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A Beginning: Phillies 9, Mets 1

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JP Crawford made his debut, but Ben Lively stole the show with a dominant performance on the mound and at the plate

MLB: Philadelphia Phillies at New York Mets
Lively goes long
Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports

About fifteen minutes after the start of Tuesday night’s game at Citi Field, the Phillies looked to be on their way to another loss at the hands of aggressively coifed Mets right-hander Jacob deGrom. Owner of a 6-0 record and 2.10 ERA in ten lifetime starts against the Phils—all won by New York—deGrom struck out the side in the top of the first, and was staked to a 1-0 lead on doubles from Nori Aoki and Travis d’Arnaud.

And then the rookies showed up. Rhys Hoskins, your lord and savior, led off the second with a single. Nick Williams forced him at second, but non-rookie and 2017 Phillie I’ve almost already forgotten Hyun-Soo Kim poked a single between Asdrubel Cabrera and the third base bag. J.P. Crawford, the Phenom Who Was Promised, stepped into a big league batter’s box for the first time. He grounded a deGrom offering to Mets first baseman Dominic Smith, Crawford’s one-time American Legion teammate from California... and Smith threw it into left field Ryan Howard-style, as Williams scampered home to tie the game. After a long Jorge Alfaro at-bat ended in a groundout, Ben Lively—whose two-run single was the difference as the Phillies beat the Marlins in his previous start—put the Phils on top with a single back through the middle to plate Kim and Crawford.

Evidently settled, Lively worked six more innings without allowing another run, working to a final line of 7 IP, 4 hits, 3 walks and 4 strikeouts. The little-hyped right-hander now has worked at least six innings in eight of his 11 career starts, and might be pitching himself into consideration for next year’s rotation.

But he did his most significant damage with a bat in his hands two innings later: with two outs and Alfaro on first, Lively hit his second home run of the season to put the Phils up 5-1. That opened the floodgates on deGrom, who faced four more hitters and retired none of them. He left trailing 6-1 with the bases loaded, and Nick Williams greeted new pitcher Josh Smoker with a three-run double that ended the competitive portion of the evening.

Crawford collected his first major league hit the next inning, a bloop single to center. His evening at the plate was otherwise uneventful, finishing 1 for 5 with two strikeouts. Where he made an impression was at third base, doing things like this:

In all, the Phillies used 12 players in tonight’s contest. Seven of them—half the lineup, and all three pitchers—were rookies. The rookies (including Lively) combined for ten hits and five runs. (Cool note: every starter scored exactly one run.) Hoskins reached base four times; Alfaro had three hits (two infield). Rough as 2017 has been, a game like this suggests it might not be all that long until this collection of players take the field for September contests that carry considerably higher stakes.