Monday, July 13, 2015

Phillies Finish First Half With A Sweep

GAME RECAP: Giants Sweep Phillies 4-2

Andrew Susac's three-run homer fueled San Francisco's four-run outburst in Sunday's fourth inning, which led the Giants to a 4-2 triumph over the Philadelphia Phillies. The outcome completed the Giants' first three-game sweep of Philadelphia at AT&T Park since Sept. 4-6, 2000. Giants rookie Chris Heston yielded Philadelphia's first run and seven hits in 6 2/3 innings while winning his third decision in a row in a span of five starts. Heston has compiled a 2.00 ERA in this stretch. Heston is 9-5 with a 3.39 ERA overall, virtually identical to the corresponding statistics for acknowledged staff ace Madison Bumgarner (9-5, 3.33). Heston said that his "friendly rivalry" with Bumgarner "gives me a guy to chase." The Phillies generated insufficient support for starter Chad Billingsley (1-3). Philadelphia got on the board in the seventh inning as Ryan Howard's bloop single scored Maikel Franco, who made a quick, early break from first base with two outs. Howard had another RBI single in the ninth off Santiago Casilla.

  • The Phillies' Ken Giles continued to establish himself as the team's heir to closer Jonathan Papelbon. Giles threw a scoreless eighth inning, making the Giants 3-4-5 hitters look silly with three straight strikeouts. The right-handed flamethrower lowered his season ERA to 1.86.
  • The Phillies don't have much history facing Fernandez, but one player who has enjoyed success off him is Freddy Galvis, who is 3-for-6. Chase Utley, who's on the DL, is 2-for-9.
  • The Marlins and Phillies will meet for their third series this year, and second in Philadelphia. Miami holds a 4-2 advantage in the season series.
  • Dee Gordon, Miami's All-Star second baseman, is not expected to go on the disabled list. The Marlins are aiming to reinstate third baseman Martin Prado (right shoulder) from the DL, and he's a candidate to be a short-term option at second beginning Friday.
After the All-Star break, the club returns home to open a three-game series against the Miami Marlins on Friday night. Left-hander Adam Morgan makes his fourth career start as he squares off against the Marlins' Jose Fernandez. Morgan is 1-2 with a 4.32 ERA in his rookie season. The Marlins' ace, who made both of his first-half starts in Miami, will open the second half against the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park on Friday. Fernandez already has regained his old form, notching wins in each of his first two starts back from Tommy John surgery. While the hard-throwing right-hander has dominated at Marlins Park (14-0, 1.17 ERA) in his career, he has been vulnerable on the road, where he is 4-8 with a 3.93 ERA. He is 1-1 with a 4.91 ERA in his career in Philadelphia. The Phillies are starting the series off with rookie Adam Morgan, who is 1-2 with a 4.32 ERA in three starts. The lefty has 12 strikeouts in 16 2/3 innings, and this will be his second home start. He's lost back-to-back decisions on the road after opening his career with a 5 2/3-innings win over the Cardinals at Citizens Bank Park on June 21.


Crawford Makes An Impression – Shortstop J.P. Crawford, the Phillies' No. 1 prospect according to, and right-hander Aaron Nola, ranked second, were teammates Sunday in the SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game at Great American Ball Park. The U.S. Team rolled to a 10-1 victory over the World Team before an announced crowd of 43,661 fans. Crawford started and batted second for the U.S. Team. In the third inning his two-out RBI single drove in the tying run and he eventually came around to score. He also made a nice leaping catch of a line drive to rob World Team centerfielder Manuel Margot in the fifth and started a pair of double plays. Nola, who pitched Friday, did not appear in the game. The organization and its vocal fans are hoping it won't be long before the two prospects are together again in Philadelphia, playing an important role in the franchise's rebuilding. In fact, there was a groundswell of support for Nola to be promoted after he posted a 1.88 ERA in his first 12 starts at Double-A Reading this season. The team's 2014 No. 1 Draft choice (seventh overall), out of LSU, has since been promoted to Triple-A Lehigh Valley where he's 3-0, 2.43 in five starts. It would surprise no one if he makes his Major League debut before the year is over. Crawford, 20, is also on a fast track after being selected out of Lakewood (Calif.) High School with the 16th overall pick in 2013. The Phillies philosophy in recent years has been to go for high school players with high ceilings in the first round. In Nola, they opted for a pitcher who was considered as close to big league ready as any pitcher available last year. He's aware of the speculation that he could be on the verge of being called up. "I try to block that stuff out as best as I can and just focus on my next start," he said. "Wherever they have me I'm going to pitch to the best of my ability. Go out and focus on every start. Right now I'm at Lehigh Valley. There are things every ballplayer has to work on to improve their abilities." Nola and Crawford played together for the Class A Advanced Clearwater Threshers in 2014 and crossed paths at Reading this season after the shortstop was promoted from Clearwater and before Nola was moved up to the IronPigs. This was Crawford's second straight Futures Game appearance and he's pleased with the progress he's made since last season. "I think I've gotten better at everything. I'm stronger. Better defensively and offensively. I think I'm getting better at everything every day," he said. Crawford is impressed with the rotation that started the season at Reading. Not just Nola but Zach Eflin, Tom Windle and Jesse Biddle. "This year was the first time I've seen some of them pitch and they're really good. I love playing behind them and I think we have a lot of the pieces in the organization right now to impact our future," he said.

Time To Evaluate – The Phillies' 4-2 loss to the Giants marks the unofficial end to a forgettable first half of the season for the team with Major League Baseball's worst record. Philadelphia fell to 29-62 with Sunday's defeat at AT&T Park, the most losses in franchise history before the All-Star break. For interim manager Pete Mackanin and his struggling ballclub, the four-day hiatus could not come at a better time. "For us as a team, it's time to regroup and get away for a few days," Chad Billingsley said. Mackanin agreed the team desperately needs the time off to regroup and come back ready to grind out the second half of the year. "Without a doubt it's a great time," Mackanin said Saturday. "Everybody could use a break, regroup. Everybody will start the second half well-rested and hopefully we'll get it together." The Phillies figure to use the second half to evaluate the young talent they have on their roster. Mackanin said to expect his less-experienced players to get time to prove themselves in the latter part of the season. "The younger guys are going to get more chances to play," Mackanin said. "Everybody's got the potential, everybody's got the ability." Despite the team's overall struggles, young players like Maikel Franco, Cesar Hernandez and Ken Giles give the Phillies hope for the future. Franco was named National League Rookie of the Month in June, leading all NL players with 38 hits to go along with his eight home runs and 24 RBIs. Hernandez, 22, has seemingly secured a job as the team's starting second baseman after hitting .280 with 12 stolen bases. Giles looks like the Phillies' closer of the future, and on Sunday, he whiffed the Giants 3-4-5 hitters in the eighth inning. The 24-year-old right-hander owns a 1.51 ERA in his first season and a half in the big leagues with 110 strikeouts in 83 1/3 career innings. "I have to concentrate on those positives and let the guys know that we're headed in the right direction, though our wins and losses don't show it," Mackanin said. While any hope of the Phillies having a successful season evaporated before the break, the team still has something to play for in the second portion of the season. "Our guys are auditioning," Mackanin said Saturday. "We're finding out about them. Little by little, you piece things together and you decide what you need and if they can handle the situation."

The Phillies are starting the season as expected and are now at the bottom of the NL east at 29-62. 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 40-43-0 on this day.

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