NEW YORK — The Phillies couldn’t cash in golden opportunities in the eighth and 10th innings of a tie game before falling to the Mets, 4-3, in Game 1 of Monday’s doubleheader.
Wilmer Flores delivered the walk-off home run in the 10th inning, just one pitch after the Mets challenged thinking he had been hit by Victor Arano.
Arano took the loss. Seranthony Dominguez threw two perfect innings in the eighth and ninth. His 29 pitches likely make him unavailable tonight.
The Phillies are 49-39, a half-game behind the Braves for first place. Atlanta is off tonight and again Thursday.
Despite how bad the Mets have gotten, the Phils are just 20-42 against them since the start of 2015 and 9-22 at Citi Field.
During that span, they’ve been out-homered by the Mets 108-50.
Scott Kingery, Andrew Knapp and Maikel Franco worked consecutive one-out walks to load the bases in the eighth inning. Pinch-hitter Jesmuel Valentin forced Robert Gsellman into a full count before a strikeout and a Cesar Hernandez groundout ended the threat.
It was a very 2018 Phillies-like inning with all the pitches seen. However, in Valentin’s at-bat, balls 1, 2 and 3 were all borderline strikes on the corners.
In the 10th inning, the Phils had two on with nobody out and stranded both runners.
In both innings, the nine-spot in the order made a key out, with Valentin failing to get a runner in from third and Dylan Cozens making the final out of the 10th.
These were spots where having one more capable bench bat could have helped the Phillies substantially. Aaron Altherr had pinch-hit earlier and Gabe Kapler wasn’t about to use Jorge Alfaro off the bench with another game tonight, which left just Valentin and the whiff-prone Cozens in chances when a medium-deep fly ball or single could have won the game.
The Phillies went 2 for 13 with runners in scoring position and stranded 12 runners. Not gonna win many games like that.
Decent day for Eflin
Zach Eflin gave up a couple of hard-hit balls to Phillie-killer Asdrubal Cabrera but was otherwise effective, allowing three runs and just five base runners in five innings. Eflin retired seven of the final eight hitters he faced and exited with the game tied.
Since June 1, Eflin is 6-0 with a 2.32 ERA. The only NL starting pitchers over that stretch with a lower ERA in as many innings are Jacob deGrom and Jon Lester.
Monday was Eflin’s 12th start of the season, which sets a new career high for him in the majors. He’s 7-2 with a 3.15 ERA and 1.08 WHIP.
Walking the walk
Carlos Santana walked three more times in Game 1 Monday, giving him 71 on the season.
The only other major-leaguers with 70 walks this season are Mike Trout and Bryce Harper.
Santana has 22 more walks than strikeouts, by far the best ratio of any player in either league.
And for the “Yeah but he stinks, he’s hitting .217” crowd, consider this: Santana has more extra-base hits (32) than Joey Votto, as many RBI (51) as Paul Goldschmidt and a higher on-base percentage (.363) than Anthony Rizzo.
Franco on a roll
Franco homered to left-center in the fourth, delivered an opposite-field single in the sixth and worked an eight-pitch walk to load the bases in the eighth.
Franco is up to .273/.320/.458 on the season. Trade target Mike Moustakas, who plays the same position, is hitting .254/.309/.468.
Since June 17, Franco is 22 for 59 (.373) with six doubles, three homers and nine RBI. He’s raised his OPS from .689 to .779.
Biggest Phillie-killer going?
Cabrera has just destroyed the Phillies since signing with the Mets prior to 2016.
In 41 games against the Phils over that span, Cabrera has hit .392 with 14 doubles, 11 home runs and 32 RBI. He accounted for the Mets’ first and third runs in Game 1 of Monday’s doubleheader, with a solo home run in the first inning and a two-out RBI double in the third off Eflin.
Luckily for the Phils, they might not have to worry about Cabrera much longer. He’s one of the players the Mets are likely to trade before July 31.
The second part of today’s doubleheader pits All-Star Aaron Nola (11-2, 2.41) vs. 24-year-old Mets rookie right-hander Corey Oswalt (0-1, 7.94).
No relation to Roy Oswalt.