NEW YORK -- There are instances in baseball where one poor inning ultimately affects a game's result, no matter what else happens over the majority of the other eight innings.
That's essentially what happened Sunday against the Phillies for the Mets and starter Rafael Montero, who gave up four runs in the second inning during Philadelphia's 7-1 victory, spoiling the Mets' sweep efforts. Other than that frame, Montero was effective, completing 6 1/3 innings while allowing those four runs.
"That was a big win for us," Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said. "[We went] 4-5 on the road trip, which is good to see."
But Philadelphia starter Nick Pivetta was better, and not only avoided one troublesome inning, he hardly encountered one uncomfortable at-bat. The right-hander dazzled all afternoon, holding the Mets to one run over seven innings on one hit. Pivetta lasted just 2 2/3 innings in his last start against the D-backs.
"That was my No. 1 focus, a good rebound there," Pivetta said. "I didn't want to throw 2 2/3 innings again in 88 pitches. We scored four runs in the second inning which really helped out a lot. As a pitcher it's huge, especially coming off that last outing having those guys really get those bats going. Just from there we just attacked, attacked the hitters."
A line drive home run from T.J. Rivera, his second in two days and fourth of the year, put the Mets on the board in the fifth and subsequently broke up Pivetta's no-hit attempt after 4 1/3 innings.
The Phillies added three runs in the eighth inning off Mets reliever Chasen Bradford, effectively putting the game out of reach for a Mets offense that sputtered Sunday.
"His fastball is a little sneaky," Rivera said of Pivetta. "He throws it about mid-90s and he was throwing it really well, but it's a little quicker than what it plays, or what it says. He was commanding it pretty well."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Sizzling second: After going down in order during the first inning, the Phillies tagged Montero for four runs in the second. Maikel Franco drove in the first two with a double to center, then scored on an Andrew Knapp single. Knapp scored all the way from second two batters later when Montero unleashed a wild pitch Rene Rivera could not locate at the backstop, finishing off a rough inning for New York, which Philadelphia capitalized on.
"He had one bad inning," Mets manager Terry Collins said. "Even in that inning, he threw strikes, but it must've been too much plate. He kept attacking the zone, didn't shy away. They just got some hits. But after that, he kept us in the game."
Look what Altherr found: Pivetta struggled with his control to start the seventh, walking Jay Bruce and going to a 3-2 count against Lucas Duda. The Mets' first baseman then skied one to shallow center, where Aaron Altherr charged in to make the catch. In that process, though, Altherr did not initially secure the ball in his mitt, and it surely appeared as if the ball was going to fall. Except, Altherr recovered in time to snag the ball before it hit the ground. He proceeded to catch Bruce in no-man's land between first and second and doubled him off at first for the first two outs of the inning, thus foiling any significant comeback effort from the Mets.
"I like him. One thing I like is he's always smiling. He's upbeat. He's playing hard. He's going up there swinging the bat with authority." - Mackanin, on Phillies rookie Nick Williams. The Phillies' No. 5 prospect went 4-for-11 with one walk, two strikeouts and two runs scored in his debut weekend.
"There's not a team that I can recall in the history of baseball that has won 162 games. So, you're gonna lose games, you're gonna win games. But you gotta win series and we've been winning series," -- Rene Rivera, on the Mets failing to sweep but winning the series
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
It is a small sample size, but Williams hit the ball hard this weekend. He put nine balls in play with an average exit velocity of 94.0 mph, according to Statcast™. To put that into perspective, only three players in baseball have an average exit velocity better than 93.9 mph (minimum 30 balls in play): Miguel Sano (95.6), Aaron Judge (95.3) and Alex Avila (94.0). Williams hit a ball 108.7 mph for a single in the seventh inning, his hardest-hit ball of the weekend.
"I don't know, especially facing the Mets," Williams said about his expectations for the weekend. "I knew they had a lot of guys who threw pretty hard. So, I loved it. It was a great experience, especially to start against a good team like they are. So it was an awesome feeling."
Up 4-1 in the eighth inning, Phillies manager Pete Mackanin challenged an out call that would have been a double-play ball off the bat of Franco, as he was originally ruled out at first. The review overturned the call to safe and Franco remained at first. Mackanin moved to 9-8 on challenges this season.
The Mets also challenged that there was no violation of the slide rule at second base, but the review confirmed there were no infractions on the slide by Williams, dropping Collins to 13-8 on challenges in 2017. When it was all said and done, the review lasted three minutes and 18 seconds.
A crew-chief review in the bottom of the ninth resulted in the reversal of an out call at second base. It was determined Freddy Galvis never had his foot on second base when he received a throw for a force play to make it two outs. Instead, all runners were safe. That review lasted approximately 53 seconds.
Granderson sits with tight hip
Sunday was not simply a scheduled off-day for Curtis Granderson, who told Collins he was experiencing hip tightness when he arrived at the ballpark earlier in the day.
"He came in this morning and if there's one thing Granderson never does, is complain," Collins said. "He said his hip is a little tight, which means it's tight."
The ailment could keep him out Monday during the series opener against the Nationals, Collins said. Granderson was not available off the bench Sunday and could not swing after receiving treatment. The discomfort in the right hip, as Granderson described it , began Saturday, but he could not point to specific play that led to it.
"I was going through the game and everything felt fine," Granderson said. "I noticed a little something but nothing too crazy, finished the game, chatted with the staff afterwards, got a stretch, got in the cold tub like I normally do, went home and things got a little bit worse from there for whatever reason. Not sure why."
Phillies: With a nine-game road trip now in the rear-view mirror, the Phillies will return home for a seven-game homestand, first welcoming the Pirates for a four-game series. Aaron Nola (5-5, 4.13 ERA) will start opposite Ivan Nova (8-5, 3.08 ERA) for Pittsburgh, and first pitch is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. ET.
Mets: After taking two of three from the Phillies, the Mets have won seven of nine and find themselves slowing creeping back into the division race. A strong showing in their upcoming three-game set against the Nationals would bring them back to the brink of contention. Steven Matz (2-1, 2.67 ERA) starts for New York against Stephen Strasburg (9-2, 3.51 ERA) during the 6:05 p.m. start.
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