Saturday, May 30, 2015

Rockies Rookie Shuts Down Floundering Phillies

GAME RECAP: Rockies Beat Phillies 4-1

Rockies right-handed pitcher Chad Bettis took a perfect game into the seventh and no-hitter into the eighth as the Rockies defeated the Phillies, 4-1, at Citizens Bank Park on Friday. Bettis (2-0), who took a shutout into the ninth inning Sunday, but gave up two runs in a win over the Giants was even more special Friday -- allowing two hits in eight scoreless innings, with seven strikeouts. For a while, he was bidding to join ex-Rockies ace Ubaldo Jimenez as the only Rockies members of the no-hit club. Jimenez threw his on the road against the Braves on April 17, 2010. Bettis finished with 66 strikes in 104 pitches. But with one out in the eighth, Phillies left fielder Cody Asche rolled a single through the shortstop hole, which was vacated in an infield shifted to the right. Carlos Ruiz singled with two down. Rockies manager Walt Weiss, who had relievers Boone Logan and Rafael Betancourt warm, visited the mound, but let Bettis finish as he fanned pinch-hitter Darin Ruf on a check-swing. Bettis had a perfect game until shortstop Troy Tulowitzki ranged to the middle for a grounder from speedy Ben Revere but had the ball kick off the heel of his glove. The play was close, but it was ruled an error. But Tulowitzki had a four-hit night and was responsible for Bettis' lead, thanks to his solo homers in the first and third innings off Phillies starter Cole Hamels (5-4), whom the Rockies barely touched otherwise in eight innings. The Rockies opened the lead on Ben Paulsen's two-run homer off Luis Garcia in the eighth. Hamels fanned nine and held the Rockies to five hits. The Phillies nearly suffered their second straight shutout, but left fielder Brandon Barnes dropped a Chase Utley fly ball against the wall and Revere scored from second. Revere had reached on a strikeout-wild pitch with John Axford on the Rockies' mound.

  • Early in the season, Hamels was a frequent victim of the long ball. The lefty gave up seven home runs in his first 18 innings this season, but coming into Friday's start, he had only allowed one since and none in his last 34 1/3 innings pitched. That changed in the first inning with Tulowitzki's first homer. Hamels had previously dominated Tulowitzki over his career, as before Friday's contest the shortstop was just 2-for-16 versus Hamels.
  • Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg was ejected in the top of the ninth inning by home-plate umpire Angel Hernandez. Sandberg was arguing a called ball on a pitch thrown by Garcia that he believed to be strike three to Nolan Arenado. The questionable nature of Arenado's check swing, or lack thereof, came because Ruf, pinch-hitting for Hamels, was rung up on a questionable check-swing to end the previous inning. Sandberg could be seen asking Hernandez, "What was the difference?," before leaving the field.
  • Chase Utley and Carlos Ruiz will likely both be excited to see De La Rosa on the mound as both have seen success in their careers versus the lefty. Utley has a career cycle against De La Rosa and is a .353 hitter while Ruiz is a 6-for-11 (.545) with two doubles, one RBI, two walks and an OPS of 1.370. The only players with at least 14 plate appearances against De La Rosa who have a higher OPS than Ruiz are Ryan Braun of the Brewers and former Phillies outfielder Shane Victorino.

Two pitchers will be facing off against relatively familiar foes Saturday, when Aaron Harang and Jorge De La Rosa start against the Rockies and Phillies respectively for the second time in less than two weeks. Harang started for the Phillies at Coors Field on May 19 and De La Rosa made a start two days later for the Rockies in the same series. Neither pitcher received a decision in those outings, but their teams won both of the games. De La Rosa has not started since his last outing versus the Phillies. He had to miss a start because of a cut on his left middle finger and it was rescheduled for Saturday. The 34-year-old is 1-2 with an ERA of 6.51, though that mark has decreased every start since it was at 31.50 after his first start this season. A pitcher who has outperformed his record this year, Harang enters Saturday with a 4-4 record, but an ERA of 1.92. That mark is sixth in the National League and eighth in MLB. He has not allowed more than two earned runs in a start this month.


Asche Breaks Up No Hitter – Cody Asche had plenty of things to be nervous about in the Phillies' 4-1 loss. Yesterday, Asche was a Minor Leaguer. Last month, he was a third baseman. And a few hours ago, he and his teammates were in danger of combining to tally zero hits over nine innings. But none of this troubled Asche. He came up to the plate in the eighth inning with a zero burning a hole in the Phillies' hit column. He stood in the batter's box and slapped a ball to the opposite field into the shift-vacated shortstop slot, breaking up Rockies pitcher Chad Bettis' no-hitter after 7 1/3 innings. When asked after the game whether or not he felt jitters batting with all the pressure on him and his teammates to break up the no-hitter, Asche answered quite succinctly. "No," Asche said. "Not one bit." This sentiment stayed consistent with what he had said before the game. Despite all the talk that centered around the difficulty of the transition from third base to left field, Asche said he wasn't nervous to play his first Major League game as an outfielder. And though he sort of reneged on that after the game by saying he did feel a little anxious during his first few at-bats, he said he collected himself and felt comfortable. "I was a little jittery maybe the first hitter or so," he said. "But once I got some sweat going, I got some balls hit in the air that I could see. It's baseball." Only one ball was hit in play in Asche's direction -- a sinking line drive off the bat of DJ LeMahieu -- and he played it cleanly to execute the out. As for his hit, Asche said it was able to happen because he was actively trying to punish the Rockies for shifting on him, saying this was easily the most drastic shift he had personally encountered all season. Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg said this wasn't just true of Asche, but of his team as a whole. "That's the most shift I've seen on our whole lineup," Sandberg said. "I think even [on] Freddy Galvis [the Rockies] had a modified shift. They were playing some odds there and some drastic defense." However, that shift played straight into the plans of Asche. "I was trying to [hit the ball the other way] all night," he said. "I just did it the last time. A shift like that can't go unnoticed."

Welcome Back – Two weeks after sending him down to Triple-A, the Phillies have recalled Cody Asche in advance of Friday's game against the Rockies. A third baseman before being sent to Lehigh Valley, Asche went down to the Minors to learn how to play left field. The position change came in anticipation of the callup of Maikel Franco, who has been manning third base since Asche's demotion. A corresponding move to Asche's callup has yet to be made, but a move will be made prior to tonight's 7:05 first pitch. Prior to his demotion, Asche batted .245 with an OPS of .632 in 30 games in the Majors this year. In Triple-A, he batted .295 with an OPS of .752 in 15 games.

Crawford Advances – As of Friday night, J.P. Crawford is one step closer to his future. After blazing through Class A Advanced ball, the 20-year-old shortstop prospect has been promoted to Double-A Reading, effective immediately. Crawford, who was the Phillies' first-round pick back in the 2013 MLB Draft, batted .303 in 83 games at Class A Advanced Clearwater over the past two seasons. In 20 games this season, he kicked his play into an even higher gear, batting .392 and reaching base nearly every other at-bat with an on-base percentage of .494. On the Reading roster, he will join the Phillies' first-round pick from the 2014 MLB Draft, Aaron Nola, and 2010 first-round pick, Jesse Biddle, both of whom are starting pitchers. Crawford attended Lakewood High School in Lakewood, Calif., an hour-and-a-half up the Pacific Coast from where Phillies ace Cole Hamels went to high school nearly a decade ago.

Furry Game – On May 30, 2015, the Phillies Wives are doing what they can to help save the lives of pets in need at the 3:05 p.m. game against the Colorado Rockies. Jen Utley, along with the Phillies Wives and Pennsylvania SPCA volunteers, will be at the First Base Gate Plaza to host the Save a Pet at the Park event, benefitting the PSPCA from 1:05 p.m. - 4:35 p.m., before and during the 3:05 p.m. game vs. the Colorado Rockies. Dogs and cats will be on-site available to adopt. Click here to view some of the animals available for adoption at the First Base Gate. Fans can participate in a silent auction with game-used and autographed memorabilia, purchase signed "Mystery Balls", or donate pet toys or treats and new or gently used blankets. Phillies Charities 50/50 Drawing: Tickets will be available, benefiting the PSPCA. The Phillies Wives and adoptable dogs will be on the field pre-game to help promote awareness to the cause. Since the event has been hosted, more than $230,000 has been raised for the PSCPA. For more information on the Phillies Wives in the community, visit the Phillies Wives Page. ALSO, DOGS ON THE BUDWEISER ROOFTOP! For the first time this season, dogs - along with their human owners and friends - will be watching the game from the Budweiser Rooftop as part of the Phillies' sold-out Bark in the Park Theme Night. Proceeds will also benefit the PSPCA.

The Phillies are starting the season as expected and are now near the bottom of the NL east at 19-31. 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 75-83-0 on this day.

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