Saturday, April 4, 2015
Phillies Return To Philly In Walk Off Fashion
GAME RECAP: Phillies Shock Pirates 7-5
In the first of a two-game On Deck Series at Citizens Back Park between the two teams from the Keystone State, it was the Phillies who walked off with 7-5 victory on Friday night. The hometown fans, at least those who remained from an announced crowd of 16,609, went home happy when Ben Revere lined a two-run home run off Angel Sanchez into the first row of seats in right field in the bottom of the ninth. The Phillies entered the inning trailing 5-4 when Cesar Hernandez led off with a double off Sanchez. He scored the tying run when catcher Tony Sanchez picked up Angel Blanco's bunt and threw the ball down the right field line with Blanco taking second and setting the stage for Revere three batters later. "It shows that this team has a lot of heart in coming back," said Revere, who homered twice in 601 at-bats last season. "Last year there were quite a few games when we were down three or four runs and came back in the ninth or [extra innings]. We played small ball tonight, did a lot of key things and hopefully we can win like that during the season." The Pirates took a 5-4 lead in the eighth inning when Corey Hart singled home Jung Ho Kang, who led off with a double against Phillies reliever Justin De Fratus and advanced to third on a wild pitch. Pittsburgh threatened to break it open by loading the bases with one out, but De Fratus was able to escape without further damage. "It was nice to be here at home, and I like the way the guys battled back after getting down early and getting some big hits at the end," said Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg. "We put some numbers on the board after falling behind and I thought that was a good sign." The Pirates wasted little time in getting on the scoreboard against Aaron Harang, the Phillies' No. 2 starter. After Josh Harrison led off the game with a walk, Gregory Polanco drove him home with a double to the wall in center and Andrew McCutchen followed with a single to drive in Polanco to make it 2-0. "I think we're in a good spot right now," said Pirates manager Clint Hurdle. "I definitely think we're healthy and ready to start the season." With the help of two Pittsburgh errors in their half of the first, the Phillies scored three times off Jeff Locke to take the lead. Odubel Herrera, a Rule 5 pick and the team's new centerfielder who entered the game hitting .355, got things going when he led off with a dribbler in front of the plate and raced to second base when Pirates catcher Francisco Cervelli's wild throw went down the right field line. Herrera scored when Ryan Howard hit into a fielder's choice. Jordy Mercer led off the second with his third home run of the spring to pull Pittsburgh even. Locke then became the sixth Pirate in the first turn through the order against Harang to reach safely via a hit or walk when he followed with a single. Locke also singled in the fifth to drive in Starling Marte and knot the score at four and put an end to Harang's evening. Harang allowed 14 (nine hits) of the 27 batters he faced to reach safely in 4 2/3 innings in his final tune-up before taking the mound Wednesday against visiting Boston. Locke, the Pirates' fifth starter, threw 49 strikes among 71 pitches in five innings. He allowed four hits and four runs, three earned. "He managed the game very well," said Hurdle. "He had a good two-seamer and was very efficient. He also swung the bat well."
The Phillies and the Pirates complete their two-game series and conclude the spring training schedule Saturday afternoon at 1:05 p.m. ET at Citizens Bank Park. Charlie Morton will get the start for the Pirates and he will be opposed by David Buchanon.
Stretching Out – Aaron Harang made his final start of the spring by throwing 104 pitches in 4 2/3 innings against the Pirates on Friday night at Citizens Bank Park. The 36-year-old right-hander, and the Phillies No. 2 starter, will make his Philadelphia debut on Wednesday against visiting Boston. While the results against Pittsburgh left much to be desired -- nine hits, 4 earned runs, three walks and a hit batter - this outing was about making sure he is ready for the Red Sox after missing two starts earlier this spring due to discomfort in his lower back. "It was about being safe than sorry," said Harang, about the missed assignments. "Arm-wise I feel great and I feel like everything is good. Obviously, this last [start] is like a fine tune-up to make sure everything is working and my off-speed pitches were working. I felt well tonight and I was just pitching behind in the count and missing with my location a bit with the fastball. Other than that I was able to get through those tough innings without too much damage." Harang threw 99 pitches in his last outing on March 29 against Detroit and heavier pitch counts have gotten him stretched out while providing the confidence that his back issues are behind him. "I know what I need to do in order to make sure I am ready for my first start of the season," he said. "I felt good [tonight] and told them I wanted to come back out for the fifth and try to get through it. They trust what I am telling them whereas if I were a younger guy it is probably a different scenario."
Staying In The Moment – Cole Hamels will be starting Opening Day for the Phillies against the visiting Red Sox on Monday, but on a rainy Friday afternoon, he was the center of attention as he faced the media in the bowels of Citizens Bank Park. The 31-year-old lefthander was the focus of much attention during the Grapefruit League season as speculation about his immediate future in Philadelphia was as heavy as the passion of the fans in the City of Brotherly Love. That was especially the case following his pronouncement in a USA Today piece in February that the Phillies and winning are not exactly going to go hand-in-hand. "I think we have to enjoy the moment," he said Friday when asked how he can feel upbeat about the coming season. "I know everything is defined with wins and losses, but right now we are 0-0 and we decide our own destiny and decide our own fate. We're going to compete for the next six months and things are going to be more enjoyable." What was not enjoyable for Hamels a year ago was a season in which he consistently received very little offensive support while going 9-9 in 30 starts despite an ERA of 2.46, good for fifth in the National League. There is seemingly nothing new with a club that hit .233 in Grapefruit League play, an average that is last among all 30 teams. "It has taught me to play a game within a game," he said when asked how the lack of support can impact his outlook. "It's taught me how to go out and pitch. There's a game within a game. If I can go out there and focus with what I'm trying to execute, everything will take care of itself." According to many projections, very little will take care of itself for the Phillies this season. Depending on where you look, Ryne Sandberg's team is certain to lose far more than they win, with several predictions calling for 100-plus losses, something a Phillies team has not done since 1961. "Ultimately, it's about trying to win as many ballgames as we can and hoist a trophy at the end of the day and have a parade," he said. "We get to decide what we do this year and it all starts on Monday." Hamels may very well hoist a trophy at season's end. If so, it most likely will not be in a Phillies uniform.
Moyer Gets Stuck – While visiting Southern California to watch his son, Dillon, play for the Dodgers, 25-year Major League veteran Jamie Moyer decided to head down to Disneyland with his family. Turns out it may not have been the greatest of decisions. Moyer and about 100 other passengers were stranded on the California Screamin' roller coaster on Friday afternoon due to a mechanical issue. Naturally, Moyer tweeted a selfie, looking like he could probably step on the mound for some team tomorrow. Stuck on California Screamin' at Disneyland. Not sure what is more difficult, pitching in a Major League game or this pic.twitter.com/gM6qwZ2kPs - Jamie Moyer (@jmo50Moyer) April 3, 2015 We can only imagine what other thoughts he had while he was stuck up there: - "This ride tops out at 62 mph? Even I can throw harder than that." - "I pitched 752 1/3 innings in the Minors and this is the longest wait of my life." - "What's going on? A rain delay? There's not a cloud in the sky." - "Why'd the ride stop? Are they making a ride operator change for a left-handed specialist?" - "Talk about a hanging curve. Am I right? Am I right?" Though Moyer was soon off the ride, something tells me he won't be heading back to the park anytime soon: Glad we weren't there! All r safe! 1st offer was more tix while stuck! Not sure I want them! @Disney @jmo50Moyer pic.twitter.com/zyC5CrYEsn - Jamie Moyer (@jmo50Moyer) April 3, 2015
Phillies Appear On Jeopardy – Quick, you're on "Jeopardy" and all that stands between you and earning Alex Trebek's eternal respect (and avoiding his cold-eyed disapproval) is the $800 clue you see above: Did you say "Who are the Phillies?" Cool, I did too, but here's the thing: I was actually on "Jeopardy" and, unfortunately, this was not my episode. Look at me: I was so happy! That's before I got categories like "Harlequin Romance Novel Titles 2014" and "17-Letter Words." Since none of Thursday night's contestants got this one right (just you and I, reader), it was definitely hard. Maybe it should have been Final Jeopardy on my show, and then I could have taken you all out for ice cream on Opening Day. But it wasn't, I lost, and now no one gets ice cream.
After ending 2014 with a 73-89 record, there second consecutive losing season, the Phillies are currently tied for first place for the 2015 season. 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 7-8-0 on this day.