NEW YORK -- The Phillies suffered a setback on Sunday night at Citi Field. Right-hander Kyle Gibson gave the team length, but the home run he allowed to Jeff McNeil in the seventh inning led to the Phils’ 3-2 loss to the Mets.
Gibson was dealing for the first four innings of the game, allowing no runs and striking out four batters. But suddenly he lost it. The first three Mets to bat in the fifth each collected a hit. The third, pinch-hitter Dominic Smith, doubled down the right-field line, scoring McNeil and Tomás Nido.
“I probably picked the wrong pitches to throw. I probably got away from my gameplan just a little bit there on McNeil and Nido,” Gibson said. “... The pitch to [Smith], I felt I was in a really good spot to execute the slider in. … Whether he was looking for it or he just did a really good job, you have to tip your hat. He really put a good swing on it.”
Manager Joe Girardi never thought about taking Gibson out of the game. Most of the Phillies’ relievers -- such as Ian Kennedy and José Alvarado -- were not available for Sunday’s game. Héctor Neris, Girardi said, was only going to close if the team had a lead. The bullpen had been used quite a bit this past week.
“It gets that way sometimes," Girardi said. “We should have a much fresher bullpen going in tomorrow. We start a new series tomorrow and get right back after it."
Gibson then retired the next six hitters and then went to the seventh inning with the score tied at 2.
“I thought he threw a pretty good ballgame tonight,” Girardi said about Gibson. “To give up only three runs, that’s a pretty good lineup that we’re facing. [After the two runs,] he didn’t give up anything after that. … He got through the sixth and then left the changeup up to McNeil.”
McNeil led off the seventh and swung at a 1-2 pitch to hit a homer over the right-center-field wall.
"I was looking for something I could drive,” McNeil said. “He was throwing a bunch of sinkers today, so I was looking for something I could kind of get elevated and get up in the air.
“The first pitch he threw me was actually a changeup, and I thought that was a very good pitch to hit. I was a little frustrated I missed that one. But he ended up throwing me the same pitch, the same changeup, and I didn't miss that one."
Gibson said he loved the fact that Girardi gave him the confidence to go into the seventh inning.
“I probably threw one of the only changeups that I didn’t throw well on the day, and [McNeil] was looking for it,” Gibson said.
Gibson then struck out the next two hitters before being replaced by reliever Cam Bedrosian.
The Phillies had a chance to at least tie the score in the ninth inning against closer Edwin Díaz. With Freddy Galivis on first, Bryce Harper hit the ball so hard that he thought it could go over the wall. In fact, he didn’t even run to first base. But McNeil caught the ball in front of the warning track to end the game.
“My team gave me an opportunity to put us ahead,” Harper said. “I just missed that ball. It’s just kind of devastating for me, personally.”
The Philles now play the next seven games at home against two of the worst teams in the Major Leagues -- the Orioles and the Pirates -- before going to Atlanta to face the Braves in a three-game series.
“We are going to take it game-by-game,” Harper said. “We really understand what we are doing as a team -- score runs, don’t take anything for granted. Pitch well, play well and just go from there.”