Monday, May 4, 2015

Phillies Finally Reel One In

GAME RECAP: Phils Catch Fish 6-2

Ryan Howard snapped an 0-for-11 slump with his first triple of the season, and it set in motion the Phillies' 6-2 comeback victory over the Marlins on Sunday at Marlins Park. Philadelphia snapped a five-game losing streak, and Miami capped its homestand at 7-2. Miami right-hander Jarred Cosart hadn't allowed a run in 16 innings, spread over three starts. But in the fifth inning, the Phillies tied it at 1 on Ben Revere's RBI single. In the sixth inning, the Phillies claimed the lead for good. After Darin Ruf was hit by a pitch, Howard's triple tied it. Grady Sizemore's RBI single gave the Phillies the lead for good. "We had some timely hitting with some men on base, had some opportunities, and came through with some guys swinging the bat," Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg said. "It was a good combination." The Marlins, winners of four straight series, rested regulars Dee Gordon and Martin Prado. Ichiro Suzuki scored on Giancarlo Stanton's sacrifice fly in the first inning, but Phillies right-hander Severino Gonzalez gave up just two runs in five innings with five strikeouts. The Phillies added a pair of runs in the seventh inning, with one unearned. Howard drove in his second run of the game with a single off Bryan Morris. Miami had a string of 11 straight games of allowing three or fewer runs snapped. "We just couldn't hold it," Miami manager Mike Redmond said. "We've done a pretty good job holding our leads. Our pitchers have done a great job over these last 10 games. When we have leads, they're shutting them down. We weren't able to do that today. That's going to happen."

  • Revere's two-out RBI single in the fifth not only tied the ballgame at 1 but also snapped a stretch of 18 consecutive scoreless innings for the Phillies' offense. Revere, who celebrated his 27th birthday on Sunday, produced his first RBI in five games.
  • After the Phillies took a 3-2 lead on Howard's RBI triple in the sixth inning, righty Justin De Fratus came on in relief of Gonzalez. Given the task of facing Miami's 3-4-5 batters, including Stanton, De Fratus struck out the side swinging on 10 pitches (nine strikes). "I thought De Fratus in the sixth inning was big," Sandberg said. "We had just taken the lead and it was a shutdown inning with the heart of the order. Three strikeouts. That was probably the key."
  • Odubel Herrera robbed Adeiny Hechavarria of an extra-base hit in the eighth inning with a sprinting, over-the-shoulder catch. Herrera, who has started 22 games in center field, entered the game in the seventh inning as a defensive substitution.
  • Howard's go-ahead RBI triple off Cosart in the sixth inning marked his first triple since April 20, 2014, against then-Rockies right-hander Juan Nicasio at Coors Field. "I tried to go up there for that third [at-bat] and just see the ball and get a little bit better flow and rhythm, and I was able to do that on the first couple of pitches," Howard said. "That third [at-bat], I found something. That fastball… there it was."
  • The Phillies have lost seven straight road series (5-18 overall road record since Sept. 15, 2014). Philadelphia is 2-12-1 over its last 15 road series, one of which came last September in Atlanta.
  • Carlos Ruiz is 4-for-7 (.571) with two doubles, three RBI and a walk off Wood.

The Phillies close out a 10-game road trip, while the Braves finish off a 10-game homestand beginning on Monday night at Turner Field. The pitching matchup offers a rematch of Philadelphia's 1-0 victory on April 24 at Citizens Bank Park. Aaron Harang received the no-decision against his former team, the Braves, despite tossing eight scoreless, two-hit frames. His string of four consecutive quality starts to open the season was snapped in his last outing in St. Louis, when he surrendered five runs on nine hits over six innings. Southpaw Alex Wood pitched 5 2/3 shutout frames against the Phillies, striking out one batter and walking two. He took his first loss of the season in his last outing against the Nationals, allowing five runs on six hits in five innings. Wood did, however, strike out a season-high eight batters.


Rookie Rebound – Severino Gonzalez finally got to showcase his ability to locate and execute secondary pitches, five days after a disastrous Major League debut in St. Louis. Gonzalez, who was the youngest Phillies pitcher to start a big league game in a decade, picked up his first victory in Philadelphia's 6-2 win over the Marlins on Sunday afternoon. The 22-year-old righty went five innings, allowing two runs on five hits with five strikeouts and one walk. Of his 78 pitches, 53 went for strikes. He helped snap the Phillies' five-game skid. On Tuesday in St. Louis, Gonzalez earned the dubious distinction of becoming the first Phillies starter since 1996 to last fewer than three innings in his debut when he surrendered seven runs on 10 hits in just 2 2/3 innings. The Phillies dropped the game 11-5 to the Cardinals. "I wanted to attack the strike zone and be aggressive, and my fastball worked this time," Gonzalez said through a translator. "I also wanted to help the club win. My mind was really set on attacking the strike zone." Miami scored a run off him in the first without the benefit of a hit. Gonzalez walked Ichiro Suzuki, the leadoff batter, who then stole back-to-back bases and scored on Giancarlo Stanton's one-out sacrifice fly to right. Gonzalez proceeded to retire the next six batters before Ichiro got the Marlins' first hit with two outs in the third. He worked around a pair of one-out singles in the fourth by striking out Michael Morse and inducing a lineout to third by Reid Brignac. "I came back with a very good changeup," Gonzalez said. "It was a pitch that worked for me today, and I kind of got him off balance a little bit on that [Brignac] liner to third base." Though he gave up another run in the fifth on Jhonatan Solano's RBI double, Gonzalez limited the damage by stranding him at second. Jarred Cosart struck out on a bunt attempt, Ichiro grounded out and Adeiny Hechavarria lined out to right. When the Phillies took the lead on Ryan Howard's RBI triple in the sixth, it put Gonzalez in line for the win. Manager Ryne Sandberg thought Gonzalez's ability to mix his changeup and curveball helped his fastball, something the rookie worked on in a bullpen session following his debut. While the Cardinals jumped on him early in the count, the Marlins took a more conservative approach. Sandberg also saw fewer nerves. "He has a good mound presence about him and a look of confidence," Sandberg said. "He doesn't get flustered too much out there. He was able to make adjustments. He's young. There's still things to be worked on. We had to talk to him between innings about the baserunners and getting him on board with holding baserunners. Some grooming there, but the attitude and the conviction and all that and the look about him is very good." As for whether Gonzalez would make another start, Sandberg said the organization would weigh its options. Later Sunday, the Phillies optioned Gonzalez to Triple-A Lehigh Valley, which helps create room for the return of several starters from injuries. Chad Billingsley will make his Phillies debut on Tuesday in his return to a big league mound for the first time since 2013 after a pair of elbow surgeries. Sean O'Sullivan (left knee tendinitis), the fifth starter in the rotation to open the season, will start a rehab game on Thursday in Lakewood. "I was very positive after what happened last time, concentrating, and it paid off for me," said Gonzalez, whose ERA lowered from 23.63 to 10.57. "I'm very proud of my start today."

Herrera Shows Off Defense – Odubel Herrera flashed the leather with an impressive running catch to rob Adeiny Hechavarria of extra bases during the eighth inning of the Phillies' 6-2 victoryover the Marlins on Sunday afternoon. Herrera, who entered the game as a defensive replacement in center field for Andres Blanco in the seventh, tracked down the liner to straightaway center. In a three-run ballgame, manager Ryne Sandberg switched around his defense to preserve the lead by shifting Ben Revere to left and moving Darin Ruf to first for Ryan Howard. The 23-year-old Herrera had appeared in Philadelphia's previous 25 games, starting 22 of them in center. He remains a work in progress at a position he didn't pick up in the Minor Leagues until last season. Primarily a second baseman, Herrera saw action in two games in center with Class A Myrtle Beach and 41 for La Guaira of the Venezuelan Winter League in 2014. Through parts of 26 games, Herrera has committed two errors on 54 putouts. "He's progressed really well," Sandberg said. "He went in there for defense. He's taking to it very good. Very athletic, he has very good routes, his instincts are very good. That's a tough one -- ball straight over your head with that kind of distance. But he's been very good. A lot of fun to watch, a lot of energy."

The Phillies are starting the season as expected and are now near the bottom of the NL east at 9-17. 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 43-51-0 on this day.

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