Sunday, March 29, 2015

There Is Something Seriously Wrong Here!

EXHIBITION GAME RECAP: Twins Trounce Phillies 7-1

Ervin Santana tossed six strong innings and Joe Mauer crushed a two-run homer to help lead the Twins to a 7-1 win over the Phillies on Saturday at Hammond Stadium. Santana, making his fourth Grapefruit League start, gave up just one run on five hits while striking out two. The lone run he allowed came in the third inning on an RBI single from Odubel Herrera to score Cesar Hernandez, who led off the inning with a double. "Everything was good," Santana said. "I was keeping the ball down for the most part. A couple times it was up, but that happens. But everything was good." He fared better than Phillies right-hander Jerome Williams, who surrendered six runs (four earned) on nine hits and two walks over four-plus innings. The Twins took the lead with a three-run third inning when Brian Dozier led off with a single and scored on a double from Eduardo Escobar. Kennys Vargas brought home Escobar on an infield single that hit off the second base bag. The Twins got their third run of the inning thanks to an error from Hernandez on a grounder hit to second base by Eduardo Nunez. After the error prolonged the inning, Shane Robinson came through with an RBI single. Mauer gave Minnesota two insurance runs with a deep blast to right field off Hernandez in the fourth. It was the first homer of the spring for Mauer, who went 2-for-3 on the afternoon. The Twins scored again in the fifth on a sacrifice fly from Jordan Schafer, which was keyed by a throwing error from third baseman Cord Phelps.

Aaron Harang, hampered by back issues earlier this spring, makes his fourth start on Sunday against the Tigers and Anibal Sanchez at Bright House Field on MLB.TV at 1:05 p.m. ET. The 36-year-old Harang, who was scratched from two of his first three scheduled starts, made his big league debut with the Oakland A's in 2002 and pitched for seven teams before signing a one-year contract with the Phillies on December 30. Only nine active Major League pitchers have amassed more than his 2,149 2/3 innings.

  • Set-up man Ken Giles, who allowed four runs in two-thirds of an inning on Thursday against Toronto, rebounded with a flawless inning on Saturday.
  • Phillipe Aumont, the last player left on the Phillies from the Dec. 6, 2009 trade that sent Cliff Lee to the Seattle Mariners, allowed two hits and a run in his one inning of work on Saturday, raising his ERA to 4.54. Aumont is out of options, which means the Phillies risk losing him if he doesn't make the team this spring. The 6-foot-7 Aumont, who was recalled from Triple-A Lehigh Valley twice last season, was 0-1 with a 19.06 ERA in five games with the Phillies.
  • Twenty-year-old right-hander Zach Eflin, acquired from the Dodgers in the offseason Jimmy Rollins deal, will make his first exhibition start for the Phillies on Monday against the Pirates in Bradenton. Eflin will be the Phillies' third highly-regarded pitching prospect to take the mound in the past week. Severino Gonzalez started on Tuesday and Aaron Nola pitched in relief on Friday. Both threw three scoreless innings. Eflin is starting in place of David Buchanan, who will pitch on Sunday in a Minor League camp game.
  • Saturday's matchup of Sandberg against Minnesota's Paul Molitor marked just the second time in Major League history that two current Hall of Fame players have managed against one another. The other time was just this past Monday when Sandberg and Molitor managed against each other in a Grapefruit League game in Clearwater.

Ready For The Season? – Well-traveled veteran right-hander Jerome Williams, projected to be the Phillies' No. 3 starter, shrugged off Saturday's tough outing in which he gave up six runs (four earned) on nine hits in four innings of a somewhat sloppy 7-1 loss to the Twins. Williams insisted after the game, "I think I'll be fine. Everything is fine. "I need to attack, attack," continued the 33-year-old Williams, who is now 0-3 with a 6.60 ERA this spring after giving up 11 runs on 19 hits in his last two outings. "Some of the hits were pretty decent," conceded Williams, who threw 95 pitches as he sought to build up his arm for the season ahead. "Some others just found holes. "I felt good, I felt fine. Physically, everything is fine. There's a couple of pitches I need to work on. I was trying to be too fine." "He's a little off with his command," said manager Ryne Sandberg. "He's a not as sharp as he wants to be. He's usually sharper than this in his last couple of outings." Williams likely will make one more start before the regular season begins, although he doesn't know when that start will be. "My arm is getting there," he said. "My arm is getting back to where it needs to be. Hopefully, when the season starts, it'll be back to where it was last year." Williams was 4-2 in nine starts for the Phillies late last season. Among the nine hits Williams allowed on Saturday was a two-run homer by Minnesota's Joe Mauer. "The way he swung at it, he knew what was coming," Williams admitted. "He got a a hold of it. I've faced him a lot." Williams, who has had to make the two-hour bus trek from Clearwater to Fort Myers before and after each of his last two exhibition outings, is slated to be the Phillies' No. 3 starter behind Cole Hamels and Aaron Harang. Williams previously pitched for the Giants, Cubs, Nationals, Angels, Astros, and Rangers.

Where’s The Offense? – The Phillies settled for one run on five hits Saturday, as they fell to the Twins, 7-1. And with Opening Day now a little more than a week away, manager Ryne Sandberg is admittedly concerned. "This is the time of the spring when you want the guys to be finding their strokes," Sandberg said as the Phillies' team batting average dropped to .231. "Overall, this is the time of spring when you want to see more fine-tuned at-bats." Instead, only Cameron Rupp (.400), Chase Utley (.375), Brian Bogusevic (.355), Odubel Herrera (.346), and Russ Canzler (.314) are hitting over .300. And the clock is ticking. Sandberg admitted he is also concerned about the Phillies' defense, which has been a bit sloppy of late. Meanwhile, there are still a number of decisions to be made. Sandberg said the Phillies are close to making a significant number of roster cuts. "Probably within a day or two," the manager said. However, with exhibition games in Philadelphia next Friday and Saturday, Sandberg said the Phillies will probably not make their final cuts until next weekend. Rosters are due at the Commissioner's office a week from Sunday.

The Phillies will look to rebound this season from a 73-89 record last year. While uncertainty abounds, there is little question that the franchise is in rebuild mode based on the moves and statements that have been made during the offseason. The only question that remains is whether or not the young and veteran talent on the team can work together to disprove Gillick’s predictions either this year or next.

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