- Harang ran his streak of scoreless innings to 17 before the Nationals pushed a run across in the fourth, moments after Philadelphia took a 1-0 lead in the top of the frame. Washington opened an inning with an extra-base hit three times. Harang avoided damage in the first, but Clint Robinson scored after his fourth inning double and Yunel Escobar came home for a 2-1 lead following a triple in the fifth. Harper's comebacker in the first whacked Harang on his right hip, but he hung around to throw six innings, allowing two runs and seven hits. "I thought Harang did a nice job," Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg said. "It wasn't his best command. ... Limited the damage. He gave us a quality start and did a good job. We just came up short on the offensive side of things."
- Other than Francoeur's two-out, RBI single in the fourth, the Phillies labored at the plate with runners in scoring position, finishing 1-for-9 overall. Batting after Francouer in the fourth, Cesar Hernandez struck out with runners at second and third base. One-out doubles in the fifth, sixth and ninth innings ultimately led nowhere. "We knew we would be up for a challenge coming in here," Harang said. "They've been playing us tough all season. Yeah, it stinks to lose a game like that, but obviously they were just a little bit ahead of us."
Monday, May 25, 2015
Good Start By Harang, Bad Result By Phillies
GAME RECAP: Nationals Beat Phillies 4-1
Bryce Harper continues to be a game-changer for the Nationals as he drove in two runs in a 4-1 victory over the Phillies on Sunday afternoon at Nationals Park. The Nationals improved their record to 26-18. "Being able to get the W was huge," Harper said. "What we did today to get that W -- going on the road right now -- I'm just glad we ended it on a good note in this homestand." Left-hander Gio Gonzalez had a better outing than he did against the Yankees earlier in the week. He picked up his fourth victory of the season by allowing a run in 6 1/3 innings and striking out seven. "I just wanted to keep from [going] up in the strike zone, work my way down in the strike zone," Gonzalez said. "The only time I wanted to get up was when I wanted them to chase out of the strike zone, but again, like I said, [Jose] Lobaton did a great job mixing me up and keeping me in the game." Phillies right-hander Aaron Harang didn't pitch badly, allowing two runs in six innings. But it wasn't enough, as the Phillies saw their record drop to 19-27.
OTHER NOTES FROM THE DAY:
Philadelphia's three-city road swing ends with three games in New York. Severino Gonzalez hopes to continue his run of quality outings against the Mets. Gonzalez (2-1, 7.11 ERA) is 2-0 with 2.70 ERA over his last two big league starts, including a 4-2 victory at Colorado on Wednesday. He will face Bartolo Colon (6-3, 4.85) Monday with first pitch set for 1:10 p.m. ET. The Phillies are 1-5 against the Mets this season.
Harang Continues Strong Month – Aaron Harang battled more than he dominated in Sunday's series finale against the Washington Nationals. He also never broke, continuing a personal stretch of nothing but quality starts in May. The right-hander allowed two runs and seven hits over six innings. In five starts this month, he's given up five runs over 33 innings. That works out to a microscopic 1.36 ERA. But because the Phillies bats came up short, Harang didn't rack up a victory. In fact, he lost for the second time in four starts. This time he was outdueled by Gio Gonzalez in Philadelphia's 4-1 loss. The Phillies lost two of three in the series. "We knew we would be up for a challenge coming in here," Harang said. "They've been playing us tough all season. Yeah, it stinks to lose a game like that, but obviously they were just a little bit ahead of us." The setback evened Harang record at 4-4. The two runs upped his ERA to 1.93. Harang did not allow an earned run in either of his previous two starts, coming away with a win and a no-decision. He ran his streak of scoreless innings to 17 before the Nationals pushed a run across in the fourth. They also tallied one in the fifth before adding two insurance runs against the Phillies' bullpen in the seventh. It could have been worse. Washington had at least one runner on in each of the first five innings. "I thought Harang did a nice job," Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg said. "It wasn't his best command, but he pitched well with some men on base and left some baserunners out there. Limited the damage. He gave us a quality start and did a good job. We just came up short on the offensive side of things." Washington opened an inning with an extra-base hit three times. Harang avoided damage in the first following Denard Span's leadoff double, though he couldn't totally evade Bryce Harper's comebacker that deflected off the pitcher's glove before striking him in the hip. Harper reached, putting two runners on, but Harang struck out Ryan Zimmerman to end the threat. Harang couldn't escape unscathed in the fourth and fifth. Clint Robinson scored on Jose Lobaton's single after opening the inning with a double. Never a good time to surrender a run, but this one curtailed any possible momentum after the Phillies scored in the top of the inning. Jeff Francouer's RBI single put Philadelphia up 1-0. Harang also avoided a big number in the inning. He immediately walked Danny Espinosa and faced two runners in scoring position following a sacrifice bunt by Gonzalez. Rather than give in, he induced ground-ball outs from Span and Ian Desmond. "I was able to make some big pitches when I really needed to," he noted. Yunel Escobar led off the fifth with a triple. He scored on Harper's RBI grounder for a 2-1 lead. Philadelphia had their own chances, but finished 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position. The Phillies seemingly always have a chance to win with Harang on the mound. "The big thing is trying to give us a chance to win," he said of his approach. "There is only so much I can do. Once I release the ball, it's out of my control unless the ball is hit back to me or I'm in the play somehow."
When A Plan Backfires – Based on one set of numbers, Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg's decision made sense. There were two outs and a runner at third in the seventh. Philadelphia already trailed Washington, 2-1. Left-handed reliever Jake Diekman was ready in the bullpen. He had retired the lefty-swinging batter due up seven of eight times previously. That next batter? He goes by the name of Bryce Harper, otherwise known as the National League leader in home runs. Based on what the entire baseball world witnessed over the last month, find any excuse to avoid pitching to the feared slugger when possible. In this case, Sandberg could have stuck with right-hander Justin De Fratus, who helped put his manager in this spot by surrendering Denard Span's leadoff double. Span took third on a sacrifice bunt, but remained there after De Fratus induced Yunel Escobar's ground out. That left the option of intentionally walking Harper with first base open and having De Fratus face Ryan Zimmerman. "There were some thoughts about all that," Sandberg said postgame. There was surely some intense thinking about Harper's prowess and Diekman's struggles. The reliever allowed at least one run and three total in consecutive appearances earlier in the week at Colorado. "He's our late-inning, left-handed guy," Sandberg stated. Regardless, the manager called for Diekman. With a 1-1 count, the lefty threw a pitch inside as desired. Harper swung, but this time, the ball didn't soar out of the park. Instead, it softly found a patch of grass in left field, allowing Harper to reach and Span to score. Harper drove in two of Washington's runs in their 4-1 win. "It means a lot," Diekman said of Sandberg's continued faith in him during late innings. "You either pitch through it or you're just going to sit down there. It shows he has a lot of confidence in me, which is good. I have a lot of confidence in myself. It just feels like the balls are finding holes right now." Diekman compounded the problem by allowing Harper to score on Ryan Zimmerman's double. His ERA rose to 8.04 after allowing one run and recording only one out. Nevertheless, it was the at-bat with Harper that received primary focus postgame. When the idea of that alternate plan was mentioned, Diekman responded to a reporter, "Do you know my numbers against Harper? 1-for-8, right? I had faith in myself to get him out." The head-to-head numbers provided reason for hope. But things haven't been going Diekman's way of late. "I feel that way," Diekman said of the tough breaks. "You just have to execute pitches better, I guess."
Major Injury Updates In The Minors – Catcher prospect Tommy Joseph remains "sidelined indefinitely," and will be doing vestibular rehabbing for a recent concussion, the Phillies announced on Sunday. The vestibular system, located in the inner ear, helps contribute to one's sense of balance and coordination. Injuries, including multiple concussions, have plagued Joseph, 23, in recent seasons. Acquired in 2012 from San Francisco as part of the return for outfielder Hunter Pence, he played in 63 games combined between 2013-14. Joseph is batting .123 in 20 games with Triple-A Lehigh Valley this season. Right-hander Ethan Martin, who has yet to play in 2015, is scheduled to pitch live batting practice on Monday. The right-hander has been sidelined since April 8 with right shoulder inflammation. Barring any setback, Martin would participate in extended spring training starting on May 30. Martin, a first-round selection by the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2008, made 15 appearances including eight starts with the Phillies in 2013, finishing 2-5 with a 6.08 ERA. He pitched four innings for Philadelphia in 2014.
The Phillies are starting the season as expected and are now near the bottom of the NL east at 19-27. 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 39-53-0 on this day.