Mets Show Phillies the Way
By Matt Veasey
The host New York Mets dumped the Phillies by 9-4 at Citi Field to take a victory in yet another series between the two NL East rivals. The first place Mets have now taken the last 9 series against the last place Phils.
In this one, New York ace Matt Harvey was spotted a 6-0 lead by the Mets offense before the Phillies were finally able to drive him from the game in the 7th inning.
Harvey (12-7) tossed 101 pitches, 68 for strikes, lasting 6.1 innings. He yielded 9 hits and 4 earned runs, with a 9/1 K:BB ratio in the game. The Phils bunched 4 of those hits and 3 of the runs into a 5th inning rally against the pitcher known as “The Dark Knight”, cutting the Mets lead at the time to 6-3.
“I missed a couple spots and they really made me pay for it” ~ Nola
On the night, the hosts got 3 hits from Yoenis Cespedes, including his 28th homer of the season. Ruben Tejada, David Wright, and exciting rookie Michael Conforto each had a pair of hits.
Tejada’s pair of hits included his 3rd home run of they year, an inside-the-parker on which Phillies’ right fielder Domonic Brown charged wildly after the line smash, couldn’t get the ball, and instead went tumbling over the wall and onto a concrete floor in the stands.
Brown had to leave the game with possible concussion symptoms an inning later. Meanwhile, Conforto added a 2-run homer in the bottom of the 4th, highlighting a 3-run inning that opened the 6-0 lead.
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That was it for Phils’ starter Aaron Nola, the 6 earned runs and 9 hits allowed over just 4 innings representing the rookie’s worst start by far. He wasn’t helped by some overall poor defense from his teammates, but Nola (5-2) certainly didn’t do much to help matters himself.
“My body and my arm felt good the first inning and things kind of just unraveled. I missed a couple spots and they really made me pay for it,” said Nola per Sports Illustrated via the AP.
After the Phils 3-spot in the 5th, the Mets scored a solo run off reliever Dalier Hinojoso in their half to push the lead up to 7-3. Darnell Sweeney smacked a solo homer in the top of the 7th, his 3rd since being called up in the immediate aftermath of the Chase Utley trade, but the Mets got that one right back in their half off Adam Loewen.
In the bottom of the 8th, Colton Murray took the mound for the Phillies, making his Major League debut. He thus became the 6th rookie to debut with the Phils this season, joining Severino Gonzalez, Adam Morgan, Jerad Eickhoff, Alec Asher, and Nola.
Murray learned just how good the best hitters in the big leagues can be when with one out, Cespedes took him out to left center. But Murray also struck out the next two tough, veteran hitters swinging in Wright and Michael Cuddyer, so he got to walk off the mound on a positive note.
The Mets 25th win in the last 31 games between the two teams, a record that follows that last Phillies series victory in New York in early May of 2014, and the polar opposite place in the standings that the two teams now occupy highlights perfectly for the Phils the direction and game plan they need to pursue.
New York developed and brought to the Majors their own strong, young pitching prospects. Once they knew that they had 3-4 ready to win at this level, they took the 2-3 already effective big league hitters in their lineup and added to them with strong, veteran, talented pieces like Cespedes, Cuddyer, Kelly Johnson, and Juan Uribe. Then they gave a genuine opportunity to a highly talented rookie like Conforto.
The Phillies similarly have a bunch of developing, talented young starting pitchers now in Nola, Eickhoff, and a few who should be ready at some point in 2016 in Jake Thompson, Ben Lively, and Zach Eflin. They fully broke Maikel Franco in this year as a position player, may have unearthed a gem in Odubel Herrera, and will have shortstop J.P. Crawford ready at some point in 2016.
Odds are that next summer will, results-wise, be more of the same as new club President Andy MacPhail, a likely new GM, and potentially a new Manager, begin to more fully assess the assets already here. While a new cash bonanza will begin to flow from Comcast TV money, the 2016 season may not be the time that we see that money first spent.
However, there is no reason to expect the Phillies and their fans to do much more suffering beyond next summer. By next off-season there will be plenty of money available. There should be enough young in-house talent finding its way to longterm positions, that management can be expected to start bringing in their own Cespedes/Cuddyer type impact bats, and maybe an arm to lead the rotation kids.
The Mets have laid out a perfect blueprint for the new Phillies regime to follow. Hopefully it all falls into place, and by no later than 2017 we can see a team in red pinstripes that is at least ready to start pressuring the big boys in the NL East once again.