PHILADELPHIA—If the Phillies and New York Mets were true contenders for a division title or a National League pennant, the three extra-inning games between two teams would have been the top story on every national sports cable or website.
Instead, it has been a display of how woefully inconsistent both teams are and why they are in an “epic” fight for last place in the National League East. Both teams figured out ways to give the game to their opponent this weekend.
In the Phillies 4-3 loss to the Mets in 11 innings Sunday at Citizen’s Bank Park, it was that old combination of not enough of run support for starting pitcher Cole Hamels, bad base running, and the bullpen not keeping them in the game.
The Mets got the winning runs they needed in the top of the 11th on a two-run homer by first baseman Lucas Duda off Phillies right-handed reliever Phillippe Aumont that broke a 2-2 tie.
The Phillies closed the gap in their half of 11th with a solo-homer by Marlon Byrd, but would come no closer.
To be honest, you really can’t put this loss on the Phillies bullpen or the starting pitching because they did their respective parts to win the game in the innings prior to the 11th. The Phils offense or lack thereof was the real culprit of this latest loss.
The Phillies best opportunity to take the lead and possibly win it was in the seventh inning. Second baseman Cesar Hernandez reached on a bunt single and was moved to second a sacrifice bunt by third baseman Reid Brignac.
Domonic Brown singled to short left field, but Hernandez was held at third by third base coach Pete Mackinin. Meanwhile, Brown overran first base and got caught up in a run-down and was tagged out at second. Centerfielder Ben Revere grounded out to third to end the inning as 36, 039 fans rightfully booed them off the field.
“It really came to our best chance with a possible first and third situation,” said Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg. “It was a chance to take the lead there. Brown overran the bag. He turned too wide.”
Brown said he made the right read on the ball coming in from center, but probably should have extended the rundown to give Hernandez a chance to score. After the game, he acknowledged that the team needs to work on the basic skills like base running to win.
“We got to be fundamentally sound to be a good ball club and we got to keep fighting, keep battling to do the little things on the baseball field,” Brown said.
Before Byrd’s homerun in the 11th, the Phillies only offense came from first baseman Ryan Howard who hit a two-run homer to center field off Mets starting pitcher Jonathan Niese to give them a short-lived 2-1 lead in the bottom of the third. The Mets tied the game in the fifth on a sacrifice fly by centerfielder Curtis Granderson that scored Eric Campbell.
The offense’s inability to score wasted a solid effort by Cole Hamels, who fell to 1-4 on the season. In seven innings, Hamels allowed just two runs (one earned) on six hits with eight strikeouts and four walks.
“Cole was solid with his 125 pitches and pitched over errors in the sixth and seventh,” Sandberg said.
Hamels did not speak to reporters after the game. But can you blame him? He might have had a few choice words for his teammates lack of hitting. The Phillies lefthander pitched well enough to win the game before it even got to extra innings. In fact, Hamels helped his own cause on offense with a single.
Too bad Hamels teammates couldn’t put enough hits together to hits to help him out.