It's nice for teams like the Reds and Mets that the Phillies are on tour as a home opener opponent-for-hire, with a roster of nobodies and skill level of nothing. They get to trounce all over a team with no identity at the broad end of a development process while we sit here in Philadelphia, waiting for the team to come home so we can cheer them on but then also probably boo them ourselves because, well. It happens.
Fresh off a sweeping at the hands of the Reds, the Phillies headed for their second day game in a row, this time with the tall order of defeating the defending National League champions. The afternoon started with what it often does in Flushing: bumbling ignorance.
I think Mets fans really want to boo the Phillies, but have no idea who these people are.— Adam Rubin (@AdamRubinESPN) April 8, 2016
Mets fans booing Phillies clubhouse and training staff during pregame introductions. They don't seem to recognize many on roster.— Todd Zolecki (@ToddZolecki) April 8, 2016
Filthy plastic bags danced in the swirling winds as the Mets raised their 2015 NL pennant. It was Jared Eickhoff's turn to make his 2016 debut, with Jacob deGrom starting in blue, and from the get-go, the differences were clear.
deGrom was efficient and merciless, while Eickhoff's journey through each half-inning was a bit loopier. However, Eickhoff was able to keep a lid on any potential trouble, even escaping from a bases-loaded, no outs situation in the second, only allowing a single unearned run. Facing only a one-run deficit, the Phillies offense with no Maikel Franco in it was predictably worthless while Eickhoff compiled a pitch total of 69 through four innings, nibbling hungrily on a conservative strike zone.
Hello yes let's give Eickhoff some of these RHH outside edge strike calls going forward please pic.twitter.com/V1hY8a5F5I— Paul Boyé (@paul_boye) April 8, 2016
A cheer erupted in the top of the fifth as Cameron Rupp struck out, but only because the sun happened to peak out of the clouds for a moment, realized it was looking at Citi Field, and then disappeared in disgust. The moment did not stop Emmanuel Burriss from striking out as well, leaving a rare Phillies base runner, Andres Blanco, on first.
Eickhoff was set to hit the next inning, and after a 1-2-3 fifth with a strikeout, Pete Mackanin let him stay. The decision paid off when Eickhoff smacked a lead off double for the Phillies' fourth hit - and first XBH - of the day. Two outs later, Odubel Herrera stood in, his struggles so far this year having to this point been very visible and audible at the plate. But a sage, patient at-bat led to him slicing a single into left, scoring Eickhoff from third and tying the game - the first time this year the Phillies have successfully knocked in a runner in scoring position.
As these things have typically gone this year, the tie game lasted about six or seven minutes before the Mets started bashing Eickhoff with a double, single, and a double to start the sixth.
So, you can guess what came next.
First out of the gate this time was former Phillies closer Dalier Hinojosa, who got two outs before giving way to Daniel Stumpf, still looking for his first out of the season. With Michael Conforto still on third, Stumpf got Wilmer Flores to line out to center. Just three more innings of the bullpen to go. deGrom departed with back tightness, allowing the Phillies their first opportunity of the day to not face a defending Rookie of the Year.
But James Russell would have to hold the Mets, which he did not, getting one out before allowing a walk, single, walk, single... You know this story. By the end of the inning, it was 7-1.
The Phillies mounted what appeared to be some kind of rally, culminating in a Cesar Hernandez RBI single to make it 7-2 with two runners on for Herrera. "This can't be right," you thought, and you were correct. After a particularly animated at-bat, Herrera popped a Jerry Blevins offering up and was called out via the infield fly rule, but David Wright couldn't catch it, which made Hernandez think he should run to second, where he was caught in a run-down, ending the inning.
The Phillies struck out 11 times as a team and never drew a walk. Meanwhile, no attempts were made to mask Citi Field in its truest form.
There is trash all over the field.— Matt Gelb (@MattGelb) April 8, 2016
The above tweet was followed by 6,000 simultaneous replies of the same joke; probably the one you're thinking of right now and racing to the comments to make. Go ahead. It's fine.