Friday, May 15, 2015
Harang And Howard Salvage Split
GAME RECAP: Phillies Beat Pirates 4-2
Phillies right-hander Aaron Harang is looking more and more like a solid piece to a contending team looking for starting pitching help, with another strong effort Thursday in a 4-2 victory over the Pirates at Citizens Bank Park. Harang pitched eight scoreless innings, allowing just five hits and one walk and striking out six to improve to 4-3 with a 2.03 ERA. The Phillies won their last two games against the Pirates to split the four-game series. "That's something I can't dwell on," Harang said about a possible trade in the next couple months. "I have to think about what I will do five days from now and what I will do to help other guys by watching bullpens and paying attention to things in case I notice anything. I think that's the biggest thing -- being there and being accessible to try and help younger guys go through ups and downs to get them in the right direction." Pirates right-hander Vance Worley lasted just four innings, allowing eight hits and three runs, one earned. The Pirates managed their only runs in the ninth inning against Ken Giles. "Mechanically, I was a little off," said Worley, who delivered 35 of his 81 pitches outside of the strike zone. "I wasn't finding the right arm slot. Just a little out of sync."
OTHER NOTES FROM THE DAY:
· Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard and shortstop Freddy Galvis each had three hits to lead the Phillies' offense. Howard hit a solo home run to right field in the fifth inning. It is his seventh homer in his last 21 games. Galvis has seven three-hit games this season, which is second in baseball only to Miami's Dee Gordon (10 three-hit games). "We've been able to bounce back against a really good baseball team and show what we are capable of," Howard said. "It's just being able to take that momentum and carry it over to tomorrow."
· Harang has pitched six or more innings in each of his eight starts this season. He has not allowed a run in three of them, and has allowed one run or fewer in five of them.
· Phillies catcher Cameron Rupp caught Harrison stealing in the third inning and Starling Marte in the fourth inning. Both plays ended the inning. Just six of 12 baserunners have successfully stolen bases against Rupp this season. If he had enough games to qualify, his 50 stolen base percentage would be the best in baseball. Kansas City's Salvador Perez currently is best with a 52.4 stolen base percentage (11-for-21).
· After an eventful ninth inning Wednesday night, Jeff Francoeur found himself in another notable moment Thursday. Francoeur hit a sharp ground ball to Mercer and chugged down the first-base line, but first-base umpire C.B. Bucknor called him out. The call on the field was reviewed, and it was ruled that the call stood. The replay lasted approximately 1:20.
· "We'll see. I'm not sure yet." -- Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg, on Triple-A third baseman Maikel Franco possibly being recalled before Friday's game. It is expected that Franco will be called up.
· D-backs outfielder Ender Inciarte was selected by the Phillies in the 2012 Rule 5 Draft before being returned to Arizona in April 2013.
· The D-backs should be familiar with Billingsley, as general manager Dave Stewart is Billingsley's former agent.
· The Phillies went 4-2 against the D-backs last season.
Will Chase Anderson's wait end Friday? He sure hopes so. The D-backs' right-hander will take the mound Friday in Philadelphia against Chad Billingsley seeking his first victory of the season after winning nine times last year as a rookie. Anderson has pitched well enough to win. He gave up back-to-back singles to start the game against the Padres in his last outing, but retired 11 of the next 12 he faced in a seven-inning, one-run effort in which he received a no-decision. Billingsley has allowed five earned runs on eight hits in each of his two starts this season.
3 Hits x 2 – Any time you ask Freddy Galvis what he's changed about his approach this season, he'll tell you the same thing: He's shortened up his swing, and this has led to more ground balls, more balls in play and more opportunities to get on base. As was evidenced Thursday afternoon, Galvis isn't just saying the company line. His new approach is working. Galvis finished Thursday's 4-2 Phillies victory over the Pirates 3-for-3 with a walk, two runs scored and a stolen base. This was Galvis' seventh three-hit game of the season and came in the middle of what is now an 11-for-25 stretch over the past two series. But to Galvis, Thursday wasn't about the hits he recorded so much as it was about how he recorded those hits. "Today I hit three grounders and three base hits," Galvis said. "I think that's the key. When I stay on the ground, I can get base hits." The day improved Galvis' batting average to .353, a mark that is 79 points better than the next best everyday Phillie. To manager Ryne Sandberg, the fact that Galvis has been able to sustain this success this late into the season is a testament to how his approach is working. "When you're hitting it for 100 at-bats and starting to face teams for the second time, which he has, he's just sticking with what's working for him and being real patient out there," Sandberg said. "He's just really on the ball. He's doing a nice job of really cutting down his swing and making some nice contact." As notable as his day was, Galvis was not the only player with three hits Thursday. First baseman Ryan Howard started off the day with singles in the first and third innings before jumping on the first pitch of the fifth inning for a solo home run, his seventh of the season. No teammate of his has more than three. Howard attributed his success to his preparation and patience. "I was just trying to get good pitches up, just trying to hit mistakes," Howard said. "[Pirates starter] Vance [Worley] is a guy who, he's got pretty good movement on his ball. You've just got to be patient and just kind of wait for mistakes, and when he makes them, you've got to jump on them." Howard had been hitting the ball excellently in early May before cooling off in his past five games, hitting just 1-for-15 over that stretch. However, Sandberg said the success the big left-hander found Thursday was tied to his success in previous weeks. "He's squaring up the ball much better," Sandberg said. "He's getting hits to go with that. I think gaining confidence comes with that. I like what he's doing. He can help us win a game. If he can get hot and be one of the guys who gets hot, that goes big with what he can do for us."
No Stolen Base For You! – Phillies catcher Cameron Rupp picked up two hits and the first intentional walk of his career Thursday afternoon at Citizens Bank Park, but he really made his mark behind the plate in a 4-2 victory over the Pirates. Rupp caught Josh Harrison trying to steal second base in the third inning and Starling Marte trying to steal second base in the fourth inning. Both plays ended their respective innings. "I like a good challenge," Rupp said. "You want guys to see what you can do. And when you throw them out and you make good throws, it makes you feel better. It kind of gives you a little adrenaline rush. But it's more than just me throwing the ball there. Aaron [Harang] gave me good pitches to throw on. Freddy [Galvis] made the tag." Rupp is hitting .184 (7-for-38) in 11 games this season, but he has allowed just six of 12 baserunners to successfully steal a base against him. If he had played enough games to quality, his 50 stolen base percentage would be the best mark in baseball, according to Stats LLC. "He has a cannon for an arm," Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg said. "He just has a quick release. And he's usually on target." Kansas City catcher Salvador Perez currently is best at 52.4 percent (11-for-21). Who knows? Maybe teams start will running less on Rupp. "If guys said, 'If you get on base, stay put,' I'm OK with it," Rupp said. "But I've got to be ready. I can't fall asleep. But a lot of this comes from the pitcher. Being able to hold a runner on. Aaron did a great job at it. He gives Chooch [Carlos Ruiz] a chance. He gives me a chance. That's all we can ask for. If you don't have a chance, you might as well eat it. It's not just a one-way deal here."
Harang Showing Value – If Cole Hamels is a little too rich for a contending team's budget, Phillies right-hander Aaron Harang is pitching like a pretty solid substitute. He threw eight scoreless innings in Thursday's 4-2 victory over the Pirates at Citizens Bank Park to improve to 4-3 with a 2.03 ERA. He has pitched six or more innings in each of his eight starts this season, allowing one run or fewer in five starts and no runs in three starts. "That's something I can't dwell on," Harang said about the possibility of being traded before the July 31 Trade Deadline. "I have to think about what I will do five days from now and what I will do to help other guys by watching bullpens and paying attention to things in case I notice anything. I think that's the biggest thing -- being there and being accessible to try and help younger guys go through ups and downs to get them in the right direction." It would not hurt the Phillies to have Harang hang around a little longer, and maybe impart a little more wisdom on some of their younger pitchers. Harang is 37, but he is pitching like he could succeed for a few more years. "I'm having fun," he said. "I know what I can do, and I know my limitations. And I know that I have to control myself and get through tough situations and trying to stay positive. Younger guys make an error and get down on themselves. I've got to be like, 'Don't worry, I'll get you, and we'll get another one. The next time, go get me a big knock or get an RBI.' Just trying to be a positive attitude to get through the rough stuff." Harang had runners on second and third with two outs in the first inning but got out of the jam. He allowed hits in the third and fourth innings, but Phillies catcher Cameron Rupp caught both baserunners trying to steal second base. Harang allowed just one more hit after the fourth inning. "He just hits his spots," Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg said. "He makes the pitch he wants to make. It seems when he misfires a little bit, it's not over the plate to get hit. He stays away from trouble with that. He's got deception out there with his size, and the ball comes out of his shirtsleeve a little bit. He changes speeds and really studies the game. He's really good with attacking the lineups. A lot of knowledge there." And that is part of what makes Harang so attractive. He is a veteran with a successful track record, playing on a one-year, $5 million contract. There is very little not to like right now.
The Phillies are starting the season as expected and are now at the bottom of the NL east at 13-23. 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 52-49-1 on this day.