First-place Phillies hope to extend lead against Mets

National Sports

The Philadelphia Phillies will head into Saturday’s game in first place for the first time in three months.

The goal now is to extend their lead in the National League East.

The Phillies will look for their seventh consecutive victory when they host the New York Mets on Saturday afternoon.

Philadelphia received home runs from Bryce Harper and Didi Gregorius and won 4-2 in the series opener on Friday to move a half-game in front of the Mets.

“We’ve got to take care of business every day,” Harper said on a postgame interview on NBC Sports Philadelphia.

During the winning streak, Harper, Rhys Hoskins and J.T. Realmuto have all strung together big hits and hot hitting at the same time.

“That’s kind of what we envision for our offense,” Realmuto said. “We’ve got the big boppers in the middle, and when we’re hot, we can do damage any time. … We’ve got to stay hot as long as we can.”

Hoskins, who hit a game-winning, two-run double in Thursday’s 7-6 win on the road against the Washington Nationals, missed Friday’s game after aggravating his nagging groin injury.

Hoskins’ status is unclear for Saturday. The same goes for Gregorius, who was hit by a pitch on the elbow in Friday night’s win.

“He’s pretty sore,” Phillies manager Joe Girardi said of Gregorius.

The Phillies will send left-hander Ranger Suarez to the mound on Saturday. Recently the team’s closer, Suarez (5-3, 1.04 ERA) was shifted back to the starting rotation. In his first start since the 2018 season, the 25-year-old threw three scoreless innings without a hit allowed in Monday’s win at Washington.

For Suarez’s career against the Mets, he’s 1-2 with a 5.11 ERA in eight appearances (one start).

“It’s nice to have momentum, but as I’ve said, momentum starts with the starter the next day and whether it keeps going,” Girardi said.

The struggling Mets, who dropped three of four to the Miami Marlins entering this series, fell out of first place after 90 consecutive days. New York scuffled once again with runners in scoring position, going 1-for-8.

“It’s really tough to explain,” Mets manager Luis Rojas said. “I just think that we missed our pitches and we haven’t been on time with fastballs and we chase them.”

The offense looked flat with four hits until Jonathan Villar hit a solo home run in the ninth inning to close within two runs. In the end, it was another maddening loss for a team trending in the opposite direction.

“I don’t know if I have an answer, but we still expect it to come together,” Michael Conforto said. “We’re going to keep showing up with that attitude.”

Tylor Megill will start for the Mets, who hope to even the crucial three-game series. Megill (1-1, 2.68) has never faced the Phillies in his brief career.

“This guy’s here and he’s here to stay,” Rojas said of the 26-year-old rookie right-hander.

For the Mets to win, their offense must start producing. Brandon Nimmo and Pete Alonso combined to go 0-for-7 in Friday’s loss.

“We’ve just got to keep working hard,” Rojas said. “We’ve got to be better attacking the fastball. That’s where I think most of the inconsistency has been here.”

–Field Level Media

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