Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Phillies Waste Another Solid Start By Harang

GAME RECAP: Mets Shutout Phillies 2-0

Coming into this season, the Mets knew pitching would be the key to their success. Jacob deGrom only fortified that belief during Monday's home opener, making two runs stand up in a 2-0 win over the Phillies at Citi Field. DeGrom held the Phillies in check for 6 1/3 innings, allowing new closer Jeurys Familia and a stout Mets bullpen to handle the rest in front of a record crowd of 43,947. Though the Phillies mustered seven hits and a walk off deGrom, they could not cash in any of them for runs. "If you're going to pitch in the big leagues, you've got to get used to this stage," Mets manager Terry Collins said. "You've got to be able to control yourself a little bit, and stay within yourself, and stay within the game you pitch. And he did that." The win was the 10th home opener shutout in franchise history, coming in front of the largest regular-season crowd that Citi Field has ever seen. Only the 2012 All-Star Game drew more fans to Citi.

  • Harang signed a one-year, $5 million contract in December, and if he continues to pitch like he has in the past week, he will be worth every penny. The veteran right-hander allowed four hits, one run, two walks and struck out one in six innings Monday. He has a 0.73 ERA in his first two starts.
  • The only two Phillies hitters doing much of anything the first week of the season are third baseman Cody Asche and shortstop Freddy Galvis. Asche went 2-for-4 and Galvis went 3-for-3 on Monday, but the rest of the Phillies' lineup managed just two hits. Asche and Galvis have combined for 18 of the team's 50 hits this season. Meanwhile, Chase Utley and Ryan Howard are hitting a combined .130 (6-for-46) with no home runs.
  • "My manhood kind of got hurt a little bit. They both got hurt a little bit. I got in the cold tub [after the game] to help them out a little bit." - Phillies left fielder Ben Revere, on why it took him a moment to get up after making a fantastic diving catch in the fifth inning.
  • Utley has hit more home runs against the Mets (33) than any other team, but he has not homered since he hit one against the Mets on Aug. 10. It is the longest homerless drought of his career, stretching to 175 at-bats following Monday's game.

Right-hander David Buchanan hopes to bounce back in a major way Tuesday night against the Mets. He allowed seven hits, six runs, four walks and struck out one in just three innings on Thursday in a loss to the Red Sox.


Another Solid Start – If he wishes, Phillies right-hander Aaron Harang can commiserate with Cole Hamels. Harang allowed four hits, one run, two walks and struck out one over six innings of Monday's 2-0 loss to the Mets at Citi Field. He pitched well enough to win, but the Phillies got shut out for the second time in seven games. It is a result Hamels knows too well. The Phillies have yet to score a run with Hamels in the game this season. But Harang has been giving his team a chance to win. He has a 0.73 ERA through two starts, which makes him well worth the $5 million the Phillies are paying him this season. "Obviously, I wasn't as sharp as the first one [Wednesday against Boston], but I was able to keep their hitters off balance and the guys were making plays behind me, and that's huge," Harang said. "You get their team to put the ball in play early on in the count, the guys are still going to be on their toes and make some big plays for you." Harang allowed a one-out double to Daniel Murphy in the fourth inning. Murphy advanced to third on a flyout and scored when Harang could not handle a one-hopper Juan Lagares hit back to the mound. The ball popped out of Harang's glove and his spikes got caught in the mound. He twisted his knee and stumbled a bit. By the time Harang picked up the ball and threw to first, Murphy had scored and Lagares was safe. "It's all reaction," Harang said about the play. "Just caught it right off the end of my glove. Another eighth of an inch and it's in my web and I'm able to just set and turn and throw."

Revere Recovering – Every part of Phillies left fielder Ben Revere is OK. Revere made a fantastic diving catch in the fifth inning Monday afternoon in a 2-0 loss to the Mets at Citi Field. Mets right fielder Curtis Granderson laced a ball down the left-field line, but Revere sprinted to the corner before going horizontal to make the catch. Revere remained motionless on the field for a moment before gingerly lifting himself up to throw the ball back to the infield. "Oh yeah," he said, when asked if he had the wind knocked out of him. "And my other part kind of got hurt, too. My manhood kind of got hurt a little bit. They both got hurt a little bit. I got in the cold tub [after the game] to help them out a little bit." Revere has made a couple of nice defensive plays in the past few days. He also threw out a runner at the plate in Saturday's victory over the Nationals. "[First-base coach] Juan Samuel said the glove should never struggle or go in a slump or anything," said Revere, who is hitting .143 (4-for-28). "That's what I do. I do that for my teammates and everything."

Reliever Clears Waivers – The Phillies announced on Monday that left-hander Cesar Jimenez has cleared waivers and accepted his assignment to Triple-A Lehigh Valley. The Phillies designated Jimenez for assignment over the weekend to make room for right-hander Sean O'Sullivan on the 25-man roster. Jimenez, 30, struck out one batter and didn't allow a hit in two-thirds of an inning last week. He posted a 1.69 ERA in 16 appearances last season.

Where Is The Offense? – Ryan Howard remains confident the Phillies will hit. But when? The Phillies lost Monday afternoon to the Mets at Citi Field, 2-0. It was their second shutout in seven games. The Phillies are hitting a meager .219, have just 10 extra-base hits and have scored just 16 runs despite a 3-4 record. Chase Utley and Howard, who have hit third and fourth in the Phillies' lineup for years, have been a big part of the problem. Utley is hitting .091 (2-for-22) with three RBIs, two walks and six strikeouts. He has never struggled more through the Phillies' first seven games than he has this season. Howard is hitting .167 (4-for-24) with three doubles, one RBI and eight strikeouts. It is his second-worst start through the team's first seven games. "It sucks," Howard said. "Obviously, we want to get off to a better start. We're what, six or seven games in? It's definitely going to turn around. Nobody plans on trying to get off to a slow start. The only thing we can do is keep grinding and keep swinging, try to put together good at-bats. We've had opportunities. You just have to come through in other situations." The Phillies have 50 hits, and 18 have come from Freddy Galvis and Cody Asche. Asche is hitting .444 (8-for-18) with one RBI. Galvis is hitting .400 (10-for-25) with one double and one RBI. They hit seventh and eighth in Monday's lineup, respectively, but Galvis has hit second three times and Asche has hit third once in previous games. Manager Ryne Sandberg said he has not considered significant changes to the lineup, meaning moving around Utley and Howard from their accustomed spots. "I'm not thinking in those terms right now," he said. "I'm thinking … offense is a whole lineup. Guys at the top of the lineup getting on base. Middle guys getting key hits. Each guy in the lineup, it's a whole lineup. It's eight or nine guys in a lineup. So we need more production up and down the lineup." Howard said he is not worried about hitters pressing at the plate. "It's way too early for all that," he said. "There are going to be opportunities, just the nature of the game itself, guys are going to want to do more, myself included. It's not going to be every single time, but it's just the law of nature, you know? It's just continuing to go out there. We've been in every game this year, except the first one against Boston. Our pitching staff has been great. Hopefully they can keep it up and we can catch up."

The Phillies are starting the season better than expected and are now in a competitive position in the NL east at 3-4. 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 36-32-0 on this day.

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