When I write my series previews, I tend to focus on a player on the opposing team who is struggling. For instance, last Friday, I talked about Josh Bell’s second half slump. He then went on to hit a home run that night. When I previewed the series against the Mets, I similarly pointed out that Todd Frazier had been ice cold lately. In response, he decided to do even better than Bell and hit two home runs, leading the Mets to an 11-5 win over the Phillies.
Believe it or not, the game began as a pitcher’s duel between Aaron Nola and Zack Wheeler. The game was scoreless until the bottom of the fifth when J.T. Realmuto got the Phillies on the board with a sacrifice fly. The Phillies came close to adding another run in the inning, but Corey Dickerson was thrown out at the plate. Replays indicated that he might have been safe, but the umpires ruled (correctly IMO) that there wasn’t enough evidence to overturn the decision.
Nola was pitching well, but for the second straight start, he wasn’t able to protect the meager lead the Phillies offense provided him. The biggest difference between Nola’s excellent 2018 season and his good 2019 season is that he hasn’t been as strong later in the games. Friday night was a good example, as things fell apart for him in the seventh inning.
Nola loaded the bases with one out, but Gabe Kapler showed some trust by letting him try to work out of the jam. Unfortunately, Wilson Ramos singled to tie the game, and it would be up to the Phillies bullpen to prevent any more damage.
Jose Alvarez escaped the seventh, but his comrades in the bullpen were not as successful. Mike Morin has been mostly excellent since joining the team, but he was not at his best on Friday. He allowed two runs in the eighth, and with two runners aboard, Jared Hughes came sprinting in to relieve him.
I feel about Hughes’ sprinting the same way I feel about former Phillie Turk Wendell’s idiosyncrasies: It’s cute when he’s pitching well; When he’s getting knocked around by opposing batter, it’s annoying. On Friday night, it was most definitely annoying.
Frazier’s blast put the Mets up by five, and the following inning, Edgar Garcia allowed things to get out of hand. He gave up a two-run home run to Michael Conforto, and then another three-run shot from Todd Frazier.
The Phillies offense finally showed some life in the ninth inning when they scored four runs, but that was far too little too late.
Hopefully, Frazier got it all out of his system on Friday, and can go back to his slumping ways for the rest of the series. And for my part, I’ll do my best to never again point out when an opposing player is slumping.