Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Phillies Maintain Their Winless Ways

GAME RECAP: Orioles Shutout Phillies 4-0

Matt Wieters kept the red-hot O's on a roll Monday night in a 4-0 victory over the Phillies at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. The catcher crushed a two-out, three-run home run to right field in the sixth inning as Orioles left-hander Wei-Yin Chen threw eight scoreless innings. The O's (32-31) have won nine of their last 11 games to move over the .500 mark. They can improve to two games over .500 for the first time since April 19 with a victory Tuesday. "I chased a pitch on 1-1, so I wanted to get something that was going to stay in the zone, and he threw a breaking ball that was probably a lot more of the zone than he wanted to throw," Wieters said. The Phillies, meanwhile, couldn't support starter Aaron Harang, falling to 0-7 on their eight-game road trip and losing their 17th in their last 20 games. "I think everybody is grinding through it," said Harang, who watched teammate Maikel Franco get ejected in the seventh inning. "We've all had our bad days. Sometimes you just have to snap and let the frustration out. Sometimes it's good, because if you leave it pent up too long, you can start pressing even more. It's good to let that out. It shows that you really care."

  • Franco has been the team's best hitter since he joined the team on May 15, but he earned his first big league ejection in the seventh after arguing a called third strike in a heated exchange with home-plate umpire Eric Cooper. The rest of the offense continued to struggle. Since the Phillies scored in the fourth inning Wednesday in Cincinnati, they have scored just three runs in 47 innings. That includes three shutouts in their last four games. "There is nothing you can do about it; it's already over," Franco said about the ejection. "So tomorrow we can try to come in positive with a lot of energy, stay with it, stay strong and try to do something to win the game."
  • Harang appeared to have straightened out things until Wieters' home run. He had allowed just one run in his first five innings -- he had allowed 13 runs in 11 2/3 innings in his last two starts -- and that run scored after Cody Asche could not make a play near the left-field wall on Travis Snider's double in the fifth. "One pitch," Harang said. "A flat, cement-mixer slider up there to Wieters."
  • "I don't know. You never know when things are going to happen." -- Harang, on the possibility of being traded to a contender in the coming weeks.
  • The Phillies need to win Tuesday night to avoid their first winless road trip of eight or more games in franchise history. They have had five 0-7 road trips in franchise history, and nine road trips of eight or more games with just one victory.
  • Williams is coming off a loss to Cincinnati in his last start, in which he threw six innings, allowing four runs on nine hits while striking out three. He did beat the Orioles in his last start against the team on June 12, 2013.
  • Tillman will make his first start against the Phillies. In fact, the righty has only made 12 career starts in Interleague Play, boasting a 1-1 record with a 5.80 ERA in 63 2/3 innings.

The Orioles and Phillies will play one more at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on Tuesday before beginning a new two-game series in Philadelphia. Chris Tillman (4-7, 5.68 ERA) and Jerome Williams (3-6, 5.71) will match up in Game 2. Tillman is riding a two-game winning streak after dropping six in a row from April 23-May 31. In his last start, the right-hander lasted 5 2/3 innings, giving up five hits and four runs against the Red Sox. Williams will go for his first win since May 16 against Arizona. He is 4-2 with a 4.71 ERA over 36 1/3 innings in seven career appearances (five starts) against Baltimore. Williams made two appearances against the Orioles last season and came away with an 0-1 record and a 5.40 ERA over five innings, and he will look to halt the Phillies' seven-game skid.


Passion Still Alive In Franco – Maikel Franco certainly cares. Franco struck out looking in the seventh inning in Monday's 4-0 loss to the Orioles at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. He did not like the call, which appeared to be low. He barked at home-plate umpire Eric Cooper and kept talking until Cooper finally ejected him. "My emotions just got high in that moment," Franco said. "It's just baseball. That happens sometimes and you have to understand that. I have to understand that." It was the first ejection of Franco's career. It was the first time a Phillies player had been ejected this season. "Good to see emotion out there," said Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg, who separated Franco from Cooper. "Absolutely." It hurt to lose Franco, whose frustration had been building following a called third strike in the first inning that he believed was high. Franco has been the team's best hitter since his arrival from Triple-A on May 15. He entered the night leading the team in OPS (.852), slugging percentage (.527), home runs (six), RBIs (16) and extra-base hits (14). The rest of the offense has not followed his lead. Since the Phillies scored in the fourth inning Wednesday in Cincinnati, they have scored just three runs in 47 innings. They have been shut out three times in the past four games, including a 13-inning shutout Friday and an 11-inning shutout Sunday against the Pirates. "I know the guys are playing hard and hustling and trying hard," Sandberg said, when asked if he sees enough emotion from players throughout the clubhouse. "And maybe trying hard to an extreme. Who knows?" Of course, it is difficult to show energy when the offense is not scoring. The Phillies are the only team in baseball to score fewer than 200 runs this season. They have tallied just 197. They also have lost 17 of their last 20 games. The Phils need to win Tuesday night to avoid their first winless road trip of eight or more games in franchise history. "I think everybody is grinding through it," Phillies right-hander Aaron Harang said. "We've all had our bad days. Sometimes you just have to snap and let the frustration out. Sometimes it's good, because if you leave it pent up too long, you can start pressing even more. We're all good for a good snap once in a while. I just don't let you guys see it when I do it. "It's good to let that out. It shows that you really care. That's not just something where you're doing it for your own displeasure. When things are going tough, that stuff just happens. I think it happens to everybody." Harang maintains that attitude in the Phillies' clubhouse remains positive, despite the losing. "I don't think anyone is beaten down," Harang said. "Everyone in here is caring. There's frustration, because everyone in general hasn't played fully to our potential."

Nola Takes Next Step To AAA – How long will Aaron Nola's next step last? The Phillies on Sunday promoted Nola, who they selected with the seventh overall pick in the 2014 Draft, from Double-A Reading to Triple-A Lehigh Valley. He is expected to make his Triple-A debut later this week. There has been plenty of focus on Nola's development this season because the big league club is on pace to lose more than 100 games. Fans want to see a light at the end of the tunnel, and Nola is one representation of that. Nola went 7-3 with a 1.88 ERA in 12 starts with Reading. Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said earlier this season that he would not be surprised to see Nola with the Phillies before the end of the season. Nola's promotion Sunday certainly improves those chances. Those chances would seem to be cemented if Cole Hamels and Aaron Harang are traded.

Has Gillick Had Enough? – The future is uncertain for the Phillies, and that starts at the top. Phillies president Pat Gillick has said he would remain in his current position as long as ownership requested it, although many in the organization believe Gillick is prepared to pass the reins to somebody else after the season. CSNPhilly.com reported Monday that longtime baseball executive Andy MacPhail could be that man. MacPhail, 63, served as general manager of the Twins when they won the 1987 and '91 World Series. He also served as Cubs president, and most recently as Orioles president of baseball operations. Gillick's future with the Phillies could have a domino effect on the club's front office and coaching staff at the big league level. General manager Ruben Amaro Jr.'s contract expires at the end of the season, and Gillick already has said Amaro's future will not be decided until then. A new president could completely reshape the leadership structure on the baseball side of the organization.

Phillies Sign 28 Picks – Phillies amateur scouting director Johnny Almaraz sounded confident last week that the Phillies would sign more than their share of 2015 Draft picks. The club already has reached agreements with at least 28 of them, though it has not confirmed the deals. Griffin (Ga.) High School shortstop Cornelius Randolph, who was selected with the 10th overall pick in the first round, tweeted Monday evening that he is headed to Philadelphia. He later deleted the tweet. Randolph is expected to take his physical Tuesday. Second-round pick Scott Kingery, fourth-round pick Kyle Martin, seventh-round pick Luke Leftwich and 12th-round pick Skylar Hunter were some of the players in Philadelphia on Monday. They have agreed to deals. The Phillies have reached agreements with 13th-round pick Zack Coppola ($85,000 signing bonus), 17th-round pick Kenny Koplove ($75,000), 22nd round pick Sutter McLoughlin ($50,000) and 24th-round pick Zach Morris ($30,000). Penn catcher Austin Bossart, who the Phillies selected in the 14th round, has agreed to a $5,000 bonus. Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr.'s nephew, Andrew, who was picked in the 35th round, agreed to a $1,000 bonus. Deals could be announced as early as Tuesday, assuming those players pass their physicals.

Carpenter Cup Comes To Town – The 30th annual Carpenter Cup begins this week, but this year, games will be played in the early rounds at the recently opened Phillies MLB Youth Academy in FDR Park in Philadelphia. The 15-game tournament features 16 high school all-star teams from the tri-state area. College coaches and Major League scouts are regulars at the event, which features some of the area's top talent. The event featured a skills day workout session Monday. The tournament runs Monday through June 23, when the title game is played at Citizens Bank Park.

The Phillies are starting the season as expected and are now at the bottom of the NL east at 22-43. 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 46-55-0 on this day.

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