Monday, August 31, 2015

Solid Start Not Good Enough For First Win

GAME RECAP: Padres Beat Phillies 9-4

The Padres avoided a season sweep to the Phillies on Sunday, thanks to a little star power. Matt Kemp and Justin Upton homered while James Shields allowed just one run in seven innings in a 9-4 victory at Citizens Bank Park. It was the Padres' only victory in six games this season against the Phillies. "I'm not worried about who we play, I'm worried about how we play," Padres interim manager Pat Murphy said. "We didn't play well in Washington but we squeaked out with a win. We didn't play well here, but we played better today. What I learned is that these guys still have a little fight in them. They are excited about playing [the Dodgers in the next series]. I know they are." Phillies right-hander Alec Asher made his big league debut. Asher, whom the Phillies acquired from Texas in the Cole Hamels trade, allowed a two-run homer to Kemp in the first inning to make it 2-0 and a solo homer to Upton in the third to make it 3-0. Asher then allowed a two-out single to Shields in the sixth, which scored the Padres' fourth run. "I liked him," Phillies interim manager Pete Mackanin said about Asher. "I liked his stuff. I liked his approach. He got behind too often, he left the ball up in the zone a little too often. It's understandable when a guy is in his first Major League appearance in front of his home [fans]."

  • Phillies second baseman Cesar Hernandez entered the game hitting .133 (8-for-60) in his last 17 games, but he went 2-for-4 with one triple and one RBI. Mackanin hopes it is a sign. Mackanin thought about keeping on Hernandez on the bench to clear his head, but he decided against it. "I just decided to make him battle out of it," Mackanin said. "That's what we need to see. If he's going to be the everyday second baseman, we want him to play 160 games."
  • The Phillies could not get anything going offensively against Shields, except for Cameron Rupp's solo home run to right field in the second. It was Rupp's fourth home run in his last six games, and his seventh homer in August. He is the first Phillies' catcher to hit seven or more homers in a month since Mike Lieberthal hit eight in Aug. 2002. He is the first Phillies rookie catcher to have seven or more homers in a month since Butch Henline had seven in Sept. 1922. "Comfortable, seeing the ball, timing is there," Rupp said. "I'm getting a lot of playing time, and I think that just makes a huge difference, when you're getting everyday at-bats and you're seeing guys [for a second time]. I think that's been huge."
  • Phillies center fielder Odubel Herrera went 4-for-4. It was the first four-hit game of his career. He has hit safely in 26 of his last 31 games. He is hitting .344 (42-for-122) in that stretch.
  • The Phillies claimed left-handed reliever Ken Roberts off waivers from the Rockies. He could join the Phillies on Tuesday when rosters expand. The Phillies' only left-hander in the bullpen right now is Adam Loewen.
  • The Mets scored 40 runs during their four-game sweep of the Phillies last week. Tensions rose Tuesday when the Phillies bench didn't take kindly to Hansel Robles' quick pitch to Darin Ruf. New York is 12-1 this season against Philadelphia.
  • New York expects to have newly acquired reliever Addison Reed activated for Monday's game. The Mets sent two minor league pitchers to Arizona to acquire Reed over the weekend. Reed owns a 4.20 ERA in 40 2/3 innings this season, and will receive high leverage chances in middle relief.

When Jerad Eickhoff made his Major League debut earlier in the month, everything was new. Suddenly, somehow, it's all already much of the same. Eickhoff and Bartolo Colon will square off for the second time in six days on Monday when the Mets and Phillies open a three-game series at Citi Field. Two of Eickhoff's three career starts have now come against Colon, who is making the 462nd start of his 18-year career. The rookie allowed four runs (three earned) over six innings to New York on Wednesday, after shutting out the Marlins over six in his MLB debut. Colon, meanwhile, is fresh off an emergency bullpen appearance on Saturday, his first in more than four years. The veteran is 2-1 with a 3.51 ERA in August.


Enjoying The Moment – At the very least, Phillies rookie Alec Asher had a memorable afternoon at Citizens Bank Park. Asher is one of five prospects the Phillies acquired from Texas in the Cole Hamels trade in July. He became the second of those prospects to make his big league debut, when he started Sunday's 9-4 loss to the Padres. Asher allowed eight hits, four runs, one walk, two home runs and struck out three in 5 2/3 innings. "I liked him," Phillies interim manager Pete Mackanin said. "I liked his stuff. I liked his approach. He got behind too often, he left the ball up in the zone a little too often. It's understandable when a guy is in his first Major League appearance in front of his home [fans]." Asher acknowledged he had some nerves early in the game, but he became more comfortable the more he pitched and he left feeling like he can succeed at this level. "I thought I was all right," he said. "I made a couple of bad pitches that I paid for. But I mean, I wouldn't take back the experience. It was great. You obviously want to win. But you take the experience and learn from it." Padres right fielder Matt Kemp hit a 1-0 fastball to left field for a two-run home run in the first inning to hand the Padres a 2-0 lead. Padres left fielder Justin Upton then ripped a 2-0 fastball to left field for a solo homer to make it 3-1. Asher allowed a two-out single to James Shields in the sixth to make it 4-1. Mackanin said he liked how Asher kept his composure after the homer to Kemp in the first. Asher kept calm. He kept pitching. And he almost escaped with a quality start, if not for the hit to Shields. "You don't really expect a guy making his first appearance at the Major League level to be that poised and have that kind of a mound presence," Mackanin said. "We're fortunate that we've got [Aaron] Nola who did, [Jerad] Eickhoff who did it and actually so did Asher today. He really came back after struggling in the first inning." Asher joked Saturday that he might be more nervous to hit than pitch. He had not hit since he signed with the Rangers following the 2012 Draft, when he was a fourth-round selection. Deep down, maybe Asher felt a little more comfortable when he realized his father Bob Asher introduced his first at-bat over the PA system. Bob is the PA announcer for the Class A Advanced Lakeland Flying Tigers. It was a nice touch on a milestone day. "I didn't realize it until after it happened," Asher said. "I got in the box, looked up and saw his face on the big screen. But it made sense afterward."

Adding Bullpen Depth – The Phillies acquired some bullpen depth Sunday when they claimed left-hander Ken Roberts off waivers from the Rockies. Roberts has been optioned to Triple-A Lehigh Valley, but he could join the Phillies on Tuesday when rosters expand. The Phillies are thin on left-handed relievers. They traded Jake Diekman to Texas in July. They designated Cesar Jimenez for assignment recently, and the Brewers claimed him off waivers. Then last week Elvis Araujo strained his left groin and landed on the disabled list. Roberts, 27, pitched the last six seasons (2010-15) primarily in the Rockies' Minor League system, going 22-10 with a 2.61 ERA in 216 appearances (two starts). He went 1-3 record with a 5.12 ERA this season for Triple-A Albuquerque, but appeared in only 23 games after spending time on the DL for left elbow inflammation. He posted a 5.79 ERA in nine appearances this year with the Rockies. The Rockies designated him for assignment Friday.

The Phillies have returned to their lackluster ways and regained their grip on last place in the NL East with a record of 52-79. 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 48-61-0 on this day.

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