Sunday, April 12, 2015

Could This Be The Beginning?

GAME RECAP: Phillies Shock Nationals 3-2

Phillies center fielder Odubel Herrera made his first big league hit and RBI count in a major way Saturday night at Citizens Bank Park. He doubled to right field to score Carlos Ruiz from second base in the 10th inning to deliver a 3-2 victory over the Nationals. Herrera made the Opening Day roster as a Rule 5 Draft pick. "I was very pleased my first base hit of my Major League career was as big as that one," Herrera said through interpreter Juan Samuel. The Phillies tied the game with two runs in the eighth inning against Nationals right-hander Blake Treinen, who entered with a .327 opponents average against left-handed hitters. He allowed a single to Chase Utley, a double off the left-field wall to Ryan Howard, a single to Ruiz (thanks to a mixup between Ian Desmond and Danny Espinosa) and a double to Grady Sizemore. Treinen escaped with runners on second and third and one out.

  • The Phillies were excited about picking up Herrera in the Rule 5 Draft in December, and he did not disappoint with a strong Spring Training. They hope his clutch hit Saturday is a sign of things to come.
  • Ben Revere is not known for his arm, but threw out Michael Taylor at the plate in the 10th inning to keep the game tied. It was a huge play.
  • Hamels allowed four home runs in five innings Monday in an Opening Day loss to the Red Sox, but he rebounded nicely against the Nationals. He allowed two hits, one run, two walks and struck out five in seven innings. His only hiccup came in the fourth inning, when Ramos hit a 0-1 fastball for a home run.
  • Hamels should be accustomed to the lack of run support. He entered Saturday 86th out of 88 qualifying pitchers in baseball in run-support average from 2013-15. Hamels has averaged just 3.41 runs of support over the last two-plus seasons. Only Eric Stults (3.23) and Nathan Eovaldi (2.75) have had fared worse.
  • Miss America 2014 Nina Davuluri threw out the ceremonial first pitch before the game.
  • In the seventh inning, Desmond hit a slow roller to third baseman Andres Blanco, who nipped Desmond for the second out of the inning. But the Nationals challenged the call and, after 1:42, the call stood.

Right-hander Sean O'Sullivan was reassigned to Minor League camp in March, but he becomes the Phillies' No. 5 starter Sunday in the series finale against the Nationals. The Phillies expected Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez or Kevin Slowey to possibly be the No. 5, but both underperformed in camp.


Underestimated Arm – Left fielder Ben Revere is not known for a strong arm, which is one reason why the Phillies moved him from center field this year. But he made one of the strongest throws of his career Saturday night, when he threw out Nationals center fielder Michael Taylor at the plate in the 10th inning at Citizens Bank Park. It kept the game tied, which allowed the Phillies to win in the bottom half of the inning, 3-2. "Gotta change those scouting reports now," Revere said with a laugh. Yunel Escobar singled to left field with one out and Taylor motored around third. Revere launched a nearly perfect throw to the plate, and Carlos Ruiz applied the tag. Revere said he felt good about the throw as soon as it left his hand. "It was all about repetition, working in Spring Training with [outfield instructor Juan] Samuel," Revere said. "Just working on stuff from left field and center field. Practice makes perfect. It really showed tonight. It changed the whole game."

The Beginning – Phillies center fielder Odubel Herrera happily accepted a shaving cream pie to the face late Saturday night at Citizens Bank Park. The alternative, if he had not stroked a double down the right-field line in the 10th inning to score the winning run in a 3-2 victory over the Nationals? "I told him I would choke him out," Ben Revere joked. It was the first hit and RBI of Herrera's career, and it helped the Phillies (3-2) move over .500 for the first time since May 4, when they were 15-14. The Phillies selected Herrera in the Rule 5 Draft in December, viewing him as a prospect rather than some long shot to make the team. He proved his worth with a strong Spring Training, not only making the Opening Day roster, but hitting second in the Opening Day lineup. Herrera had not started the previous three games after fouling a ball off his left foot Monday, but he started Saturday and came up big in the 10th. "I was very pleased my first base hit of my Major League career was as big as that one," Herrera said through interpreter Juan Samuel. Herrera had been hitless in his first nine at-bats, but what a week anyway. "I feel great," he said. "I thank God for this opportunity of being here, being in Spring Training, making this ballclub and being in this situation. I'm very grateful it happened this way, and hopefully I can stick around for a long time." Herrera got the ball afterward, and teammate Freddy Galvis got him with the shaving-cream pie. He still had shaving cream in his hair as he spoke to reporters afterward. Herrera also got a ton of text messages from friends and family back home in Venezuela. "I guess he listened," Revere said about his pseudo-threat. "I said it in English. I don't know that much Spanish. I just had my hands going, 'I will choke you if you don't …' It was like Spanglish. I gave him hand signals. "Now the sky's the limit for him."

Prospect Arrested – Phillies infield prospect Jesmuel Valentin has been placed on Major League Baseball's restricted list following an arrest Sunday evening in Florida for an alleged domestic violence incident with his wife. "He has been charged with domestic battery," Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said Saturday. Valentin, 20, is on unpaid administrative leave by the Commissioner's Office, which is investigating the arrest. Phillies employee assistance professional Dickie Noles has been dispatched to Clearwater, Fla., to help Valentin and his wife. Valentin will see a domestic violence counselor. The Phillies acquired Valentin in August from the Dodgers for right-hander Roberto Hernandez. Valentin, who ranks 24th in the organization's prospects list by, hit a combined .273 with 24 doubles, nine triples, seven home runs, 47 RBIs, 25 stolen bases and a .753 OPS last season with Class A Great Lakes and Class A Advanced Clearwater. He is the son of former Major League player Jose Valentin.

The Phillies are starting the season better than expected and are now in a competitive position in the NL east at 3-2. 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 24-24-0 on this day.

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