- The Phillies took a 1-0 lead in the third and tied the game in the fifth, but Williams could not come up with a shutdown inning either time. He allowed three runs in the third and two runs in the fifth to hand the Rockies a 5-3 lead. Williams has a 7.03 ERA this month, which is the sixth-highest ERA in baseball.
- The Phillies lost the game, but look at the big picture. Thursday snapped a streak of seven consecutive games of the Phillies scoring four or more runs, which was their longest since August 2011, when they had a nine-game streak. A big reason is Chase Utley and Howard are producing. Utley went 2-for-4. He is hitting .450 (9-for-20) with four doubles, one triple and three RBIs in his last six games. Howard hit a game-tying homer in the fifth. He has hit nine home runs in his last 28 games. "We're not swinging as bad as I think people think we are," Howard said. "It's just a matter of the results [haven't been] there."
- Utley raised his batting average to .169, which means he no longer has the lowest batting average in Major League Baseball among 176 qualified hitters. Houston first baseman Chris Carter sits alone in the basement at .161.
- The Rockies challenged a third-inning play in which shortstop Troy Tulowitzki was thrown out at home by Phillies right fielder Jeff Francoeur, by a wide margin. Tulowitzki was trying to score a second run on a Barnes single, which drove in Carlos Gonzalez. The Rockies challenged, but the replay official confirmed the out call, ruling that Phillies catcher Cameron Rupp did not violate the home-plate collision rule because he was "in the act of a legitimate attempt to field the throw."
- "It will be a challenge. We're going up against three good starting pitchers. Then again, we'll have Cole [Hamels] and [Aaron] Harang going also, so there will be some good matchups there. But I think that we're swinging the bats better, so I feel better about it than a month ago when we played them." -- Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg, on opening a three-game series Friday night in Washington.
- Scherzer and every other pitcher the Nationals use must find a way to deal with Freddy Galvis and Odubel Herrera, both of whom have found major success against the Nats this year. Galvis is batting .333 in seven games with one double, one triple and six RBIs. Herrera has played in six of the games and has nine hits in 25 at-bats, including three doubles and one triple. He has had more success against Washington in the early part of the season than any other club. Against Scherzer, Herrera is 3-for-7 with a triple, and Galvis is 1-for-7.
Friday, May 22, 2015
Pitching Falters In Series Finale Against Rockies
GAME RECAP: Rockies Rock Phillies 7-3
Catcher Michael McKenry broke a fifth-inning tie with a two-run homer and the Rockies added on in a 7-3 win over the Phillies in Thursday's series finale at Coors Field. McKenry's homer off Phils starter Jerome Williams (3-4) helped the Rockies to their fourth victory in eight games and their second straight split of a four-game series. "Just trying to get a good pitch to hit," McKenry said. "I felt like throughout the day, they were staying down in the zone. Had a couple walks and was just trying to get a good pitch to hit. Just staying on the baseball and tried to keep it simple." McKenry was part of a reserve-driven offense that didn't strike out once all game and picked up starter Jorge De La Rosa. The Rockies took a 3-1 lead in the third, but De La Rosa couldn't hold it, and he exited after Ryan Howard's game-tying solo homer in the fifth. But Christian Bergman (2-0) quelled the Phillies in the fifth, and the bullpen held until the Rockies added insurance runs on RBI singles by Daniel Descalso and Nolan Arenado in the seventh. "Everyone's doing a good job throwing strikes, getting us out of big situations and picking up starters," said Bergman, part of a Rockies bullpen that has a 1.66 ERA in its last nine games, including 10 2/3 scoreless innings in the last two.
OTHER NOTES FROM THE DAY:
The National League East foes will meet for the third time this season and the second time in the nation's capital. The Phillies took two of three in both teams' second series of the season, but the Nationals responded by taking three of four in mid-April. That was the first series win of the season for Washington after losing three straight to open the year. The Nationals have outscored the Phillies 26-20 this season. Max Scherzer will get the ball in the opener for the Nationals. Philadelphia will start Sean O'Sullivan, who earned his first win of the season after tossing six scoreless innings vs. Arizona on Sunday. He is 1-2.
Still Gas In the Tank – The Phillies lost Thursday at Coors Field, but they have to like what they see from Ryan Howard and Chase Utley. Howard hit a game-tying home run in the fifth inning in a 7-3 loss to the Rockies. He has homered nine times in his last 28 games. Bryce Harper (11) and Giancarlo Stanton (10) are the only two hitters in baseball with more home runs since Howard hit his first homer April 21. Utley went 2-for-4 with a triple. He is hitting .450 (9-for-20) with four doubles, one triple, three RBIs, four walks, one strikeout and a 1.292 OPS in his last six games, which started with four consecutive games batting sixth in the lineup. Utley has raised his batting average from .118 to .169, which means he no longer has the lowest batting average in Major League Baseball. Houston first baseman Chris Carter sits alone in the basement at .161. "I don't know if I'm necessarily sleeping better, but anytime you can get positive results, it can build your confidence," Utley said. So did dropping to sixth for four games help? Utley smiled at the question. "I try to take the same approach wherever I hit in the lineup," Utley said. Howard seems entrenched in the cleanup spot again after dropping as low as seventh last month. Since then he has slowly been moving up the home run chart. "I mean all that stuff is cool," Howard said. "For me, it's just a matter of just getting back to playing ball and just playing my game. That's been my focus all year, is just playing ball. Everything that comes with it, you have good days, bad days, just try to stay even keel and just do what you do." But it certainly is no coincidence the offense has been firing better recently with Howard and Utley hitting well together. Thursday snapped a streak of seven consecutive games of the Phillies scoring four or more runs. It was the their longest streak since a nine-game run in August 2011. "That's hard to believe," Utley said. "But we have been swinging the bats fairly well. We've been driving some balls, putting some good at-bats together. We're doing all of the things that lead to success. That's a good sign." The Phillies have won seven of their last nine games, but they get a big test beginning Friday when they open a three-game series in Washington. The Nationals are back on top in the National League East and playing well. They will pose a much greater challenge than Arizona and Colorado, whom Philly has played over the past week. "It will be a challenge," Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg said. "We're going up against three good starting pitchers. Then again, we'll have Cole [Hamels] and [Aaron] Harang going also, so there will be some good matchups there. But I think that we're swinging the bats better so I feel better about it than a month ago when we played them."
A Month To Forget – The end of May cannot come fast enough for Phillies right-hander Jerome Williams. Williams allowed five runs in five innings in Thursday's 7-3 loss to the Rockies at Coors Field. Williams is 1-3 with a 7.03 ERA in five starts this month, which is the sixth-highest ERA in baseball in May among pitchers with four or more starts. Williams has not pitched more than five innings in any of those starts. "I'd say pitching behind in the count," Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg said about Williams' month-long struggles. "Not working ahead. Trying to be too fine on the corners and falling behind. That's resulted in some walks and also some good hitting counts for the hitters." Williams is 3-4 with a 5.44 ERA overall, which is the 11th-highest ERA in baseball. "I don't know," Williams said about his struggles. "I think I was making some quality pitches. Kind of just trying to find the strike zone. If I was behind in the count, I'm trying to do my job, you know? Trying to get back in the count. I think I had three walks today. That's unacceptable." Williams had walked nine batters in 43 innings before walking three Thursday. The Phillies took a 1-0 lead in the third inning when two of Williams' walks contributed to three runs in the bottom half of the inning to hand the Rockies a 3-1 lead. The inning started when Williams hit Charlie Blackmon with a 2-2 pitch. "That kind of hurt, hurt real bad," Williams said. "Just trying to make some quality pitches down in the zone and I walked a couple guys. I tried to limit the damage right there. I've just got to get better at that and find the zone like I normally do." The Phillies tied the game in the fifth when Chase Utley tripled and scored on Darin Ruf's sacrifice fly to right field, and Ryan Howard homered to left field. But Williams allowed a two-run home run to Michael McKenry to make it 5-3. "I think I threw a good pitch there," Williams said. "I don't know what else to say."
The Phillies are starting the season as expected and are now at the bottom of the NL east at 18-25. 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 41-52-0 on this day.