Thursday, August 13, 2015

Phillies Salvage Win In Series Finale

GAME RECAP: Phillies Edge Diamondbacks 7-6

Cameron Rupp hit a three-run home run to power a four-run rally in the sixth inning and help the Phillies earn a 7-6 win over the D-backs on Wednesday afternoon at Chase Field. Rupp drove in a career-high four runs to back starter Aaron Nola, who won for the third time in four starts. Phillies left fielder Cody Asche hit a pair of doubles and shortstop Freddy Galvis knocked a pair of singles and drove in a run. "I can't remember what happened in that whole game," Phillies interim manager Pete Mackanin joked about the back-and-forth contest filled with big plays from both teams. D-backs starter Chase Anderson suffered his third loss in four starts, but his first since coming off the disabled list earlier this month. The right-hander allowed five runs on nine hits in five innings. Paul Goldschmidt went 3-for-4 with a single, double, triple and two RBIs before striking out with the tying run at third base in the eighth as the D-backs were unable to get over .500 for the first time since April 22. "He just didn't have very good stuff today," D-backs manager Chip Hale said of Anderson. "One of the things we really like about our starting pitching is when we score runs, they go back out and shut the door, and that just didn't happen today. That's something he's going to have to work on."

  • After Aaron Harang allowed eight runs in 5 1/3 innings Monday and David Buchanan allowed 11 runs in 1 2/3 innings Tuesday, the Phillies needed a better effort from Nola in the series finale. He did not pitch his best, but he kept the Phillies in the game. He allowed nine hits, four runs, one walk and struck out two in five innings. "They can really swing it," Nola said. "The whole stadium knew they were going to come out swinging. They have a lot of guys in that lineup that have done a lot of damage. They got to me in the first inning. I just had to let that go and keep the guys in the game. The offense got us a win."
  • Things started to get a little crazy in the eighth inning, but Phillies closer Ken Giles struck out Goldschmidt on a 3-2 slider to end the inning. Giles then pitched a scoreless ninth to pick up his seventh save in seven opportunities since the Phillies traded Jonathan Papelbon to Washington late last month. "I mean, just the intimidation, I'm not scared of anybody at all," GIles said. "I'm trying to make them feel intimidated by me that I'm on the mound. They have to go through me before they have to win this game."
  • Hale used a challenge in the bottom of the fifth inning after A.J. Pollock was called out at first base on a ground ball hit to Blanco at third base. After a review of three minutes and 35 seconds, the call was ruled to stand for the first out of the inning. Ender Inciarte moved from first to second on the play. The Phillies challenged a play in the same inning after Aaron Hill was ruled safe at second while advancing on a throw following his single. The replay official ruled Hill was out after review, overturning the original call. There was then a crew-chief review in the bottom of the eighth. With runners on second and third, Pollock hit a grounder to Phillies second baseman Cesar Hernandez, who rifled a throw home to Rupp to cut down Chris Owings with the potential tying run at the plate. The call was ruled to stand after a review of four minutes and seven seconds for the second out of the inning.
  • "I saw the barrel, man. The barrel was straight at me. That's why I thought it. That ball was up, but the next pitch was even better. I was like, 'Well, he didn't swing at that one, so try to hit this one this time.' That's what I did." -- Giles, who celebrated the end of the game prematurely, thinking he struck out Jamie Romak on a check swing that was called a ball.
  • The D-backs have not swept the Phillies since May 28-30, 2007.
  • Keep an eye on Phillies second baseman Chase Utley this weekend. The Phils are looking to trade him, and he has been tied to the Giants, Cubs, Angels and Yankees.
  • Phillies third baseman Maikel Franco did not play Wednesday after getting hit with a pitch on his left wrist Tuesday. Franco said Wednesday he is day to day, but it is unclear if he will play Friday.

The Phillies will cap a three-city, nine-game road trip with a series against the Brewers beginning on Friday at Miller Park, with Adam Morgan and Jimmy Nelson squaring off in the opener. The Phillies had been playing well since the All-Star break, posting a Major League-best 16-5 mark before dropping a rough series vs. the D-backs at Chase Field. Phils starters struggled in the series, with Aaron Harang giving up eight runs Monday and David Buchanan falling victim to an 11-run inning on Tuesday. The Phillies will hope for better pitching from Morgan (3-3, 4.06 ERA), Jerome Williams (4-8, 5.73 ERA) and Harang (5-13, 4.52 ERA) in Milwaukee. The Brewers, who swept the Phillies in a four-game series in Philadelphia in late June and early July, have tabbed Peralta, who's 2-7 with a 4.48 ERA and has just one win in his past six outings despite three quality starts. Nelson (9-9, 3.65 ERA) will pitch on Saturday and Taylor Jungmann (6-4, 2.42 ERA) will get the ball on Sunday.


Franco Day To Day – Phillies third baseman Maikel Franco had a splint on his left wrist Wednesday morning at Chase Field, but it was only a precaution. Franco got hit on his left wrist with a pitch in Tuesday night's 13-1 loss to the D-backs. He collapsed on the turf behind home plate and had to be helped off the field. Fortunately for Franco, X-rays were negative and he only suffered a bruise. He said he is day to day, adding that nobody has mentioned anything about going on the disabled list. "It's bothering me a little bit, but I'm fine," Franco said. Franco wore the splint essentially to prevent him from sleeping on it wrong or having somebody grab his wrist by mistake. "It's better than yesterday," Franco said. "Yesterday, I was in a lot of pain. But when I woke up, I moved it and it was better." Franco is hitting .277 with 22 doubles, one triple, 13 home runs, 48 RBIs and an .830 OPS in 77 games.

Phillies Fielding Interest In Utley – Keep an eye on Phillies second baseman Chase Utley. Utley cleared waivers this week, which means he can be traded to any team before the Aug. 31 waiver Trade Deadline if he gives his consent. reported Wednesday that talks between the Phillies and Giants have heated up, with the teams discussing prospects to be shipped to Philadelphia. San Francisco could use a second baseman with Joe Panik on the 15-day disabled list with lower back inflammation. The Cubs, Angels and Yankees also have expressed interest in Utley, according to sources. But Utley has 10-and-5 no-trade rights, which means he can veto any trade. Utley has softened his stance on a trade in recent months, and he might say yes to the Giants. He and his family spend the offseason in the San Francisco area, and his time with Philadelphia seems likely to be coming to an end anyway. Utley has a $15 million club option that will automatically vest if he reaches 500 plate appearances this season, but he will not hit that mark. If the option does not vest, it will be valued between $5 million and $11 million, based on days Utley spent on the disabled list -- he was sidelined for 45 days with a sprained right ankle. But the Phils are expected to make Cesar Hernandez their second baseman next season anyway, so rather than play out the string in Philadelphia, Utley could elect to make a run at the postseason with the Giants. Giants general manager Bobby Evans told on Tuesday that a deal for Utley might be difficult because "the challenge is [Utley] is an everyday player there, and there could be some difficulty because we don't have an everyday role." The price also was said to be "reasonable, but a bit high." Utley is hitting just .196 in 235 at-bats this season, but he is hitting .412 (7-for-17) with three doubles, three runs scored and three runs scored in five games since his return. The Phillies are unlikely to give him away despite his struggles. They believe Utley is better than he played in the first half of the season, and based on the interest from multiple teams, others do too.

Roster Shuffle – The Phillies optioned David Buchanan to Triple-A Lehigh Valley on Wednesday morning. The move became inevitable after Buchanan allowed 11 runs in just 1 2/3 innings on Tuesday night in a 13-1 loss to the D-backs at Chase Field. He allowed seven runs in four innings in his previous start against the Dodgers at Citizens Bank Park. Buchanan is 2-7 with a 9.00 ERA in 10 starts this season. The Phillies promoted left-hander Cesar Jimenez to take Buchanan's spot on the 25-man roster, solely to help an overworked bullpen. The Phils will need to fill Buchanan's spot in the rotation at some point, and one of the pitchers the club acquired in the Cole Hamels trade could be the choice. Lehigh Valley right-hander Jerad Eickhoff is 2-0 with a 0.64 ERA in two starts since joining the organization. Righty Alec Asher is 1-0 with a 2.77 ERA in his first two starts for the IronPigs.

Giles Embracing Role – Paul Goldschmidt is one of the best hitters on the planet and needed a home run for the cycle when he stepped into the batter's box in the bottom of the eighth inning Wednesday afternoon at Chase Field. But Phillies closer Ken Giles struck out Goldschmidt swinging on a 3-2 slider to end the inning, stranding two runners on base and preserving a 7-6 victory over the D-backs. "I mean, just the intimidation, I'm not scared of anybody at all," Giles said. "I'm trying to make them feel intimidated by me that I'm on the mound. They have to go through me before they have to win this game." Giles is 7-for-7 in save opportunities since the Phillies traded Jonathan Papelbon last month. He became a calming presence in a game that appeared to be spiraling out of control. The Phillies took a 7-4 lead in the sixth inning only to allow single runs in the seventh and eighth innings to make it a one-run game. Cameron Rupp made a nice swipe tag at the plate to prevent Chris Owings from scoring the tying run in the eighth. Giles entered at that point to face Goldschmidt. "Don't give him anything good to hit, just keep the ball down," said Giles, who said he would have rather walked Goldschmidt than give him a good pitch to hit. "And if I want to throw breaking balls, keep it low or throw it in the dirt. That was my motive. Keep him off balance, changing my timing. That's all I wanted to do. "That was a big out." Giles then threw a scoreless ninth to end the game. He thought the game ended on a 2-2 fastball to Jamie Romak because it looked like Romak did not check his swing. Giles celebrated only to learn it was a ball. "I saw the barrel, man," Giles said. "The barrel was straight at me. That's why I thought it. That ball was up, but the next pitch was even better. I was like, 'Well he didn't swing at that one, so try to hit this one this time.' That's what I did." It was the second four-out save since Giles became the closer. "I think it's huge for his confidence," Phillies interim manager Pete Mackanin said. "He wants to be the closer. He's got a lot of self-confidence. But you have to execute your pitches, and little by little he's starting to do that. He certainly made some outstanding pitches tonight. To face Goldschmidt and then strike him out in that situation was as tough of a situation as you're going to be in. He came out on top."

Rupp Impressive Behind And At The Plate – Cameron Rupp found himself in the middle of everything on Wednesday afternoon at Chase Field. Rupp hit a go-ahead three-run home run in the sixth inning, he made a lead-saving play at the plate in the eighth and helped Phillies closer Ken Giles navigate through a tough at-bat against D-backs star Paul Goldschmidt for a huge out in a 7-6 victory over Arizona. "Cameron had a real nice day," interim manager Pete Mackanin said. "It's nice to see and I'm sure he feels good about himself." Rupp is hitting .230 with six doubles, one triple, four home runs, 15 RBIs and a .635 OPS in 49 games this season. But he has hit three of those home runs and tallied eight of those RBIs in six games this month. "I'm feeling comfortable," Rupp said. "I'm getting pitches to hit that I can drive, staying within myself and trying not to do too much. I think there's more there [offensively]." Phillies catchers entered the afternoon with a .600 OPS, which ranked 23rd out of 30 teams in baseball. Carlos Ruiz is hitting .215 with 11 doubles, two home runs, 18 RBIs and a .583 OPS in 70 games. Ruiz's OPS is 37 points lower than his career-low .620 OPS in 2008. Ruiz is one of the three remaining players from the 2008 World Series championship team. He is signed through next season, while Rupp remains under team control. It would not be a surprise to see both players back next season. "I can see an improvement in Rupp over the last month or so," Mackanin said. "He's not hitting for the average but he looks a little bit more dangerous now. Especially after hitting those home runs. Chooch, to me, is a better hitter than he's shown this year. We'll see. We've got a lot of games left. We'll see how everything develops." But the Phillies have a couple of players knocking on the door. They acquired catcher Jorge Alfaro in the Cole Hamels trade with Texas. considers Alfaro the No. 68 prospect in baseball because of his power at the plate and his cannon for an arm behind it. Andrew Knapp is tearing up the Eastern League, too. After being promoted from Class A Advanced Clearwater, Knapp has hit .406 with 17 doubles, two triples, six home runs, 41 RBIs and a 1.139 OPS in 35 games with Double-A Reading. But in the meantime, the Phillies need more from Ruiz and Rupp, who made a nice swipe tag on a play at the plate in the eighth, preventing Chris Owings from scoring the tying run. "I did everything I could to keep him from being safe," Rupp said.

The Phillies season has taken an unexpected turn for the better as they have officially climbed out of the bottom of the NL East with a record of 46-69. Given the departures, aging stars, injuries, and bipolar performances this season, this could still end up being the worst team in franchise history! All time, the Phillies are 37-64-0 on this day.

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