Saturday, June 13, 2015

The Phillies Can’t Even Lose Efficiently

GAME RECAP: Pirates Outlast Phillies 1-0

Left fielder Starling Marte broke a scoreless tie in the bottom of the 13th inning with an RBI single up the middle, sending the Pirates to a 1-0 win over the Phillies at PNC Park on Friday night, their first walk-off victory of the season. And they had to wait a while for it. More so than just the other 59 games they'd played this year. Rain delayed the start of the game by an hour and 26 minutes. Pittsburgh and Philadelphia then traded zeroes for four hours, 34 minutes and 12 1/2 innings before pinch-hitter Chris Stewart singled, moved to second on a groundout and scored -- after 1 a.m. ET on Saturday morning -- on Marte's ground ball single to center off Phillies reliever Dustin McGowan. "I was focused. Hit the ball to the middle," Marte said. "It was a good pitch to hit the ball that way. … Be focused on one pitch, try to hit the ball." The two clubs finished a combined 1-for-19 with runners in scoring position, leaving 30 runners on base. "Twenty-five zeroes, the number of men left on base for both sides, pitchers on both sides pitching through things, making pitches when they had to -- I don't know if I've ever been involved with one of this magnitude to go 13 innings like that," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. "It was a wonderful game to watch." It was the 900th win of Hurdle's career, making him the fifth active manager to reach that milestone. He joins the Giants' Bruce Bochy, the Angels' Mike Scioscia, the Orioles' Buck Showalter and the Indians' Terry Francona in the 900-win club. The Pirates had a chance to pull ahead in the 10th, loading the bases with a pair of singles and the Phillies intentionally walked Jordy Mercer to load the bases with two outs. Corey Hart, making his first plate appearance since June 5 as a pinch-hitter, struck out to leave the bases loaded. Before that, Pittsburgh's Jeff Locke and Philadelphia's Kevin Correia squared off in an unlikely pitchers' duel. Locke allowed six hits, but no runs, in his first three innings then responded with three hitless innings after that. Correia, making his season debut, held his former club to five hits and a walk while striking out four over 5 2/3 innings.

  • After Francisco Cervelli singled and moved to second base on a sacrifice bunt, Phillies reliever Luis Garcia had to deal with a runner in scoring position and just one out. He managed well, though. Garcia walked pinch-hitter Jung Ho Kang, but forced Polanco to ground out and struck out Marte with runners on second and third to keep the game scoreless.
  • After Harrison reached on a two-out single back to the mound and a throwing error by reliever Ken Giles in the eighth inning, Pedro Alvarez was intentionally walked. Giles then walked Cervelli to load the bases, and fell behind Mercer, 3-0, but came back to strike him out and strand the bases loaded.
  • There weren't many familiar faces in the Phillies' lineup Locke faced Friday night, but the end result was the same as always. The lefty didn't factor into the decision, but he remained 4-0 and lowered his ERA to 1.10 in five career starts against Philadelphia.
  • With Mercer on first base and nobody out in the third inning, Locke dropped a sacrifice bunt that rolled just in front of home plate. Phillies catcher Cameron Rupp picked it up and tried to get the forceout at second, but Mercer beat the tag and Locke beat the throw to first. The Phillies challenged whether Mercer was out at second, and the call stood after a one-minute, 49-second review.
Right-hander Gerrit Cole, who leads the Majors with a 1.73 ERA and is tied for first with nine wins, will take the mound for Pittsburgh on Saturday. Cole has a chance to become the Majors' first 10-game winner this season. The 24-year-old has made himself into an early candidate for the National League Cy Young Award, having won each of his last four starts while posting a 0.61 ERA during that stretch. Right-hander Sean O'Sullivan looks to turn things around in his ninth start of the season against the Pirates at 4:05 ET on Saturday at PNC Park. O'Sullivan (1-4, 4.96 ERA) has surrendered 14 runs over his last three starts.


Offense Remains Silent – Philadelphia's pitchers did their part in a 13-inning game, but it still ended in a 1-0 loss to the Pirates on Friday night at PNC Park. Veteran right-hander Kevin Correia made his 2015 debut, and held the Pirates scoreless for 5 2/3 innings. From there, the bullpen threw seven shutout innings in a valiant effort. The Phillies' offense just could not get a run across, leaving 13 runners on base and going 0-for-9 with runners in scoring position. "We had opportunities," Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg said. "We had some chances, primarily early and late. They came up with the big hit." The Pirates did come through with the game's lone RBI -- a single into center field by Starling Marte off reliever Dustin McGowan. But aside from McGowan's 91-mph slider, which slipped past the outstretched gloves of the middle infielders, the Phillies' pitching staff -- Correia and the bullpen -- were as good as they needed to be. Correia said he thought he might be a bit rusty. It was his first time on a Major League mound this season, and his first start since allowing seven runs on Aug. 24, 2014, as a member of the Dodgers. But to the contrary, the journeyman right-hander was sharp, allowing five hits with four strikeouts. "He showed moving stuff. Effectively wild at times, but he made pitches," Sandberg said. "For his first outing, I think he did a really nice job." Correia, who spent the 2015 season up until this point in the Minors, felt like he got away with a couple of pitches, but was happy to be throwing in the big leagues. Of course, it came at a small price -- on two occasions, Correia, while not hurt, was hit by balls off the bat. "It was a welcome back kind of thing," Correia said. The bullpen's effort, which included appearances by McGowan, Elvis Araujo, Luis Garcia, Ken Giles, Justin De Fratus and Jeanmar Gomez, were nearly flawless. As a unit, the relievers scattered eight hits and struck out eight. But Philadelphia's bats couldn't muster a run. The Phillies especially struggled with two outs. Of the nine runners in scoring position on the evening for the Phillies, six of them were left on with two outs. Both teams were caught in the same rhythm offensively: get runners on base, move them into scoring position, and strand them. Unfortunately for the Phillies, the Pirates broke that rhythm first. "It came down to one hit that found the hole with a man on base," Sandberg said. "It took a long time to get that, and we came up on the short end of that."

Letting Out The Frustration – Ken Giles was not happy, and neither were his coaches. In a 1-0 loss to the Pirates on Friday night at PNC Park, Giles showed frustration following a mound visit, after which he intentionally walked Pedro Alvarez with two outs and a runner on second base in the bottom of the eighth inning. After an apparently reluctant intentional walk to Alvarez, Giles unintentionally walked Francisco Cervelli before fighting back from a 3-0 count to strike out Jordy Mercer. Giles stormed off the hill, made a hand gesture, and took his seat in the dugout. Manager Ryne Sandberg and pitching coach Bob McClure located Giles in the dugout, voicing their frustrations at the 24-year-old right-hander. Sandberg said there was frustration between both parties as they "talked about some game situations," and that everything was taken care of internally. The frame started well for Giles. The hard-throwing reliever was getting his fastball up to 97 mph and used it effectively to strike out Pirates star outfielder Andrew McCutchen and then force Neil Walker to ground out. Seeking a 1-2-3 inning, Giles tried to throw out Josh Harrison on a grounder that ricocheted off him, but instead sailed his throw over first base and into the stands. That woke up a sleepy crowd, and applied a bit of pressure. The subsequent walks only heightened Giles' visible annoyance on the bump, and he nearly walked in the go-ahead run before briefly settling and retiring Mercer with three consecutive high-90s fastballs. Sandberg said he has no problem with players being emotional. In fact, he welcomes it -- just not for everyone with a set of eyes to see. "There was some frustration," Sandberg said. "There's a time and a place and situations to show that."

The Phillies are starting the season as expected and are now at the bottom of the NL east at 22-40. 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 48-49-2 on this day.

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