New York Mets

Nick Pivetta's mistakes costly in Phillies' rain-shortened loss to Mets

Nick Pivetta's mistakes costly in Phillies' rain-shortened loss to Mets

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NEW YORK — The conditions, rainy and blustery, were miserable for baseball, but they really weren't an issue for Phillies starting pitcher Nick Pivetta. He was raised in Victoria, British Columbia so ...
 
"I grew up in this stuff," the 24-year-old, rookie right-hander said. "It didn't affect me."
 
What affected him was something that has plagued a cast of young Phillies pitchers this season — too many pitches over the middle of the plate.
 
"He threw strikes but not quality strikes," manager Pete Mackanin said after his team's 6-3 loss to the New York Mets at Citi Field on Wednesday night (see observations). "Too many bad pitches."
 
The game was called in the bottom of the sixth inning after a 57-minute rain delay.
 
Some might have called it a mercy killing, but Mackanin wouldn't go there. He had just seen his team rally for three runs in the top of the sixth, two on a laser-beam home run by rookie Nick Williams, his ninth of the season, to cut the Mets' early lead in half, and would like to have seen what his club could have done in the late innings. But with no end to the bad weather in sight, and two also-rans on the field, the umpires didn't have much urgency to hang around into the wee hours of the morning to go the full nine.
 
"It's a shame we got banged because we started mounting a comeback," Mackanin said. "But it is what it is."
 
The Mets ended up taking two of three from the Phillies and have won 18 of the last 21 series between the two teams. The Mets are 37-17 against the Phils since the start of the 2015 season.
 
The Phils found themselves in an early hole when Pivetta was tagged for three runs in the first inning. In all, he gave up 10 hits and six runs in five innings of work. He threw 111 pitches — too many, but that's been a common bugaboo for the Phillies' young starting staff.
 
Pivetta made two mistake pitches in that first inning — a loopy, hanging curveball that Asdrubal Cabrera stroked for an RBI single and a middle-in fastball that Travis d'Arnaud hit for a two-run homer.
 
"I've got to limit mistakes," Pivetta said. "I can't miss up in the zone. When I'm ahead in the count, I can't throw a hanging breaking ball to Cabrera where he smacks it. I can't throw an inside fastball to d'Arnaud, don't miss in and he puts a good swing on it. Those mistakes are on me and I own up to those mistakes, but at the end of the day they're mistakes."
 
Pivetta has shown flashes of brilliance this season. He pitched seven innings of one-run ball against these same Mets on July 2. He struck out 11 Padres and 10 Cardinals in a pair of starts. And, of course, he was brilliant during his time at Triple A. There's something there. It just needs refinement. In a perfect world, Pivetta would have had more time at Triple A this season. But he was pressed into duty in the big leagues and has a 6.49 ERA in 22 starts.
 
It's all been a learning experience.
 
"I know it's frustrating, especially for the team, when I go out there and give up six runs," Pivetta said. "But I don't think it's anything to panic about. I don't want to panic because I'm young. I hate saying it, but I'm young. There's a lot of good things I can build on."
 
Mackanin believes Pivetta will be better for his struggles. And he believes the pitcher has big upside.
 
"He has an above-average fastball with good life and good movement," Mackanin said. "He has a good curveball and a pretty good slider. He's developing a changeup. But, once again, it's all about commanding those pitches. Once you get to that point where you can command your pitches, that will make you a successful pitcher."

Pivetta has four starts remaining before the end of the season. Four more chances to learn.

"I'm not going to let it beat me up," Pivetta said. "I've still got four starts until the end of the season. My plan is to go out there next time, throw a good game and hopefully build on that. That's just where I'm at right now."

Phillies-Mets observations: Nick Pivetta hit hard in rain-shortened loss

Phillies-Mets observations: Nick Pivetta hit hard in rain-shortened loss

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NEW YORK — Rookie right-hander Nick Pivetta was hit hard in the Phillies' 6-3 loss to the New York Mets on Wednesday night.
 
The game was ended in the sixth inning after a 57-minute rain delay.
 
The Mets ended up taking two of three from the Phillies and have taken 18 of the last 21 series between the two teams. The Mets are 37-17 against the Phils since the start of the 2015 season.

• For only the second time since May 27, the Phillies entered a game without the worst record in the majors. Tuesday's win gave them a winning percentage of .384. The San Francisco Giants entered the day at .383.
 
• Pivetta has a good arm. He's one of hardest throwers on the roster. But like many young pitchers on this club, he throws too many pitches — period — and too many over the heart of the plate. He was tagged for 10 hits and six runs over five innings. He did not walk a batter and struck out five. Pivetta has shown flashes of brilliance this season. There's something there. It just needs refinement. In a perfect world, he would have had more time at Triple A this season. But he was pressed into duty in the big leagues and has a 6.49 ERA in 22 starts. He should be better for the experience next season.
 
• The Phillies trailed, 6-0, after five innings. They cut the Mets' lead in half with three runs in the top of the sixth, two on a two-run homer by Nick Williams in the top of the sixth. It was the rookie's ninth homer and he hit it good — a 403-foot laser over the wall in right-center.
 
• Earlier in the day, the Phillies traded recently acquired reliever Juan Nicasio to the Cardinals for minor-league infield prospect Eliezer Alvarez, 22 (see story). Baseball America ranked Alvarez as the Cardinals' 10th-best prospect entering the season. Nicasio's time with the Phillies was brief as he was picked up on waivers from Pittsburgh last week. He made two appearances with the Phils and needed just three pitches to earn the win in his first one. "I was going to say he's available today — but not to me," manager Pete Mackanin quipped before the game. "He came in, threw three pitches, got a win and left." The Phillies made a good deal here. They got him for a $50,000 waiver fee and a week of salary. He wasn't in their plans for next season, so they spun him for a player that has some upside and could fit into the rebuild. The loser is the Pirates. They had tried to trade Nicasio but pulled him off revocable waivers when a rival team claimed him. Then they put him in irrevocable waivers and the Phillies claimed him. So the Pirates ended up getting nothing for him while the Phillies picked up a player with a chance.
 
• Much of the game was played in a chilly rain. The crowd was so small you could hear the infielders snap their gum. As the rain fell steadily in the middle of the sixth inning, the head of the grounds crew brought a computer tablet out to the field so the umpires could get a look at the weather radar. The umpires called for the tarp moments later.
 
• Odubel Herrera was not in the lineup. He was scheduled to have the day off as part of his recovery from a hamstring strain. He had returned to the lineup on Tuesday. Herrera is scheduled to play the next two games then get another day off before being turned loose. As for Aaron Altherr, also recovering from a hamstring strain: Wet grounds pregame prevented him from going through a scheduled base-running test. He hopes to be able to go through the test Thursday in Washington and get some playing time later on this weekend.
 
• Cameron Rupp did the catching, but before the game Mackanin admitted, "I need to see (Jorge) Alfaro more." So look for Alfaro to get an increase in action as the Phillies get him ready for next season. Alfaro is out of minor-league options and could be the Phils' primary catcher in April.
 
• The Phillies move on to Washington for four against the postseason-bound Nationals on Thursday night. Here are the pitching matchups:
 
Thursday night — RHP Aaron Nola (10-10, 3.72) vs. RHP Tanner Roark (11-9, 4.48)
 
Friday night — RHP Jake Thompson (1-1, 4.50) vs. RHP Max Scherzer (13-5, 2.19)
 
Saturday night — RHP Mark Leiter Jr. (2-5, 4.74) vs. RHP Edwin Jackson (5-4, 3.29)
 
Sunday afternoon — RHP Ben Lively (3-5, 3.92) vs. TBA.

Youngsters help Phillies steamroll Jacob deGrom, Mets at Citi Field

Youngsters help Phillies steamroll Jacob deGrom, Mets at Citi Field

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NEW YORK — Ben Lively crashed J.P. Crawford's coming-out party Tuesday night and no one had a problem with it.

Lively pitched seven innings of one-run ball and drove in four runs with a two-run single and a swing-hard-and-something-good-might-happen, two-run home run to lead the Phillies to a 9-1 victory over the New York Mets at Citi Field (see observations).

Both of Lively's big hits came against Jacob deGrom, who has been an absolute beast against the Phillies for much of his career. The hard-throwing, floppy-haired right-hander entered the game with a 6-0 record and a 2.10 ERA in 10 career starts against the Phillies, including 2-0 with a 1.37 ERA in three starts this year.

It all changed Tuesday night. DeGrom gave up 10 hits and a career-high nine runs (three were unearned) in 3 2/3 innings, the second-shortest outing of his career. And this was after striking out the side in the first inning.

"It's nice to beat deGrom," manager Pete Mackanin said. "If you want to be the best, you have to beat the best."

Though the Phillies entered the game with the worst record in the majors — watch out, the San Francisco Giants are gaining in the race for the No. 1 draft pick — this was still a satisfying win.

"This was a unique game in that every player on the team, including the pitcher, scored at least one run and had a hit," Mackanin said. "That was kind of neat."

The game also offered a potential glimpse of the future. With the highly touted Crawford having arrived earlier in the day (see story), the Phillies' starting lineup featured five players, Lively included, who opened the season at Triple A and are considered building blocks for the future. They all contributed:

Lively, of course, did it with his arm and his bat.

Rhys Hoskins had a single, a double and two walks to run his on-base percentage to .436 in 26 games.

Nick Williams had a three-run double, giving him 38 RBIs since coming up on June 30.

Catcher Jorge Alfaro had three hits to raise his batting average to .362 in 58 at-bats.

And, on his first night in the majors, the 22-year-old Crawford contributed, as well. He had his first big-league hit, scored a run and made a couple of nice plays at third base.

"These guys, great teammates, made me feel welcome from the get-go," Crawford said. "Right when I got here they made me feel at home and I can't thank them enough to kind of settle down the nerves before the game and just have fun out there.

"It was a dream come true. Stepping onto the field, looking around, I thought to myself, like, man, I'm really here. I've been working on it for so long. Just to finally live the dream. I can't wait to get started."

Crawford is a shortstop by trade and likely is the Phillies' shortstop of the future. But for now, he is getting reps at third base as Maikel Franco and his .223 batting average and .278 on-base percentage take a seat. Mackanin said Crawford would likely be back at third base on Wednesday night as the Phillies look for players that will make them better in the future.

The players involved in Tuesday night's win thought they provided a little peek at the future.

"Definitely," Crawford said. "We've been talking about that since Double A. Just to be here in this moment with everyone together, back together and hopefully sooner or later everyone comes back and stays healthy and we can do some damage later on."

Surrounded by players he'd been with in the minors, Lively was overwhelmed by a feeling of what might be down the road.

"Absolutely," he said. "You can't deny that. Having J.P. up here, I told him it fired me up having him hand me the ball from third base. It's awesome."

"It's nice to see a lot of young guys in the lineup," Mackanin said. "Every little bit helps. It gives everybody a little spurt of energy going down the stretch. It's nice to see. The guys swung the bats well. They played a good game."

Ironically, no one swung the bat better than Lively. He had zero hits in 16 Triple A at-bats this season and last and now has six hits, including two homers, in 21 big-league at-bats this season.

"I still laugh about not having a hit in Triple A," he said. "It's pretty funny. I hit pretty good in high school and had a couple of schools look at me as a third baseman, but the pitching route has worked out pretty well."

Lively's two-run homer in the fourth came against a deGrom slider and cleared the wall in right-center.

"I hit it pretty good," the rookie pitcher said with a laugh. "Right when I hit it I was like, 'Ooh, that's hit pretty good.'"

As much as Mackanin liked the home run, he liked this more: Lively delivered his eighth quality start (six or more innings, three or fewer earned runs) in 11 outings.

"He's just a battler," Mackanin said. "He's a true competitor. He wants to win. He wants to be good. He goes right after hitters. He doesn't screw around with them. He gives it his best shot. He takes his chances. That's what I like."