Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Deep 6: Mets power up in rout of Phils

First was Michael Conforto, then Yoenis Cespedes. Two innings passed, and Neil Walker and Lucas Duda joined in. Curtis Granderson wanted to get in on the fun, too. By the end of the Mets' 11-1 win over the Phillies on Tuesday night, five Mets had put balls over the outfield walls of Citizens Bank Park, including two from Walker.
"This is a really talented group," Walker said of a Mets team that has homered 17 times over the first five games of a road trip. "To watch it firsthand … these are the kind of things this team is capable of."
Two pitchers entered Tuesday night having yet to allow a run in a start, but only the Mets'Logan Verrett escaped with that still intact. Verrett tossed six scoreless innings and has now led the Mets to wins in both of his spot starts in place of Jacob deGrom, who is expected to make his next scheduled start. Verrett also reached base twice and scored on Cespedes' third-inning home run.
"I didn't feel as sharp as I did in my last start, so I really had to work for it today," Verrett said. "Early on, I was trying to overthrow a bit with my fastball. … A little bit later in the game, we started throwing some sliders in there, and that was really able to help me find my arm slot."
Phillies starter Vince Velasquez lasted just 4 1/3 innings in his follow-up performance to his 16-strikeout shutout against the Padres last week -- but only two of the Mets' six dingers came against him. Thanks to a Ryan Howard error that allowed Verrett to reach in the third, only two of the five runs Velasquez allowed were earned, raising his season ERA from 0.00 to 0.93.
"We didn't pitch well. We didn't hit well. We didn't play well tonight," Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said. "We got beat pretty bad. The Mets seemed to want it. There's not a whole lot to say."
Gone, baby, gone: Six times, the Mets went deep against the Phillies, breaking the game open early -- Conforto's two-run homer came in the first inning, Cespedes' three-run shot in the third -- and putting it away late. Walker's two-homer game was particularly noteworthy; the second baseman upped his season total to six when he went back-to-back with Duda for the second straight night.
"Our lineup right now, to be honest, we've got a lot of guys who can hit it over the fence," Mets manager Terry Collins said. "The other team, there's a lot of pressure on them. If you make a mistake, you know somebody can hit a home run. That's really tough on the opposition." More >
Bullpen blowup: As if the five runs the Mets scored against Velasquez weren't enough, New York continued to pile on against the Phillies' bullpen once Velasquez was pulled in the fifth.Brett Oberholtzer and James Russell combined to pitch three innings, in which they gave up four home runs, amounting to six runs. Philadelphia entered Tuesday with the fourth-worst bullpen ERA in baseball (5.49). After the Mets massacre, their ERA is now 6.14.
Super sub: Making two starts this month in place of All-Star deGrom, Verrett finished with a combined 12 scoreless innings against the Marlins and Phillies. Half of that came Tuesday at Citizens Bank Park, where Verrett did not allow a batter past first base after escaping jams in the first and second innings. Verrett will head back to the bullpen with deGrom expected to return this weekend.
"He gave us exactly what we needed, and that's big innings," Collins said. "He's been a big piece of our club, even pitching out of the bullpen. When we need a start, he gives you a good one." More >
Howard's error: Verrett hit a routine ground ball to Phillies shortstop Freddy Galvis in the third. Galvis threw to first, but Howard missed the catchable throw for an error. Velasquez retired the next two Mets, but Conforto singled and Cespedes homered on an 0-2 curveball. Velasquez regretted the pitch, wishing he had thrown a fastball.
"Why I agreed to the pitch, I don't know why," Velasquez said. "Maybe it was just the heat of the moment and I just went with it. … Cespedes was just waiting on it the whole time. It's bad on my part. Bad pitching, bad execution. I take full responsibility for that."
"We're just not having fun. All through spring we were having so much fun, in the dugout, outside the dugout. We need to stop being timid. We have to be a little more upright, be fun, start enjoying ourselves. I think we'll be all right." -- Velasquez, on the Phillies' offensive struggles
The Mets, who compiled 40 percent of their offense on homers last season, are at 57 percent this year after plating all 11 of Tuesday's runs on homers. Only the Orioles have a higher percentage of runs via homers. After hitting two home runs in their first eight games, the Mets have broken out for 17 in the five games since.
 Tuesday marked the 15th straight game the Phillies weren't able to collect 10 hits, extending their franchise mark to begin a season. The last team to go this long into a season without a 10-hit game was the 1978 Mets.
"Our hitters will come around, but we haven't been taking advantage of mistakes," Mackanin said. "I don't know what it is. I don't know if it's a lack of aggressiveness."
Juan Lagares drew a gasp from the Citizens Bank Park when he skied above the center-field fence to take a possible home run away from Maikel Franco in the eighth. Lagares, who had entered as a pinch-hitter one inning earlier, is struggling to find regular playing time after breaking camp as the Mets' fourth outfielder. More >
Mets: Bartolo Colon (1-1, 2.13 ERA) looks to take sole possession of second place on the all-time wins list among Dominican-born pitchers when he wraps up the Mets' three-game series Wednesday in Philadelphia. Colon matched Pedro Martinez with his 219th career win last time out in Cleveland, holding the Indians to two runs over 5 1/3 innings.
Phillies: Phillies right-hander Jeremy Hellickson (1-1, 4.30 ERA) pitches the series finale against the Mets on Wednesday night at Citizens Bank Park. He allowed two earned runs in 11 2/3 innings in his first two starts before allowing five earned runs in three innings Friday against the Nationals.

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