In a season characterized so far by weak offensive performance, the Phillies came up with arguably their weakest effort yet, with a shutout at the hands of the freshly nose-jobbed Jonathon Niese and two Mets relievers. Only seven Phillies reached base all game, on six singles and one walk.
It's hard to come up with much else to say about this thoroughly dull and depressing game. So far, these hitters have neither been hitting with power nor getting on base. They haven't been striking out a ton (six today), but their BABIP has been low. I'd like to criticize them for failing to work counts or draw walks, but today at least, it didn't seem like they were chasing a whole heckuva lot of pitches out of the strike zone until they were already down 0-2 or 1-2. Niese was just throwing a lot of strikes and getting ahead in the count. The only way out of the quandary was to swing early and do something to those early strikes. But when they swung, they couldn't do any damage.
Niese deserves some credit for this, as he was throwing quality strikes that were rarely in the middle of the plate. It's not as if the current edition of the Phils' lineup is the first one ever to have problems with Niese, and most pitchers are not going to have the command he had today. But if the strategy of opposing pitchers is going to be to fearlessly shove strikes down the throats of the Phillies' batters, at some point the batters are going to have to do something to stop it before they can start working counts.
The two best scoring opportunities of the day came in the first two innings. In the first, Placido Polanco and Jimmy Rollins both singled with one out, but Hunter Pence promptly grounded into a double play on the first pitch he saw. In the second, after Freddy Galvis singled with two outs, Brian Schneider hit a deep fly ball to right-center just to the left of the out-of-town scoreboard, but Mets centerfielder Kirk Nieuwenhuis tracked it down after a long run (see photo above).
Phillies starting pitcher Vance Worley didn't pitch his best game today, but most of his mistakes were confined to the fourth inning. He cruised through the first three, making only one bad pitch (a down-the-middle, get-me-ahead-in-the-count fastball to David Wright in the first inning, which Wright hit out to dead center for a solo homer). In fact, Worley struck out the side in the third and looked great doing it. But in the fourth, he gave up a leadoff walk to Daniel Murphy and was unable to hit his spots for the rest of inning, which culminated in a two-run homer by Lucas Duda. Worley regained a bit of his composure and pitched two more scoreless innings, but the Mets had all the runs they needed by that point. He ended the day with five strikeouts, four walks (one intentional), and four runs allowed (all earned) in six innings.
David Herndon and Antonio Bastardo combined for two scoreless innings after Worley departed. Bastardo threw a lot more breaking balls than usual, but they were very effective. Michael Stutes walked two batters and allowed the Mets to score their fifth run in the ninth.
Cole Hamels will lead the Phillies in trying to avert a sweep tomorrow afternoon against BIG PELF.