By Matt Gregan, Sports Talk Philly Staff
The power of the bamboo! The Philadelphia Phillies complete a four-game sweep of the New York Mets in walk-off fashion for the second game in a row. Jean Segura lined a three-run home run just over the wall in left field to cap the team's 9th-inning heroics and give the Phillies a 6-3 win.
Earlier this week, the Phillies looked like they were a team that was dead in the water. However, the Mets came into town and something clicked (the bamboo?). Now, the team has seemed to regain some of their early-season swagger and fight, sweeping the rival Mets, with all four wins coming in come-from-behind fashion.
The Phillies now sit at 43-38. The Mets have fallen to 37-45.
Maikel Franco's Clutch Hitting
Franco continued his latest surge that has resulted in him seemingly regaining his spot as the team's starting third baseman. He homered for the third time in the series to tie it up 3-3 in the 9th. He finished the series going 7-for-15 with three home runs and seven RBI.
Manager Gabe Kapler said earlier in the week that the Phillies are a better baseball team when Franco is in the lineup and hitting well. Well, it looks like he is about to go on one of his customary tears where he can carry the team for a few weeks.
Aaron Nola's Dominant Performance
Nola's 2019 season has been one filled with ups and downs as one of last year's NL Cy Young candidates has uncharacteristically struggled with inconsistency. His performance on the mound (seven innings, no runs, one hit, 10 strikeouts) today reminded fans of what he is capable of doing when he is on his game.
Nola has gone 15 innings while giving up only one earned run and striking out 20 batters over his last two starts. His dominant performances on the mound could not have come at a better time, as the rest of the rotation has been struggling outside of Zach Eflin.
However, Nola has previously shown signs that he was on the verge of rebounding and performing like the ace of the Phillies rotation (4-0, 2.73 ERA in six May starts) before struggling and going through another big rough patch. Hopefully, Nola is able to maintain his recent stretch of good play on the mound.
Zack Wheeler: the Phillies Killer
Add Zack Wheeler to the list of players that continually kill the Phillies. He once again put together a dominant performance on the mound against the Phillies, going six innings while giving up one run on two hits and recording seven strikeouts. The one run that the Phillies were able to put on him came on a monster solo home run by Bryce Harper in the 6th inning.
It could have been worse for the Phillies, but Wheeler only made it through six innings because their bats did a good job driving up his pitch count throughout the game (107 pitches in six innings).
Wheeler against the Phillies this season has gone 1-1 with a 1.80 ERA in 20 combined innings through three starts. He is an inconsistent pitcher, but against the Phillies he always seems to have his best game.
Juan Nicasio's Consistency out of the Bullpen
With the game tight and the Phillies holding a 1-0 lead in the 8th inning, Kapler went to Juan Nicasio to get him to the 9th inning with the lead. Nicasio delivered, as he has all season, with a one-two-three 8th inning using only 12 pitches and recording a big strikeout of Robinson Cano to lead off the frame. He has been excellent out of the bullpen this month, and he has yet to give up a run in 8 2/3 innings of work.
Hector Neris Struggles
Neris has done an adamant job of being the Phillies closer since coming back from a stint at Lehigh Valley last season. The Phillies have relied on him to produce and lock down games this season, and he has done that for the most part. However, he struggled on Thursday against the Mets, giving up three runs on four hits and blowing his second save of the season.
It never really looked like Neris was able to get into a rhythm on the mound on Thursday. He was missing his location and struggling to throw strikes. Todd Frazier drove a ball that missed right down the heart of the plate for a two-run home run into the seats in left field that gave the Mets a 2-1 lead in the 9th inning.
On Thursday, Neris was bailed out by the Phillies' bats, which were able to continue fighting and pick him up from one of his few bad appearances this season. It was the third straight game that Neris appeared in, which could have had something to do with why he was not as sharp on the mound as usual.
The Phillies, at 43-38, are exactly at the midway point of the 2019 season. They are currently in second place in the NL East, now 4.5 games behind the Atlanta Braves after their loss to the Cubs Thursday afternoon. The team is also second in the NL Wild Card, just 0.5 games ahead of the Colorado Rockies.
The Mets, following being swept by the Phillies in their four-game series, now sit 11 games behind Atlanta and are in fourth place in the division.
A Look Ahead
Up next for the Phillies is a three-game series against the Miami Marlins down in Florida. The Phillies were swept by Miami last weekend. Here's a look at the projected pitching matchups: