August 15, 2022

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Phils test Max early, but bats' 'fight' falls short

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Instead, another pitch outside the strike zone got called a strike. It happened a couple times in Wednesday afternoon’s 9-6 loss to the Mets at Citizens Bank Park. This one in the eighth inning ended a nine-pitch at-bat against right-hander Seth Lugo with a strikeout. It was another frustrating moment for Schwarber this week and another frustrating moment for the Phillies, who lost their three-game series to the Mets to finish 3-3 on their season-opening homestand.

There were good moments at home. There were bad moments. Schwarber has played enough baseball to know that perspective is needed in April, either way. And the Phillies still have 156 games to play.

“I think we showed a lot of fight,” Schwarber said. “We showed we weren’t going to give in just because we were losing late. I think that’s the positive takeaway. There are things personally that I need to do better. But there are positives. We got a series win against the A’s. We played the Mets hard here. Obviously, we’re disappointed we lost the series. We wanted to win two of three. But there are a lot of positives.”

The Phillies had opportunities to win on Wednesday, but none better than when they loaded the bases with one out in the first inning against Mets right-hander Max Scherzer.

Scherzer is never on the ropes, so to speak, but he was visibly frustrated. He was barking at home-plate umpire Adrian Johnson. He was muttering to himself. But Scherzer struck out Jean Segura swinging and got Didi Gregorius to ground out to end the inning.

“That was probably the difference in the game,” Phillies manager Joe Girardi said. “We weren’t able to get that one hit to really extend him and maybe even knock him out of the game, if we kept the inning going.”

Phillies right-hander Aaron Nola lost his command in the fourth. He walked a batter and hit the final two batters he faced after allowing an RBI double earlier in the frame. Reliever Damon Jones hit another batter in the fifth, the fifth batter that Phillies pitchers hit in two days. It surprised nobody when Segura then got hit by a pitch to start the sixth with the Mets holding a seven-run lead.

Segura initially lost feeling in his arm and left the game. He said postgame that he hopes he can play as early as Thursday in Miami. Both parties said the hit-by-pitch wasn’t intentional.

The Phillies had pitched pretty well until Wednesday. It was the offense, however, that surprised by struggling the past four games. Schwarber finished the homestand hitless in 18 at-bats. Bryce Harper hit a solo homer in the ninth, but he has three hits in 21 at-bats. Gregorius has three hits in 19 at-bats. Center fielder Matt Vierling is hitless in 13 at-bats.

“I didn’t want to get off to a slow start,” Schwarber said. “Especially in this type of fashion. But you have to put in the work, which I’m not worried about. I’m going to be working. And you have to be able to compete once you get in the game. That’s the biggest thing — not going out there and feeling for things. Just go out there and compete. When you’re in the cage, that’s when you’re feeling and you’re doing different things. When you’re out there in the game, being in the situation, being in the moment and [you] go.

“I wish I wasn’t in this situation, but it’s game six. There’s a good amount of games left, but you’ve got to keep making the adjustments.”

Schwarber is not worried. He believes things can be better the next time his team faces New York.

“I think if you put ourselves in that situation again in the first, probably eight out of 10 times we score a run there,” he said. “But it is what it is. You’ve got to be able to tip your cap and move on. That’s another good thing. They threw a lot of different things at us this series, and when we move forward and see them next time, we won’t be thrown off by different things.

“They threw a lot of different guys at us, a lot of different situations at us. We can learn from this.”

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