Phils pounce with seven-run third in rout of Mets
Every starting position player records at least a hit and a run scored
NEW YORK -- Is it All-Star break alchemy or just a coincidence? The Phillies have posted the best second-half record in the Major Leagues over the last seven years, and they came back from this year's intermission with an outsized performance in a 13-8 win over the Mets on Friday night at Citi Field.
The Phillies (49-48) used expansive rallies in the first and third innings to take control, racking up 11 runs before the Mets had their first hit. The Phils had scored 10 runs just once before the All-Star break, and Friday's win pushed them over .500 for just the second time all season.
The Phillies were five games under .500 as recently as July 3 and hadn't had a winning record since pushing to 31-30 after a 5-1 win over Milwaukee on June 6. They hadn't scored 10 runs since a 16-1 rout over the Dodgers on June 28, and now, they're hoping to carry their momentum forward.
"Keep going. Keep going," said manager Charlie Manuel. "We've got to have a better record. We want to win. We want to get in the postseason and we want to win the World Series. We've got to keep going. We don't look back. That's behind us. Tonight's win is behind us."
And if that game is already behind Philadelphia, you can imagine how the Mets might feel. All eight of the road team's starting position players had a hit and scored at least one run in the one-sided victory, and two players -- veterans Chase Utley and Michael Young -- had three RBIs apiece.
The top five hitters in the lineup all scored two runs, and several Phillies had big nights. All-Star Domonic Brown homered and singled twice for the Phillies, and Utley homered and tripled in the rout. Pitcher Kyle Kendrick was the only Philadelphia starter not to get a hit or score a run.
"Top to bottom, we played pretty well tonight," said Brown. "We'll just try to continue that. That was definitely big, after four days off, to see the bats come alive like that. That was good to see."
Philadelphia batted through the order in the first inning, and it later came back to set a season best with seven runs in the third inning. That outburst helped the Phillies improve to seven straight wins at Citi Field dating back to 2011, and it gave them a 270-168 record after the All-Star break since 2007.
Philadelphia led after just three batters, thanks to a triple by Utley off the wall in center field. The Phillies went on to notch four consecutive singles against opposing starter Jeremy Hefner, and they took a 4-0 lead in the first inning before stranding two runners on base.
Things got even more out of control in the third. Brown, one of Philadelphia's two All-Stars, homered to lead off the inning, and the Phillies went on to get five more hits in the rally. Third baseman Michael Young capped the frame by blasting a three-run homer to make it an 11-0 game.
"We got a win tonight. We're looking for a win tomorrow now," said Manuel. "We swung the bats good. Last time out, Hefner pitched a good game against us. He's been throwing good. Tonight, I think we were patient enough to make him throw the ball in a good part of the plate."
Hefner was charged with eight runs, lifting his career ERA to 13.75 against the Phillies. That's the fifth-highest ERA that any pitcher has posted against any big league team since 1921, with a minimum of 18 innings. Hefner has a career 3.54 ERA against the rest of the league, putting his numbers against the Phillies in stark contrast.
"I don't know what it is about those guys," said Hefner of the Phillies, who had also reached him for seven earned runs in the first inning of a game last season. "They're a good team, obviously. They're a veteran team. I know how to get them out. I just didn't execute."
The Mets (41-51) stirred a little later in the game. Marlon Byrd broke Kendrick's shutout with a three-run homer in the fourth inning, and the Phillies escaped that rally with a double play. New York pushed closer with small rallies in the fifth and sixth, but Kendrick left with a seven-run lead.
"I felt good early, but later in the game I was missing over the plate," he said. "I was up and I just couldn't really make a pitch. Those last three innings, I was struggling. It was a grind."
The Phillies are now 270-168 in the second half since the start of the 2007 season, but more importantly, they're rounding back into shape as the year winds closer to completion.
Philadelphia pulled into second place in the National League East on Friday, and if you ask around the clubhouse, you'll find that nobody is surprised by the team's late-season resurgence.
"Even though we weren't getting the success that we needed, we always looked good on paper," said Brown. "I thought it was just a matter of time before things started coming together. But you never know in this game. It keeps you humble. It keeps you fighting every day."
"We try to play as good as we possibly can," said Manuel of his team's momentum. "At the same time, we have a lot of energy and we put everything we've got into it. ... I think we're definitely coming to the ballpark with the mindset that we're going to win every day. That's our number one priority."