Sunday, June 7, 2015

Frenchy’s Slam Not Enough To Overcome Giants

GAME RECAP: Giants Beat Phillies 7-5

Madison Bumgarner did it all Saturday, supplementing his eight-inning performance with a pair of key singles as the San Francisco Giants fended off the Philadelphia Phillies, 7-5 at Citizens Bank Park. Bumgarner (7-2) maintained remarkable precision, throwing 78 strikes and 20 balls as he struck out 11 batters. He didn't throw his 10th ball until he faced Darin Ruf in the sixth inning en route to striking him out. Bumgarner's lone lapses occurred in the fourth inning, when Philadelphia's Jeff Francoeur hit his second career grand slam to wipe out most of San Francisco's 6-0 lead, and in the eighth, when Andres Blanco delivered a pinch-hit homer. Bumgarner was unfazed by the homers. ""We were still winning the game," he said. "If not, it might be tougher." Bumgarner's offensive contributions almost offset the runs he allowed. His third-inning hit set up a run-scoring single by Nori Aoki, who went 3-for-3. Bumgarner added an RBI single in the seventh to conclude the scoring for the Giants, who won for the 10th time in their last 12 road games and improved to 9-2 in their last 11 games against Philadelphia. "You put the ball in play, good things are going to happen," Bumgarner said.

  • A brief shower delayed the game's start for 29 minutes. The rest of the game proceeded without interruption.
  • With the bases loaded in the bottom of the fourth inning, Francoeur trimmed the Giants' lead from 6-0 to 6-4 with a one-out grand slam over the left-field wall. That grand slam came in the middle of what proved to be a dominant return to the big leagues for relief pitcher Dustin McGowan. Just two days after being recalled from Triple-A Lehigh Valley, McGowan had 3 1/3 innings of shutout relief, allowing just two hits and striking out three. "He has that kind of an arm and he bounces back real well," Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg said. "So he was the guy to go in there and give us some length. I thought he had real good life on his ball and he even said he felt like he got better the longer he was out there. He's got that type of an arm so he's good to have in the bullpen."
  • Phillies starting pitcher Severino Gonzalez entered his start Saturday having allowed 18 of the 31 lefties he'd faced to reach base this year. Right from the start, Gonzalez continued that trend as the first three batters he faced all swung left-handed and all reached base. Two of them eventually came around to score. In all, seven of the 11 lefties he faced reached base via hit, walk or hit-by-pitch and a 12th plate appearance resulted in an RBI sacrifice fly.
  • After yet another 0-for-4 day, Phillies shortstop Freddy Galvis is on a 0-for-29 streak. Galvis' batting average has dropped from .355 to .265 in 16 games since May 15. Over that span, Galvis has seven hits, two walks -- none of which have come in the last 15 games -- and 16 strikeouts and has grounded into four double plays. "Freddy's just a little jumpy at home plate," Sandberg said. "He's getting out on his front foot and he's a little off-balance. He's been working at that for a few days now just trying to stay back on the ball and stay short with his swing but he's getting out on his front foot. Not only is he making contact too far out in front of home plate when he does he's off of the breaking pitches and going into the fastballs."
  • The Giants' four-run rally in the third inning could have been more fruitful, but Joe Panik's bid for extra bases died in Ben Revere's glove in deep center field with two on and two out.
Sean O'Sullivan starts for the Phillies. The Phillies are 2-5 in games O'Sullivan has started this year, largely due to the large volume of hits he allows. O'Sullivan has allowed an average of 7.87 hits per nine innings this season, nine of which being home runs. If there is one saving grace, at least O'Sullivan has a strong track record career versus the Giants, against whom he has a 2.25 ERA in 12 innings. Ryan Vogelsong never has trouble psyching himself up for a game. But if he needed extra incentive for his start in Sunday's series finale against Philadelphia at 1:35 p.m. ET/10:35 a.m. PT, he could summon the memory of being released from the Phils' Triple-A club in July, 2010. A year later, Vogelsong was named to the National League All-Star team.


McGowan Takes Over – There was a time not too long ago when a starting pitcher for the Phillies getting taken out early was an anomaly, but the rotation is hitting hard times of late. Case in point: Starting pitcher Severino Gonzalez lasted just 2 2/3 innings Saturday, allowing six runs on seven hits and a walk in the Phillies' 7-5 loss to the Giants. Gonzalez left the game in the third inning with the bases loaded and Dustin McGowan inherited the not-so-enviable position of limiting the damage. And though McGowan was just two days removed from being a Triple-A pitcher, he came in and did what he needed to do. "When you go out there, you've just got to pitch," McGowan said. "Try not to think about the things I need to do. I want to focus on pitching." Though McGowan did allow two of the three inherited runners to score via a Nori Aoki single, the right-handed veteran settled down and delivered 3 1/3 innings of shutout relief. He surrendered just two hits and two walks and struck out three in a long, 49-pitch outing. After McGowan was called up Friday, Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg said he envisioned the reliever to be the kind of pitcher who can throw two-to-three innings of relief. That being said, Sandberg wasn't surprised to see that McGowan went longer than that. "He's our long guy," Sandberg said. "Early on in the season he had a spot start and went 75 pitches and he built up to about two or three innings at that point. But he has that kind of an arm and he bounces back real well. So he was the guy to go in there and give us some length." That sort of length is something that the Phillies have been sorely in need of over the past few weeks. Dating back to May 19, the day after the Phillies' season-high six-game winning streak, all Phillies starters not named Cole Hamels have on average lasted less than 5 1/3 innings per start. If Aaron Harang's starts are removed from the group, that average drops below five innings. Though Saturday was just the third time Gonzalez had started over this stretch, a stretch over which the Phillies are 5-11, he is the worst offender when it comes to short starts, now having thrown a 4 1/3-inning outing and a 2 2/3-inning outing. But despite the expectation some may have on Gonzalez not to last long, McGowan didn't come into Saturday thinking it was going to be his day to prove himself. "Honestly, you don't think about it like that," McGowan said. "You always hope they go as long as they can and then when that phone rings and it's your turn you just go." McGowan's turn impressed Sandberg, as the manager said he thought his pitcher looked stronger with every pitch. And though McGowan conceded it may have appeared that way, he didn't necessarily feel like it. "I hadn't been that long in a while," McGowan said. "It may have looked like I was getting stronger but I was getting a little tired too."

Frenchy Continues To Make An Impact – Whether offensive or defensive, good or bad, Jeff Francoeur makes plays that has the fans hold their breath. In the Phillies' 7-5 loss to the Giants on Saturday, Francoeur helped ignite the scoring for both the Phillies and Giants. Offensively, Francoeur laced his second-career grand slam, off Madison Bumgarner in the fourth inning with his team trailing by six runs. Defensively, Francoeur air mailed a throw from right field over catcher Carlos Ruiz's head in the first inning, allowing the runners on first and second to advance to second and third. Though on the surface the plays couldn't seem more different, they actually show a progression of Francoeur's thought process throughout the game and mirror in many ways the product his team has been putting on the field. Starting chronologically at the beginning, the first-inning throwing error was a product of Francoeur relying purely on instincts. "That was brutal," Francoeur said. "I should've just gone to third or second. It didn't help that I think it just got done raining and it was a little wet so I slipped. I know better than that." However, the grand slam was a product of the veteran recognizing Bumgarner's pitch patterns and capitalizing off of that. "[It was a] heater in," Francoeur said. "It was the same pitch he got me out on the first AB, so I tried to kind of get ready a little quicker and stay a little taller. I've been kind of diving out over the plate. It was a good pitch to go on and obviously it was at a good time for us." Therein lie the similarities between Francoeur's Saturday and the Phillies' season. The good is there. In nearly every game the Phillies do something to prove that there is talent hiding somewhere behind the 15-games-below-.500 record. But it's often disguised by the unfortuante mistakes that bury the team early in games. These mistakes, be they poor outings by starting pitchers or base-running errors or swinging at pitches out of the zone, have led the Phillies to lose 11 of their last 16 games and have them in last place in the NL East standings. Francoeur said he's noticed this happening and said that depending on the opponent, these mistakes can intensify or be more-easily overcome. "In this game, even if you play eight innings hard, if you have one bad inning it can cost you the game," Francoeur said. "There's games where I feel like we do that or games where we're ahead enough and we have a pitcher pitching really well and we don't really have to worry about that. But against a team like [the Giants] we can't afford to make mistakes like this." But with the youth the Phillies have, Francoeur said one solace to be had is that his teammates aren't going to dwell on these mistakes for long. "We're not happy about it," he said. "But at the same time, I think there are a lot of guys who will go home tonight and get themselves ready for tomorrow. We have to come win a ballgame."

The Phillies are starting the season as expected and are now near the bottom of the NL east at 21-36. 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 48-48-0 on this day.

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