Friday, April 10, 2015

Boston Beats Buchanan To Take Opening Series

GAME RECAP: Red Sox Beat Phillies 6-2

The Red Sox made David Buchanan pay for every mistake he made Thursday night in a 6-2 victory over the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park. Buchanan retired the first two batters he faced in the third inning before the Red Sox proceeded to score six runs on three infield hits, two walks, one bloop triple and one single to center by Boston pitcher Justin Masterson. The Red Sox cruised from there to win the first series of the season. "That inning can't happen," Buchanan said of the six-run third inning. "Two outs, no runs have scored yet. You've got an open base and you end up walking a guy. You deserve what's coming if you keep doing that." The Phillies scored a couple runs against Masterson in the third, but otherwise made little noise offensively. Masterson allowed three hits, two runs, two walks and struck out seven in six innings. "When he's right, he puts the ball on the ground, and he was able to do that here again tonight and helped his own cause with a couple of base hits, but it was a solid six innings," said Red Sox manager John Farrell.

  • The Phillies celebrated their 1915 team, which won the franchise's first National League pennant. Those Phillies lost the World Series to the Red Sox in five games. The current Phillies wore 1915-era caps to commemorate the festivities.
  • Buchanan had allowed three earned runs or fewer in 16 consecutive starts before Thursday. It was the fourth-longest active streak in the big leagues behind Clayton Kershaw (24 straight), Jon Lester (20) and Lance Lynn (17).
  • "He got a six-run lead. I think that helped. As a pitcher you can kind of settle in when you know you've got a big lead. You can kind of pick and choose what you want to do. I think we kind of let him off the hook." -- Phillies third baseman Cody Asche, on what made Masterson so effective against them.
  • Buchanan pitched as well as anybody in Phillies camp this spring, but he struggled against the Red Sox. He allowed seven hits, six runs, four walks and struck out one in just three innings.
  • The Phillies scored just six runs in three games against the Red Sox and many of the problems started at the top of the lineup with Ben Revere, Chase Utley and Ryan Howard struggling in the series.

The Phillies open a three-game series Friday night at Citizens Bank Park against the Nationals, who many predict to win the National League championship. Right-hander Jerome Williams starts for the Phillies. He went 4-2 with a 2.83 ERA in nine starts last season with Philadelphia, but struggled in Spring Training, posting a 7.40 ERA in 20 2/3 innings. After losing two out of three games to the Mets to start the 2015 season, the Nationals hit the road to face the Phillies in a three-game series starting on Friday night at Citizens Bank Park. Although they were not the dominant team they were in the late 2000s, the Phillies gave the Nationals a tough time in their home ballpark last year, winning six out of nine meetings.


Opening Day Experience – Julie Kramer got to relive her Opening Day experience Thursday on "The Ellen DeGeneres Show." Kramer is a cancer survivor from Tabernacle, N.J., who first appeared on the show in December when she discussed her battle with Stage 4 synovial sarcoma. Chase Utley surprised Kramer on the show with Phillies gear and an invitation to attend as many Phillies games as she wished this season. Kramer threw out the first pitch Monday at Citizens Bank Park. She told DeGeneres she has started to volunteer and raise money for Striking Out Cancer, which raises money for pediatric cancer at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. DeGeneres donated $10,000 to the hospital.

Bats Silent During Boston Series – This is not the start to the season the Phillies wanted offensively. The Twins are getting plenty of attention in the baseball world because they scored just one run in three games this week against the Tigers, but the Phillies scored just six runs in three games against the Red Sox. Three of those runs came on Jeff Francoeur's three-run home run Wednesday night. The Phillies scored twice in the third inning in Thursday's 6-2 loss at Citizens Bank Park. The Phillies hit .149 with just two extra-base hits in the series. They posted a .206 on-base percentage and a .191 slugging percentage. "I think it's a little bit too early to tell," Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg said about the team's offensive capabilities. "Our guys are trying to settle in and get some at-bats under their belt, but what we need to do is hit together and create some innings with some baserunners so we can do some things and then come up with some key hits." Ben Revere, Chase Utley and Ryan Howard hit first, third and fourth, respectively, in the series. They hit a combined .086 (3-for-35) with one double, two RBIs and seven strikeouts. It will not get any easier for the Phillies, who open a three-game series Friday night against the Nationals. The Phillies will face left-hander Gio Gonzalez on Friday, right-hander Doug Fister on Saturday and right-hander Max Scherzer on Sunday. "I don't think guys went away from their approach," Phillies third baseman Cody Asche said about Thursday's struggles against Justin Masterson. "It's just a different game when you're down six runs."

Looking To Bounce Back – Phillies right-hander David Buchanan called his pitching performance Thursday a fluke. He vows next time will be better. "I'm looking forward to washing that away and just shoving my next outing," Buchanan said after a 6-2 loss to the Red Sox at Citizens Bank Park. Buchanan posted a 3.75 ERA in 20 starts during a solid rookie season in 2014. He allowed three earned runs or fewer in his final 16 starts, which was the fourth-longest active streak in the big leagues behind the Dodgers' Clayton Kershaw (24), the Cubs' Jon Lester (20) and the Cardinals' Lance Lynn (17). But after posting a 1.29 ERA and allowing just 14 hits and two walks in 21 innings in Spring Training, he allowed seven hits, six runs and four walks in just three innings Thursday. Buchanan had a problem finishing innings. He retired the first two batters he faced in the first inning before walking David Ortiz with two outs. He had two outs and nobody on base in the second when he walked Xander Bogaerts. But the third inning hurt the most. He retired the first two batters he faced before Ortiz reached on a single to shallow right field. Chase Utley was positioned for the defensive shift, but couldn't handle a ball hit to his right. Hanley Ramirez then hit a ball over the mound, which Buchanan fielded. But he spun and fired the ball into the camera well down the first-base line to put runners on second and third. "I don't know if I had made a good throw if he would have been out or not," Buchanan said. "But fielding my position is part of it. I think I could have gathered myself and tried to make a good throw." Buchanan walked Pablo Sandoval to load the bases. Shane Victorino then hit a ball to third baseman Cody Asche, who backed up to make the play. He looked to throw to second before firing a throw late to first. Ortiz scored to make it 1-0. Ryan Hanigan walked to score Ramirez to make it 2-0 and Bogaerts hit a triple down the right-field line to clear the bases and hand Boston a 5-0 lead. Red Sox pitcher Justin Masterson added insult to injury with a single to center to score Bogaerts and make it 6-0. "That inning can't happen," Buchanan said. "Two outs, no runs have scored yet. You've got an open base and you end up walking a guy. You deserve what's coming if you keep doing that." Buchanan will pitch again Tuesday in New York against the Mets. He will be looking for his first win since Aug. 8. "I just want to get past the third inning," he said.

Rotation Update – The Phillies announced Thursday that Sean O'Sullivan will be their No. 5 starter and pitch Sunday against the Nationals. They hope Chad Billingsley is not far behind. Billingsley, 30, begins a rehab assignment Friday with Triple-A Lehigh Valley. He is recovering from a pair of right elbow surgeries that have limited him to just 12 innings in the big leagues since 2012. But everything has been going well lately, and there is a good chance he could join the Phillies rotation before the end of the month. "I'm pretty excited going into tomorrow," Billingsley said. "Hopefully everything goes good." The Phillies signed Billingsley to a one-year, $1.5 million contract in the offseason. It is filled with performance bonuses, and in a best-case scenario Billingsley returns to form and becomes an attractive trade chip in July. Billingsley has built up his arm strength to about 45 pitches, so he could throw around 60 pitches Friday. He probably needs to build up to 100 pitches before he is ready to join the Phillies, which could mean three or four rehab starts.

Injury Update: Domonic Brown – Right fielder Domonic Brown began a rehab assignment Thursday night with Class A Advanced Clearwater, finishing 0-for-2 with two strikeouts. Brown, 27, has been sidelined since March 19 with tendinitis in his left Achilles tendon. Brown hit .235 with 22 doubles, one triple, 10 home runs, 63 RBIs and a .634 on-base plus slugging percentage in 512 plate appearances last season.

No Change – Jonathan Papelbon could make Phillies history in the next few weeks, but will anybody care -- including himself? Papelbon picked up a four-out save Wednesday in a 4-2 victory over the Red Sox at Citizens Bank Park, although Hanley Ramirez came a few feet from hitting a grand slam against him in the eighth. It was the 107th save of Papelbon's Phillies career. He needs just six more to pass Jose Mesa's 112 for the franchise record. It would be a heck of an accomplishment for Papelbon, whose 219 saves with the Red Sox is a franchise record. "Having an opportunity to be the saves career leader in two historic franchises means a lot to me, and I don't take that lightly by any means," he said. But before the game, Papelbon told The Boston Globe that despite signing a four-year, $50 million contract with the Phillies he does not "really feel much like a Phillie." That should not surprise anybody. Papelbon has made his frustrations with Philadelphia well known numerous times over the past few years. Asked about Wednesday's comments to the Globe, Papelbon said, "What is a Phillie? What is a Phillie? A horse? That's what it is? I feel like a horse, yeah. I feel like a horse. I felt like a horse tonight, yeah." Actually, it's the team with the red pinstripes. "Yeah, of course," he said. Papelbon finally explained. "It's like, 'Where are you from?'" he said. "I'm from Baton Rouge, La. So that's what I will always say. That's where I feel like I'm from, that's where I grew up, that's where my roots are. So you ask me what runs deep in you, the Red Sox still run deep in me. It's where I'm from, it's where I grew up, it's who I became as a pitcher, so it will always stick with me no matter what. Doesn't really change how I go about my business." Interestingly, the Red Sox expressed no interest in bringing back Papelbon following the 2011 season. He said he does not feel slighted. "No. It's business, baby. Straight cash," he said. Papelbon could make another $13 million next season if he finishes just 47 more games this year. (It will trigger a vesting club option.) But will he still be in Philadelphia? The Phillies have been trying to trade him for some time, but without success. Until that happens, he will have to live with the Phillies. "Like I said earlier, I feel like the Red Sox run deep in my blood," he said. "It's who I became as a pitcher. That will always stick with me. It's like any time you have to move on. You have to adapt to a new team, and I haven't had any problem doing that here."

Where Are They Now? – With the 2015 season officially under way, here's a look at where the Phillies' top 30 prospects are starting the season: 1. J.P. Crawford -- Clearwater Threshers (A Adv) – DL; 2. Aaron Nola -- Reading Fightin Phils (AA); 3. Maikel Franco -- Lehigh Valley IronPigs (AAA); 4. Roman Quinn -- Reading Fightin Phils (AA); 5. Zach Eflin -- Reading Fightin Phils (AA); 6. Tom Windle -- Reading Fightin Phils (AA); 7. Ben Lively -- Reading Fightin Phils (AA); 8. Matt Imhof -- Clearwater Threshers (A Adv); 9. Jesse Biddle -- Reading Fightin Phils (AA); 10. Franklyn Kilome -- Extended spring training; 11. Ricardo Pinto -- Lakewood BlueClaws (A); 12. Deivi Grullon -- Lakewood BlueClaws (A); 13. Andrew Knapp -- Clearwater Threshers (A Adv); 14. Cord Sandberg -- Lakewood BlueClaws (A); 15. Severino Gonzalez -- Lehigh Valley IronPigs (AAA); 16. Odubel Herrera -- Philadelphia Phillies (MLB); 17. Kelly Dugan -- Extended spring training (DL); 18. Victor Arano -- Clearwater Threshers (A Adv) – DL; 19. Carlos Tocci -- Lakewood BlueClaws (A); 20. Dylan Cozens -- Clearwater Threshers (A Adv); 21. Yoel Mecias -- Clewarwater Threshers (A Adv) – DL; 22. Chris Oliver -- Lakewood BlueClaws (A); 23. Aaron Brown -- Clearwater Threshers (A Adv); 24. Jesmuel Valentin -- Clearwater Threshers (A Adv); 25. Aaron Altherr -- Reading Fightin Phils (AA); 26. Joely Rodriguez -- Lehigh Valley IronPigs (AAA); 27. Zach Green -- Clearwater Threshers (A Adv); 28. Brandon Leibrandt -- Clearwater Threshers (A Adv); 29. Elniery Garcia -- Lakewood BlueClaws (A); 30. Nefi Ogando -- Reading Fightin Phils (AA). Team to watch: Double-A Reading will have a new-look, prospect-laden rotation this season. Right-hander Aaron Nola, the seventh overall pick in the 2014 First-Year Player Draft, headlines the staff, which also includes right-handers Zach Eflin and Ben Lively and left-handers Tom Windle and Jesse Biddle. Outfielder Roman Quinn highlights the lineup. On the mend: Shortstop J.P. Crawford, the club's top prospect, will begin the season on the disabled list as he recovers from a left oblique strain he suffered during Spring Training. Right-hander Victor Arano and left-hander Yoel Mecias will also have their seasons delayed as they recover from injuries.

Someone Call People Magazine – CALLING ALL FASHIONISTAS, SARTORIALISTS AND TRENDSETTERS: THIS IS A CUT4 FASHION ALERT. Have I managed to get your attention? Good. Because we have something you need to see. Namely, Matt Stairs ... flexing his guns ... in a vintage-style baseball cardigan. With the Phillies celebrating the 100th anniversary of their 1915 NL championship, the Canadian Baseball Hall of Famer and hero to all big-boned fellas everywhere modeled a traditional baseball cardigan while showing off his 'ceps: We here at Cut4 are big baseball cardigan supporters. It's not hard to see why. Just look at how the classic look not only emphasizes Stairs' strength, but is also dressy enough for an evening at the opera while simultaneously flattering every body type. If one GIF can change the world, then I hope it's this otter playing with a ring. And if two GIFS can change the world, then I hope Matt Stairs leads the baseball cardigan comeback. I mean, the sweater is already providing boons of free hot dogs. Is there anything it can't do?

The Phillies are starting the season better than expected and are now at the bottom of the pack in the NL east at 1-2. Given the departures, aging stars, injuries, and performance this spring, don’t expect their competitive place in the standings to last. All time, the Phillies are 24-17-0 on this day.

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