NEW YORK -- The Phillies and the Mets found themselves locked in a slugfest at Citi Field on Sunday afternoon, and Maikel Franco, who has made a name for himself as a nemesis in New York, provided the knockout punch. When it was over after four hours and 29 minutes,
NEW YORK -- The Phillies and the Mets found themselves locked in a slugfest at Citi Field on Sunday afternoon, and Maikel Franco, who has made a name for himself as a nemesis in New York, provided the knockout punch. When it was over after four hours and 29 minutes, his sixth-inning home run proved to be vital in Philadelphia’s 10-7 victory.
The Phillies moved to two games back of the second National League Wild Card spot after the Cubs lost to the Brewers on Sunday.
One might have thought the Mets had learned their lesson when it came to facing Franco, who has always found a way to make an impact against them. Yes, he is having a season to forget, but don’t tell that to Mets fans, because Franco is 20-for-59 (.339) with seven home runs and 18 RBIs against New York this season.
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“I think he feels comfortable in the batter’s box [at Citi Field],” Phillies manager Gabe Kapler said. “I think he matches up well against Mets right-hander Noah Syndergaard and some of their other pitchers. Franco has a knack for the dramatic and he has done a good job for us.”
Franco again proved to be a nuisance on Sunday, blasting a two-run home run off left-hander Luis Avilan to give the Phillies a three-run lead after Phil Gosselin had put them ahead with an RBI single. Franco hammered Avilan’s 2-0 fastball into the second deck, sending the Phils on their way to a crucial series victory.
Franco said he doesn’t have any idea why so much of his success has come against New York this season.
“I’m just coming in and doing my thing,” Franco said. “... I just try to go out there every single day and not even think about who is coming in. … I didn’t know I had seven homers [against the Mets]. But I did it.”
Mets manager Mickey Callaway had his own theory as to why Franco has so often come up big against his team.
"He goes up to the plate every time against us probably thinking he's going to hit a home run,” Callaway said. “So you've got to execute pitches. You've got to throw him pitches out of the zone, especially with bases open. We saw it later; he faces the righty and he hits one off the wall, almost hits another homer. It really doesn't matter who's pitching, you've just really got to execute pitches against him, because he's as confident as anyone against us."
Although the Mets made it a one-run game in the bottom of the sixth, Franco wasn’t done yet, helping the Phillies increase their lead in the top of the next frame. He doubled as part of a three-run inning, which was highlighted by Scott Kingery’s two-run homer off Mets left-hander Justin Wilson.
“It wasn’t the prettiest game by any stretch. We were able to get it done. It was an important win for our ballclub,” Kapler said. “It’s certainly an indication that we have a lot of fight left in us. … Having lost a couple of games in Cincinnati and to see us come back and fight like we did today was definitely encouraging. From a momentum standpoint, you always try to carry it into tomorrow. We’ll try to bring a lot of energy when we show up to the ballpark to play the Braves.”
Bill Ladson has been a reporter for MLB.com since 2002. He covered the Nationals/Expos from 2002-2016. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook.