Thursday, June 25, 2015

And Now Back To Our Regularly Scheduled Season…

GAME RECAP: Yanks Spank Phils 10-2

In his first big league start of 2015, Ivan Nova led the Yankees to a win in the series finale with a standout performance Wednesday afternoon at Yankee Stadium. He helped the Yankees beat the Phillies, 10-2, to avoid being swept by the team with the worst record in baseball. Nova made his season debut following more than a year of rehab after Tommy John surgery in April 2014. It looked like he never left. He allowed three hits, two walks and struck out one in 6 2/3 scoreless innings. Phillies ace Cole Hamels did not fare nearly as well. He allowed eight hits, five runs, three walks and hit a batter in just five innings. He has been a focus of trade speculation for more than a year, but Hamels said he isn't thinking about it. "I could think of something really funny to say to that, but I'd rather just be truthful with you," Hamels said. "No, I really don't [think about it]. I've got to pitch every five days. I'm just trying to stay healthy and just try to put up good results for this team. Trying to be accountable. Ultimately when I've been here from the moment I came up here in '06 and throughout my career, just trying to do everything I possibly can and know if I had a good game or bad game I know I could do more and try to figure out the best way to get better. I think that's all I really focus on." After sitting the first two games of the series due to a stiff neck, Mark Teixeira went 3-for-5 with two RBIs for the Yanks.

  • Hamels has had better days. He was not sharp in five innings, but he got no help from the defense or offense as he dropped to 5-6 with a 3.26 ERA. It was the seventh time in 15 starts this season the Phillies had not scored a run for him while he was in the game. Hamels' performance should not deter contending teams from trying to acquire him before the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline.
  • The Phillies could not field a bunt in front of the plate and catcher Carlos Ruiz could not handle a one-hopper from third baseman Andres Blanco, which led to the Yankees scoring two runs in the second inning. Shortstop Freddy Galvis then lost a ball in the sun and a ball tipped third base and over Blanco's glove in the fourth, with the Yanks scoring three runs in the frame. "There was some miscommunication there as soon as the ball hit the ground," Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg said about the bunt in the second. "It looked like one of them could've caught that in the air. I thought Blanco made a good play on trying to go home on the throw, just a heads-up play, threw it wild. Just things didn't go [Hamels'] way."
  • Right-hander Phillippe Aumont had been the only remaining player from the Cliff Lee trade with the Mariners in December 2009, but he elected free agency Wednesday. The Phillies designated him for assignment following Friday's start against the Cardinals. Aumont, 26, is 1-6 with a 6.80 ERA in 46 appearances over four seasons with the Phillies. The Phillies previously let right-hander J.C. Ramirez and outfielder Tyson Gillies walk away.
  • Phillies starting pitchers have thrown fewer than six innings 35 times in 74 games (47.3 percent) this season. That ties Colorado for the most in the National League. Only the Rays have had more starts like that with 37.
  • June has not been Harang's month. In just four starts, he's seen his ERA rise from 2.02 to 3.41 after allowing 20 earned runs in 23 2/3 innings. He has yet to make a quality start this month after doing so in 10 of his first 11 starts this season.
  • In 22 at-bats, Bryce Harper has hit .455 against Harang, including a home run on April 18.
  • Scherzer has been dominant against the Phillies in his career, holding a 2.25 ERA in five starts against the club. Of the Phillies with at least 10 career at-bats against Scherzer, only Ben Revere has an average over .300 against him.

On the heels of consecutive shutouts, including a no-hitter in his last outing, Max Scherzer will hope for more of the same as the Nationals start a three-game series with the Phillies on Friday. Aaron Harang will take the mound for Philadelphia. Scherzer threw a one-hit shutout against Milwaukee on June 14, and he followed that with a no-hitter against the Pirates on Saturday, when the only baserunner he allowed came on a hit-by-pitch with two outs in the ninth inning. He struck out 26 batters and walked just one in those starts. On the season, Scherzer is 8-5 with a 1.76 ERA. No Major League pitcher has thrown back-to-back no-hitters besides Cincinnati's Johnny Vander Meer, who accomplished the feat in 1938. Harang holds a 4-9 record with a 3.41 ERA this season. He's tied for the Major League lead in losses, a tally that hasn't been helped by the Phillies' struggling offense. He'll hope to get some run support to avoid ending a seventh consecutive start with a loss.


Rupp Finally Goes Deep – OK, now that that is finished. Phillies catcher Cameron Rupp hit a home run to left-center field in the fourth inning of Tuesday night's 11-6 victory over the Yankees at Yankee Stadium. Rupp savored the moment because it was the first homer of his big league career. "It took a little longer than expected," Rupp said. It took him 173 plate appearances, but he is hopeful for more in the future. Rupp had started six of the last 10 games behind the plate, and 10 of the last 19. He is hitting .261 (23-for-88) with four doubles, one triple, one home run, six RBIs and a .690 OPS this season. Carlos Ruiz, who started Wednesday's series finale against the Yankees, entered the game hitting .227 (37-for-163) with six doubles, 11 RBIs and a .560 OPS. "I'm confident at the plate and behind the plate," Rupp said. Rupp's home run ball landed in the visitors' bullpen, but he still has not received the memento from his teammates. "They're probably hiding it," Rupp said.

Putting In The Effort – Cole Hamels' time with the Phillies might be short, but he still cares. He threw up his arms in frustration and barked a few words in the direction of the Phillies' dugout in the fifth inning Wednesday afternoon during a 10-2 loss to the Yankees at Yankee Stadium. Hamels thought he had a groundout, but with Phillies second baseman Cesar Hernandez positioned almost directly behind second base, the ball hit by John Ryan Murphy rolled through the infield for a base hit. "I think there was just some miscommunication from what we talked about before the game and kind of [what] my pitching style is," Hamels said. Could Hamels be pitching elsewhere in the near future? If the Phillies get what they want, yes. They are reportedly trying to deal him before the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline, but so far have not found a team willing to meet their price. Hamels is used to the incessant questions and speculation by now. "It's just kind of normal, going on 12 months," Hamels said. "It's kind of not even the focus right now. I think I'm trying to do everything I can for this team, especially some of the young guys that we have, trying to be somebody with a lot of information and a lot of experience. If they have questions, and to show them the type of work ethic it takes to be successful up here. I think that's kind of the only thought I've really had. That's what I take day in and day out." Hamels returned to the mound Wednesday after missing Friday night's start against the Cardinals because of tightness in his right hamstring. He had a chance to help the Phillies sweep the Yankees after the Phillies scored 11 runs each of the previous two nights, but he was not sharp. He allowed eight hits, five runs, three walks and hit one batter in five innings. He also got no help from the offense or defense. It was the seventh time in 15 starts this season the Phillies did not score a run for Hamels while he was in the game. The offense has been held scoreless in 32 of his last 33 innings on the mound. The defense also let him down multiple times. Carlos Ruiz could not field Didi Gregorius' bunt in front of the plate in the second inning which loaded the bases. Jose Pirela then hit a chopper to Phillies third baseman Andres Blanco, who barehanded the ball and threw home. The ball bounced in front of Ruiz, but it deflected off his glove to allow two runs to score. Freddy Galvis then lost a ball in the sun in the fourth inning, which fell for a double by Gregorius, who scored on a single by Brett Gardner. Chase Headley followed with a run-scoring double, with the ball grazing third base and getting past Blanco. "I felt pretty good," Hamels said. "I think maybe things were a little too sharp than what I was expecting, pitches were breaking too much. You kind of have to find that middle ground."

Have The Phillies Found Gillick’s Replacement? – The Phillies are expected to announce in the next week that longtime baseball executive Andy MacPhail has accepted a prominent role with the organization. reported Wednesday afternoon that MacPhail will be hired "to lead their operations soon." Phillies president Pat Gillick declined comment twice this week about MacPhail, including Wednesday, but multiple sources told that MacPhail will be joining the Phillies shortly. The club has not confirmed the move. Gillick, 77, replaced David Montgomery as team president in August 2014, but he had not been expected to remain in the role for long. MacPhail's name emerged more than a week ago in a report. MacPhail, 62, has a long history as a baseball executive. He served as Minnesota's general manager when the Twins won the 1987 and '91 World Series. He helped the Cubs to two postseason appearances from 1994-2006. He then served five seasons as Baltimore's president of baseball operations, making some of the trades that helped the Orioles return to the postseason. The timing of MacPhail's arrival is critical with the Phillies rebuilding and reportedly trying to trade veterans Cole Hamels, Jonathan Papelbon, Aaron Harang and others before the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline. The Phillies also need to determine the fate of Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr., whose contract expires at the end of the season, and the rest of the front office. They also must decide if they want Ryne Sandberg moving forward as their manager. Sandberg's contract expires after the 2016 season. MacPhail likely will replace Gillick as president and use the foreseeable future to evaluate the baseball-operations staff. It remains to be seen if MacPhail will bring anybody with him, either immediately or down the road. One source mentioned Angels assistant general manager Matt Klentak, 34, as a possibility to join the organization in the future. MacPhail hired Klentak as Orioles director of baseball operations in 2008, making him one of the youngest executives in baseball.

The Phillies are starting the season as expected and are now at the bottom of the NL east at 26-48. Given the departures, aging stars, injuries, and performance so far this season, this could end up being the worst team in franchise history! All time, the Phillies are 55-61-0 on this day.

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