The Philadelphia Phillies (62-97) defeated the Mets (89-70) by a score of 3-0. Sean Gilmartin was strong for the Mets in 5 innings, the only blemish being a 2-run home run allowed to Darin Ruf. The offense managed only 6 hits off Jerad Eickhoff and the Phillies bullpen; 3 by Kirk Nieuwenhuis, 2 infield singles by Kelly Johnson, and a single by Ruben Tejada.
Jerad Eickhoff was in control all day for the Phillies, allowing only 4 hits, walking 1, and striking out 10 while shutting the Mets out over 7 innings. The Mets’ best opportunity came in the 7th, after a 1-out double by Kirk Nieuwenhuis and a 2-out walk by Kevin Plawecki. However, Juan Lagares struck out on a 3-2 curveball to end the threat.
Sean Gilmartin was solid for the Mets in his first career start, allowing onlyh 3 hits, a walk, 2 runs, and a home run over 5 innings while striking out 3. Unfortunately though, that home run, a 2-out 2-run shot by Darin Ruf in the 4th inning, proved to be all the Phillies would need. Tim Stauffer was strong in two shutout innings of relief and Dario Alvarez allowed a solo home run to Andres Blanco, but it didn’t matter. On a day where a hangover lineup was called for, no one could muster anything against Eickhoff, Jerome Williams, or Luis Garcia.
This could’ve been expected, especially after such a late loss last night. Gilmartin and Stauffer were pleasant surprises in their combined 7 innings of work, but the offense was absolutely lifeless. What bothered me were the pinch hitting opportunities not utilized by Terry Collins. I understand he wants to give his regular players a day off, but when Eric Young Jr. and Dilson Herrera are your two pinch hitters from a bench that includes Daniel Murphy, David Wright, Lucas Duda, and Curtis Granderson, it’s a little tough to justify your desire to win the game. In the 7th inning, with 1st and 2nd with two outs, it should have been Granderson, Murphy, or Duda facing off against Eickhoff (or a lefty reliever, if they decided to make a switch). I find it tough to believe that these veteran professionals could have their playoff performances compromised by one plate appearance.
But, these are small annoyances. After the rest day today, one would imagine that Terry will go with his regular lineup the rest of the weekend, perhaps with an extra righty or two against Gio Gonzalez. The Mets fans certainly have to thank Mike Leake and the Giants for keeping their home field advantage hopes alive – Leake spun a 2-hit shutout last night, reducing the Mets home field advantage magic number to 3. The Giants look to take 3 of 4 from the Dodgers this afternoon at 3:45, with Brett Anderson facing Tim Hudson. A Dodgers win would bring L.A. to the same record as the Mets, but as a reminder, the Mets do own the tiebreaker.
Noah Syndergaard faces Gio Gonzalez tomorrow at 7:10 at Citi Field, weather permitting, as the Mets open a 3-game series against the Nationals.
POSITIVES: Sean Gilmartin and Tim Stauffer were both solid today with better-than-expected performances. Dario Alvarez, while allowing a home run to a right-handed batter, also retired the only lefty he faced. Kirk Nieuwenhuis had 3 of the Mets’ 6 hits, but despite 2 doubles, was never able to score.
NEGATIVES: The offense, save for Nieuwenhuis. The manager’s decision to pinch hit Eric Young Jr. and Dilson Herrera in a close game that means something. The decision to remove Michael Conforto in a close game, and not for a better bat.
WPA Winners: Kirk Nieuwenhuis (.109)
WPA Losers: Eric Campbell (-.141)
Best Play: None over .100
Worst Play: Darin Ruf hits a 2-run home run, Phillies up 2-0, 4th inning (-.245)
The 2015 regular season is winding down, and 6 teams have clinched postseason spots. The Mets and Royals are the only two teams who have clinched a division title, while the Cardinals, Pirates, and Blue Jays have clinched postseason spots. The Cubs have clinched a wild card spot. Competing for the final four spots (in order of likelihood) are the Yankees, Dodgers, Rangers, Astros, Angels, Twins, Giants, and Indians.
With the Dodgers’ 3-2 loss to the Giants in extra innings last night, the Mets currently hold a 2 game lead for home field advantage. The Mets hold the tiebreaker, having won the season series 4-3. Therefore, the Mets’ magic number to clinch home field advantage is now 4, with 6 games to play.
The Dodgers’ magic number to clinch their division is 2, but they are playing 3 more head-to-head games against the Giants. A win by the Dodgers in any of those games would clinch the division. The Yankees’ magic number to clinch a postseason spot is 3. St. Louis has a magic number of 2 to clinch the Central, but has two more head-to-head games against the 2nd place Pirates. The Rangers’ magic number to clinch the AL West is 5.
For anyone living under a rock, the Washington Nationals once again made headlines, and not in a good way. After his failure to run out a flyout to left, Bryce Harper was confronted in the dugout by Jonathan Papelbon, and Papelbon proceeded to lunge at Harper and put him in a choke hold against the dugout wall. To make things even more bizarre, while Harper left the game, manager Matt Williams left Papelbon in to pitch the 9th inning (in a 4-4 tie) and proceed to blow the game. Williams later said he didn’t realize the severity of Papelbon’s actions, since he was on the other side of the dugout, leading Ken Rosenthal to quip, “you would think the dugout was the size of an airline terminal.” [link] Papelbon was suspended for 4 games by the team, and accepted his 3 game suspension from Major League Baseball for hitting Manny Machado last week. Therefore, Papelbon is out for the rest of the season, suspended without pay [SB Nation].
To make the story even more interesting, Fox Sports writer and former MLB reliever C.J. Nitkowski wrote that players overwhelmingly support Papelbon in the dust-up with Harper. [link] The idea is that after Harper called out Papelbon last week for throwing at Machado, there was a storm brewing (i.e., this was not about failure to run out a popup). Harper is often perceived as someone who is “above the game,” someone who is “allowed to loaf,” and someone who “hasn’t earned” the right to jog on a pop-up (all quotes from Nitkowski’s anonymous player sources). According to Nitkowski, “Papelbon is everybody’s favorite punching bag but it’s not deserved here.” After a firestorm of responses, Nitkowski addressed some of those responses in a follow-up article. [link]
On the other hand, the pervading narrative of MLB Network was that Papelbon was not the right person to address a lack of hustle with Harper; after all, Papelbon is not an everyday player. (Mike Lowell, if I recall correctly, was the one who called bull; a young player would have listened to Mariano Rivera, of course). At SB Nation, Grant Brisbee notes that earlier in the game, Clint Robinson did much the same thing as Harper, but without issue. [link]
While these takes are interesting ones, mostly from former players, it just solidifies how the analysts are missing the point. Let me dumb it down:
PAPELBON PUT HARPER IN A CHOKEHOLD, AND THAT IS NOT OKAY.
This has nothing to do with failure to run out a popup, this has nothing to do with Harper calling Papelbon out in the media. This has nothing to do with Harper’s perceived arrogance, immaturity, or whatever. There is no ambiguity here. Analysts are over-analyzing. Papelbon choked Harper. He shouldn’t have. There should be no ambiguity. Keep your ridiculous unwritten rules, but the choke hold is simply not okay. End of story.
Other links about Papelbon and Harper:
- Deadspin took Fox Sports to task on Nitkowski’s article and another article by Rob Neyer.
- Ken Rosenthal: What you need to know about Bryce Harper’s baserunning
- Beyond the Boxscore: Papelbon/Harper symptom of larger problem
- NY Times: When teammates fight: An ugly history
- Fangraphs: Mets are a scary playoff team
- Beyond the Boxscore: MLBAM strikeks out in marketing baseball
- ESPN: Jon Niese headed to bullpen
- Fangraphs: Putting the Nationals disappointment in context
- JABO: Will Brazil be Baseball’s next frontier?
- Fangraphs: The Royals are basically the best contact team ever
- Amazin’ Avenue: #THIS: Mets celebrate clinching the NL East
According to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports, former All-Star pitcher Josh Johnson will undergo his 3rd Tommy John surgery. In today’s display of statistical cherrypicking, few were better than Johnson between 2008 and 2011, between his first Tommy John surgery and his issues with shoulder inflammation. In that time span (minimum 500 IP), Johnson had an ERA of 2.81, 3rd best in baseball behind Adam Wainwright and Roy Halladay. He was traded to the Blue Jays in the blockbuster trade that sent Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle, Emilio Bonifacio, and John Buck to Toronto in exchange for Adeiny Hechavarria, Henderson Alvarez, and a host of others. He struggled mightily in Toronto in 2013 to a 6.20 ERA over 81 1/3 IP, though ERA estimators xFIP and SIERA had him at 3.58 and 3.66, respectively. He signed with San Diego in 2014 and 2015 on a couple of low-risk deals, but has yet to throw a pitch for them. The 3rd Tommy John surgery means Johnson will likely sit out for the 2016 season, his third straight full season without appearing in the major leagues.
Elsewhere around MLB, the Nationals beat the Phillies by a score of 4-0 last night behind Stephen Strasburg. Combined with the Mets’ loss, that reduces the Mets’ lead to 8.5 games and leaves their magic number at 10. For a brief period yesterday, the Mets had the largest division lead in baseball, 9.5 games to Kansas City’s 9, but with a KC win and a Minnesota loss, (combined with the Nats’ win and Mets loss), KC has regained that title.
There’s a lot of talk around MLB about how much Yoenis Cespedes has fueled the Mets’ turnaround. Jayson Stark wrote an article I linked to yesterday saying how historic and instrumental he has been [link] However, Rob Neyer of Just A Bit Outside says giving Cespedes credit alone is a disservice to the rest of the team that has picked it up around him, mainly Travis d’Arnaud, Michael Conforto, Curtis Granderson, Wilmer Flores, and David Wright. It’s an interesting and important read, lest we ignore how absolutely fantastic Travis d’Arnaud has been since his return [Just A Bit Outside]
In other Mets news, the team confirmed that they will pitch Steven Matz, Noah Syndergaard, and Matt Harvey against the Yankees this weekend. The series will be very important to the Yankees, who are chasing the Blue Jays for the division title. The Yankees currently sit 3.5 games back of Toronto. For the Mets, the series will be less important, but by pitching Matz, Syndergaard, and Harvey, the Mets are certainly doing the Yankees no favors.
NBC Sports’ recap of yesterday’s scores, including the Texas Rangers taking sole possession of 1st place from the Houston Astros. Who allowed the leadoff single to Prince Fielder in the bottom of the 9th? Our old friend Oliver Perez of course!
- ESPN: Jerry Crasnick rates the non-waiver deadline deals so far, and no surprise, the Mets come in first.
- Grantland: Want a story about Bartolo Colon’s hitting ability and a chance to relive all of his 8 hits this season? This is the story for you!
- SB Nation: The Cleveland Indians’ fireworks operator was a little over-anxious when Kansas City’s Alex Rios hit a solo home run. The Indians lost the game 2-0.
- SB Nation: Giants’ star pinch hitter and all-around superhuman Madison Bumgarner managed to draw a walk against fellow superhuman Aroldis Chapman of the Cincinnati Reds while the Giants were down 8-5 in the 8th inning. It was the first walk all season Chapman has given up after being up 0-2 on a batter. The Giants managed to tie the game, but lost 9-8 in 10.
- NBC Sports/Hardball Talk: Barry Zito is back in the majors!
- Fangraphs: Other incredible runs this season like that of Yoenis Cespedes
- Fangraphs: Jeff Sullivan on why the American League remains the superior of the two leagues
- Just A Bit Outside: Why haven’t stolen bases returned?
- ESPN: I always thought Miami’s Christian Yelich looked familiar, and after he met with SNL’s Pete Davidson before last night’s game, I certainly see the resemblance.
- Deadspin: Hey look, Jon Lester actually picked someone off!
- JABO: Baseball needs to adjust after 58 players and 24 pitchers (both records) were used in last night’s 16-inning Rockies-Dodgers game
The Washington Nationals defeated the Atlanta Braves in 10 by a score of 5-3. The Braves led the game 2-1 entering the 9th, when a leadoff double and sacrifice bunt set the stage with two outs for former Met Matt den Dekker. Den Dekker singled, scoring Yunel Escobar, and tying the game at two. After back-to-back singles in the tenth, pinch hitter Michael A. Taylor hit a walk-off three-run home run to end it. The Nationals gain a game on the Mets and are now 5 out. This hands Atlanta their 10th straight loss and 17th in their last 18 games. Bright spot Shelby Miller goes for Atlanta tonight against Gio Gonzalez.
Elsewhere around MLB, the Yankees picked up a game on Toronto, and are only half a game back in the division. The Dodgers also picked up another game on the Giants, lessening the Giants’ postseason hopes. See yesterday’s scores here.
Links and Notes from around MLB:
Buster Olney of ESPN examines how left hand batters may be at a disadvantage in terms of called strikes.
Vice looks at a scandal involving the St. Louis police department and 2006 World Series tickets.
The Nationals defeated the Cardinals by a score of 4-3 to remain 6.5 games behind the Mets in the NL East. After the Nationals blew two leads, Jonathan Papelbon got out of a 1st and 3rd, one out jam in the 9th inning by retiring Tommy Pham and Kolten Wong.
Ryan Zimmerman is getting hot, and after hitting two solo home runs, delivered a decisive RBI double in the eighth inning. Why manager Mike Matheny and pitcher Jonathan Broxton would pitch to such a hot hitter with a base open is one of the many mysteries of baseball.
Elsewhere, Clayton Kershaw and the Los Angeles Dodgers defeated the San Francisco Giants by a score of 2-1, behind a decisive solo home run by Chase Utley and a 132 pitch complete game from Kershaw, complete with 15 strikeouts (thing Kershaw’s career high). The Dodgers complete the sweep of the Giants to take a 6.5 game lead in the NL West.
The Yankees and Blue Jays both won, the Jays behind a complete game performance from R.A. Dickey. The Orioles ended their long skid with a walk-off home run by Chris Davis to beat the Rays, and the Rangers, Twins, and Angels all won, keeping their playoff hopes alive. Meanwhile, in the NL, the Braves continue their skid with a loss to Miami, falling into fourth place in the division.
For the rest of yesterday’s scores, click here.
Sporting News looks at why the Mets’ September callups might be more helpful than most.
Rob Neyer at Just A Bit Outside offers his thoughts on the Mets succeeding in an easy division.
Deadspin examines an odd saga about a hoax involving Marlins president David Samson.
Bryan Grosnick of Baseball Prospectus/Just A Bit Outside argues the Red Sox should be careful with Jackie Bradley Jr., comparing the situation to Juan Lagares’ contract with the Mets.
The Mets (73-59) were defeated by the Phillies (53-80) by a score of 14-8. It appeared the Mets’ lead would fall from 6.5 to 5.5 games over Washington until…
Reigning NL Manager of the Year (!!!) Matt Williams decided to save his best reliever, Jonathan Papelbon, for a save chance that has yet to arrive. Clearly opposed to giving his team a fighting chance in the tenth, Williams defended his actions as such: (via Washington Post)
“We’ve used everybody just about to get to the eighth inning,” he began, when asked to explain his thought process. “We’ve got it setup for the eighth and the ninth. The eighth doesn’t go our way, and the score is tied. So everybody wants to know why you don’t use Papelbon in that situation? Let’s say, for instance, Pap throws a clean ninth and we score in the 10th. Who’s closing the game for us? I guess it’d be ‘Somebody,’ right?
“All these people want to know why Papelbon isn’t in the game. Because we lost,” Williams continued. “He’s our closer. He’s the the one that closes the game. Now when you’re at home, it’s a different story. It’s a different story because you always have the hammer at home. You always have the last at-bat at home. But on the road it’s a different story. You know, 99 times out of 100, every single manager is not going to use their closer on the road in a tie game because they need somebody to close that game.”
The internet reacted predictably. See: Joe Lucia at The Outside Corner, Grant Brisbee at SB Nation, Craig Calcaterra at Hardball Talk, and Rob Neyer (with a somewhat different opinion) at Just A Bit Outside.
Not to be hypocritical, Terry Collins certainly shouldn’t have let Bobby Parnell see the light of yesterday’s game. Not that Eric O’Flaherty or Carlos Torres helped much. My choice would have been Gilmartin (who struck out the side later in the game), but 14-7 wasn’t exactly close anyway.
Elsewhere around baseball, Elvis Andrus pulled off a rare feat for the resurgent Texas Rangers in their 8-6 win against San Diego:
And another rare feat for the Rockies (who wound up losing both ends of their doubleheader against Arizona):
Elsewhere around MLB, Zack Greinke out-dueled Madison Bumgarner to put the Giants 5.5 games (6 losses) back in the NL West. The Yankees beat Boston and the Blue Jays beat Cleveland, keeping New York 1.5 back of Toronto for the division lead. For more scores, see MLB.com.
Over at Just A Bit Outside, JP Morosi opines that Kansas City and Toronto fans should enjoy the winning ways while they still can.
The Kansas City Royals, currently with a 12 game lead over Minnesota, now have chicken pox to deal with.