Friday, July 3, 2015

Phillies Falter In Late Innings To Seal Sweep

GAME RECAP: Brewers Edge Phillies 8-7

The Brewers had already waited since last August to celebrate a sweep. A pair of extra innings on Thursday night were worth the effort. Adam Lind's 11th-inning single sent the Brewers to an 8-7 win over the Phillies and sealed Milwaukee's four-game sweep at Citizens Bank Park in a series that featured the NL's bottom two teams, and in the Phillies, the league's worst pitching team. The Brewers scored 28 runs in Philadelphia and have averaged 6.6 runs per game during a five-game winning streak, part of a larger stretch of eight wins in 10 games. "It's been a fun last week, scoring a bunch of runs," Lind said. The Phillies scored three runs in the seventh inning against Brewers relievers Jonathan Broxton and Will Smith to forge a 7-7 tie that lasted until the 11th, when Brewers catcher Jonathan Lucroy sparked the winning rally with a double. It led to the first Brewers sweep of an opponent since last Aug. 15-17 at Dodger Stadium, when Milwaukee pushed three games ahead of the rest of the NL Central before a slide that continued into 2015.

  • The Phillies entered the bottom of the seventh trailing by three runs, but on the back of three hits and a walk, the inning ended with the score all knotted up. The biggest hit of the inning came off the bat of Freddy Galvis, who slumped all of June, going 17-for-85. Galvis singled Domonic Brown home, tying the game and notching his third single of the night. Thursday was only Galvis' second three-hit game since May 15 after he did so seven times in the month prior. "The last few nights a lot of good hitting," interim manager Pete Mackanin said. "Threes were wild tonight. Asche, Freddy, Cesar and Herrera. They swung the bats well. Guys fought. It was a fun game until the end. To come back like that, it was nice to see."
  • With the Phillies' fleet-footed Odubel Herrera standing on first base with no outs in the top of the eighth inning, red-hot second baseman Cesar Hernandez walked up to the plate. He opted for the sacrifice bunt to try to move Herrera over to second, putting the winning run in scoring position. The bunt failed however, as Hernandez struck out on a foul-tipped third strike. A flyout and a strikeout later, Herrera still stood on first. "He's got to get a bunt down," Mackanin said. "We're trying to win the game. That's another decision. I want the guy in scoring position. The guy's a table-setter. He doesn't hit for power. He's got to get the bunt down."
  • Over the Phillies' seven-game home stand, Hernandez batted 14-for-30 and scored seven runs. Of Hernandez's 14 hits, 12 were singles and only two drove in runs. He also stole six bases over that span.
The Phillies head to Atlanta for the start of a three-game series that begins a 10-game road trip leading into the All-Star break. Adam Morgan will start Friday for the Phillies, making his first career start road start and first in-division start. The game is scheduled to start at 7:35 p.m. ET.


Carrying The Load – The Phillies bullpen carried the team in Thursday night's 8-7 11-inning loss to the Brewers, putting the Phillies in position to steal one win out of this four-game series. But being in position to win and winning are not one in the same. After starting pitcher Chad Billingsley allowed seven runs, six earned, in five innings, the Phillies bullpen tossed five shutout innings of relief. The trio of Justin De Fratus, Ken Giles and Jonathan Papelbon allowed four hits and walked one while striking out five and only allowed one runner to advance further than first base. By continuing this shutout trend into the 10th, Papelbon recorded six outs in a game for the first time since July 21, 2012. Eventually the bullpen surrendered the winning run when an 11th-inning double by Jonathan Lucroy followed two batters later by an Adam Lind RBI single stuck relief pitcher Luis Garcia and the Phillies with the loss. But despite this, Phillies interim manager Pete Mackanin said he was pleased by his bullpen's performance. "Bullpen was fantastic," Mackanin said. "De Fratus looked real good. Papelbon obviously looked real good. It was disappointing to lose, but there were a lot of positives to come out of that." The positives of which Mackanin spoke were limited not only to the bullpen, but also to the offensive output. The Phillies' offense scored seven runs on 16 hits, coming just two hits shy of a season high. Four different Phillies -- Odubel Herrera, Cesar Hernandez, Cody Asche and Freddy Galvis -- finished the night with three hits apiece and that quartet combined to drive in five of the seven runs. But, as has been the problem many times for the Phillies this year, one phase was lacking. As strong as the bullpen was and as well as the team hit, the starting pitching wasn't there. As a result of this lack of cohesion through 81 games, the season's halfway point, the Phillies have won 33.3 percent of their games (27-54), their worst start since 1997. To Galvis, the fix is simple. This team needs to get on the same page. "We have to put everything together," the shortstop said. "Sometimes it's the hitting, sometimes it's the pitching. But to be a winning team I think we have to put everything together."

Young Hitters Lift Offense – The Phillies lost unceremoniously. In an 8-7 defeat to the Brewers that lasted 11 innings, the Phillies sent six batters to the plate in extra innings. The results? Flyout. Strikeout. Popout. Groundout. Groundout. Groundout. But to characterize the entire loss based on the lack of extra-inning offensive output is a fallacy. The Phillies notched 16 hits on Thursday night and clawed back from a three-run deficit in the seventh inning to even force extras. Odubel Herrera, Cody Asche, Freddy Galvis and Cesar Hernandez, four young players often mentioned in the discussions of the future of the franchise, contributed 12 of those 16 hits, each contributing three. Asche put the team on the board early with a two-run home run, his fourth of the year, and Galvis supplied the game-tying hit when his third single came in the seventh. However, in the eighth and ninth innings things didn't run as smoothly. The Phillies stranded three men, all of whom could've served as the go-ahead run. Herrera began the eighth inning with a leadoff single, continuing the hit parade from the seventh. He wasn't able to advance beyond first though, as two of the next three batters struck out and one flied out to left field. The first strikeout came courtesy of Hernandez, who fouled off a third strike when trying to bunt. The decision to bunt was questionable being that Hernandez had 14 hits over the seven-game home stand and has more hits than any other National League player dating back to June 21, but Phillies interim manager Pete Mackanin defended the decision, saying the outcome hinged upon execution. "He's got to get a bunt down," Mackanin said. "We're trying to win the game. I want the guy in scoring position. The guy's a table setter. He doesn't hit for power. He's got to get the bunt down. And that's why I did it." The ninth inning ended similarly. Asche reached with a single and Galvis worked a walk, but Cameron Rupp and Jeff Francoeur both hit the ball straight to second baseman Scooter Gennett to end the inning. Despite this, the Phillies youth shined Thursday night, especially Galvis and Hernandez. The middle infielders combined for those six hits as well as turned three double plays and would've executed a fourth had it not been for Carlos Gomez's speed. Hernandez, who has only been a true everyday player since June 24 when Chase Utley went on the DL, and Galvis showed off their chemistry on those double plays. To Galvis, playing with Hernandez as his turn man as opposed to Utley isn't much of a transition. "I think it's the same," Galvis said. "I've been playing with Cesar back too. I feel good about playing with Cesar and Chase. I think it's the same. I think that Chase, he's got more experience. Cesar is learning but he's doing really good."

Great Rotation (on the DL) – The Phillies moved pitcher Aaron Harang to the disabled list on Thursday afternoon with plantar fasciitis in his left foot. The move, which came as a counter move to Chad Billingsley being activated from the disabled list to start Thursday, came a day after Harang became the first Phillie to lose eight consecutive starts since 1972. Phillies interim manager Pete Mackanin said the injury has been hampering Harang in his last three starts, but the right-hander opted to play through it, thinking it was just an everyday ache. "I think it's been iffy all along and it has been bothering him," Mackanin said. "But he's a veteran and he knows that you are going to have aches, pains and things. You're not going to feel 100 percent all the time. So he's a gamer. He doesn't want to say he couldn't do it." Harang's left foot is his plant foot, meaning every time he lands after making a move to the plate, his entire body weight shifts onto his left foot. Plantar fasciitis is effectively a strain of the ligaments that support the arches of a foot, so landing on those ligaments around 100 times a game not counting warm up pitches made it increasingly difficult for an injury of a nagging nature such as this to heal. Mackanin said he believes this contributed to Harang's decreased pitch accuracy, but once all is resolved fans will once again "see who he was, like he was early in the season." With Billingsley coming off the DL, being able to send Harang down saved Mackanin and the Phillies from having to send a pitcher down to Triple-A or designating one for assignment. The move does throw a wrench into the flow of the Phillies' rotation however. As it is announced, Adam Morgan will take the hill Friday, followed by Kevin Correia on Saturday and Cole Hamels on Sunday. Sean O'Sullivan will take over Harang's spot in the rotation on Monday.

Deal Done – The Phillies are finalizing a signing bonus with teenage outfielder Jhailyn Ortiz of the Dominican Republic for an estimated $4.5 million, according to industry sources. The belief among scouts is that the raw power that Ortiz -- ranked No. 6 on's Top 30 International Prospects list -- shows as a 16-year-old is rarely seen on the international market, and the rest of his game is not far behind. The Phillies are also coming to terms with teenage catcher Rafael Marchan of Venezuela for a sum near $200,000, according to industry sources. The club did not confirm the agreements. In accordance with the Collective Bargaining Agreement, each team is allotted a $700,000 base and a bonus pool with four slot values based on the team's record in 2014 for the international signing period, which started on Thursday. Philadelphia's overall pool total for this year's signing period is $3,041,700. Teams that exceed the pools by 0-5 percent have to pay a 100 percent tax. Teams that exceed the pools by 5-10 percent are not allowed to sign a player for more than $500,000 during the next signing period, and they have to pay a 100 percent tax on the pool overage. Teams that exceed the pools by 10-15 percent are not allowed to sign a player for more than $300,000 during the next signing period, and they have to pay a 100 percent tax on the pool overage. In the most severe penalty, teams that exceed the pool by 15 percent or more are not allowed to sign a player for more than $300,000 during the next two signing periods, and they must pay a 100 percent tax on the pool overage. Some scouts have expressed concerns about Ortiz's overall athleticism and wonder if his large frame will eventually force him to switch positions from the outfield (he currently plays left field) to first base. Others believe he has the tools to stay in the outfield and will only get better defensively and as an overall hitter once he signs and is placed into a team's academy. One thing is certain: Ortiz has the most raw power in the entire class and has shown an ability to hit in games.

The Phillies are starting the season as expected and are now at the bottom of the NL east at 27-54. Given the departures, aging stars, injuries, and performance so far this season, this could end up being the worst team in franchise history! All time, the Phillies are 49-52-0 on this day.

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