The New York Mets have been the Phillies’ Kryptonite in recent years, but manager Gabe Kapler’s Superman (or at least his only 2018 all-star) donned his red cape (or at least his red hat and helmet) and beat them down with his arm and his bat in the second game of Monday night’s doublehader at Citi Field. After the Mets celebrated a 4-3 walk-off win on a pinch-hit home run from Wilmer Flores in the 10th inning of Game 1, Aaron Nola delivered seven shutout innings and a three-run double to lead the Phillies to a 3-1 win in the nightcap.
Nola, using a heavy dose of changeups, his typically wicked breaking ball, and perfectly placed fastballs, allowed just one hit, walked one and struck out 10. He became the first National League pitcher to get to 12 wins and lowered his ERA to 2.27, fifth best in baseball. Nola also provided the Phillies’ only hit through the first eight innings, the three-run double down the right-field line off Mets righthander Corey Oswalt.
It was also a fascinating night for rookie reliever Victor Arano. He allowed the walk-off homer to Flores in the first game, then came on to face Devin Mesoraco with runners at first and third in the ninth inning of the second game. He struck out Mesoraco with a nasty slider to earn his third career save.
The split got the Phillies to 50 wins and allowed them to remain tied for first place with the idle Atlanta Braves in the National League East. The Phillies did not get their 50th win last season until Aug. 31.
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A couple of big-league debuts in Queens
Phillies righthander Enyel De Los Santos will not be the only pitcher making his major-league debut Tuesday night at Citi Field in Queens. The New York Mets will also send out a righthander making his big-league debut: Drew Gagnon.
De Los Santos, acquired in the December trade that sent shortstop Freddy Galvis to the San Diego Padres, is the better story and has been the better pitcher this season. In fact, he has been the best pitcher at the triple-A level this season. He earned his way to the big leagues by dominating at Lehigh Valley. His nine wins were tied for the lead in the International League, and his 1.89 ERA in 16 starts was by far the lowest in the league. He allowed just 72 hits and struck out 87 in 95 1/3 innings.
After 16 starts last year, De Los Santos was 5-4 with a 4.71 ERA for San Diego’s double-A affiliate in San Antonio. Since then, he is 14-5 with a 2.18 ERA. He said in spring training that he had sharpened his slider in the second half of last season.
The Mets signed Gagnon, 28, as a minor-league free agent this winter, and he has pitched well lately at triple-A Las Vegas, but his overall ERA at double-A Binghamton and Las Vegas is still 4.40 for the season.
If Nick Williams and Aaron Altherr are in a competition for the job in right field, it appears Williams has surged far into the lead. He had three hits, including a home run, in the opener of Monday’s doubleheader, and Williams’ career numbers through 164 games — .270 batting average with 23 home runs — provide a lot of hope for his future. Center fielder Odubel Herrera did not play in the second game of the doubleheader after going 0 for 5 and committing an error in the opener.
The Phillies are set at first base with Carlos Santana (and converted 1B Rhys Hoskins in the outfield), but triple-A Lehigh Valley’s Joey Meneses seems ready for a promotion, our Ben Pope writes. So Meneses’ major-league debut could come in a different uniform.
Tonight: Enyel De Los Santos’ big-league debut, 7:10 p.m.
Tomorrow: Vince Velasquez comes off disabled list to face Jacob deGrom, 7:10 p.m.
Thursday: Makeup game vs. O’s and Manny Machado in Baltimore, 6:05 p.m.
Friday: Jake Arrieta starts in Miami as Phils begin last series before break, 7:10 p.m.
Next Tuesday: All-Star Game at Nationals Park in Washington, 8 p.m.
Stat of the day
With De Los Santos scheduled to make his major-league debut, this is a good time to take a look at the man the Phillies traded to get him. That, of course, is slick-fielding shortstop Freddy Galvis, who was sent to the San Diego Padres on Dec. 15 of last year.
Galvis, 28, is hitting .234 with a .294 on-base percentage and .626 OPS and has just four home runs. He hit a combined 32 home runs in his last two seasons with the Phillies. He is, however, still playing shortstop at an elite level. He has started all 93 games for the Padres and has only three errors. By comparison, Phillies rookies J.P. Crawford and Scott Kingery have made a combined 11 errors in 89 games at shortstop.
Kansas City shortstop Alcides Escobar sat out Sunday, ending his consecutive-games streak at 421. Galvis, at 256 games, now has the longest active consecutive-games streak in baseball. Cal Ripken Jr., sitting at 2,632 games, reportedly is resting peacefully.
From the mailbag
The Kid, Kingery, is really struggling. Looks like he has no plan at the plate. He lets fastballs down the middle go by while he can’t resist low inside and low outside pitches. Also, looks like he is having a confidence problem especially when he fails with men on base. What help is he getting, if any? Should he sit for a while?
S. Lukash, via email
Answer: Thanks for the question. Scott Kingery has struggled much more than the Phillies thought he would during his rookie season, but with J.P. Crawford on the disabled list, there is no real alternative at shortstop. It should also be noted that Crawford has struggled even more than Kingery. The only way the Phillies get better at shortstop this season is probably by making a trade for Manny Machado, which of course is a lot easier said than done. Otherwise, they should stick with Kingery. I do believe he will improve as he gets more experience. He has already improved considerably defensively at shortstop.