By Chris Murray
For the Chris Murray Report and the Philadelphia Sunday Sun
PHILADELPHIA—If there’s anything you can almost count on this season when you’re watching the Phillies, you never know which team is going to show up on a nightly basis.
After getting a walk-off home run by Ryan Howard to win on Wednesday, that other Phillies team showed up. You know the one that can’t seem to hit or score with runners in scoring position or commit a costly error. The team that stays near .500, but can’t seem quite get beyond it.
That above-mentioned Phillies team was on the short end of a 4-1 loss to the New York Mets Thursday night at Citizen’s Bank Park in front of 26, 688 fans, most of whom probably went home shaking their heads in utter bewilderment.
With the exception of Marlon Byrd’s solo home run in the seventh, the Phillies offense was basically nonexistent and they made Mets starting pitcher Zach Wheeler (2-5, 4.31 ERA) look like the second-coming of Roger Clemens or Tom Seaver.
Wheeler had nine strikeouts and zero walks while allowing the one run on four hits. The Phillies as a team struck out 15 times against Mets pitching.
“Tonight it looked like (Wheeler) had pretty good stuff. I would say that his record doesn’t indicate the kind of stuff that he had tonight,” said Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg. “We were just behind in the count the whole game. We couldn’t pull the trigger on his fast ball. He got better as the game wento on with his breaking stuff. Even the relievers had some pretty stuff.”
Meanwhile, Phillies rookie starting David Buchanan didn’t have a bad outing. It wasn’t all that great and wouldn’t have been that bad if he had some run support. In six and two-thirds innings, he allowed four runs (three earned) on seven hits, two walks and a strikeout.
Buchanan showed some flashes of toughness in this game. In the second inning, he allowed the first three Mets—Lucas Duda, Chris Young, and shortstop Wilmer Flores to reach on singles.
But the sinker ball-throwing Phillies righthander got Mets catcher Travis d’Arnaud to hit into a 6-4-3 double play while Duda crossed the plate to score the game’s first run to give the Mets a 1-0. He got Wheeler to ground out to short to end the inning.
“That’s a situation where you have to bear down and minimize the damage,” said Buchanan, who is now 1-1 with a 3.86 earned run average. “According to the laws of baseball, that guy’s on third is supposed to score anyway. To get out with one run is minimize the damage of what you’re supposed to do. We had a good double play up the middle and that’s all you can ask for.”
In the fourth inning, Young hit a two-run homer to left center give the Mets a 3-0 lead. New York’s final run of the game came in the fourth inning. After a single by Wheeler, Mets centerfielder Juan Lagares reached first when Phillies third baseman Cesar Hernandez short hopped the throw to the baseman.
After Daniel Murphy flied out to center, a slowly hit ground ball by David Wright landed in Hernandez’s at third.
But instead of stepping on the bag at third to get the force or just throwing the ball to first, Hernandez hesitated and threw the ball to second, but second base umpire Marvin Hudson said Lagares was safe and the bases were loaded. Buchanan walked Curtis Granderson, allowing Wheeler to score from third.
It was just another one of those head-scratching nights for a team that can’t seem to get out of the way of themselves.