Friday, August 21, 2015

Phillies Rally But Can’t Get Past Marlins

GAME RECAP: Marlins Beat Phillies 9-7

The Marlins struck early with a pair of two-run homers from Martin Prado and Marcell Ozuna, and then held on late to beat the Phillies, 9-7, on Thursday at Marlins Park. Miami's Brad Hand was in trouble in the first inning, loading the bases with one out. But he allowed just a sacrifice fly to Darin Ruf, and minimized the damage. The lefty, who threw 97 pitches, allowed one run on four hits in six innings. Hand had plenty of support as Miami sent nine to the plate and scored four runs in each of the first two innings. "I'm glad we had what we had the first two innings," Marlins manager Dan Jennings said. "That was great to see. I thought Brad did a great job, gave us six innings, which was huge, something we definitely needed. He did a nice job to limit the damage there in the first inning." Phillies starter Jerome Williams, who had given up three earned runs in 18 innings (1.50) in his previous three August starts, was unable to make it through two innings. The right-hander was tagged for eight runs on eight hits with four walks in 1 2/3 innings. After throwing 38 pitches in the first inning, he was lifted after 68 pitches, and his team trailing by seven. In the seventh inning, the Phillies chipped back with three runs off right-hander Scott McGough, who gave up five hits in his MLB debut. Odubel Herrera had a two-out RBI double in the inning. And in the eighth inning, Freddy Galvis had a run-scoring triple in a two-run frame. Cody Asche homered off A.J. Ramos in the ninth. but Ramos settled down to pick up his 21st save of the season. "We got caught in a hole and tried to dig our way out," Phillies interim manager Pete Mackanin said. "We fell silent for about five innings and then we started digging. It was a [heck] of a comeback. We had a good chance to win that game."

  • Williams wasn't sharp from the beginning, allowing two singles and a walk to load the bases with no outs in the first inning. It didn't get any better from there, as the righty allowed four first-inning runs and two homers in the second inning before being pulled after just 1 2/3 innings as his ERA ballooned to 6.10. "Everything snowballed and I wasn't throwing the ball where I wanted to," Williams said. "Command was the main problem. I couldn't throw any pitches where I wanted to and you're not going to survive like that."
  • A day after Darnell Sweeney was acquired from the Dodgers for Chase Utley, he made his Phillies and Major League debut. The 24-year-old, who arrived just a couple of hours before first pitch, pinch-hit in the pitcher's slot in fifth inning and popped out to second on the second pitch of the at-bat. Sweeney is the Phillies No. 11 prospect according to
  • "The 'pen picked up the slack and guys were swinging the bats later on in the game. So it [stinks] to go out there and have the performance I had when guys are busting their butt out there and trying to comeback. I feel terrible about it." -- Williams.
  • Lefty reliever Cesar Jimenez was designated for assignment after the game to make room for Friday's starter, Jerad Eickhoff. Jimenez, 30, tossed 2 scoreless innings with three strikeouts in the loss.

Marlins Park will be the site for two Major League starting pitching debuts on Friday in the second game of the four-game set between Miami and Philadelphia. Phillies starter Jerad Eickhoff -- acquired from Texas in the Cole Hamels trade -- is getting his first taste of the big leagues, while Miami rookie Kendry Flores makes his first career start after making six relief appearances this season. Since joining the Philadelphia organization on July 31, Eickhoff -- the Phillies No. 15 prospect -- went 2-1 with a 2.49 ERA in three starts for Triple-A Lehigh Valley. The 25-year-old righty was also 9-4 with a 4.25 ERA for Texas' Triple-A Round Rock. "I think it's a tremendous honor," Eickhoff said of being traded for Hamels. "He's been such a great player and he's done so much in this game already. Those are tough shoes to fill, and I'm not trying to fill them by any means. But if I can help in any way, that's what I'm here to do."


Leaving A Lasting Legacy – A member of the Phillies since 2013, left fielder Cody Asche admitted that, early on, he used to have his groggy days. "I'd get to the field in plenty of time to do everything, but I didn't really feel like doing it," he said prior to Thursday's contest against Miami. "And then I take a walk around and there's Chase [Utley] -- he's already worked out and done this, this and this. He's already studying the pitchers. [Shoot], I guess I better do something, too, you know? "So [Utley} taught me a lot about the preparation aspect of it and his game speaks for itself." After 13 years, Philadelphia traded its longtime second baseman Utley to the Dodgers on Wednesday night. However, the intense six-time All-Star certainly left his mark on a Phillies roster that is currently being rebuilt with young players. "I think most of us, you come up being preached, 'This is how you go about being successful in the game' and 'This is what you're supposed to do'…and then when you see it live and in person -- that's who Chase was," Asche said. "It was a natural fit, I think, for us to just watch what he did and how he did everything." With the departure of the 36-year-old Utley, only two players -- Ryan Howard and Carlos Ruiz -- remain from the Phillies' 2008 World Series championship team. More than half of the current 25-man roster consists of players no older than 28 years old. Interim manager Pete Mackanin believes those young guys learned plenty from one of the franchise's greatest players. "I think a lot of guys have a certain approach and some are more intense than others," Mackanin said. "I think watching a guy like Utley that has had so much success over the years -- and who has so much intensity in preparation and focus during the game -- I think the players have to notice that."

“Replacing” Utley – Not that Phillies interim manager Pete Mackanin is glad Chase Utley is gone, but with the longtime second baseman's departure on Wednesday, it clears things up at second and third base for Philadelphia going forward. Prior to Thursday's 9-7 loss at Marlins Park, Mackanin named Cesar Hernandez as the second baseman and Andres Blanco as the third baseman moving forward. Both responded by going 2-for-5, including notching back-to-back singles in the Phillies three-run seventh inning that sparked their comeback attempt that fell just short. Hernandez moves to second base fulltime in place of Utley for the remainder of the season. Meanwhile, although Darnell Sweeney -- who was acquired in the Utley deal -- will get looks at third base, Blanco will mainly handle the hot corner for the rest of 2015 with Maikel Franco on the disabled list. "As far as where we stand right [now, Blanco's] the guy that's gonna get the most playing time over at third base," Mackanin said. "And Cesar's priority is at second. I don't want to keep moving him around." Hernandez, batting .281 in 105 games, filled in at second base for the injured Utley earlier in the season and has played 66 games at the position so far. When Utley returned, prior to being traded, the 25-year-old recently started three games at third base, four at second and one at shortstop. "He's made a few errors in the last few games," Mackanin said. "He looked so good at second base over that time he started playing, I don't want to screw him up." While Blanco has been the Phillies utility man, most of his appearances have come at third base (15). Batting .297 in 118 at-bats, the 31-year-old has also played one game at first base, 10 at second base and five at shortstop. Even though Mackanin is handing Blanco the reigns to third for now, he's doing so with caution. "I don't want to overexpose Blanco," Mackanin said. "He's been so good -- some guys are really good part-time players -- and sometimes if you overexpose them, they're not at their best. Blanco is an outstanding utility player." In turn, the newly acquired Sweeney may get opportunities at third. The 24-year-old made his Major League debut in Thursday's loss, popping out to second in a fifth-inning pinch-hit appearance. Mackanin said Sweeney will work out at various positions prior to Friday's game, adding "I don't have any real priority to play him right away." While he hit .271 in 116 games for the Dodgers' Triple-A team in Oklahoma City this season, he mainly played second base (45 appearances). However, he also played 43 games in center field and 19 in left field -- with just four appearances coming at third base. "We're gonna work him out at third base and second base [Friday]," Mackanin said. "We're coming out early and we're gonna get a look at him and see what his actions look like. He didn't play much at third, but if he looks OK, I can sneak him in there and see how he reacts during a game."

The Phillies have returned to their lackluster ways and regained their grip on last place in the NL East with a record of 47-74. Given the departures, aging stars, injuries, and bipolar performances this season, this could still end up being the worst team in franchise history… at least that is something to hope for this year! All time, the Phillies are 55-53-0 on this day.

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