NEW YORK – David Buchanan's extended audition for the Phillies' 2015 starting rotation continued Friday night, the Mets becoming the first team to face the rookie righthander for a third time.
Buchanan pitched effectively, though a shortened outing kept him from a chance to earn a decision. A half-inning after his night ended, Grady Sizemore dropped a fly ball with the bases loaded and two outs, a costly error that proved the difference in the Phillies' 4-1 loss to the Mets at Citi Field.
The defeat snapped a four-game winning streak for the Phillies (61-73). A victory would've not only seen them tie a season high for consecutive wins, it would've also pushed them out of last place in the National League East for the first time since June 27. Instead, they will look to bounce back tonight with Jerome Williams (2-0, 1.77 ERA) on the mound.
Buchanan did his part. Through six innings, he had surrendered only one run — it came on a fourth-inning RBI single from Travis d'Arnaud — and four hits. But when the pitcher's spot in the order came up with two men on and only one out in a 1-1 game, manager Ryne Sandberg opted to pinch-hit Domonic Brown, ending Buchanan's night after only 64 pitches.
That's when the Phillies' fortunes started to turn, as Brown grounded into an inning-ending doubleplay and Jake Diekman issued two walks and hit a batter in the bottom half of the seventh. It appeared Justin De Fratus would get the Phillies out of the bases-loaded jam when Juan Lagares hit a two-out fly ball to left-centerfield, but Sizemore botched the routine pop fly, allowing a pair of go-ahead runs to score.
"I just missed it," Sizemore said. "There's nothing to it other than just a routine popup, and I couldn't come up with it."
After the game, Sandberg stood by his decision to pinch-hit Brown for Buchanan, explaining the Phils needed to take a shot at a run with only nine outs remaining. Buchanan agreed. Mets rookie right-hander Jacob deGrom (7-6) had held them to only four hits at the time.
"In a National League game where he's throwing a great game and you have a chance to knock him out and tie it up or take the lead," Buchanan said, "that was completely understandable."
Though his outing was shorter than it could've been, Friday night marked another quality start for Buchanan. He's allowed three earned runs or fewer in 11 consecutive big-league starts. His ERA standing at 4.03, he's on target for five more starts to show what he has ahead of next spring.
"It's the third time I've seen these guys, so I really didn't have anything to surprise them with," Buchanan said. "I just wanted to pound the zone early, make them swing the bat and keep the ball down and keep the ball on the ground. Overall, I felt good."
As of yesterday, the Phillies were not yet ready to reveal which players would be called up Monday when rosters expand. But without naming names, Sandberg estimated five or six players could join the big-league club.
Triple A Lehigh Valley plays its season finale Monday afternoon at Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Likely candidates include righthanded reliever Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez, outfielder John Mayberry Jr., infielder Cesar Hernandez and catcher Cameron Rupp.
The big question will concern whether the Phils give hot-hitting third baseman prospect Maikel Franco his first taste of the majors. Franco has been tearing up Triple A hitting but general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said earlier in the week the organization was still discussing whether to promote Franco.