By Sam Bush
All of a sudden, the Phillies are looking up at the New York Mets in the NL East standings.
Zack Wheeler connected for his first major league home run and struck out 11 in seven sharp innings as the Mets handed the Phillies their fifth loss in six games, 9-0, and into first place in the National League East, a game ahead of Philly.
For the Phillies, it was another quiet day. Until two out in the ninth, that is.
That’s when Mets reliever Jacob Rhame sailed two fastballs over Rhys Hoskins’ head. The benches started to clear after the first time, and Hoskins angrily slung his bat after the next one, which was ball four.
“I understand baseball. They got hit a couple times yesterday,” Hoskins said.
But that didn’t make it any easier to accept, not after high heat buzzed his helmet. Mets catcher Travis d’Arnaud “just said they were trying to go inside and I laughed,” the Philadelphia cleanup man said.
No doubt, it could make for tense times in the series finale Wednesday night.
Before the late shenanigans, it was the Wheeler show.
Wheeler also doubled and drove in three runs and Todd Frazier connected for a grand slam that made it 8-0 in the fifth.
“I was like, God, he makes it look easy and I’m trying to get an extra-base hit or get on base,” Frazier said. “It was nice to have him supply the RBI, give himself a little breathing room and I came in at the end.”
Wheeler (2-2) became the majors’ first 100-100 player this season — he hit and pitched a ball at least 100 mph, according to Statcast data.
“First pitcher ever to do that,” Mets manager Mickey Callaway said. “That put him over the top, it seems like. And that’s a real stat, by the way, I’m not making that up. He did everything right.”
Wheeler did it in his 100th career start, too. He fanned seven straight in the early innings, and gave himself a cushion at the plate.
A career .129 hitter, Wheeler lined a two-run double in the second off Zach Eflin(2-3). The next time up, Wheeler did even better, launching a drive over the wall in left-center.
Wheeler kept up a surprising long ball show by Mets pitchers. Noah Syndergaard and Jacob deGrom also have gone deep this year, making the Mets the first National League team in more than 110 years to have three pitchers homer in the first 25 games of a season.
Frazier broke open the game with his fifth career slam, tagging Drew Anderson. Frazier made his season debut Monday after being slowed by a strained left oblique.
Bryce Harper and the Phillies have totaled just two runs while losing three in a row, and were shut out for the first time season. They went down quietly Monday when their final 16 batters were retired, and manager Gabe Kapler said before this game he wanted to see whether his team would respond with any energy.
It didn’t, at least until two out in the ninth. The closest the Phillies came to scoring was in the fourth when Maikel Franco was thrown out at the plate by left fielder Jeff McNeil on Cesar Hernandez’s single.
“Very frustrating,” Kapler said, adding, “It wasn’t good effort.”
Hernandez also let an easy grounder roll through his legs with two out in the second, allowing Wheeler to score from second.
Mets relievers Luis Avilan and Rhame finished off the five-hitter.