Why do Phillies keep losing to Mets? It's simple: Bad baseball

Zach Eflin surrendered two home runs in Sunday’s loss to the New York Mets, who have homered 20 times in seven games this season at Citizens Bank Park.

Losing a series to the New York Mets is disturbing for the Phillies and their fans regardless of the time, place and circumstances. The Mets, after all, are the National League East rival in closest proximity to Philadelphia and they have some fascinating history with the Phillies, not to mention a fan base always willing to make the trip to Citizens Bank Park.

Let’s go Mets. Let’s go Mets.

Camera icon MATT SLOCUM
Mets outfielder Michael Conforto connected for a first-inning homer against the Phillies  on Sunday.  AP

Those fingernails-on-the-chalkboard sounds could be heard again late Sunday afternoon as the Mets closed out a 6-2 victory that was gift-wrapped by a couple of bad pitches from starter Zach Eflin, another Odubel Herrera base-running gaffe, and some shoddy seventh-inning relief work from Edubray Ramos.

Nothing is likely to ever make up for the Mets’ 2007 collapse that led to the first of five straight NL East titles for the Phillies, but at least the present-day National League team from New York can take some solace in its extended dominance of its closest rival to the south.

For those of you who have used your fan-interest remote to change the channel to football season  —  we hear you spelling again  — the Mets improved to 9-4 against the Phillies this season, including a 6-1 mark in South Philly. The Phillies have not won the season series against the Mets since 2011 and are 39-68 against New York since 2012.

“Nobody knows the answer to that,” manager Pete Mackanin said when asked about the Mets’ dominance of his team.

There was no mystery to what happened Sunday. The Phillies played bad baseball, deserved to get beaten and were soundly beaten.

“The game is funny with how you can pitch pretty well, make a couple of mistakes and get burnt,” Mackanin said. “Eflin got burnt on his hanging curveballs, two of them. And then we had that one bad inning where they scored another two.”

That was the abridged version of the Phillies’ third loss in the four-game series with the Mets. Mackanin left out the part where Herrera single-handedly ran the Phillies out of a potential big inning in the bottom of the fifth by failing to recognize that third-base coach Juan Samuel had ordered Freddy Galvis to hold his ground on a short fly ball to center field by Nick Williams. When Herrera saw centerfielder Michael Conforto’s throw scoot away from catcher Travis d’Arnaud, he put his head down and sprinted for third.

[Herrera makes another blunder in Phillies loss to Mets]

Halfway to the base, Herrera noticed Galvis was still standing on third and he put his hands on his helmet and waited to be tagged out.

“The mistake he made was he assumed that Freddy was going to go,” Mackanin said. “He just put his head down and ran to third. That was the only mistake he made.”

It was a whopper. Instead of bases loaded with one out, there were runners at first and third with two outs. A wild pitch allowed Galvis to score, but the inning died quietly after that and when Ramos surrendered two more runs in the seventh, with one of them coming on the reliever’s own throwing error, the Phillies’ fate was sealed.

Mackanin tried to make Eflin’s second start since returning from triple-A Lehigh Valley sound better than it actually was. Exit after 5 1/3 innings having allowed four runs on seven hits, including a couple of two-run homers, and you really have not done an acceptable job.

The first of the two Mets homers, which gave them 20 in seven games at Citizens Bank Park this season, came on a 1-2 count in the first inning. Conforto crushed the hanging breaking ball into the right-field seats. Two innings later, on an even worse pitch, Curtis Granderson slugged a two-run homer.

“Neither curveball had enough bite to it,” Mackanin said. “You hang it, they bang it.”

The majority of the blame from those still paying attention to this team will likely fall upon Herrera, who should be a fan favorite for hitting .342 with a .388 on-base percentage since June 1, but instead has become a fan irritant because of the stupid plays like the one he made Sunday.

[Rhys Hoskins picks up first major-league hit]

“Definitely frustrating because I know I messed up,” Herrera said through an interpreter. “That was a situation for us where we could have tied the game or gone ahead. But I messed up and I have to learn from it.”

If there’s anything baffling about the Mets’ dominance of the Phillies this season it is that they are not a good team either. Look at their roster and you see that David Wright, Matt Harvey, Noah Syndergaard, Zach Wheeler, and Jeurys Familia are all on the disabled list.

Chris Flexen, the 23-year-old righthander the Mets sent to the mound Sunday, had allowed 11 earned runs and 17 hits over 11 2/3 innings in his first three big-league starts and he had not pitched above double-A before being called to the majors last month. The Phillies managed to score twice in five innings against him.

And so the Phillies, their fans and the large contingent of alumni who gathered for a weekend celebration that focused on the lives of players recently lost had to endure more of those Let’s go Mets chants. They will surely continue as long as the Phillies keep playing bad baseball.