Phillies-Mets: What you need to know

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Phillies-Mets: What you need to know

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

The deflating losses continue to pile up. The Phillies blew another lead Tuesday and dropped their fourth in five games to fall to three games under .500 for the second time this season. Their previous low watermark was April 23 in Arizona, when they fell to 7-10 before winning three of four.

Tuesday nights blown 4-0 lead was the seventh time already this season the Phillies have a lost a game when they were either tied or ahead in the seventh inning. Win three of those seven games and youre 17-14 instead of 14-17. Win them all and youre 21-10, the same record the Phils had through this point last season.

Starting Pitchers
Cliff Lee makes his triumphant return from the DL, and, boy, do the Phillies need big things from him Wednesday night.

Lee was 0-1 with a 1.96 ERA when he hit the shelf after his 10-inning, no-run outing in San Francisco on April 18. He ended up missing three starts.

Lee hasnt won since Sept. 26, 2011. In his three starts this season the Phillies have scored a total of three runs.

Hes certainly pitched well enough to win. Lee has 18 strikeouts to just two walks and 61 percent of his balls in play so far have been on the ground.

Itll be Lee vs. Gee. Dillon Gee gets the nod for the Mets and could prove to be a tough task. Hes 2-2 with a 4.50 ERA, but has impressive strikeout (29) and walk (8) numbers and three of his five outings have been very good.

Gee, who has a beard thick enough to shame Todd Heltons, throws a high-80s, low-90s fastball but uses his secondary pitches plenty. He throws a low-80s changeup about 25 percent of the time and also incorporates a curveball, slider and cutter.

Because of the effectiveness of his changeup, lefties have hit just .216 off Gee in his career. But he does struggle with command against opposite-handed hitters. Hes walked 51 lefties and struck out 50.
Head-to-head
The Phillies are 1-4 against the Mets this season and have lost seven of their last nine games in the series. The Phils are 52-43 (.547) vs. New York since the start of 2007.

Lee is 2-1 with a 1.61 ERA in four starts against the Mets. Hes allowed less than a baserunner per inning and struck out five times as many Ropolitans as hes walked. No single Met has impressive numbers against Lee.

Gee has been awful in four appearances (three starts) against the Phils. Hes allowed 34 baserunners in 18 13 innings, a .297 opponents batting average and has a 7.85 ERA. Somehow, hes won two of three decisions.

Ryan Howard has done the most damage off Gee, but Jimmy Rollins is 3 for 3 with a walk. Shane Victorino is 2 for 7 with a triple and a walk.

Whos hot
In May, Hunter Pence has produced runs the way the Phillies need him to. He is 10 for 34 (.294) with four home runs, three doubles and 10 RBI in eight games. Thats a .735 slugging percentage, and its a major reason why the Phillies have scored the sixth most runs in baseball this month.

Whos not
The bullpen has blown five saves on the season and been responsible for four of the last five Phillies losses.

Storylines
- The first two games of the Mets series were hard to stomach but the Phillies can still avoid their first sweep of the season by winning Wednesday night.

- The Phils play five straight home games after the Mets leave town and have the pitching matchup advantage in every one. So a homestand that hasnt started well can still end with the Phillies back over .500.

- Lee likely wont throw more than 90 pitches, which means six innings unless hes absolutely cruising. That means the bullpen will be needed again and given a chance to redeem itself.
Sound off
Do you think the Phillies need to trade for a reliever?

E-mail Corey Seidman at cseidman@comcastsportsnet.com

Cuban ballplayers mourn loss of Jose Fernandez

Cuban ballplayers mourn loss of Jose Fernandez

CHICAGO — Chicago Cubs outfielder Jorge Soler played with Miami Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez when the two were growing up in Cuba. They traveled together to Venezuela for a youth tournament.

Soler said Fernandez's ability was obvious, right from the start.

"Since he was a child, since we were kids, I knew he had something," Soler said through a translator. "He had a talent. It was very impressive."

Fernandez's death in a boating accident at the age of 24 cast a dark shadow over the major leagues on Sunday. Miami's home game against Atlanta was canceled, and several ballparks observed moments of silence. Wrigley Field's iconic hand-operated scoreboard displayed Fernandez's No. 16 in its pitching column next to Miami.

But the loss of Fernandez was felt most acutely in baseball's growing Cuban community.

"He was one of those guys that everybody loved," St. Louis Cardinals catcher Brayan Pena said. "He was one of those guys that everybody knew exactly what he meant to our community. For us, it's a big, big loss. It's one of those things where our thoughts and prayers are obviously with his family, the Marlins' organization and the fans. But it gets a little bit closer because he was part of our Cuban family."

There were 23 Cubans on opening-day major league rosters this year, an increase of five over last season and the most since the commissioner's office began releasing data in 1995. Many of the players share similar stories when it comes to their perilous journey from the communist country to the majors, and the difficulty of adjusting to life in the United States.

A native of Santa Clara, Cuba, Fernandez was unsuccessful in his first three attempts to defect, and spent several months in prison. At 15, Fernandez and his mother finally made it to Mexico, and were reunited in Florida with his father, who had escaped from Cuba two years earlier.

He was drafted by the Marlins in 2011, and quickly turned into one of the majors' top pitchers.

"How he was on the mound was a reflection of him," Oakland first baseman Yonder Alonso said. "A guy who had a lot of fun, was himself. A very talkative guy, he would come into the room and you'd know he was in the room. Never big-leagued anyone, very professional. No matter what, he would talk to you about hitting, because he thought he was the best hitter, and he (would) talk to you about pitching, because he thought he was the best pitcher."

Alonso said Fernandez's death was "a big-time shock." Yasiel Puig used torn pieces of white athletic tape to display Fernandez's jersey on the wall in the home dugout at Dodger Stadium. Cardinals rookie Aledmys Diaz, who had known Fernandez since they were little kids, declined an interview request through a team spokeswoman.

"We Cuban players know each other well and all of us have a great relationship," Pena said. "For us, it's devastating news when we woke up. We were sending text messages to each other and we were showing support. It's something that obviously nobody expects."

Fernandez, who became a U.S. citizen last year, also was beloved for his stature in the Cuban community in Miami.

"He was a great humanitarian," Cubs closer Aroldis Chapman said through a translator. "He gave a lot to the community and I think that's why he got a lot of respect from the community in terms of what a great person he was and always giving, in terms of always willing to help out in whatever way he can to try to better and progress within the community someone that perhaps wasn't as fortunate as he was."

The 28-year-old Chapman lives in the Miami-area in the offseason. He said he spent some time with Fernandez while he was home.

"He would come by my house. I would go by his," Chapman said. "We would have long conversations. We would talk a lot. We spent a lot of good amount of time together. It was very special for me."

Phillies' clubhouse reflects on life of Marlins' Jose Fernandez

Phillies' clubhouse reflects on life of Marlins' Jose Fernandez

NEW YORK — The clubhouse mood following the Phillies17-0 loss to the Mets Sunday was somber, in part because of the disastrous game that had just wrapped up, but also because of the tragic news of Marlins star pitcher Jose Fernandez’s death in a boating accident early Sunday morning.

“It was rough. People are devastated. I didn’t even know him and I was crushed,” Phillies starter Jake Thompson said. “I can only imagine how that clubhouse feels. That’s something that I wouldn’t wish upon my worst enemy, to deal with something of that magnitude.”

Both teams paused for a moment of silence before Sunday’s game and the Mets taped a jersey bearing Fernandez’s name and number onto their dugout wall.

“This morning, that was quite a surprise,” manager Pete Mackanin said of the atmosphere of the day. “I don’t think it affected the players once the game started. It was such bad news this morning that everybody was kind of melancholy.”

Fernandez had built a strong track record against the Phillies in his young career, amassing a 2.88 ERA in six starts.

“It’s kind of clich√© to say but you look at the start of his career and he could have been a Hall of Famer,” Thompson said.

Asked how he would remember facing Fernandez, Mackanin was succinct.

“He was a helluva pitcher,” he said.

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