Coincidentally, I will be in Vegas next weekend for the opening rounds of March Madness. Rain may be on the itinerary.
Full Reports to follow.
NEW YORK – The New York Mets set the tone for this game early on Friday night. Their first two batters stroked Adam Morgan fastballs over the wall and they were off and slugging to a 9-4 win over the Phillies at Citi Field (see Instant Replay).
“There’s not much to say,” manager Pete Mackanin said afterward, “other than we have to pitch better.”
The Mets, very much in the thick of the NL wild-card race, played inspired ball in powering their way to their fifth win in the last six games. They hit four home runs on the night, including three against Morgan, and got a typically strong start from Bartolo Colon.
“It’s never good when you start a game by giving up two home runs,” Morgan said. “If I make better pitches, it’s a different outcome.”
The third home run that Morgan gave up was the killer. It was a grand slam by Wilmer Flores with two outs in the bottom of the fifth. That turned a 2-1 Mets’ lead into a 6-1 Mets’ lead.
Flores’ grand slam came on a first-pitch slider. Morgan threw nine pitches before walking Neil Walker, the previous batter, to extend the inning. One of those pitches was foul pop down the right-field line that Ryan Howard could not chase down. Had he been able to make the tough play, Morgan would have gotten out of the inning unscathed.
Then again, the pitcher could have gotten out of the inning unscathed if he did not give up the two-out walk to Walker.
Or make a mistake with the first-pitch slider to Flores.
“It was a bad pitch,” Mackanin said. “He tried to backdoor a slider and it ended up in his wheelhouse.”
As for the pop-up down the right-field line …
“I was hoping somebody could run that down,” Mackanin said. “Nevertheless, you’ve got to pitch around those things and make good pitches. That mistake to Flores put it away for them. Morgan had command issues. Too many pitches out over the plate.”
In all, Morgan allowed eight hits, including five for extra bases, in his five innings of work. He dropped to 1-8 and his ERA rose to 6.50.
Reliever Frank Herrmann gave up the Mets’ fourth homer, a two-run shot to Asdrubal Cabrera in the sixth. Cabrera homered from both sides of the plate.
Meanwhile, Colon, the Mets’ 43-year-old control artist, did what he often does to the Phillies. He gave up just three hits and a run through seven innings before hitting the wall and giving up three runs without getting an out in the eighth. Colon had to settle for seven-plus innings of four-run ball. He is 12-7 with a 3.44 ERA. He is 9-3 with a 2.98 ERA against the Phillies as a member of the Mets.
“He seems to own us,” Mackanin said. “We can’t seem to square up the ball against him. He does a tremendous job with control and command.”
Peter Bourjos concurred.
“He’s different than any pitcher you see these days,” Bourjos said. “You don’t see many guys throwing mostly fastballs at 88 mph and sinking it. You see some guys throwing a majority of sinkers, but it’s 95. This guy changes speeds on his fastball and locates it so well.”
The game marked the Phillies’ first without Carlos Ruiz, who was traded to the Dodgers on Thursday. Jorge Alfaro came up from Double A and served as the backup catcher. He is expected to return to the Reading club on Saturday when A.J. Ellis arrives. The Phillies picked up the veteran backup catcher in the trade.
Alfaro did not play, but called the experience of coming to the majors “a dream.”
That was the only thing that resembled a dream for the Phillies on Friday night.
They have lost 20 of 29 games to the Mets over the last two seasons and 12 of their last 16 in Citi Field, hardly encouraging with two more games to play in the series.
The Soul are Arena Football League champions again.
The Soul jumped out to a 21-point lead in the first quarter and fended off a comeback attempt down the stretch for a 56-42 win over the Arizona Rattlers in Arena Bowl XXIX on Friday night for the franchise's second AFL title. The first league championship came back in 2008.
With the win, the Soul also got a bit of revenge against the Rattlers, who they lost to in the ArenaBowl in 2012 and 2013.
Dan Raudabaugh had six touchdown passes in Friday's win and the Soul defense held the Rattlers to nearly half of their average points per game (80.3 coming into the game).
NEW YORK — The New York Mets clubbed four home runs on their way to pounding the Phillies, 9-4, at Citi Field on Friday night.
Phillies starter Adam Morgan gave up six runs, all on homers.
Meanwhile, the Phillies’ bats did little against 43-year-old Mets starter Bartolo Colon for the first seven innings and by that time they were down by eight runs.
The Mets are in the thick of the NL wild-card chase and have won five of their last six. The Phillies have lost six of their last nine.
The Mets are 20-9 against the Phillies over the last two seasons.
Starting pitching report
Morgan was tagged for three home runs, including a grand slam with two outs in the bottom of the fifth. He gave up back-to-back homers on his first five pitches to open the bottom of the first inning.
In all, the lefty allowed eight hits, including five for extra bases, in his five innings of work. He dropped to 1-8 and his ERA rose to 6.50.
The grand slam was hit by Wilmer Flores on a first-pitch slider. Morgan threw nine pitches before walking Neil Walker, the previous batter, to extend the inning. One of those pitches was a foul pop down the right-field line that first baseman Ryan Howard could not chase down. Had he been able to make a play, Morgan would have gotten out of the inning unscathed.
Colon allowed four runs over seven-plus innings. Three of them came when he failed to retire a batter in the eighth. Colon is 12-7 with a 3.44 ERA. He is 9-3 with a 2.98 ERA against the Phillies as a member of the Mets.
Frank Herrmann gave up three runs in two innings of work.
Hansel Robles, Sean Gilmartin and Jeurys Familia closed it out after Colon exited.
At the plate
The Phillies did not have a hit until Odubel Herrera’s one-out double in the fifth. He scored on a two-out single by Morgan. The Phils had just three hits through seven innings. Cesar Hernandez and Aaron Altherr teamed to drive in three runs with a pair of doubles off Colon in the eighth.
The Mets had 11 hits, four of which were homers. Asdrubal Cabrera homered from both sides of plate for the Mets.
Colon helped himself with a double, a single and two runs scored.
Jay Bruce was the only Met to struggle. He struck out four times.
The Phillies brought up catcher Jorge Alfaro from Double A. The plan is to send him back Saturday when newcomer A.J. Ellis arrives and assumes the second catcher duties. Ellis was acquired from the Dodgers in the Carlos Ruiz trade Thursday. The trade left Howard as the lone member of the 2008 World Series championship still with the club. Howard can deal with it (see story).
Jeremy Hellickson (10-7, 3.60) opposes hard-throwing Mets right-hander Noah Syndergaard (11-7, 2.61) on Saturday night.