Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Phillies Offense Finds Their Way To The Park

GAME RECAP: Phillies Catch Marlins 7-3

Both the Phillies and Marlins entered this week's three-game series at Citizens Bank Park desperate for victories. The Phillies struck first Tuesday night with a 7-3 victory. Ryan Howard hit a two-out, two-run home run to center field in the sixth inning to hand the Phillies a one-run lead. It was Howard's first home run of the season. He followed Freddy Galvis' two-run homer in the second and preceded Ben Revere's two-run triple in the seventh, as the Phillies scored a season-high seven runs. "Hopefully, yeah, hopefully it does turn it on," Howard said about his big night potentially turning around a slow start to his season. Marlins right fielder Giancarlo Stanton crushed a solo home run to center field in the fourth and Miami scored two more runs in the fifth to take a 3-2 lead, but it was not enough as Philadelphia improved to 5-9, while Miami dropped to 3-11.

  • Manager Ryne Sandberg dropped Howard from the cleanup spot late last week, as he has struggled at the plate. But Howard's two-run homer in the sixth inning handed the Phillies the lead. Could this be the hit that finally gets Howard going? Howard and the team certainly hope so.
  • Galvis continues to hit, no matter where Sandberg puts him in the Phillies' lineup. He hit eighth Tuesday, and hit a two-run home run to right field in the second to hand the Phillies a 2-0 lead. While Galvis has been hot, Revere has struggled. But the outfielder tripled to score two insurance runs in the seventh.
  • Phillies second baseman Chase Utley extended his hitless streak to 21 at-bats after going 0-for-3 with a sacrifice fly. He has not recorded a hit since he homered in the eighth inning April 14 against the Mets at Citi Field. It is the second-longest hitless streak of Utley's career. He went hitless in 24 at-bats from June 14-21, 2008.
  • Phillies closer Jonathan Papelbon pitched a perfect ninth. He has allowed one base runner in 6 1/3 innings this season (0.16 WHIP).
  • Right-hander Luis Garcia is becoming a more important piece in the Phillies' bullpen. He pitched a scoreless seventh inning with the Phils holding a one-run lead. He has pitched the seventh in his last five appearances -- he has not allowed a run in seven innings this season -- showing the Phillies' faith in him in important situations. Sandberg said he liked the matchup, but he still considers left-hander Jake Diekman a seventh-inning guy. But Diekman also is the only lefty in the 'pen, so the Phillies need to conserve him whenever possible. Garcia's performances gives them more flexibility to do that.
  • Hamels is 9-14 with a 3.17 ERA in 34 career starts against the Marlins. Miami third baseman Martin Prado has the most experience against the lefty, with an average of .295 (18-for-61).
  • With his start on Tuesday night, Ichiro Suzuki has now played in 38 different big league stadiums. His only other visit to Philadelphia came in 2003, when he went 5-for-14 (.357) at Veterans Stadium.

The Marlins will send right-hander Jarred Cosart to the mound against Phillies ace Cole Hamels on Wednesday night in the second game of a three-game series at Citizens Bank Park. Each pitcher will be looking for his first win. Cosart was originally selected by the Phillies in the 38th round of the 2008 First-Year Player Draft, but he made his Major League debut in 2013 with Houston. He'll be starting in Philadelphia for the first time. Hamels has struggled to keep the ball in the park, as he has allowed seven home runs in his first three starts of the year, including four home runs by Boston on Opening Day. The Marlins have hit just eight home runs this season, including a solo shot by Giancarlo Stanton in the fourth inning of Tuesday night's game that landed in the visitors' bullpen.


Is This Really A Turning Point? – One game is one game, but Ryan Howard needed a night like the one he had Tuesday at Citizens Bank Park. Howard went 2-for-3 with one home run, one walk and two RBIs in a 7-3 victory over the Marlins. He scored his first run of the season in the second inning when he walked and came home on Freddy Galvis' two-run home run. Howard then ripped a two-run home run to center field in the sixth to hand the Phillies a 4-3 lead. It was Howard's first homer of the year. "Hopefully it does turn it on," Howard said of the homer jumpstarting his season. "I'm just swinging. I'm going up there trying to have good at-bats. I'm just going out there and trying to have the same approach I had tonight and go from there." Howard is hitting .209 (9-for-43) with three doubles, one home run, four RBIs, three walks, 16 strikeouts and a .610 OPS through the team's first 14 games. Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg dropped him from the cleanup spot Thursday, hitting him seventh for the first time since 2006. He hit fifth Sunday before hitting sixth Tuesday. It has been a trying couple of weeks. Several Phillies players are struggling offensively, but Howard has felt most of the heat. Still, he has tried to remain upbeat publicly. "It's just one day at a time, one pitch at a time, one game at a time," he said. "Howie's been working hard, man," Phillies right-hander Jerome Williams said. "People always give him stuff about not working, but he's been working hard and it showed tonight." Howard hopes Tuesday's success turns into a better week and perhaps a better season. "You go out there, you swing, balls come off the bat and guys make plays and sometimes it doesn't go your way," he said. "All you can do is go out there and continue to swing and put good at-bats together. That's all you do. And I don't think a lot of people understand that."

Heating Up After Heater – Ben Revere is correct: It is kind of messed up. He almost took a first-pitch fastball from Marlins left-hander Mike Dunn to the head in the seventh inning Tuesday night in a 7-3 victory at Citizens Bank Park. Revere ended up on the dirt, but he stood back up and ripped the next pitch to right-center field for a triple to score two insurance runs. "I think that woke him up a little bit and made him rise to the occasion," Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg said. "I've played with guys in the Minor Leagues, some big league guys do it," Revere said. "They try to aim around that area. It's kind of messed up, but they're trying to get you off balance. Definitely motivational. Definitely got to get back up, dust off and get back up there. I got you. That was a sweet feeling." Revere went 1-for-3 with the two-run triple, one walk and one stolen base. His performance was badly needed. Revere started the season hitting .135 (5-for-37) with one walk and six strikeouts through Thursday. Revere hit a combined .306 with a .329 on-base percentage the past two seasons with the Phillies, but Sandberg dropped him from the leadoff spot all the way to eighth on April 14, just eight games into the season. Sandberg then benched Revere the first three games in a four-game series over the weekend against the Nationals. "I would love to see the scorebook to see how many L-8's, L-9's, L-4's I have in there," Revere said, referring to lineouts. Freddy Galvis has had no such problem. He has been hot since the season started, hitting a two-run home run in the second inning to give the Phillies a 2-0 lead. He is hitting .319 (15-for-47) with one double, one triple, one home run and eight RBIs. "Good to see the crooked numbers on the offensive side of things," Sandberg said. Galvis extended his RBI streak to a career-high five consecutive games. It is the longest RBI streak for the Phillies since Chase Utley's five-game streak from Sept. 14-18, 2013, when he had 12 RBIs.

Rehab Update – Chad Billingsley did not make his scheduled rehab start Monday because of a stomach illness. He could make that start this week. Billingsley, 30, has a 3.24 ERA in two rehab starts with Triple-A Lehigh Valley. He has allowed six hits, three runs, three walks, two home runs and has struck out seven in 8 1/3 innings. He said last week he planned to make five rehab starts before joining the Phillies' rotation early next month. Meanwhile, outfielder Domonic Brown continues a lengthy rehab assignment at Triple-A. He has been out since the season started because of inflammation in his left Achilles. Brown has a maximum amount of 20 days to rehab before being activated from the DL. His 20th day is next Tuesday. It appears the Phillies are going to let Brown play the maximum amount of days, unless his bat picks up. "It's kind of up to him when he finds his stride to get hot with the bat," Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg said. "I think that would be important for him." Brown is hitting .200 (6-for-30) with one double, one home run, four RBIs and a .639 OPS in rehab games with Class A Advanced Clearwater and Lehigh Valley.

Minor Update – Lehigh Valley IronPigs (4-9): With six different batters getting two hits each, Lehigh Valley ended a five-game losing streak, 6-1, at Scranton/Wilkes-Barre . . . DH Chris Nelson had a pair of doubles and an RBI; he also stole a base . . . 3B Maikel Franco added two hits to boost his season average to .352 . . . RF Domonic Brown, 1-4, and threw a runner out at home plate . . . RHP Severino Gonzalez (1-1) allowed one run in his last inning (sixth). He gave up six hits (five singles and a triple), walked one and struck out three. Reading Fightin Phils (7-4): Pounding out 14 hits and taking advantage of five errors, Akron put an end to Reading's five-game winning streak, 12-4 . . . CF Roman Quinn, two hits, three strikeouts. 2-4 night improved average to .422 . . . RF Brian Pointer, 1st home run . . . LP: Tom Windle (0-1), 5-9-9-8-3-3, including a fifth-inning grand slam to RF Jordan Smith. Clearwater Threshers (8-5): LHP Brandon Leibrandt (1-0) threw seven shutout innings in a 3-0 win over Tampa, which scored 12 runs the night before. Leibrandt, 22, allowed five singles, walked none and struck out seven. He had one three-ball count. He picked off three runners at first base, including back-to-back outs in the sixth inning. Two other runners were caught stealing by C Andrew Knapp . . . Edubray Ramos, with two scoreless innings, recorded his first save . . . CF Aaron Brown drove in two of the three runs. Like Father: Brandon's dad, Charlie, pitched 14 years in the majors, 140-119 record. Roster moves: Add RHP Victor Arano from extended spring training; RHP Yacksel Rios on DL as of April 21. Lakewood BlueClaws (5-7): 1B Rhys Hoskins continued to swing a hot bat helping the BlueClaws end a three-game losing streak, 8-5, in Greensboro. The 22-year old had a walk, solo home run, solo home run, single, single. In his last seven plate appearances over two games, two singles, a double and three homers . . . SS Malquin Canelo and 3B Derek Campbell also hit solo homers . . . CF Carlos Tocci was 1-4, lowering his average to .375 . . . RHP Ricardo Pinto (1-0) was the winner, 6-7-5-4-0-6 . . . RHP Matt Hockenberry, 2nd save.

The Phillies are starting the season as expected and are now near the bottom of the NL east at 5-9. 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 46-40-1 on this day.

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