Familiar woes, errors, and bullpen cause another loss, 4-3. In a season that is quickly resembling the Bill Murray movie, Ground Hog Day, the script continues as the Phillies drops another to the New York Mets, 4-3. Same script, same players.
Facing Jacob deGrom, you knew the Phillies would have to bring their “A” game in this match-up. Zach Eflin matched deGrom with Eflin going 6 innings surrendering 5 hits, 1 earned run, a free pass, and striking out 5. Eflin actually had a better line than deGrom who also went 6 with 3 hits 2 runs a walk and 5 strikeouts. Every Phillies fan would be ecstatic with Eflin matching the best pitcher in the Major Leagues. Team Philadelphia looked great for 8 and a half innings. Too bad they play nine.
Nick Maton (1 for 3, 2 RBI) gave the visitors a 1-0 lead with a second-inning single. New York had an answer when Jose Pereza knocked a run-scoring double. It was Philly’s turn and the consistent Andrew McCutchen hit a sac fly in the 6th inning. A bizarre move from the manager, Joe Girardi, I know right? Despite Eflin going to the mound and having thrown only 82 pitches, Girardi yanked his starting pitcher. The Mets were pinch-hitting with lefty Jeff McNeil and had a series of lefties due up.
“You’ve got McNeil, who’s hit Ef a little bit,” he said. “He got out of a jam in the sixth, and I thought it was time to go get him. Ef threw a great game, and I liked Ranger in that situation.”
Ok, logical explanation but Ranger Suarez promptly gave up a game-tying pinch-hit home run to Kevin Pillar. Eflin was candid about the move.
“I was caught a little off guard,” Eflin said. “I think anybody would be caught off guard going out and warming up for an inning and then seeing the manager walk out and take you out. But I understand the situation. It was late in the game and they’re pinch-hitting a lefty. I still had more in the tank, but that’s not my decision and I completely respect him for doing that.”
Ok, take the hit and get back up. Exactly what the Phillies did Nick Maton picked up his second RBI with a sac fly to make it a 3-2 game. All plays and forms of entertainment have a hero (Eflin) and a villain or two.
On to the ninth we went and who walked to the mound? Hector Neris. Neris was told he would no longer be the closer the day before but Jose Alvarado threw 31 pitches on Thursday in Game 1, Neris only 7 so, that, in the analytics world rendered Alvarado unavailable. So, despite no longer being the closer, Neris was asked to close in the next two games.
Rhys Hoskins aka Dr. Strange Glove 2.0, once again went in the spotlight but, not in a good way. Travis Blankenhorn hit a slow grounder to Hoskins who promptly booted it. Neris seemed to say, “I got this!” and walked Billy McKinney, Pillar registered an infield single to load the bases. Neris hunkered down and walked Luis Guillermo to force in the tying run making it 3-3. Michael Conforto ended the comeback with a sacrifice fly to make Phillie’s victims of their own devices… again.
Only the Phillies can blow two save chances in one game and giving up the Pillar pinch-hit homer was blown chance one and Neris made two. That makes 20 blown saves in 74 games. With a win Sunday, Philly will be, standings-wise, right back where they were before the series started, 5 games behind the Mets, but with four fewer games played. Another shocker. Bryce Harper left the game when he was hit by a deGrom pitch in the sixth inning while squared around to bunt. Familiar woes for the Phillies continue.