Monday, June 8, 2015

Frenchy’s Bat Proves To Be Enough This Time

GAME RECAP: Phillies Shrink Giants 6-4

For the second day in a row, Jeff Francoeur came up with the big hit for the Phillies. This time, however, it led to a 6-4 victory over the Giants at Citizens Bank Park on Sunday. One day after hitting his second-career grand slam, Francoeur roped a two-run double off Giants relief pitcher Javier Lopez just over the glove of a jumping third baseman Matt Duffy in the seventh inning. The extra-base knock plated Freddy Galvis from third base and Ben Revere from first to give the Phillies a two-run lead. The home team didn't look back after seizing that lead. "Frenchy came up big with the pinch-hit," Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg said. "He's been a guy in that it seems has a lot of impact in helping us win games, whether it's a defense or swinging the bat." Both of the runs on Francoeur's double were credited to Ryan Vogelsong, who was removed from the game before pinch-hitter Francoeur's at-bat. Vogelsong threw 6 2/3 innings, allowing five runs on seven hits and two walks, striking out five. Vogelsong lamented issuing a two-out walk to Ben Revere with Freddy Galvis on third base that prolonged the seventh for Francoeur. "It was more a mental mistake, really," Vogelsong said. "I was just trying to be too fine. The go-ahead run's on third base and it might have cost me some of my aggressiveness." On the day a T-shirt bearing his likeness was handed out at the stadium, reliever Ken Giles earned the win for the Phillies. Giles struck out three batters and allowed just one baserunner in 1 2/3 shutout innings. "That was big also because he was fairly rested for us today so he was up for that task today," Sandberg said. "All in all it worked out pretty well with the innings we did have available."

  • Just one day after their bullpen had to pick up 6 1/3 innings of work, the Phillies didn't have as many options as one would like entering Sunday. However, the 'pen, which has struggled of late, pitched three quality innings in relief of starter Sean O'Sullivan, allowing just one run to score over that span. Inherited runners have been a weakness of the bullpen all year, having allowed 47.3 percent of inherited baserunners to score. Sunday, however, both of the runners inherited by the bullpen were stranded and in all the bullpen stranded five.
  • With one out and men on first and second in the top of the seventh inning, Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg double-switched Elvis Araujo and left fielder Cody Asche out in favor of Giles and Darin Ruf. Giles dispatched the two batters he faced with a little help from Ruf, who wasn't afforded much time to acclimate to the outfield. Brandon Belt laced a fly ball toward the left-field fence and Ruf made the running catch to prevent the runs from scoring and end the inning, crashing his shoulder into the wall in the process. "I was watching where Cody was playing him pretty much most of the game and over the last couple of days," Ruf said. "I got a good jump on it. Luckily I was able to run it down."
  • The Giants requested a review in the third inning after Pagan was called out trying to advance from second to third base on Buster Posey's grounder to shortstop. Pagan, who slid headfirst, contended that he touched the base with his right hand before third baseman Maikel Franco could apply his tag. The call was overturned, rendering Pagan safe.
  • "Who wouldn't [be]? I gave us a chance to win a ballgame." -- Giles, on the excitement he showed coming off the field after striking out the side in the eighth inning.
  • Maikel Franco came through with game-tying home runs late in both of the Phillies' wins over the Reds. Franco hit a two-run homer in the eighth on Tuesday and a three-run home run in the ninth the following night.
  • Hamels will look to continue a career-long streak of six consecutive starts of seven or more innings pitched with two or fewer earned runs allowed. During the stretch, Hamels is 4-1 with a 1.83 ERA.
  • Leake's performance against the Phillies on Wednesday broke up a three-game stretch of poor starts during which he had gone 0-3 with 20 earned runs and 27 hits allowed in 14 innings.

The Phillies and Reds will square off for a second straight week when the two National League foes open a three-game series at Great American Ball Park on Monday. The Phillies took the three-game series in Philadelphia, knocking off the Reds with a pair of walk-off wins in the first two games. In both games, the Reds' starting pitcher was in line for a victory before the bullpen blew the lead. The Reds took the final game of the series to prevent a sweep. Mike Leake was one of the starting pitchers who watched his win go by the wayside in Philly. Leake carried a no-hitter for 6 2/3 innings on Wednesday and finished the game with only three hits and two earned runs in eight innings pitched. Leake is 2-4 with a 4.40 ERA and 43 strikeouts in 11 starts this season. Cole Hamels will be on the mound for the Phillies in the series opener. Hamels was also impressive on Wednesday, giving up two earned runs on six hits and three walks in seven innings. Hamels is 5-4 with a 2.88 ERA and 84 strikeouts in 12 starts this season.


Giles Lives Up To Promotion – Athletes are used to seeing their names on a fan's back. They aren't so accustomed, however, to seeing their face on a fan's front. But when Ken Giles looked out into the stands from the mound Sunday, he saw his silhouette staring back at him off the chest of nearly every child at Citizen's Bank Park. Fully rested, the right-handed reliever made the best of Ken Giles T-shirt Day, earning his second victory of 2015 in his longest outing of the year in the Phillies' 6-4 win over the Giants. Giles threw 1 2/3 innings of shutout, hitless relief, striking out three, allowing one baserunner on a walk and stranding the two runners he inherited. Sunday was only the seventh time Giles had pitched since May 20 and with that rest he recorded five outs for the first time since Aug. 15, 2014 when he went two innings, also against the Giants. Manager Ryne Sandberg said that with the 6 1/3 innings the bullpen had to throw Saturday, Giles was the player who had to step up and was proud that he did. Though Giles is accustomed to topping out at one inning, he said he is comfortable throwing deeper if he needs to. "For me it's not that much of a difference," he said. "I've just got to keep my mindset that I'm going back out and then make sure I keep focused, keep my gears going and make sure I don't think about anything else." That focus came into play at a critical time. Giles entered the game with two men on base and one out in the seventh inning of a tie game. Buster Posey and Brandon Belt, two men with 57 combined RBIs, were the next two batters due up. But Giles disposed of the pair, forcing Posey to pop out to second base and Belt to fly out to the warning track in left-center field. Giles said that though he is used to pitching in the eighth inning, the pressure situation in the seventh didn't feel foreign to him. "It's the same situations as in the eighth inning: You've got to hold that lead," he said. "I'm still trying to hold that lead or give us a chance to win." Getting the win wasn't the only thing Giles was trying to do, however. Giles' fastball, which in 2014 averaged about 98 mph, has dipped in velocity this year to about 96 mph. However, on his final pitch of the afternoon, Giles rung up Andrew Susac with a 97-mph fastball. Despite this seemingly positive indicator, Giles said he still doesn't feel as if his fastball is where he wants it to be. "I'm still working on things and I'm still off," he said. "I've still got [things] to work with, mostly mechanical work. It's just one of those things. But slowly, but surely I'll figure it out." As for the giveaway T-shirt, Giles said he thinks that's a work in progress too. "It needs improving," he said. "But overall it was great."

Underdogs Overcome – Sunday belonged to the underdog. It wasn't just that the team that came into the day 15 games below .500 defeated the defending World Series Champions. It was the fact that the underdogs among the underdogs were the people who came through. In the Phillies' 6-4 victory over the Giants, the winning pitcher came out of the bullpen, the go-ahead runs were driven in by a pinch-hitter and a game-saving catch was made by a player who had just been double-switched in. To the man who made the aforementioned catch, infielder/outfielder Darin Ruf, this is exactly the kind of day the Phillies try to have. "It's great on days like this where it comes together and it can be a whole-team win," Ruf said. "Everybody contributes from top to bottom whether you're a regular or a bench guy. It's nice when a lot of guys can contribute to a win." Ruf's catch came with two outs and two men on base late in the seventh inning of a tie game. Giants first baseman Brandon Belt ripped a ball to the warning track in left-center field. Ruf, who had just entered the game one at-bat earlier alongside Ken Giles in a double switch for left fielder Cody Asche and pitcher Elvis Araujo, didn't have much time to warm up before the play. Regardless of this, Ruf caught the ball, ending the inning and hurling his left shoulder into the outfield wall in the process. "I've played outfield before so it was just good positioning," Ruf said. "I was watching where Cody was playing him pretty much most of the game and over the last couple of days. I got a good jump on it. Luckily I was able to run it down." That catch saved the Phillies at least one run from scoring and preserved the tie for another bench player to break open. With the left-handed hitting Odubel Herrera due up with me on first and third and two outs, Giants manager Bruce Bochy subbed out starter Ryan Vogelsong for lefty specialist Javier Lopez. As a counter move, Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg opted for Jeff Francoeur as his pinch-hitter. Francoeur, who hit a grand slam as a starter Saturday, made the most of his at-bat, lining a double over third baseman Matt Duffy's outstretched glove to plate the go-ahead run and an insurance run. Having recorded six of his 20 RBIs over the last two days, Francoeur said he has a renewed sense of confidence despite his middling .258 batting average and .427 slugging percentage. However, with the grand slam off left-handed ace Madison Bumgarner and the double off Lopez, he does feel revitalized in what he came to Philadelphia to do. "When I came here the one thing I wanted to do was to make sure I hit lefties," Francoeur said. "My No. 1 priority is to take care of those guys and the last two days I've been able to do that."

Heading Back Down – The Phillies optioned right-handed pitcher Severino Gonzalez to Triple-A Lehigh Valley after Sunday's game. Gonzalez is 2-2 with an ERA of 8.69 in five MLB starts in 2015. During his start Saturday, Gonzalez threw 2 2/3 innings, allowing six runs on seven hits, a walk and two hit batsmen. His strikeout rate had been steadily increasing over his last two starts with 13 of his 18 strikeouts coming over that span. But his inability to pitch deep into games continued to haunt him. In five starts, Gonzalez never threw more than five innings and threw less than that three times. A corresponding roster move will be made in the days to come. The Phillies head to Cincinnati on Monday for the start of an eight-game road trip. Gonzalez will likely head to Durham, NC, to meet up with the IronPigs for the start of their seven-game road trip.

The Phillies are starting the season as expected and are now near the bottom of the NL east at 22-36. 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 48-57-0 on this day.

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