Phillies crush Mets with eight-run first inning

Posted: September 21, 2012

NEW YORK - It took 33 minutes Thursday for the Phillies to take out their wrath on an inferior team going through the motions of a lost season. This was a night for relaxation, but also reflection: The Phillies could have easily followed the Mets' fate.

Irrelevancy is a harsh baseball existence, as demonstrated by a 16-1 Phillies demolition of New York before a sparse crowd. Reaching the postseason is a decided long shot for these Phillies. They can take pride in at least contending in the final 12 games of 2012.

Game No. 150 was a laugher before the first inning ended. The first eight Phillies reached base. Eight runs scored on nine singles, a walk, and a hit batter. Mets starter Jeremy Hefner was charged with seven runs and he did not retire a single hitter. It was the first time the Phillies scored eight runs in the first inning of a road game since 1912.

There was no mercy. The Phillies scored seven more times in the ninth, capped by a Ryan Howard grand slam. Juan Pierre had five hits. Chase Utley had four, with four RBIs. The team's 16 runs and 21 hits were the most since July 6, 2009.

The Phillies can play unstoppable baseball for the next two weeks, but their hole is dug, and it is deep. They trail St. Louis by four games for the second wild-card berth. The Cardinals are on pace for 86 victories and play their next six games against wretched Chicago and Houston. Los Angeles and red-hot Milwaukee still sit in front of the Phillies. The path to 87 wins requires an 11-1 finish for the Phillies. There is no margin for error.

"It's up to us to keep playing," manager Charlie Manuel said. "It's all we can do. . . . We're going to have to get some help. Somebody has to beat the Cardinals. And Dodgers. And Milwaukee."

The first inning Thursday was a study on the fickle nature of pitching. Hefner was not shelled. Only two of the singles were hit hard; the other seven were bleeders and flares. The Phillies put 11 balls in play and nine of them landed as hits. The major-league batting average on balls in play is .297.

"The next guy kept coming up and doing the same thing," Howard said. "We got to them early."

Hefner, a rookie righthander, was the first starter to face seven batters and not record an out against the Phillies since Chicago's Bill Bonham on Aug. 5, 1975.

The first six Phillies reached on singles. Kevin Frandsen drew a bases-loaded walk, and that finally forced Mets manager Terry Collins to emerge with the hook. In came Collin McHugh, another rookie righthander, and he promptly plunked Erik Kratz to score another run.

Only when pitcher Tyler Cloyd batted did New York record an out - two of them, to be exact. Cloyd tapped into a 1-2-3 double play, and the hundreds in attendance serenaded the Mets with mocking applause.

"It seemed like everything we hit started to fall," Manuel said.

The inning continued to devolve. Jimmy Rollins smacked a two-run single, his second hit of the inning. Pierre singled again. So did Utley, who drove yet another run home.

Sweeping the Mets in Queens was no surprise. They are 4-24 at home in the second half. This marked the first-ever Phillies series sweep at Citi Field, which opened in 2009.

The competition improves Friday, when Atlanta comes to Citizens Bank Park for three. Washington, which won a playoff berth on Thursday, arrives after that.

Cloyd pitched without drama. The Mets swung early and often, allowing Cloyd to throw eight innings on 88 pitches. His teammates sprayed 21 hits, 19 of them singles, and that was plenty of support on this night.


Contact Matt Gelb at mgelb@phillynews.com, or follow on Twitter @magelb.

 

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