Monday, June 15, 2015

Pirates Make Phillies Their Wenches

GAME RECAP: Pirates Pillage Phillies 1-0

Right-hander A.J. Burnett threw nine scoreless innings Sunday afternoon at PNC Park and Josh Harrison hit a walk-off single in the 11th, leading the Bucs to a 1-0 win over the Phillies. Burnett shut down the Phillies, for whom he pitched a year ago, and helped the Pirates finish off a three-game weekend sweep featuring two extra-inning, walk-off victories. Backed by several outstanding defensive plays, the 38-year-old right-hander needed only 101 pitches as he gave up five hits and a walk while striking out four. "It was probably one of the funnest games I've pitched in in a while," Burnett said. "I was keeping the ball down the best I can and watching these guys do what they can do behind me." Burnett, now second in the National League behind teammate Gerrit Cole with a 1.89 ERA, went back and forth for most of the game with Phillies left-hander Cole Hamels before Neil Walker singled up the middle off closer Jonathan Papelbon, moved to third on a throwing error by Phillies shortstop Freddy Galvis and scored on Harrison's base hit to center. Galvis was disappointed in himself after the game, saying the small mistakes are all the more frustrating in a pitchers' duel like Sunday's game. "Just made a bad throw," Galvis said. "One mistake cost us the game." Coming off a start in which he allowed five runs on eight hits against the Reds, Hamels returned to his dominant form Sunday afternoon. The Phillies' lefty ace struck out 12 while permitting only four hits and a walk over seven scoreless innings. Hamels has now racked up 103 strikeouts in 94 1/3 innings, fanning 26.6 percent of the batters he's faced this season. "I tried to stay with him. He probably punched out, what, 30 or something," said Burnett, a teammate of Hamels' last year. "He's a competitor like me, and I enjoy going up against him."

  • After cruising through the first three innings, Hamels had his back against wall in the fourth. Pirates center fielder Andrew McCutchen led off the frame with a single, and catcher Francisco Cervelli singled after Hamels secured two outs. Hamels then hit Corey Hart in the foot with a pitch, loading the bases for Jordy Mercer. In a scoreless game, it was a dicey situation for the visiting starter, but he induced a groundout to end the frame.
  • With one out in the top of the ninth, Ben Revere tried to steal third base and give Chase Utley the chance at a go-ahead sacrifice situation. While Revere beat Francisco Cervelli's slightly high throw, his foot momentarily came off the bag. Pirates third baseman Jung Ho Kang kept his mitt on Revere, and the speedster was called out, nixing a potent scoring opportunity. "With a chance with Chase Utley up there, that's a prime position for us that was taken away," Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg said.
  • With one out and Revere on second base, Utley ripped an opposite-field line drive into shallow left field. The ball landed just left of the foul line and was ruled foul by third-base umpire Jeff Nelson. The Phillies challenged the close call, but a 44-second review confirmed Nelson's initial decision.
Aaron Harang, a pleasant surprise for the Phillies this year, will hit the hill again at 7:05 p.m. ET on Monday against the Orioles in Baltimore. Harang, toting a 3.04 ERA this season, hasn't pitched well lately -- the 37-year-old has surrendered 12 earned runs combined over his last two starts after ceding seven over his previous six outings.


Hamels’ Reign of Dominance Continues – Another dominant start, another no-decision for Phillies ace Cole Hamels. In an 11-inning 1-0 loss to the Pirates on Sunday afternoon at PNC Park, Hamels was spectacular, but didn't receive any run support. The 31-year-old southpaw recorded a season-high 12 strikeouts and yielded just four hits in seven innings. "We're trying to scratch out a run for him, and allow him to pitch," Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg said. "He continues to go out and give us a chance to win. ... All he needed was one run today." The way this season has gone, it should be no surprise that Hamels was left hanging by his offense. The veteran starter entered Sunday's game with the fourth-lowest run support (2.71 runs per game) out of all qualified starters in baseball. Sunday was the fifth time this season Hamels gave up two runs or less and didn't end up with a win. On one occasion, he gave up two runs and was tagged with the loss. "I'm just doing what I can do. I only get to effect every five days," Hamels said of the Phillies' struggles this season. "As long as I'm going out there and being accountable, that's all I can do." Despite the offensive struggles -- the Phillies finished the three-game series in Pittsburgh 1-for-25 with runners in scoring position -- Hamels was dealing. And it wasn't just his numbers that popped. He passed the eye test by messing with Pittsburgh's eye levels. Sandberg said it might have been Hamels' best outing of the year in terms of pounding the lower-half of the zone and throwing crisply. Pirates manager Clint Hurdle also took note of Hamels' dominance. "You saw why he's the elite pitcher that he is," Hurdle said. "Twelve strikeouts, from velocity to cut to that filthy changeup in any count. He's a very, very, very good pitcher." Unfortunately for Hamels, the Phillies' offense didn't mirror his success.

Errors Costly In Close Contest – In the eyes of Freddy Galvis, one play was the difference in the Phillies' 1-0 loss to the Pirates on Sunday afternoon at PNC Park -- and he made it. In the bottom of the 11th inning with two outs and still scoreless, Galvis charged a soft ground ball to throw out Jose Tabata at first. It was a routine play for the 25-year-old shortstop, one that Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg said Galvis makes all the time. Instead of converting the third out of the inning, Galvis gave the Pirates and their packed house a reason for excitement. He overthrew first baseman Ryan Howard, sailing the ball into the stands and moving Tabata to second while Neil Walker took third base. Pirates infielder Josh Harrison followed up with a single on the first pitch he saw from reliever Jonathan Papelbon, sealing Pittsburgh's sweep of the Phillies. "Just made a bad throw," Galvis said. "One mistake cost us the game." Galvis blamed himself, but there were other examples of the Phillies faltering in routine situations. The most egregious, other than Galvis' miscue, was from Ben Revere. After leading off the ninth inning with a single, Revere did well to steal second base, and he nearly swiped third base, too. By all accounts, he should have been safe at third. Revere, the Phillies' leader in steals, clearly beat the high throw from Pirates catcher Francisco Cervelli. But mid-slide, he momentarily took his foot off the bag, third baseman Jung Ho Kang kept his mitt on Revere the whole way, and he was called out. Had Revere stayed on, the Phillies would have had Chase Utley at the plate with one out -- an opportunity at a game-changing sacrifice. "That's a prime position for us that was taken away," Sandberg said. The Phillies, losers of six straight and nine of their last 10, aren't in a position where they can overcome routine mishaps. In the weekend sweep, the offense couldn't provide much run support for the pitchers, going 1-for-25 with runners in scoring position in Pittsburgh. Add in mistakes like Galvis' error and Revere's faulty slide, and the Phillies made it difficult for themselves.

The Phillies are starting the season as expected and are now at the bottom of the NL east at 22-42. 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 46-52-1 on this day.

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