PHILADELPHIA -- Manager Gabe Kapler said on Monday afternoon that the Phillies no longer can play "good baseball," if they expect to keep their razor-thin postseason hopes alive.They need to play "great baseball down the stretch."But after Monday night's 9-4 loss to the Mets at Citizens Bank Park, the Phillies
PHILADELPHIA -- Manager Gabe Kapler said on Monday afternoon that the Phillies no longer can play "good baseball," if they expect to keep their razor-thin postseason hopes alive.
They need to play "great baseball down the stretch."
But after Monday night's 9-4 loss to the Mets at Citizens Bank Park, the Phillies must play nearly perfect baseball in the regular season's final 13 games. They trail the first-place Braves by 6 1/2 games in the National League East and are six behind the Cardinals for the second NL Wild Card spot. Atlanta's magic number is seven. Yes, the Phillies and Braves play seven times in the final 11 games, but they are now in a place where they might need to sweep those games and still get a lot of help, too.
"It's just not going well all the way around," Phillies right-hander Jacob Arrieta said. "Yeah, the Braves losing is great, but we have to win some games. Haven't done that consistently and that's why we are where we are."
It is not like the Braves are running away with the division, which the Phillies have not won since 2011. Atlanta has lost three consecutive games, including an 11-6 setback against the Cardinals on Monday night. If the Phils could have somehow played "great baseball" and won on Sunday against the Marlins and Monday against the Mets, they would be 4 1/2 games out of first place.
Still a long road, but slightly more feasible.
If only the Phillies could beat the Mets, as they're now 6-11 against them this season.
"They've just flat out beat us," Kapler said. "They have beat us in good matchups. They have beat us in bad matchups. They have just handled us well."
The Phillies are where they are in part because Arrieta allowed four runs in five innings in the series opener on Monday. Since pitching eight scoreless innings in Arizona on Aug. 3, Arrieta is 1-3 a 6.03 ERA (25 earned runs in 37 1/3 innings) in his last seven starts, raising his season ERA from 3.11 to 3.77.
"Would like it to be a little bit better, but it is what it is," Arrieta said about his season. "You take the ball every fifth day and give your best, the results are what they are. Yeah, I mean, I leave it all out on the field. We'll assess the season later. But, you know, I feel like it could have been better in some areas, but what's done is done. I've got to move forward and just try to be better the next time we go out there."
J.P. Crawford tripled with the bases loaded in the fifth inning to cut the Mets' lead to one. He later scored to tie the game at 4. But the Phillies did nothing before and little after.
"I think you do have to look at the opposition," Kapler said about Mets starter Zack Wheeler. "He came out really sharp. We were having a hard time finding the barrel against him. And then he found it again quickly thereafter. I thought we did a really good job putting up a big inning against him. That's not an easy thing to do. Certainly I don't think there's anything to point to from an offensive side, an approach side or a mechanics side. I think it was probably Wheeler found his groove again."
Tommy Hunter allowed a run in the seventh on a go-ahead double by Michael Conforto, who had a career-high six RBIs. Hector Neris and Austin Davis allowed four runs in the ninth as Conforto hit a three-run homer to ice it.
MOMENT THAT MATTERED
Phillies third baseman Asdrubal Cabrera left the game in the sixth inning with a Grade 1 strain of his left calf. Crawford and Scott Kingery could man the left side of the infield while Cabrera recovers. Maikel Franco is still recovering from a fall into a camera well last week.
"After the top of the fifth inning, he came in and complained of a little bit of soreness, but he was pretty tough and strong, and said he wanted to test it and go back out there," Kapler said. "Once he got hit by that pitch, and was on first base, we thought the right thing to do was to get him out of there and put a faster runner out there, and use Scott Kingery at the appropriate time. We're going to check on him tomorrow and see how he's doing."
Carlos Santana's second-inning walk was his 100th of the season. He is the first Phillies player to walk 100 times in a season since Pat Burrell (102 in 2008). Santana previously walked at least 100 times in 2014 and '15, becoming the 12th switch-hitter to accomplish the feat at least three times.
HE SAID IT
"I looked at his numbers prior to the game and he's pretty much the same soldier that he was in Chicago last year. If you look at it from a strikeout perspective, especially after getting some whiffs tonight, pretty close to where he was last year. If you look at it from a walks perspective, about where he was last year with the Chicago Cubs. He's given up fewer home runs this year than he did last year. He's kept us in baseball games, he's taken the ball, he's made his starts, he's given us a lot of innings. He's been a horse for us." -- Kapler, on Arrieta
Phillies right-hander Aaron Nola (16-5, 2.42 ERA) will start against Mets lefty Steven Matz (5-11, 4.18 ERA) at 7:05 p.m. ET on Tuesday in the middle game of the series at Citizens Bank Park. Nola's chances to win the NL Cy Young Award have taken a hit recently, after posting a 5.60 ERA in three starts this month.
Todd Zolecki has covered the Phillies since 2003, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow him on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.