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August 13, 2017

What everyone said after Odubel Herrera's latest gaffe squashes rally in Phillies loss to Mets

The words were difficult to come by for a period of time at Citizens Bank Park in the bottom of the fifth inning of Sunday’s matinee with the New York Mets.

Even if events similar had happened at some point this year, this one appeared to be particularly egregious for a number of reasons, namely that the Phillies were trailing by three runs and had a prime opportunity to cut into that deficit and that the entire play was in front of Odubel Herrera to watch.

But Herrera screwed up again, and it went a long way in killing a rally in the Phillies 6-2 loss to the Mets. (And yes, it probably should be noted somewhere toward the top of the story that Herrera reached base three times on Sunday with a single and two walks).

The game, for all intents and purposes, turned on that fifth inning play, though.

The scene: fifth inning, Mets ahead 4-1, Phillies with the bases loaded and no one out after a Herrera walk is sandwiched by singles from Freddy Galvis and Rhys Hoskins. Nick Williams lofts a standard fly ball – not too shallow, not too deep – to center field.

Galvis retreated to third to tag up but decided not to go. Mets center fielder Michael Conforto’s throw home wasn’t a great one: it hit flailing catcher Travis d’Arnaud on two hops toward the first base line.

The ball barely got away from d’Arnaud. Herrera, who made an aggressive tag at second base in the event he had to run, took off from third as the ball briefly bounced out of d’Arnaud’s grip.

Only one problem there: Galvis was still stationary at third base. Herrera didn’t realize this until he arrived and was deader than a turkey at dinner time on Thanksgiving.

“The mistake he made was he assumed that Freddy was going to go,” manager Pete Mackanin said. “He saw him take off but then he put his head down. The only thing he did is he didn’t keep his head up. He just put his head down and ran to third. That was the only mistake he made.”

Herrera, who has been reprimanded for mental errors throughout the season, owned up to his latest before the Phillies chartered a plane for San Diego early Sunday evening.

“I saw it was a fly ball and my first thought was to tag to go to third, and then I noticed that the catcher didn’t catch the ball right away, and I wanted to make it to third,” Herrera said through a translator. “And then when I got there and I saw Freddy I knew it was too late and that I had made a mistake. … It’s very frustrating, definitely frustrating because I know I messed up, that was a situation for us where we could have tied the game or gone ahead. But I messed up and I have learn from it.”

Galvis never thought to advance from third to home when he saw where Conforto caught the ball in center.

“It was a short pop up,” Galvis said. “A short pop up with nobody out. In that situation, nobody out. Bases loaded.”

Mackanin concurred with the decision made my Galvis and third base coach Juan Samuel.

“That’s a tough call to send him with nobody out,” Mackanin said.

And Galvis also didn’t see any sense whatsoever in breaking for him when d’Arnaud didn’t catch the ball cleanly. Because the ball was still in front of him and he was about three feet from home plate. Galvis didn’t even budge off of third.

“It was almost like right there,” Galvis said. “There’s nowhere for me to go. It was next to home plate.”

Herrera was obviously embarrassed after he arrived to third to briefly share the base with Galvis before he was easily tagged out by Mets third baseman Wilmer Flores.

“I know I’m little over aggressive sometimes,” he said. “I definitely have to be smarter on the bases, I know that.  I want to keep my aggressiveness.”

Herrera began his Sunday with a first-inning single off Mets starter Chris Flexen to extend his career-high hitting streak to 16 straight games. It’s the longest hitting streak by a Phillies player since Chase Utley hit in 16-straight games from Sept. 24, 2013 to April 14, 2014 and the longest in a single season since Raul Ibanez hit in 18 straight from July 22 to August 11 in 2010.

Herrera had a bad month of May (.237, .616 OPS) but still enters the final seven weeks of the season with a career-best .797 OPS and tied with Daniel Murphy for the National League lead in doubles, with 35.

“I’d prefer, instead of looking at all the positives and the negatives, I prefer to say that he’s more positive than negative and if you look back on the last six, seven weeks, he has not made many mistakes,” Mackanin said. “Today was an innocent mistake. He just didn’t keep his head up. That’s the only thing he did. So I’ll take him any day.”

Since carrying a .218/.262/.326 slash line into June, Herrera is slashing .342/.387/.578 with nine home runs and 23 doubles in 62 games after June 1. Since the All-Star break, Herrera’s .380 average and 1.141 OPS both rank third in all of baseball.

Rhys' Pieces

In the same inning that Herrera made his latest base running gaffe, Rhys Hoskins let out a sigh of relief when he reached first base.

Hoskins reached safely when a line drive off his bat just cleared the outstretched glove of Mets first baseman Dominic Smith. It was Hoskins’ first major league hit after beginning his career 0-for-12.

“You dream about that moment for a long, long time,” said Hoskins, who also picked up his first MLB RBI with a fielder's choice in the first inning. “And I was happy to do it in that situation, too.”

About a half hour before leaving CBP to catch the team charter, Hoskins still didn’t have the cherished souvenir – the ball from his first MLB hit.

“I think I saw that they got it,” he said. “Hopefully I’ll see it soon.”

Follow Ryan on Twitter: @ryanlawrence21

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