The Phillies lost Monday night’s opener against the Mets in a really bad fashion. The Mets gave the Phillies every chance to win the game with poor pitching and walking in runs. It came down to extra innings and an infield error that allowed a runner on second to score the game-winning run. Aaron Nola was once again below average allowing 5 runs in 4 innings. The middle of the order went a combined 2 for 16. In all, the Phillies let a game slip by and need to figure out how to win these games as championship teams are wont to do.
The Phillies entered into Tuesday’s game having slipped a half game behind the Mets into second place. A win was needed to ensure that they would not lose the series and face a possible sweep. It didn’t take long to put the game to rest. The Phillies first 8 batters scored and chased the starting pitcher, Steven Matz before the pitcher stepped to the plate or even one out was recorded. It was the best first inning of Phillies baseball I have ever seen. They didn’t stop there as the Phillies went onto win this game 14-3.
Nick Pivetta pitched 5 innings and allowed 3 runs, but the story of the pitching belonged to Jared Eickhoff. Eickhoff was recalled from Lehigh Valley on Tuesday Morning. Kapler gave Eickhoff the ball in the sixth and he didn’t disappoint, striking out 6 while allowing no runs on 3 hits and not surrendering a walk.
The Case for Kingery
Prior to the start of the season, the lineup was pretty much set in stone. With the exception of a few days of rest, there really wasn’t a need for Kapler to change things. Well, nobody told Scott Kingery that. He has been absolutely fantastic batting .524 with a slugging percentage of .857. However, on Tuesday, he made Kapler look like a genius.
Kapler gave Hoskins a night off due to an ankle injury and put Kingery in the 5 hole. His reward for such a move was Kingery going 3 for 4 with a home run and 5 RBI. Kingery started the game at third base, but an injury to Jean Segura forced Kapler to move Kingery to shortstop. The move paid off defensively as Kingery made some pretty good plays at short.
The problem with Kingery playing so well is that Kapler has to put him in the lineup and get him more at-bats. I strongly feel that Kingery is too young of a player to be relegated to the role of a bench player. He needs to play every day, whether it is at second base and Cesar Hernandez sits, or option him to AAA Lehigh Valley. With Hernandez struggling at the plate and batting .228 I believe we will see Kingery getting more starts at second base.
The Rest of the Phillies
J.T. Realmuto has been struggling to find his consistency at the plate. There have been questions about moving Realmuto in the lineup. Well, Kapler must have been thinking the same thing as he did move Realmuto into Hoskins spot. As with Kingery, Realmuto answered going 3 for 5 with a home run and 5 RBI. Andrew McCutchen went 2 for 5 with two runs scored. Bryce Harper going 1-2 with three runs scored and one RBI.
The Miserable Mets
The Mets helped the cause as they played horribly on defense, having committed 4 errors. And it was wonderful to see as someone who can’t stand the Mets or their fans. Now that the rivalry is relevant again, we can expect an invasion of Mets fans to Citizens Bank Park. However, it is wonderful to watch as Mets fans sat in the stands with that sad look on their faces.
The Series Finale
With First place on the line in the series finale, the Phillies turned to their veteran starter Jake Arrieta. With future NFL Hall of Famer Steve Smith Sr in the stands, his son is a Bryce Harper fan, the Phillies jumped out to an early 1-0 inning in the second. Scott Kingery hit another home run. Cesar Hernandez added an insurance run that would be much needed.
Arrieta was just awesome. He pitched into the 9th inning and was going for the first complete game by a Phillies pitcher since Ben Lively in 2017. His final line was as follows: 8 IP, 2ER, 2 BB, 3 SO.
The Mets had a hard time reaching base and when they did he got them to ground into a double play. Arrieta has been really good this year. All four of his starts have been quality.
Hector Neris came into the game to save it and he did, but not without giving up a run, loading the bases and running the last batter to a full count. Neris got the final strike with a 94 MPH fastball. The Phillies take the series and now lead the Mets by 1.5 games. The Phillies could have swept the Mets, but to quote the great Meatloaf, “two out of three ain’t bad!” Happy Easter Everybody!