Big crowd, big letdown as Phillies’ struggles against Mets continue

Big crowd, big letdown as Phils’ struggles vs. Mets continue originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

Kyle Schwarber returned to the Phillies’ starting lineup Friday night, but even the man who led the club’s rise to contention in June couldn’t change the team’s fortunes against the New York Mets.

With just the third sellout crowd of the season in the stands at Citizens Bank Park, the Phillies were 7-2 losers to the Mets.

The two teams play a doubleheader Saturday as the Phillies continue the quest for their first postseason berth since 2011.

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“That’s what we love to see,” Schwarber said of the crowd of 43,176. “We love it when everyone is coming out full force, screaming and cheering. That’s a fun environment for us. And we want to give (the postseason) to them. We still have a lot of baseball left to be played and when you have that behind you, it’s really fun to play.

“We didn’t win today. We have to come in tomorrow and find a way to win a baseball game. Sleep quick and come in tomorrow ready to go.”

The loss dropped the Phillies to 4-12 against the Mets this season. They 61-41 against all other teams.

The Mets lead the NL East at 77-43. They have the second-best record in the NL.

Three more games remain in the season series between the Phils and Mets. Two of them will be played in Saturday’s day-night doubleheader and the final one will be played Sunday afternoon.

The Phillies have lost five of their last eight games and have averaged just 2.4 runs over that span. They might want to consider getting their you-know-what together because there are still seven weeks to go in the season and there are two clubs on their tail in the National League wild-card race. San Diego and Milwaukee are both within 1 ½ game of the Phils, who hold the second wild-card spot.

Perhaps the best thing that can happen to the Phils is getting the Mets out of town. After Sunday’s regular-season finale between the two teams, the Phillies’ schedule gets easier with four against Cincinnati, three against Pittsburgh and three against Arizona. All three of those teams are well under .500.

In the meantime, the Phillies will hope Zack Wheeler, Saturday’s Game 1 starter, pitches better and gets more defensive support than Aaron Nola did on Friday night.

Nola was brilliant with eight innings of one-run ball in a 1-0 loss to the Mets last weekend in New York.

This time, the right-hander allowed five runs in five innings and took the loss.

Chris Bassitt, an excellent offseason pickup by the Mets, beat the Phillies for the second time in a week. The right-hander scattered seven hits over six walk-free innings and allowed just two runs, both of which came on an RBI single by Schwarber in the fifth inning. In four starts against the Phillies this season, Bassitt has allowed just four earned runs in 22 2/3 innings.

“Bassitt eluded us again,” Schwarber said. “Savvy guy. Tip your cap to him. He’s a good pitcher.”

Schwarber did not start the previous six games because of a strained right calf muscle.

By the time Schwarber’s two-run single landed in center field in the bottom of the fifth inning, the Mets already had a 5-0 lead and their fans were taking over the Phillies’ yard.

Nola was not supported by good defense. Third baseman Alec Bohm made an error that extended the first inning. In the third, Starling Marte stroked a ball by Bohm that ended up as a double. Nola had trouble putting hitters away the rest of the inning. He allowed a two-run homer to Pete Alonso on a 2-2 pitch, a double to Daniel Vogelbach on a 3-2 pitch and an RBI hit to Jeff McNeil on a 2-2 pitch.

“Those guys are tough,” Nola said. “They see a lot of pitches. I’ve had some good games against them. I’ve had some not-so-good games against them. I think I threw 20-some pitches to [Jeff] McNeil. That’s when you know he’s going pretty good.

“I didn’t really make the greatest pitches when guys were on base. I think that hurt me today. Other than that, I felt pretty good. I felt like I was attacking guys. But once guys got on base tonight, I didn’t make my pitches.”

Alonso had three RBIs and leads the NL with 102. Twenty-two of his RBIs have come against the Phillies. He also has 30 homers this season, five against the Phils.

Meanwhile, the Phils have gone homerless in eight of their last nine games.

Double dip Saturday. Maybe someone will pop one in the seats. Maybe the Phillies will figure out a way to beat the Mets.