Poor relief pitching, fielding errors, and an overturned home run call doom the Phils in nationally televised game against the New York Mets.
By Chris Murray
For the Philadelphia Sunday SUN
The final game of a hotly contested three-game series between the Philadelphia Phillies and New York Mets included a gaffe in the field, a bullpen meltdown, and an almost home run that would have tied the game.
The Mets wound up hanging on to an 8-7 win over the Phillies Sunday night at Citizens Bank Park in a game that had its share of drama and controversy.
In the bottom of the ninth inning, Phillies first baseman Rhys Hoskins hit what looked to be a game-tying three-run homer to the right-field seats that appeared at first glance to carom off the right field seats back on the field.
But a closer look at the replay shows that the ball did hit the railing. The umpires overturned the call after looking at the replay and ruled it a two-run double. Bryce Harper struck out to end the emotional roller-coaster of a game.
“Obviously, it’s frustrating that it goes against us, but I’m assuming it was right,” said Phillies manager Joe Girardi. “It’s frustrating because we thought we tied it up. It’s tough.”
In a closely contested weekend series against the New York Mets that included an altercation that cleared both benches, the Phillies were looking to win the rubber match in a trio of games that was decided by one run. But in the end, the Phillies have themselves to blame between poor relief pitching and fielding mistakes.
“We’re making too many mistakes defensively and we need to clean it up,” Girardi said. We’re giving them way too many extra outs.”
Going into the top eighth, the Phillies held a 4-2 lead.
And that’s when the bottom fell out.
First, centerfielder Kevin Pillar hit a solo-home run off Phillies reliever Brandon Kintzler. After Jonathan Villar reached on an infield single, pinch-hitter Jose Peraza hit a sharp ground ball that squirted past Hoskins into right field moving Villar to third.
When a visibly frustrated Hoskins drooped his head down and casually flipped the ball back to second baseman Nick Maton instead of running the ball back into the infield, Villar alertly took advantage of the Phillies gaffe and scored to give the Mets 5-4 lead.
“I gotta make a play in the eighth inning,” Hoskins said. “It’s a mental error that can’t happen at any point in the game, certainly not late in the game. I just put my head down. We know Villar is an aggressive base runner. You can’t take your eye off him and I did. You gotta make sure you run the ball back into the infield and make sure we get time and fight for another day.”
Unfortunately for the Phillies, the Mets were not done. Later in the inning, New York loaded the bases and then got a three-run double from first baseman Pete Alonso off Phillies reliever Jose Alvarado to give the Mets a seemingly insurmountable 8-4 lead.
Girardi said the Phillies were without relievers Hector Neris, Connor Brogdon, and Sam Coonrod, who all pitched in late inning situations in the last two series. He attributed Alvarado being too fired up after Friday’s altercation with Mets outfielder Dominic Smith that cleared both benches and resulted in fines and a possible suspension for Alvarado if he loses the appeal.
“It could have been the emotions of the situation because he got so emotional the other day. We haven’t seen a throw like that since he’s been here,” Girardi said.
The hard part for the Phillies was that Zach Eflin pitched well enough to win, but got a no-decision. He struck out seven and allowed just two runs on 10 hits in six innings.
The Phillies opened the scoring in the bottom of the first inning with a lead-off home run by leftfielder Andrew McCutchen. The Mets tied the game in the top of third on an RBI single by right fielder Michael Conforto. They took a 2-1 lead in the sixth inning when Smith scored on a fielder’s choice when Eflin fielded a grounder by McCann and threw the ball to second instead of looking Smith back to the bag at third base and throwing to first.
“I never saw the ball, I threw my glove up, I thought I had it, but I didn’t,” Eflin said. “I knew it was McCann that hit. I knew if I got rid of the ball quickly, we still had a chance at the double-play instead of seeing where (Smith) was and trying to get the sure out.”
In the Phillies half of the sixth, shortstop Didi Gregorious hit a three-run homer to put them up by two before that disastrous eighth inning and rest of the drama at the end.
The Phillies hope to get back on track during a four-game series with the Milwaukee Brewers beginning Monday at 7:05, weather permitting.