Sunday, August 16, 2015

Utley Stays Hot But Phillies Remain Cold

GAME RECAP: Brewers Edge Phillies 4-2

Jean Segura's go-ahead RBI single in the seventh helped lift the Brewers to a 4-2 win over the Phillies on Saturday night at Miller Park. The victory gave Milwaukee its sixth win in as many games against Philadelphia this season. Segura and his double-play partner, Scooter Gennett, provided the rest of Milwaukee's offense off Jerome Williams in the fifth, as Gennett hit an RBI single and Segura scored on a single by Elian Herrera after some aggressive baserunning. Gennett added on in the eighth with another RBI single, giving him a career-high four hits. Brewers starter Jimmy Nelson worked a strong 6 2/3 innings on his way to a no-decision. The right-hander allowed two runs on five hits and a struck out six. Nelson is 6-1 with a 2.31 ERA over his last 10 starts. "It was a little more of a grind today," Nelson said, "but you're going to go through those games. In reality, you're not going to be locked in every game. You have to compete with what you've got that day." Williams retired 12 of the first 13 batters he faced before the fifth inning, while trade target Chase Utley continued his recent tear at the plate for the Phillies with two hits, including a solo home run off Nelson.

  • With trade rumors swirling, Utley is showing potential suitors he can contribute when healthy. The veteran second baseman homered off Nelson in the third inning, and led off the fifth inning with a double down the right-field line. Utley went 2-for-4 with a walk on Saturday and is hitting .500 (13-for-26) with six extra-base hits and five RBIs since being activated from the disabled list on Aug. 7. "He's swinging the bat as well as I've seen him," Phillies interim manager Pete Mackanin said. "He's playing like he's rejuvenated. It is nice to see."
  • The Phillies had two runners on with one out against Brewers right-hander Jeremy Jeffress in a 3-2 game in the eighth inning but couldn't score. Ryan Howard led off the inning with a single and moved to second on a groundout. Asche reached on a one-out infield single, but Jeffress recovered to strike out Freddy Galvis and Carlos Ruiz to escape the jam. Philadelphia went 2-for-10 with runners in scoring position Saturday and is 3-for-23 with runners in scoring position over the first two games of the series. "We've been crying about not getting length from the starters," Mackanin said. "We've gotten enough length from [starting pitchers in the series]. We're just not getting big hits to drive in the runs. We had a chance to win the game, but we just couldn't drive in runs. We left nine runners on base."
  • Mackanin successfully challenged a pickoff play at second base in the top of the seventh inning. With two outs and two on in a 2-2 game, Brewers left-hander Will Smith appeared to have Utley picked off second base. Utley, who didn't slide, appeared with his foot to knock the ball loose and out of Segura's glove after the tag had been applied. "We just figured we might as well challenge it," Mackanin said. "It looked kind of funny. I didn't quite understand what happened there, because I couldn't see the ball fluttering around in his glove. I said, 'You know what, I'm going to challenge?' He just never had control of the ball." Second-base umpire Fieldin Culbreth called Utley out on the play. The call was overturned after a review. Brewers manager Craig Counsell came out after the ruling was announced and was ejected by Culbreth after a discussion. The Phillies couldn't take advantage of the play, however, as Smith struck Herrera out looking to end the inning. "I questioned whether he called him out because he kicked the ball out of the glove, and did he hold the ball long enough?" Counsell said of the play. "They said he didn't have possession, which I didn't agree with."
  • Phillies third baseman Maikel Franco is expected to miss a fourth straight game Sunday with a bruised left wrist injured when he was hit by a pitch Tuesday in Arizona. While the rookie is making progress, interim manager Pete Mackanin said he will likely hold Franco out until Tuesday, when the Phillies return home to face the Blue Jays.
  • After recording 10 quality starts over his first 11 outings of the season, Harang hasn't recorded a quality start in a nine-start stretch dating back to June 4. The 37-year-old has bees unable to finish the sixth inning in each of his last four outings.

The Brewers will look to continue their success against Aaron Harang when the veteran right-hander starts for the Phillies opposite Taylor Jungmann in the series finale Sunday at Miller Park. Harang will be looking to get on track after posting a 7.63 ERA in his previous three starts, including allowing eight earned runs in 5 1/3 innings against the D-backs his last time out. The Brewers tagged Harang for eight earned runs in five innings in a 9-5 victory over the Phillies on July 1. Jungmann is coming off the shortest start of his rookie season, as he lasted just 2 2/3 innings in a loss to the Chicago Cubs. The 25-year-old limited the Phillies to two earned runs over six innings on June 30.


Tuesday Return – Philadelphia Phillies third baseman Maikel Franco no longer has a wrap covering his bruised left wrist, but it will likely be at least a couple of more days before he returns to the lineup. Phillies interim manager Pete Mackanin expects Franco to sit out the remainder of the weekend series against the Milwaukee Brewers before possibly returning to the lineup Tuesday. The Phillies have an off-day Monday before opening up a two-game set with the Toronto Blue Jays at Citizens Bank Park on Tuesday. "More likely Tuesday [than Sunday]," Mackanin said. "There's no need to push him, although I'd like to have him in the lineup. I'm pretty sure he'll be ready by Tuesday." Franco hasn't played since being hit in the left wrist by a fastball from D-backs right-hander Jeremy Hellickson in the first inning Tuesday in Arizona. Without the restriction of a wrap around his left wrist, Franco went through a workout Saturday and planned to take batting practice in the cage at Miller Park. Even if all goes well Saturday, the Phillies will take a cautious approach with Franco. "I did my program in the training room with [head athletic trainer Scott Sheridan], and I feel much better," Franco said. "I will try to go to the cage and see how I feel when I swing." Cesar Hernandez has shifted over to third base to fill in for Franco, which has allowed Mackanin to keep the red-hot bat of Chase Utley in the lineup at second base.

He Found The Fire – Chase Utley is making it awfully hard for contending teams to not be interested in his services for the remainder of the season. As the ball remains in his court as to whether he accepts a trade out of Philadelphia, Utley continued his torrid stretch at the plate by going 2-for-4 with a double, home run and an RBI in a 4-2 Phillies loss to the Milwaukee Brewers at Miller Park on Saturday night. "He looks good," Phillies interim manager Pete Mackanin said. "He's swinging the bat as well as I've seen him. He's playing like he's rejuvenated. It is nice to see." Utley is not speaking with the media in order to avoid talking about trade possibilities. The veteran second baseman led off the third inning Saturday with a solo home run to right field off Brewers right-hander Jimmy Nelson. It was Utley's first home run since June 2, a span of 81 at-bats. In his next at-bat, Utley roped a 1-1 offering from Nelson into the right-field corner to start the fifth inning with a double. Since returning from the disabled list on Aug. 7 after missing 37 games due to right ankle inflammation, Utley is hitting .500 (13-for-26) with five doubles, a home run and five RBIs. "To be honest with you, I think part of the reason that 'Ut' is energized is because of the young guys," Mackanin said. "When he came into this thing, he saw these young guys playing their [butts] off. I think it rubbed off on him more than the other way." As a player with 10-and-5 no-trade rights (10 years in the Majors and five straight with the same club), Utley has the right to reject a trade to any team. The Angels, Cubs, Giants, Astros, Dodgers and Yankees all reportedly have shown interest in adding the 36-year-old to the mix as they pursue a berth in the postseason. To Mackanin, there's value in having a veteran presence like Utley around as the Phillies try to build momentum toward the future over the final 45 games of the season. But the interim manager also faces the dilemma of trying to involve all his young players while finding playing time for Utley, who almost certainly won't be in Philadelphia next season. "Yes and no," Mackanin said when asked if there's value to having Utley around for the rest of this season. "I mean, yeah, we like 'Ut'. It is an issue for me, because I have to try to play everybody, and the guys that deserve to play, like Hernandez and so forth, I want them to play. But I want Utley to play, too. It is not an easy task for me, but we'll do what we can." However, as a former scout, Mackanin knows how he would recommend Utley. "I'd say I have high interest in him for whatever my purposes may be," Mackanin said. "Since he started playing [again], he doesn't look like he's 36 years old. He looks pretty frisky."

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 46-71. 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 46-60-1 on this day.

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