MLB: Philadelphia Phillies at New York Mets

Game recap April 10: Offense quieted as Mets lose series

Harvey inconsistent with command, slider:

Matt Harvey didn’t have quite the outing he had probably hoped for in his 2016 Citi Field debut. He serviceably pitched six innings, but allowed three runs while striking out three. Though he wasn’t hit hard in the first few innings, a couple of singles by Phillies batters lead to an RBI sacrifice fly by Freddy Galvis in the third. While his velocity climbed throughout the game and his changeup and curveball were working, Harvey had problems with fastball command.

He limited damage through the first three innings in part due to a strong defense by Asdrubal Cabrera, and continual inexplicably bad base running by the Phillies (in this case, catcher Carlos Ruiz). Harvey got into a steady rhythm in innings four and five, inducing four groundouts, a flyout, and a swinging strikeout of Ryan Howard during that time.

However, Harvey did not have feel for his slider during the game, and damage was done in the 30-pitch sixth inning. Odubel Herrera hit a slider with little break for a two run home run to right field. That blast was immediately followed by an opposite field single on a similar pitch to Maikel Franco. Despite the prior day’s horrible base running, Cesar Hernandez managed to get his first steal of the year after his sixth hit of the series. Harvey would also allow two walks to Howard.

It was an inconsistent outing – he didn’t miss a lot of bats (only three strikeouts), and suffered six hits. However, inherent to Harvey’s talent comes some leeway with mistakes. He generated eight groundouts and was still sitting comfortably in the mid-to-high 90s through the sixth inning. He came in below expectations today, but the bullpen allowed further damage and the offense couldn’t even match the three runs Harvey allowed; he was not the lone cause of the day’s loss.

Offense falls quiet around Cespedes, Wright:

Other than Michael Conforto’s walk in the fifth, David Wright and Yoenis Cespedes provided the entirety of the Mets’ offense. Each had two hits, including one extra-base hit apiece. Phillies’ starter Jeremy Hellickson commanded his pitches well and had a good curveball working, striking out five in five and a third innings. Cespedes knocked Hellickson out of the game with a two-run shot at the end of an eleven-pitch battle (it was his first home run of year).

The rest of the offense would fail to produce runs around that bomb and come up empty for the rest of the game. The much-maligned Phillies bullpen combined for three and a third scoreless innings, divvied up between James Russell, Hector Neris, and closer-by-necessity Jeanmar Gomez. The lone baserunner allowed during that time was Wright, who singled to lead off the ninth. Curtis Granderson, Lucas Duda, and Neil Walker each went 0-for-4 on the day.

Bullpen allows damage in late innings:

Jim Henderson was electric in relief of Harvey, inducing swinging strikeouts of all three batters he faced in the seventh. He threw 16 of his 17 pitches for mid 90s four-seam fastballs, and brings his season line to seven strikeouts over three scoreless innings. For those curious, Henderson currently has a ludicrous -1.32 FIP. Negative.

Following Henderson, Addison Reed struggled with similar problems to Harvey, namely his flat slider and inconsistent fastball command. He allowed singles to Galvis and Franco while issuing a four-pitch walk to Herrera. Howard’s sacrifice fly plated the Phillies’ fourth run, despite further poor base running by Herrera that nearly ended the inning on a double play.

In the ninth, Logan Verrett looked a little rusty in his warm up for Wednesday’s start against the Marlins (he replaces Jacob deGrom, who is skipping a start with lat tightness). While he did strike out Cedric Hunter, he walked Peter Bourjos and allowed a pinch-hit RBI double to Andres Blanco to end the day’s scoring.

Up next:

The Mets are host to the Marlins tomorrow, beginning a three-game series. In his first start of the year, Steven Matz will take the mound against right-hander Jarred Cosart as Miami looks for their second win of the season. Matz will attempt to shut down Dee Gordon, Christian Yelich, and Giancarlo Stanton, who have all gotten off to strong starts this season. The game begins at 7:10 p.m.

Photo credit: Noah K. Murray-USA Today Sports

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