NEW YORK -- Things are getting uglier for the Phillies. They had two bad innings on Saturday night and it proved costly as the Mets won the game, 8-2, at Citi Field.
The Phillies have lost nine out of their last 13 games and are a season-high five games under .500 with a 21-26 record. Even worse, they are 9 1/2 games behind the Mets in the National League East race.
“You never want to lose nine out of 13 and lose a series that we are playing right now,” said Phillies outfielder Bryce Harper, who had two hits in the game. “I hate when people say, 'It’s early.' I don’t like that because you have to play. … We have to keep going. We have to keep plugging along. We have to keep pounding forward, come in tomorrow and be ready to go. Nobody feels bad for us. We can’t feel bad for ourselves.”
The Phillies were expected to have a talented team this season. When you have people like Harper and Nick Castellanos on the roster, you are expected to compete against the Mets for the division title. However, there are a lot of things that are wrong with the Phils.
“It’s a plethora of things,” Phillies manager Joe Girardi said. “At times, we haven’t pitched well. At times, we haven’t hit well. There are times our defense let us down. It’s not one thing, in particular. It’s different things.”
On Saturday, anyway, it was the pitching and defense that let the Phillies down. Philadelphia had a 2-1 lead going into the bottom of the fourth inning, thanks to a bases-loaded two-run single by J.T. Realmuto. But right-hander Zach Eflin couldn’t hold the one-run lead. The biggest blow that inning was when Jeff McNeil hit a three-run homer to give the Mets a 4-2 lead.
The rain then came down and Eflin had a tough time gripping the baseball. But the next two runs to score weren't entirely on him. The Phillies have been one of the worst defensive teams in baseball. They ranked 30th with -27 defensive runs saved -- seven fewer than any other team -- entering Saturday’s action. The below-average defense reared its ugly head in the fifth inning.
With runners on second and third and one out, Francisco Lindor hit a fly ball to deep left-center field. It looked like a catchable ball for either left fielder Kyle Schwarber or center fielder Odúbel Herrera, but the two collided and the ball hit the ground for a two-run triple.
“I think they probably both had an opportunity [to catch the ball], but I have to look at it a little closer,” Girardi said. “It’s a big outfield. There is a lot of room to cover.”
Lindor would later score on a sacrifice fly by Pete Alonso to make it a 7-2 game. Eflin ended up pitching six innings and allowing seven runs on eight hits.
“I thought he didn’t have his good cutter today,” Girardi said. “His curveball probably wasn’t as good as it was the other day [against the Dodgers].”
Eflin felt he was battling his command the whole game.
“A lot of sinkers were leaking. [The Mets] were doing a good job of taking advantage of that,” Eflin said. “They scored quick runs, too. A walk, a bloop hit, next thing you know there is a double. … Maybe I have to be better in those situations, make my pitches and stuff. I really felt like I was fighting myself the whole day.”
The Phillies have their work cut out for them. After they play the Mets on Sunday night, they host the Giants and the Angels, respectively. Both teams are expected to be playoff contenders this season.
“We have to play better against the Mets,” Girardi said. “We have not played well. They have scored a lot of runs off us. They pitched pretty well. We had some opportunities where we haven’t cashed in. We just have to be better.”