Here’s something you thought you might never hear from Phillies manager Joe Girardi this season: “Our bullpen did an outstanding job today.”
He was right, too. After suffering a strained right hamstring, Jake Arrieta was forced to leave with one out in the top of the sixth inning and the trio of JoJo Romero, Tommy Hunter and Hector Neris combined to get the final 11 outs of the game while allowing just four baserunners as the Phillies ended a three-game losing streak with a 4-1 win over the New York Mets at Citizens Bank Park.
Romero, in the midst of an outstanding rookie season, recorded six of the 11 outs, including the first two on his first pitch when he got Wilson Ramos to roll into a double play with the bases loaded. Neris, meanwhile, got just his second save opportunity of the month and nailed it down with a strikeout of Domonic Smith to end the game.
After losing three straight in Miami, the Phillies gained a game on the Marlins, who lost at home to Baltimore. The Phillies also gained a game on St. Louis for the National League’s first wild card spot, but remained four behind first-place Atlanta in the National League East.
They also got good news before the game when it was deemed that Zack Wheeler can return Wednesday night from the nail issue that prevented him from making his last start Friday in Miami.
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Alec Bohm throws some leather
Rookie Alec Bohm has been the best story on the Phillies' roster this season mostly because of what he has done at home plate. He added another hit and scored ahead of a Didi Gregorius home run in Tuesday’s 4-1 win over the New York Mets.
The Phillies are 19-13 since his arrival and he has played every inning of every game. He is hitting .316 with nine doubles, three home runs, 19 RBIs and an .839 OPS.
But Bohm added another chapter to the story Tuesday night when he made his first big-league start at first base with the Phillies in need of help there after the forearm injury to Rhys Hoskins. All he did there was make a couple of sensational plays that ended innings.
In the top of the sixth, after JoJo Romero came on in relief of Jake Arrieta, Bohm dug out a low throw from Scott Kingery that completed a double play and allowed the Phillies to escape a bases-loaded, one-out jam. An inning later, Bohm started an inning-ending double play by smoothly handling a hard shot off the bat of J.D. Davis and calmly firing to second base before covering the bag to complete the play.
“He looked really good,” manager Joe Girardi said. “He came out and worked early for us. I let him know early that he was going to play first and he looked really good. He has played some there. Not a ton. I just think Alec is a smart baseball player. I was watching him in his early work and I liked what I saw. His comfort level. I just think he’s a baseball player.”
Bohm had started 23 games in the minor leagues at first base and another 18 in the Cape Cod League during the summer of 2017 and definitely looked comfortable at the position Tuesday night. But he has also shown tremendous improvement as a third baseman through the course of this season.
With Hoskins potentially out for the remainder of this season, the Phillies probably will need Bohm more at first base because it gives them the luxury of playing Jean Segura at third base and Scott Kingery at second base, which was the initial plan when this shortened season started near the end of July.
The Phillies may have finally gotten another win, but they also still suffered another huge injury loss when Jake Arrieta had to leave in the sixth inning with a Grade 1 strain of his right hamstring. He vowed to be back for the playoffs, but with two-thirds of the rotation on the injured list it will not be an easy task to get there. “Man, I’m just focused on tomorrow,” manager Joe Girardi said.
Rhys Hoskins cannot return from the injured list until Sept. 23, but now the Phillies fear their slugging first baseman could be out a lot longer than that after suffering a strained left forearm strain Saturday night in Miami. Hoskins injured the ulnar collateral ligament to his non-throwing arm and if it’s torn he could require Tommy John surgery to repair it. Here’s that story and an update on the rest of the Phillies' long list of injuries.
With all the injuries mounting, the Phillies signed a couple of veterans -- catcher Jonathan Lucroy and first baseman Greg Bird -- to minor-league deals Tuesday.
Before picking up the save Tuesday night, Hector Neris spoke to middle school students from the Esperanza Academy Charter School in North Philadelphia. He told them he dreamed of playing in Philadelphia after watching Sylvester Stallone in Rocky.
Tonight: Zack Wheeler returns from nail issue and will face Mets ace Jacob deGrom, 7:05 p.m.
Tomorrow: Aaron Nola faces Seth Lugo in series and season finale against the Mets, 7:05 p.m.
Friday: Doubleheader with Toronto, 4:05 p.m.
Sunday: Series finale with Blue Jays and final game of the regular season at Citizens Bank Park, 3:05 p.m.
Monday: Phillies open series against Washington at Nationals Park, 6:05 p.m.
Stat of the day
The Phillies have the unenviable task of facing deGrom Wednesday night and their history against the two-time Cy Young Award winner is not good. In 16 career starts, deGrom is 8-1 with a 2.16 ERA against the Phillies. The Mets are also 13-3 against the Phillies in games started by deGrom. The superstar righthander’s only loss to the Phillies came on Sept. 5, 2017 when he allowed six earned runs on 10 hits in 3 2/3 innings. Take away that start and deGrom has a 1.68 ERA in his other 15 starts against the Phillies.
From the mailbag
Send questions by email or on Twitter @brookob.
Answer: Thanks for the question Marty. Let’s start with Hector Neris because he is not a free agent. He has one more year of arbitration eligibility before becoming a free agent after next season. It’s possible he could be a non-tendered player because his salary is going to be near $10 million next season, but I’m guessing they keep him.
I think there’s an easy answer about David Robertson and David Phelps. After paying Robertson $23 million to appear in seven games the last two seasons, they are not going to pay him $12 million next season. Phelps, meanwhile, has a $250,000 buyout that I’m guessing the Phillies exercise rather than pay him $4.5 million based on how much he has struggled since coming here from Milwaukee. It’s possible the Phillies could try to re-sign both relievers at a lot lower price.
I also think it’s likely that the Phillies opt out of the $20 million option year for Arrieta in 2021 and look elsewhere for a No. 3 starter behind Aaron Nola and Zack Wheeler. Maybe JoJo Romero, who was used exclusively as a starter in the minor leagues, gets a shot in the rotation next season.