Thursday, May 7, 2015

Phillies Drop Series To Braves

GAME RECAP: Braves Edge Phillies 7-5

The Braves salvaged a 10-game homestand Wednesday night with a 7-5 victory over the Phillies at Turner Field. Braves shortstop Andrelton Simmons led the way offensively with a single, double and home run and Freddie Freeman added three hits and three RBIs. The Braves won the series to split the homestand at 5-5. They have won four of their last six games. "We hadn't won a series in a few," said Freeman, referring to the Braves 0-3-1 mark over the last four series. "Just ending the homestand, it was definitely a nice way to go. Going into Washington you wanted to feel good with a couple of wins back-to-back and we did that." The Phillies, meanwhile, limped home following a 3-7 road trip as Jerome Williams and the bullpen could not hold down Atlanta's offense. Williams allowed eight hits and six runs in just 4 1/3 innings. "The only thing you can do is just continue to play," Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard said. "This game is over. Go into the off day, just rest, relax and try to forget about this road trip and start fresh on Friday."

  • Phillies right fielder Ben Revere tried his best to counter Simmons' big night with four hits, the 13th four-hit game of his career. He doubled in the third, fifth and sixth innings for a career-high three doubles. It was Revere's first game with three extra-base hits.
  • Phillies relievers have had a well-documented problem walking batters this season. They entered the night with 54 to lead Major League Baseball. But inherited runners have been a problem, too. The Phillies have allowed 13 of 28 inherited runners to score, including two in the fifth inning.
  • Howard hit a solo home run to left-center field in the sixth inning. It was the 50th home run of his career against the Braves, making him one of just 12 players to hit 50 homers against the franchise. The list includes Willie Mays (83), Mel Ott (73), Ernie Banks (71), Willie McCovey (71) and Stan Musial (60). Howard is hitting .255 (13-for-51) with two doubles, one triple, five home runs, 11 RBIs and a .949 OPS in his last 14 games.
  • The Braves lost a challenge in the sixth inning when Odubel Herrera reached base on an infield single. Replay officials in New York could not definitively determine if the ball touched the interior of Freeman's glove prior to Herrera reaching base. The play stood as called.
  • Hamels went through a similar early slump last season, going 1-2 with a 4.30 ERA over his first six starts in 2014. He finished the season with a 2.46 ERA.
  • Phillies second baseman Chase Utley is expected back in the lineup after sitting the last two games in an attempt to clear his mind and reset. Utley is hitting .103 through 87 at-bats. With Thursday's off-day, Utley will have three consecutive days away from the game.

Matt Harvey and Cole Hamels match up on Friday as the Mets and Phillies begin a three-game series at Citizens Bank Park. It's been a tale of two seasons for the two aces, and the same could be said of the ball clubs for which they pitch. Harvey has a 2.41 ERA and is tied for the Major League lead in wins, with five, whereas Hamels has struggled to a 1-3 record and 4.14 ERA. New York enters the weekend still the surprise of the National League, with a healthy lead in the division. The Phillies enter the series in last place, 8 1/2 games behind the Mets.


Producing Regardless Of Position – Ben Revere plans to produce no matter where the Phillies play him in the outfield. He finished last season in center field, started this season in left field and moved to right field Tuesday before he doubled three times and singled once in Wednesday's 7-5 loss to the Braves at Turner Field. Revere, whose three extra-base hits were a career-high, is hitting .375 (18-for-48) with four doubles, one triple, five RBIs and a .912 OPS in his last 12 games. "April, I kept saying I'm going to keep hitting the ball hard and sooner or later the balls are going to fall," said Revere, who was hitting .172 through April 24. "Luckily, I've been finding the holes. Keep battling. Baseball is a mental game. A lot of stuff can go through your head when you're struggling, but good players get through the struggles and come over the top and find a way to get back on top." Revere doubled and scored in the third inning to tie the game, 1-1. He doubled with two outs in the fifth. He doubled to score Cesar Hernandez in the sixth to cut Atlanta's lead to 6-4. "He's peppering the ball all over the field," Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg said. "He's added a little pop with some doubles. I think he's just squaring the ball up better and finding holes, a lot of confidence." It will be interesting to see what the future holds for Revere. He moved to right this week to give Darin Ruf more opportunities to play. But Revere could see more time there in the future, especially if Triple-A third baseman Maikel Franco continues to hit. Franco could be promoted in the next few weeks. Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said last week that if and when Franco's promotion happens he expects him to play nearly every day. Franco can play first base, but his best position is third and he is expected to see the majority of his time there. The Phillies already have asked Cody Asche to start practicing in left field to keep him in the lineup. So if those things happen and Domonic Brown rejoins the Phillies, how will everybody fit? Time will tell, but if Revere keeps hitting the way he is he seems likely to fit somewhere. "As long I'm in the lineup it really doesn't matter to me," he said. "It started in high school. Minor Leagues, same deal. I wanted to play everywhere because in the long run if I had to play a different position I didn't want to go over there and not like it, and then it becomes a mind game in the clubhouse. I didn't want to do that."

Successful Return – The Phillies need some good news and they got a little on Wednesday. Top prospect J.P. Crawford returned to action with Class A Clearwater and went 2-for-3 with a home run, three RBIs, a run scored and a walk in a 7-3 victory over Brevard County. He had opened the season on the disabled list with a strained left oblique. Crawford is the organization's No. 1 prospect and the No. 22 prospect in baseball, according to

Debut During A Wild Week – Phillies left-hander Elvis Araujo has had quite a week. He pitched two scoreless innings April 29 with Double-A Reading and three days later Reading manager Dusty Wathan called him into his office for a talk. Araujo thought he might be in trouble when Wathan asked him to take a seat, but instead he asked the pitcher if he had been in the big leagues before. "No," Araujo said. Wathan then broke the news. Araujo had been promoted to the Phillies. Araujo made his big league debut Tuesday in a 9-0 loss to the Braves at Turner Field. He allowed hits to the first two batters he faced before striking out a pair of batters to pitch a scoreless inning. "I told [Reading teammate Nefi] Ogando," Araujo said, recalling the moment he learned about his promotion. "He's my roommate. We go everywhere together. He started jumping and screaming. He couldn't control his emotions. He started hugging me and almost kissed me." It was an emotional moment. The Phillies signed Araujo to a Major League contract in November, despite the fact he had never pitched higher than Double-A. But the Phillies loved the arm that accompanied his size (6-foot-6, 280 pounds) and believed they could harness his potential. Then when it came time to add a pitcher to the bullpen they chose Araujo, despite the fact he had 7.45 ERA in seven appearances. The Phillies need another left-hander to complement lefty Jake Diekman. Araujo acknowledged he felt a little nervous entering the game Tuesday, and his nervousness grew once the first two batters reached base. He recovered nicely. "I don't believe it," he said. "I don't believe that I'm here. I'm just trying to do the same work I did in the Minor Leagues. Just keep the same routine. Keep calm."

Bullpen Lacking – The Phillies' bullpen has had a well-documented problem walking batters this season. It finished Wednesday's 7-5 loss to the Braves at Turner Field with 56 walks to lead Major League Baseball. The bullpen allowed a walked batter to score a run in each of the final nine games of a 3-7 road trip. "It's the growing pains of it," Ryan Howard said. "They're going to get better. I have confidence in those guys. It's all a learning curve I guess." But another bullpen problem resurfaced in the sixth inning when Phillies left-hander Jake Diekman allowed a one-out double to Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman, which scored a couple runs. They were the 12th and 13th inherited runners out of 28 to score this season. The bullpen's 46.4 inherited runners scored percentage is 29th in baseball. Those runs proved big as the Phillies scored three runs in the sixth inning and another run in the ninth. "I thought Diek had an opportunity for a shutdown, maybe minimize there facing the left-handers," Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg said. "Especially Freeman. Went to a 3-2 count. Kind of erased any doubts of a slider there." Freeman hit a 97 mph fastball over the middle of the plate to clear the bases. "He had to go to his fastball," Sandberg said. "We have to get better with control and command and strikes out of the bullpen. We fall behind in the count. Pitching behind in the count turns into hitters' counts. That combination right there is what we have to get better at in the bullpen."

The Phillies are starting the season as expected and are now at the bottom of the NL east at 10-19. 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 42-51-0 on this day.

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