Friday, April 24, 2015

Phillies Drop Series To Marlins In Ugly Fashion

GAME RECAP: Marlins Flog Phillies 9-1

The Marlins opened their three-game series Tuesday against the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park with manager Mike Redmond answering questions about his job. They finished it Thursday with a 9-1 victory to win the series and end a 10-game road trip with a little momentum on their side. The Marlins took advantage of three walks and one hit batsman in the fourth inning, when they scored four runs on two-run singles by Adeiny Hechavarria and Martin Prado. Hechavarria went 4-for-4 with three RBIs, while Prado went 3-for-5 with four RBIs. Miami scored four again in the sixth, two on Giancarlo Stanton's line-drive homer. "Today was a great day, and now we need to focus on tomorrow," Redmond said. "We got some big hits and took advantage of situations. Lot of good at-bats and it's nice to win a series." The Phillies continued to struggle offensively, scoring a run in the ninth inning to avoid their third shutout. The Phils have scored the fewest runs (41) in baseball, while leading baseball in errors (17) and walks (66). "We've got some work to do," Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg said. "We have to tighten up the defense. We have to play a little bit smarter. Tighten up the fundamentals. We have to find a way to get some runs up there."

  • Phillies right-hander Dustin McGowan threw three scoreless innings before walking the bases loaded with one out in the fourth. McGowan then allowed a single to Hechavarria to score two runs and hand the Marlins a 2-0 lead. At that point, Sandberg replaced McGowan with Hector Neris, who hit Marlins pitcher David Phelps with a pitch to reload the bases, setting up Prado's hit two batters later.
  • The Phillies entered the game having scored the fewest runs in baseball, and those struggles continued against a pitcher making his second start of the season as well as a struggling bullpen. The Phillies also committed two errors and walked five to add to their league-high totals.
  • The Phillies lineup lacked something significant Thursday: a player from the 2008 World Series roster. Sandberg sat Carlos Ruiz, Ryan Howard and Chase Utley, the only three remaining position players from the championship team. The Phillies played a game Sept. 18, 2014, with pitcher Kyle Kendrick in the lineup. Kendrick pitched for the Phillies in 2008, but he did not make the World Series roster.
  • The Phillies announced a crowd of 17,097, the smallest in Citizens Bank Park history. It was their smallest crowd in Philadelphia since June 4, 2003, when they drew 16,232 in a game against Seattle at Veterans Stadium.
  • We'll work on things. We'll be all right. It's a brand new day every day." -- Phillies center fielder Ben Revere.
  • With Wood on the mound, the Phillies' lineup might include former Brave Jeff Francoeur, who spent most of last year at the Minor League level. Francoeur entered Wednesday having tallied four extra-base hits, including two home runs, through his first 36 at-bats.
  • The Phillies should have Chase Utley, Ryan Howard or Carlos Ruiz back in the lineup Friday. Thursday was the first time the Phillies did not have a single player from the 2008 World Series roster in the starting lineup.

The Phils open a three-game series Friday against the Braves at Citizens Bank Park at 7:05 p.m. Right-hander Aaron Harang (1-2, 1.96 ERA) makes his fourth start for Philadelphia. Since opening the season with consecutive series victories, the Braves have dropped their past two series against National League East opponents. They will attempt to buck this trend when they began a three-game series against the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park on Friday night. Veteran right-hander Aaron Harang will match up with Braves left-hander Alex Wood in the series opener. Harang rejuvenated his career last year with Atlanta, proving to be one of the more effective members of the Braves' rotation. Harang, who signed a one-year, $5 million contract with the Phillies in December, has posted a 1.96 ERA through three starts this season.


Pitching Shortage – Phillies right-hander Dustin McGowan figured he could pitch three to four innings Thursday afternoon at Citizens Bank Park. It turned out he could pitch three effectively. McGowan had not started a game in the big leagues since May 14, 2014, when he pitched with the Blue Jays. He had right shoulder surgeries in 2008 and '10 and suffered another shoulder injury in '13, so he cannot recover as needed to be a starter. But after the Phillies placed Sean O'Sullivan on the disabled list this week, McGowan returned to the rotation to start in a 9-1 loss to the Marlins. McGowan, who is not sure if he will make another start next week, allowed two hits, one walk and struck out four in his first three innings. But he walked the bases loaded with one out in the fourth. He acknowledged afterward that he ran out of gas, but he remained in the game and allowed a single to right-center field by Adeiny Hechavarria that drove in two runs and handed the Marlins a 2-0 lead. Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg pulled McGowan at that point for right-hander Hector Neris, who joined the team this week. Sandberg said he liked the rookie, who made one appearance with the Phillies last season, in that high-leverage situation. "Just with the right-handed hitters, and he just joined us," Sandberg said when asked why he liked Neris in the fourth. "And to piggyback. Hopefully to get through the fifth or the sixth inning would have been ideal. And keep the bullpen intact." But Neris hit Marlins pitcher David Phelps with his third pitch to reload the bases. Martin Prado then singled past Phillies third baseman Cody Asche to score two more runs to make it 4-0. The Marlins piled on from there. Interestingly, the Phillies had left-hander Jake Diekman pitch the eighth inning despite trailing by eight runs and despite the fact he pitched Wednesday. The Phillies have made a point to be careful with Diekman because they feel they are shorthanded with only one left-hander in the bullpen. Phillies right-hander Jeanmar Gomez pitched the ninth. The Phils touted him as a long man in Spring Training, so he conceivably could have gobbled up the final two innings. He also could have pitched the fourth over Neris. Gomez entered the afternoon with a 2.70 ERA in six appearances. But Sandberg said Gomez was not a candidate to pitch earlier because he wanted to save him in case he is needed for multiple innings Friday. Phillies right-hander Aaron Harang starts then against the Braves. He is 2-1 with a 1.96 ERA this season, pitching six or more innings in each of his three starts. "He still remains a length guy for tomorrow," Sandberg said of Gomez. "He's a versatile pitcher for us. He does a nice job. He's a guy that gives us length. To preserve that and have him be our length guy, that's where he really comes into play for us."

Lacking Fundamentals – Thursday represented a first for the Phillies since they won the 2008 World Series: They did not have a single player from that championship roster in the lineup in a 9-1 loss to the Marlins at Citizens Bank Park. This Phillies roster (5-11) is last in Major League Baseball in runs (41), but lead the game in errors (17) and walks (66). The club played sloppily in the series finale against the Marlins, who won the three-game set. "We have some work to do," Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg said. "We have to tighten up the defense. We have to play a little bit smarter. Tighten up the fundamentals. We have to find some way to get some runs up there." "We're better than this," Ben Revere said. The fundamentals remain a major issue with the Phillies, despite the fact Sandberg made fundamentally sound baseball his mission statement when he replaced Charlie Manuel in August 2013. The Phillies made two more errors Thursday, walked five batters and made other mistakes on the field, like missing the cutoff man. "It's frustrating. It really is," Sandberg said. "We've worked at it. We'll continue to work at it. But fundamental baseball is a priority. Making the routine plays is a priority. Hitting the cutoff man is a priority." Sandberg regularly had players on the field before games when he took over as manager. He acknowledged in the offseason that work waned late in 2014, and early this season, there does not seem to have been as much of it, although weather and the time of games might have played a factor in that. Perhaps that changes. Asked if he thinks his players are capable of fundamental baseball, Sandberg said, "We're going to continue to work at it. That's going to be, like I said, that's a priority. We're going to continue to stress it and work at that. That's our goal." "We definitely have to clean up some things defensively," Darin Ruf said. The Phillies hope it starts Friday, when they open a three-game series against the Braves.

Creating The Uber Prospect – Last week, the world was introduced to Carlex O'Galldor, the uber prospect created at by taking the best individual tools from five prospects on Prospect Watch. Now it's time to head back to the prospecting lab and create the ultimate pitching prospect. The concept is similar to last week's, but with pitches: Taking the best pitch, plus control, from five up-and-coming arms. We're once again referencing the 20-80 scouting scale used by the industry to grade each pitching tool. Who would this super prospect be, with the best, fastball, curveball, slider, changeup and control? Carlbert Owenolito. Fastball: Lucas Giolito, Nationals: The No. 6 overall prospect, and No. 1 on the right-handed pitchers Top 10 list, has yet to make his 2015 debut, but only because Washington is monitoring his innings. He's one of three in the Top 100 with an 80 fastball. Giolito gets the nod because he commands it better than either Tyler Kolek or Mike Foltynewicz. Curveball: Robert Stephenson, Reds: Stephenson and Giolito are the only two top pitching prospects with a 70 curveball. The right-hander has a sharp, hard-breaking ball that's almost as good as his plus fastball is. Worst-case scenario, Stephenson could be an elite short reliever with those two pitches alone. Slider: Carlos Rodon, White Sox: This was about as close to a no-brainer as there is in this experiment. Rodon's slider, which he relied on too much in college, was ready to get big league hitters out when he was still at N.C. State. It was the only 70 slider on the Top 100, and it's a reason why the lefty is in the big leagues now. Changeup: Henry Owens, Red Sox: Two pitchers and their changeups came to mind when contemplating this: Zach Davies of the Orioles and Owens. Both got 65 grades, but Owens got the nod because of his ability to miss bats (10.6 K/9 in his Minor League career) with his changeup as his only plus pitch. Control: Aaron Nola, Phillies: There were actually more pitchers to choose from than one would think, with nine members of the Top 100 earning a 60 grade for their control. Nola was considered the most advanced pitcher in the 2014 Draft class, and he's making his full-season debut. Unlike some command specialists who might be closer to the bottom of some team Top 30 lists, Nola has pretty good stuff across the board that he locates with precision.

The Phillies are starting the season as expected and are now near the bottom of the NL east at 5-11. 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 49-50-1 on this day.

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