

Batista is almost exclusively fastball-cutter. His heater averages 90-92 miles per hour and his cutter checks in at about 86. Last season he threw one of those two pitches 97 percent of the time.

Head-to-head
The Phillies are 52-42 (.553) against the Mets since 2007 but have lost six of the last eight meetings.

Blanton is 3-1 with a 3.50 ERA in nine starts against the Mets. Five of those nine starts were great (0.99 ERA in 36 13 innings), three were poor (9.18 ERA in 16 23 innings) and one was a brief two-inning start last September as Blanton was getting back into pitching shape.

Current Mets are batting .225 off Blanton, though Ike Davis has gotten to him a little bit, going 5 for 11 with two doubles.

Batistas career numbers against the Phillies are meaningless, because hes reinvented himself many different times for many different teams in a variety of different roles. Over the last three years, hes struggled mightily with his command against the Phils, but that was as a reliever.

Batistas last start against the Phils was in 2006. Aaron Fultz pitched two scoreless innings in relief of starter Ryan Madson.

Whos hot?
Shane Victorino had two hits Monday night and has a hit in eight straight after piecing together a 10-game hitting streak earlier in the season. His season numbers arent eye-popping at .254.305.418, but Victorino has reached base safely in 26 of 30 games.

Jimmy Rollins has looked much better as a leadoff man than he did in the three-hole over the first month. Rollins has seen 39 pitches in his last 10 plate appearances, which is almost one full pitch more per plate appearance than his career average.

Storylines
- The Phillies were 21-9 through 30 games last season and didnt lose their fifth series until June 1. This team has less available talent, less bullpen depth and, simply put, less luck.

If the Phillies lose Tuesday night theyll fall to three games under .500, which was where they bottomed out in Arizona before winning three of the next four.

- The Phils have no business not getting to Batista. He is the stop-gappiest of all stop-gap solutions and likely wont head into the All-Star break as the Mets fifth starter. Batista allowed seven Astros to reach base over 2 23 innings in his first start.

Expect to see Laynce Nix and Pete Orr in the lineup Tuesday.

Sound off
Are you concerned about the Phillies 1-4 record in one-run games and 0-4 mark in extra-inning games, or confident that it will even out as the season progresses?

E-mail Corey Seidman at cseidman@comcastsportsnet.com

Best of MLB: Nationals clinch NL East with win over Pirates

Best of MLB: Nationals clinch NL East with win over Pirates

PITTSBURGH -- The Washington Nationals clinched their third National League East title in five years, beating the Pittsburgh Pirates 6-1 Saturday night behind 5 1/3 scoreless innings from rookie reliever Reynaldo Lopez.

Stephen Drew's two-run single capped a three-run first inning for the Nationals, who return to the postseason after a one-year absence. Their win ensured a playoff berth, and they won the division about 20 minutes later when the second-place New York Mets lost to Philadelphia.

Lopez (4-3) came on to the start the bottom of the fourth inning with a 6-1 lead and allowed three hits while striking out five and walking one. He was removed a runner on first and one out in the ninth inning.

Marc Rzepczynski and Blake Treinen got one out each to end the game, and a pocket of Nationals' fans behind the visiting dugout cheered (see full recap).

Cardinals solve Wrigley again, crush Hammel, Cubs 10-4
CHICAGO -- The St. Louis Cardinals have a lot to accomplish if they want to return to Chicago in two weeks for a rematch of last year's NL Division Series. They would have to qualify for one of the wild-card spots, then win the single-elimination playoff game.

If they do, the Cardinals may be the one club that won't be fazed by Wrigley Field and the Cubs.

Yadier Molina drove in four runs, Stephen Piscotty homered and the Cardinals boosted their playoff hopes by getting to Jason Hammel early in a 10-4 rout of Chicago on Saturday.

Randal Grichuk added three RBIs and Jhonny Peralta had three hits and scored three runs for the Cardinals, who stopped a two-game skid and moved into a tie with San Francisco for the final NL wild-card spot pending the Giants' game at San Diego (see full recap).

Yanks shut out for 3rd straight game in 3-0 loss to Jays
TORONTO -- The New York Yankees' offense has disappeared, and their playoffs chances have pretty much vanished, too.

Jose Bautista hit a three-run homer off Tyler Clippard in the eighth inning, and the Toronto Blue Jays beat the Yankees 3-0 Saturday.

New York has been shut out in three straight games for the first time July 27-28, 1975.

"Whatever we're doing right now, it's not working," first baseman Mark Teixeira said. "We just seem to have lost it the last few days."

The Yankees have lost 10 of 13 following a seven-game winning streak and dropped 4 1/2 games back for the AL's second wild card with eight games left. They likely will miss the playoffs for the third time in four years (see full recap).

Dietrich homers, Marlins end Braves' streak at 7 win
MIAMI -- Derek Dietrich hit a two-run homer to help the Miami Marlins end the Atlanta Braves' winning streak at seven games, winning 6-4 on Saturday night.

Dee Gordon had two hits, two walks and three stolen bases - one shy of tying the Marlins' single-game franchise high, which he has done on two separate occasions.

Atlanta's Freddie Freeman extended his hitting streak to 28 games in the first inning and has reached base in 44 straight. He also hit a solo home run in the sixth, his 32nd.

Brian Ellington (4-2) earned the win in relief and A.J. Ramos recorded his 39th save in 42 chances.

The Braves pulled within 5-4 on a wild pitch by Fernando Rodney in the seventh inning (see full recap).

Instant Replay: Phillies 10, Mets 8

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Instant Replay: Phillies 10, Mets 8

BOX SCORE

NEW YORK — Noah Syndergaard’s throat probably closed up a little bit more when he saw how the Phillies treated his replacement on Saturday night.
 
Third baseman Maikel Franco’s three-run home run to left field and starting pitcher Alec Asher’s two-run single to center chased spot starter Sean Gilmartin after just 2/3 of an inning in the Phillies’ 10-8 win over the Mets. Syndergaard, the Mets’ last ace standing, had been scratched from the start earlier in the week due to strep throat.
 
Despite a long string of shaky moments from the bullpen, the Phillies were able to make the 10-0 lead they built in the first four innings stick.
 
The Mets’ grip on the first wild card spot in the NL loosened. The Cardinals defeated the Cubs, 10-3 to pull into a tie — for the moment — with the Giants for the second wild card spot, a half-game behind the Mets.
 
The Giants were a full game behind the Mets for the first wild card spot entering Saturday. They had a 6-5 lead over the Padres when the Mets’ game concluded.
 
The Phillies improved to 70-85. They scored at least 10 runs in a game for the sixth time this season and finished with 17 hits, tying their season high.
 
Starting pitching report
Asher was effective at first and displayed excellent command of his two-seam fastball as he retired the first nine Mets hitters he faced. He was touched up for four unearned runs in his fifth and final inning on two errors, two singles, a double and a sacrifice fly.
 
With a runner on third and two outs, Asher quelled the rally by inducing a groundout from pinch-hitter James Loney to first baseman Tommy Joseph. His night ended after just 76 pitches.
 
The runs Asher knocked in on his single were the first two runs batted in of his young career.
 
Gilmartin walked three batters, surrendered four hits and was booed off the mound by a full house of Mets fans.
 
Bullpen report
Joely Rodriguez entered in the sixth inning and quickly worked himself into trouble. He gave up two runs on a Gavin Cecchini double — his first major league hit — and T.J. Rivera single. Rodriguez survived a two-out, runners-on-the-corners jam by striking out Brandon Nimmo swinging with a slider in the dirt.
 
David Hernandez pitched a scoreless seventh. He erased a leadoff single by eliciting a 4-6-3 double play ground ball from Eric Campbell.
 
Hector Neris struck out his 100th batter of the season but walked two batters and gave up an RBI double to Cecchini that brought the remaining Mets fans to life. With the tying run at the plate, he got Rivera and Nimmo to fly out.
 
Given first crack at temporarily supplanting Jeanmar Gomez in the closer role, Michael Mariot gave up a solo home run to Jay Bruce to bring the Mets within two runs and then walked Campbell and Michael Conforto to bring the winning run to the plate. He got Lucas Duda to pop out and then got Travis D’Arnaud to ground out.
 
At the plate
Cesar Hernandez extended his streak of reaching base safely to 29 consecutive contests when he walked to lead off the game.
 
After going over a month without a home run, Maikel Franco has now homered in three consecutive games.
 
Darin Ruf homered for the second consecutive game, demolishing a Rafael Montero offering to center in the fourth to score three runs.
 
Joseph had two RBIs on a single and a groundout to short.
 
In the field
Franco threw a potential around-the-horn double play ball into center field in the fifth, allowing the Mets’ first run to score.
 
Shortstop Freddy Galvis handled a rundown with Jose Reyes perfectly to complete a 3-6-1 double play in the fourth but also bobbled a ground ball in the fifth for an error.
 
Health check
Tyler Goeddel sat as he continues to recuperate from a concussion he suffered on Wednesday.
 
Up next
The Phillies will round out their four-game swing at Citi Field at 1:10 PM on Sunday. Jake Thompson (3-5, 5.62 ERA) will take the hill for the Phillies. The Mets will counter with Robert Gsellman (2-2, 3.13).
 
Thompson only struck out one batter and surrendered a three-run homer to Melky Cabrera in his last start against the White Sox on Tuesday but earned the win. Gsellman, thrust into the Mets’ rotation after a spate of injuries, has only pitched into the seventh inning of one his five starts this year, a 5-1 loss to the Phillies on Aug. 28.