Monday, June 1, 2015

And The Phillies’ Streak Is Extended To 7 Games…

GAME RECAP: Rockies Sweep Phillies 4-1

Rockies left-hander Chris Rusin replaced injured starter Jordan Lyles and held the Phillies scoreless for 4 2/3 innings of a 4-1 victory on Sunday afternoon. "I knew I was going to be the first guy out of the 'pen, so I was already aware, stretched and ready to go," said Rusin (1-0). "It was tough, but I was fortunate enough to throw strikes, keep the ball down and get early contact." Rusin's rescue job -- augmented by Brooks Brown's strikeout display in the seventh -- helped the Rockies complete their first regular-season sweep in Philadelphia in their 23-year history. "To come east and win a couple series and sweep a series, that's a nice accomplishment, considering our history," Rockies manager Walt Weiss said. The Rockies, who completed a two-city road trip 5-1, built a lead on two-run homers by Nolan Arenado in the first inning and DJ LeMahieu in the fifth -- both off Phillies starter Jerome Williams (3-5), who gave up eight hits. Lyles was avoiding a Cody Asche single through the middle when he suffered an aggravation of a left big toe sprain that occurred during his last start. It was the third time in four starts that Lyles left with an injury. "He passed all the tests of a the last few days and was ready to go, but he had to hop out of the way of a comebacker and that thing bit him again," said Weiss, who considered righty Christian Bergman but thought Rusin was a good option against a Phillies lineup with six left-handed hitters. Rusin, who started Tuesday at Cincinnati in place of Jorge De La Rosa (left middle finger cut), gave up Cameron Rupp's double that scored Asche. Rusin then quieted the Phillies until they loaded the bases on a walk and two hits to open the seventh. However, Brown, using a 95 mph fastball and a changeup 9 mph slower, fanned Rupp, Darin Ruf and Ben Revere on 11 total pitches. Brown began the year with five scoreless outings in his first six, but battled a shoulder issue that landed him on the 15-day disabled list. Now his groove is returning. "It's getting there, feels a lot better for sure -- command is getting better," Brown said. "I'm a strike-thrower. That's my biggest thing."

  • The Phillies found themselves in position to cut into or even overtake the Rockies' lead in the seventh inning with the bases loaded and no one out. But they came up short again as Brown struck out Rupp, Ruf and Revere to end the threat. Philadelphia finished 1-for-7 with runners in scoring position Sunday and have just one hit in their last 28 such opportunities. "That was a big moment in the game, it was a shutdown inning for them and it was our best chance of the day," Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg said. "That was a disappointing half of an inning for us."
  • Williams continued his ongoing fifth-inning struggles Sunday by allowing the LeMahieu blast. His ERA is now 12.19 in the fifth inning this year. He has allowed four home runs and six doubles in the inning and added his first fifth-inning hit batsman of the year as well. "We've got to start keeping an eye on him in the fifth instead of the sixth," Sandberg said. "Keep an eye on him. Sometimes it's a combination of elevating the ball as the game goes on and then missing with location."
  • The Rockies' eight homers against the Phillies were the most in a three-game road series since they had eight at Milwaukee April 1-3, 2013. "This is a nice park to hit in, but you've still got to square it up and hit it good," Weiss said. "We faced [Cole] Hamels. We faced [Aaron] Harang, and nobody's hitting those guys. It's just a matter of us putting together better at-bats and competing better in the box."
  • After being called up on May 15, rookie third baseman Maikel Franco batted 7-for-20 (.350) in his first five games with an OPS of 1.031 as the Phillies won four of those five games. Since he has cooled off, so too have the Phillies. Franco's batting average has now dipped below .200 and he's recorded only five hits in his last 11 games. The Phillies are 2-9 in those games.
  • The Phillies benefited from an overturned call in the top of the third inning when a replay turned one out into two. Arenado sharply rolled a ground ball toward Chase Utley, who scooped up the grounder and flicked the ball to shortstop Cesar Hernandez covering second, rendering LeMahieu out. Hernandez then turned and threw to first, but his throw was ruled late by first-base umpire Chris Conroy. Sandberg challenged this ruling and the replay showed that the throw entered Ryan Howard's glove while Arenado's foot was still above the bag, ending the inning with the double play. The review lasted 45 seconds.
  • The series opener on Tuesday will be the first of six games in nine days between the two National League foes, with a three-game series taking place in Cincinnati the following week.
  • The Reds haven't felt that much compassion in the City of Brotherly Love in recent years. The Reds haven't won a series at Citizens Bank Park since August 2006, with a 8-21 record during the stretch.
  • O'Sullivan will again look to work his way deeper into the game. O'Sullivan hasn't lasted more than six innings all season, and hasn't recorded an out in the seventh inning since 2013.

Reds ace Johnny Cueto will return on Tuesday to begin a three-game series between the Reds and Phillies from Citizens Bank Park. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 p.m ET. Cueto is coming back from right elbow stiffness that forced him to miss one start. Following a bullpen session on Sunday, Cueto said "every single pitch was good" during the session and that he will be ready to go on Tuesday. Cueto's last start was on May 19 at Kansas City, where he went seven innings, giving up three earned runs off nine hits in a 3-0 loss. Sean O'Sullivan will be the starter on the mound for Philadelphia in the series opener on Tuesday. The right-hander is 1-4 with a 4.81 ERA and 1.31 WHIP in six starts this season. O'Sullivan experienced his worst start of the season last time out, surrendering seven earned runs on 11 hits in 5 2/3 innings in a 7-0 loss to the Mets.


One Inning – He's not fatigued. He's hitting his spots. His stuff is no different than it was last year. But when the fifth inning comes, something happens to Jerome Williams. After the Phillies' 4-1 Sunday loss, Williams is 3-5 with a 5.49 ERA. But those figures don't tell the full story of what has been going wrong for Williams, or more accurately, when it has been going wrong. Williams has logged 31 outs in the fifth inning this year. In between those outs, he's allowed 14 runs for an ERA of 12.19 and 21 hits -- including four home runs and five doubles. This issue was brought back to the forefront Sunday when, facing the top of the Rockies' order, he hit Charlie Blackmon and then saw DJ LeMahieu drive a pitch over the left-field fence for two runs. Another double and two flyouts later, Williams worked his way out of the inning. But his day was done. Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg said he has noticed that the fifth inning is where his No. 3 starter has been crumbling this year and offered his explanation of why. "We've got to start keeping an eye on him in the fifth instead of the sixth," Sandberg said. "Sometimes it's a combination of elevating the ball as the game goes on and then missing with location. But yeah, elevation of the pitches have usually been the things that are biting him." Williams disagreed with his manager after the game. While the veteran right-hander did admit that it was his manager's decision to pull him and he has to respect that, Williams said he hasn't been elevating pitches late in games and he wasn't fatigued, so there was no reason to think he shouldn't have been in the game. Even further than that, Williams said he wasn't even aware that the fifth inning had been a sore spot for him this season. "I just go out there and try to do my job," he said. "Sometimes it's not happening. I don't pay attention to those things."

Choking With The Bases Loaded – Ben Revere had never matched up against Brooks Brown before Sunday. Now he wants another try. Brown came in for the Rockies in relief with no one out and a three-run lead in the bottom of the seventh inning. Cameron Rupp walked up to the plate with the bases loaded for the Phillies. Rupp, who doubled home a run in the second inning, struck out on three pitches. Rupp was followed by pinch-hitter Darin Ruf. Brown struck Ruf out on five pitches. Next up was leadoff hitter Revere. He swung and missed at three changeups. "I wish I could face him again," Revere said after Sunday's 4-1 loss. "You get ticked off about going down like that." Since Revere had never seen Brown, his preparation was based off the tape he had watched on the right-hander and the Rupp and Ruf strikeouts. From the tape, Revere said he knew Brown had a dominating fastball, so he went to the plate expecting to be challenged. But Brown didn't challenge Revere so much as he fooled him. Three times. "To get triple-double changeups like that that really kinda surprised me," Revere said. "But I was up there being aggressive, trying to drive something. And he did the right pitches in the right counts." Revere's aggression was characteristic of the Phillies as a whole over the past two series. Dating back to May 26, the Phillies are 1-for-28 with runners in scoring position, with the only hit coming in the seventh inning. All that hit did was move the runners and load the bases to set up the back-to-back-to-back strikeouts. Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg stressed the importance of that exchange after the game, remarking that it was one of the best opportunities the team had to score. However, he also said that the incident was not isolated and has developed into a trend the past few games. "That was a disappointing half of an inning for us," Sandberg said. "I think pitchers are coming at us with strikes. You have to swing the bats and create some offense by swinging it to get some base runners." Because of the point in the game it came in, Revere's strikeout resonated most with the fans, as he left the field to a chorus of boos. But it wasn't just Revere who stranded runners in scoring position Sunday. The Phillies left men on second base in the first, second and fifth innings and aside from a first-inning single by Chase Utley, the top five hitters in the Phillies order went 0-for-18. Revere said he thought that Sunday's 1-for-19 showing was indicative of how well the Rockies prepared for this series. "However I look at it, the Rockies had a good game plan against us, especially the main hitters of me, Chase, Howie, especially the top of the order," Revere said. "They had our number. You have somebody's number, that's how you wind up [winning] games."

The Phillies are starting the season as expected and are now near the bottom of the NL east at 19-33. 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 45-55-0 on this day.

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