Monday, April 20, 2015

Phillies Take A Step Back Against Strasburg

GAME RECAP: National Payback Phillies 4-1

Right-hander Stephen Strasburg was solid across 7 1/3 innings for his first win of the season, leading the Nationals past the Phillies, 4-1, at Nationals Park on Sunday afternoon. Freddy Galvis continued to be a thorn in the Nationals' side. His RBI single in the eighth inning accounted for the Phillies' lone run and led to Strasburg's exit after 95 pitches. "The command of my changeup and the feel for my changeup was much better," Strasburg said. "You work on things and you try to remember what the keys are -- what are you trying to do with the pitch, where you want to execute it. You try to paint that picture in your head. You go out there and let it go." The Nationals, who took three of four games in the series, improved their record to 6-7, while the Phillies are 4-9 to start the season.

  • Phillies right-hander David Buchanan's best start this season cratered in his final inning and ended like his others, with a loss. That the damage came with two outs in the fifth added to his frustration. Matching Strasburg with zeros on the scoreboard through four innings and having allowed only two hits, Buchanan surrendered four hits with an intentional walk to the next five batters. That led to three runs and his exit after the frame. He did strike out a season-high four. Buchanan allowed 11 runs in 8 2/3 innings over his first two starts including six over three innings in his season debut at Boston. "Against the Red Sox, I wasn't really throwing strikes. I was falling behind. Eventually that's going to catch up to you," Buchanan said. "But today I thought I was throwing the ball in the zone. Had some tough breaks."
  • Outfielder Ben Revere returned to the starting lineup after three games on the bench and one day after his pinch-running prowess led to a key run in Saturday's win. However, the break didn't help him break out of his early-season slump. Revere finished 1-for-4, leaving his batting average at .167 (7-for-42). He's hardly the only struggling batter. Philadelphia has scored two runs or fewer in four of its last five games.
  • Outfielder Odubel Herrera's recent production at the top of the Phillies' lineup is a welcomed development for an otherwise struggling club. Over his last five games, Herrera is batting .450 (9-for-20) with four doubles, two triples and two stolen bases.
  • The six-game homestand will wrap up a stretch of 16 straight games for the Phillies against fellow National League East teams. Including Sunday's 4-1 loss at Washington, Philadelphia dropped seven of 10 against division rivals.

The Marlins and Phillies will open a three-game series Tuesday night at Citizens Bank Park with both sides seeking a much-needed win. Miami has lost seven of nine and is coming off a four-game sweep by the Mets. Philadelphia has dropped seven of eight games, including three of four to the Nationals largely due to woes at the plate. The Phillies have scored two or fewer runs in four of their last five games. Dan Haren (1-0, 2.08 ERA) gets the starting nod for Miami, and fellow right-hander Jerome Williams takes the mound for Philadelphia. After one quality start and one rocky outing, Jerome Williams looks to rebound against a Marlins club he hasn't started against since 2007. He allowed one run in a no-decision against Washington in his season debut, but the righty gave up five runs (four earned) on 10 hits over five innings in Wednesday's loss to the Mets. The Phillies took last season's series from the Marlins, 11-8.


Progress But Not Good Enough – For the second time in three starts, David Buchanan lost his way in an inning after picking up two quick outs. However, the Phillies right-hander didn't see a comparison between Sunday's 4-1 loss to the Nationals and a setback on April 9 against the Red Sox. "I think you just have to really look at yourself and be honest with what happened," Buchanan said shortly after his third loss in as many starts. "Against the Red Sox, I wasn't really throwing strikes. I was falling behind. Eventually that's going to catch up to you. But today I thought I was throwing the ball in the zone, had some tough breaks." Buchanan matched Stephen Strasburg in a scoreless duel for 4 2/3 innings Sunday. After allowing only two hits, Buchanan gave up four to the next five batters with one intentional walk. The batted balls weren't all drilled but were well placed. Denard Span singled and scored from first on Ian Desmond's double down the third-base line. Jayson Werth followed with an RBI single to center and took second base when center fielder Odubel Herrera's throw missed the cutoff man. After an intentional walk to Bryce Harper, Ryan Zimmerman's blooper found fair territory in right field, scoring Werth. With Strasburg pitching like a Cy Young contender and the Phillies' lineup still lacking punch -- Philadelphia has scored two or fewer runs in four of five games -- a 3-0 deficit was a steep climb. Buchanan finished with a season-high four strikeouts while issuing three walks. He lowered his ERA to a still unsightly 9.22. Some early wobbles led to a high pitch count, 98 across the five innings. "Buchanan did throw a lot of pitches early on," Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg said. "Little things didn't go his way with the three runs. He showed some improvement over his first two starts. "He can't let up to get the final out. We had a missed cutoff man and a lazy fly ball to right, otherwise we might have potentially been talking about one run in the inning." That's how the 25-year-old hurler saw things as well, as he took reporters batter-by-batter through the rough part of the fifth. "The ball I threw to Span was a good pitch, out front," Buchanan said. "Desmond I tried to go in a little bit and he went down the line. Werth, I thought he was out front a little bit and that fly ball to Zimmerman, can't do anything about that. I thought I made some good pitches. Tough luck."

The Phillies are starting the season as expected and are now near the bottom of the NL east at 4-9. 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 45-45-0 on this day.

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