Phillies fall to Mets, 4-3, in final home game of season
Chances are, the lineup that takes the field on March 31, 2014, in Arlington, Texas, will look a lot like the one that bid adieu to Citizens Bank Park yesterday afternoon. The Phillies might just have to hope that replacing Cesar Hernandez with Ben Revere in centerfield and Kevin Frandsen with Ryan Howard at first base is enough to avoid another season of losses like the one that occurred against the Mets: Seven strong innings from Cliff Lee ruined by not enough offense and some shoddy defense, the result a 4-3 defeat to another team traveling the highway to nowhere.
On a day in which the organization officially named Ryne Sandberg their full-time manager after 5 weeks with the interim tag, the loss was a pertinent reminder that the man in charge of the lineup only has so much control over that unit's ability to score runs (as well as prevent them).
Lee looked a lot like he has all season, striking out eight without walking a batter in seven innings of work. But a combination of factors forced him from the game after just 88 pitches. The Phillies managed just two runs, which was enough for a 2-1 lead heading into the seventh, but not enough to withstand a fielding error by Domonic Brown that allowed an extra run to score on a Wilfredo Tovar single in the seventh. That meant Lee exiting for a pinch-hitter in the bottom of the seventh, which meant asking for at least one and perhaps two extra innings out of the bullpen, which in the eighth inning surrendered an insurance run as B.J. Rosenberg allowed a single and a walk and then an RBI double to Juan Lagares.
How Sandberg and general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. address the offense will be one of the key story lines of the offseason.
"I think on this last road trip I'll have some conversations with Ruben one-on-one going over some things, cover some bases, do some evaluation on this last road trip," Sandberg said. "I'm looking forward to that."
Lee allowed three runs, two earned, while striking out eight without issuing a walk in seven innings. He threw just 88 pitches, 66 of them for strikes.
The Phillies took a 1-0 lead in the second as Brown led off with a walk and later scored on a two-out double by Frandsen. The Mets tied it in the fourth as Eric Young singled and Wilmer Flores double to set up an RBI groundout by Andrew Brown. The Phillies retook the lead in the sixth on an RBI single by Domonic Brown, but the Mets went up for good on a two-run single by Wilfredo Tovar in the seventh. Rosenberg snapped a string of 12 1/3 consecutive scoreless innings last week.
The Phillies added a run in the bottom of the eighth as Carlos Ruiz singled, Dom Brown walked, and Mets reliever Vic Black threw a wild pitch to set up an RBI flyout in foul territory off the bat of Darin Ruf.
The Phillies finish the season 43-38 at home.
The Phillies saw their attendance drop by more than a half-million fans over last year, drawing 3,012,403 on the season, their lowest total since 2006, when they drew 2,701,815. They drew 44,398 yesterday in their home finale, the sixth sellout of the season. The Phillies entered yesterday with the fourth highest home attendance in the National League. It is the first time since 2009 that they will not finish in first place.
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