Phillies in position to clinch series against Mets
NEW YORK — Rhys Hoskins‘ tie-breaking homer in the eighth inning Friday night provided a jolt to the National League Cy Young Award hopes of Philadelphia Phillies teammate Aaron Nola. On Saturday, the Phillies will find out if Hoskins’ blast had a longer-reaching impact.
The Phillies will look to lock up their first series win in a month when they play the New York Mets in the middle game of a three-game series at Citi Field. Noah Syndergaard (10-3, 3.33 ERA) is scheduled to take the mound for New York against Philadelphia’s Zach Eflin (9-6, 4.05) in a battle of right-handers.
Hoskins’ homer on Friday provided the final run in the Phillies’ 4-3 victory and lifted Nola to his 16th win, which ties him with the Washington Nationals’ Max Scherzer for the most in the NL.
Nola is in a three-way battle for the Cy Young Award with Scherzer, the two-time defending winner, and the Mets’ Jacob deGrom, who leads the league with a 1.68 ERA. Scherzer and Nola rank second and third at 2.28 and 2.29, respectively.
Before Hoskins snapped an 0-for-14 skid with his blast, Nola was in danger of allowing three runs or fewer yet not getting a win for the 11th time in 29 starts this season.
“He’s had some tough ones,” Hoskins said afterward. “It’s always good to pick up a teammate, no matter who it is.”
The homer also helped the Phillies (74-66) pick up ground on the first-place Atlanta Braves in the NL East. Philadelphia, which has lost eight series and split another since sweeping the Miami Marlins from Aug. 2-5, is 2 1/2 games behind the Braves, who lost to the Arizona Diamondbacks Friday night.
“Cy Young race, the whole drama and everything that’s going on, game in a playoff chase with so much on the line,” Phillies manager Gabe Kapler said. “It was huge for Rhys and obviously huge for Nola and huge for all of us to get that, collectively.”
The Mets (63-77) have long been out of the playoff race, but facing Nola and the Phillies this weekend gives them multiple chances to play the role of spoiler. DeGrom, who is just 8-8 despite his minuscule ERA, is in line to start the series finale Sunday afternoon.
While the Mets could not deny Nola the win Friday, manager Mickey Callaway took solace in denting his ERA ever so slightly and acknowledged he sensed a renewed energy by players hoping to help out deGrom.
“I thought getting three runs off of him, hitting a couple homers off of him — not too many teams are scoring three runs off of him, indicated by his ERA,” Callaway said. “(The Cy Young Award race) definitely comes into play. I think you want to go out there and win every night, but certain circumstances definitely enter your mind when they’re there.”
Syndergaard looked like a Cy Young Award contender himself in his most recent start last Sunday, when he threw the first complete game of his career in the Mets’ 4-1 win over the San Francisco Giants. The 26-year-old allowed just two hits and one walk while striking out 11 in the 114-pitch effort.
Syndergaard is 4-2 with a 2.60 ERA in eight career starts against the Phillies. In two starts against Philadelphia this season, Syndergaard is 0-1 with a 5.59 ERA.
Eflin last pitched on Sept. 1, when he lost his second straight start after giving up four runs (three earned) in five innings as the Phillies fell to the Chicago Cubs 7-1. He is 1-2 with a 6.20 ERA in his last four starts, a stretch in which Eflin’s ERA has risen from 3.57 to 4.05.
Eflin is 1-2 with a 4.82 ERA in five career starts against the Mets, and he is 1-0 with a 5.40 ERA. in two starts against New York this year.