Monday, August 10, 2015

Williams and Phillies Complete Sweep Of Padres

GAME RECAP: Phillies Sweep Padres 5-3

With a strong start from Jerome Williams, who completed seven innings for the first time this season, the Phillies beat the Padres, 5-3, on Sunday afternoon at Petco Park. The Phillies have swept three series since the All-Star break and have four sweeps on the season. Philadelphia owns the best record in the Majors (16-5) in the second half. "Well, we're playing better baseball," Chase Utley said. "I can't necessarily put my finger on it, but were definitely playing better baseball." Odubel Herrera blasted 425-foot solo homer to right field in the sixth. The Phillies added two more in the eight when Utley hit a two-run double. Andrew Cashner's record is 4-12 after going 6 1/3 innings, allowing three runs on eight hits and striking out four for the loss.

  • Cesar Hernandez played second base for the first time since Thursday with Utley back on the roster, but he did not miss a beat. He singled and scored a run in the first inning to give the Phillies a 1-0 lead and singled to score Freddy Galvis from third base in the seventh inning to give them a 3-1 lead. Hernandez is hitting .329 (57-for-173) with nine doubles, three triples, 17 RBIs and a .799 OPS in 43 games since June 17. "If you play every day that's what happens," Hernandez said. "You feel more comfortable at the plate."
  • Phillies left-hander Williams has struggled this year, but he put together his finest pitching performance of the season. He threw a season-high seven innings, allowing five hits and one run and striking out three. "Keeping the ball down," Williams said. "If I consciously keep the ball down I get my ground balls. And then sometimes maybe if I do throw one up in the zone, I have been so conscious of being down they miss the pitch."
  • The Padres were in desperate need for some scoring, but Cody Asche made sure that didn't happen. Derek Norris hit what looked like a potential home run to left field, but Asche leaped up against the wall to rob Norris of the long ball. Asche had no reaction at the time because he said he did not know until after the game that he saved a home run. "I saw a GIF of it," Asche said. "I got a Snapchat from my wife, too. If I do stuff good she usually does the replay on the phone for me. The lady's face behind it was pretty priceless. But as far as robbing homers go, it was probably a 1 on a scale of 1 to 10."
  • "I think guys are playing with confidence at this point. I think the more games under your belt, the more plate appearances, the more time on the mound, the more confidence you can build. So, obviously a 100-some odd games into the season you can see that confidence coming out of a lot of the guys." -- Utley, who successfully deflected a question about how the team's change in managers has influenced the Phillies' turnaround.
  • Herrera extended his hitting streak to 12 games. He is hitting .377 (20-for-53) in that stretch.
  • First baseman Ryan Howard needs one more home run for the ninth 20-homer season of his career, which would move him past Pat Burrell for second place in Phillies history. Mike Schmidt holds the franchise record with 14 20-homer seasons.
  • Center fielder Odubel Herrera and third baseman Maikel Franco are the first pair of Phillies rookies to have 20 or more doubles in the same season since Don Money and Larry Hisle in 1969.

Phillies right-hander Aaron Harang hopes to get back on track Monday night in the series opener against the D-backs at Chase Field. Harang (5-12, 4.11 ERA) remains a trade candidate before the Aug. 31 waiver Trade Deadline, but only if he shows some consistency before the end of the month. He allowed seven hits and four runs in five innings in his last start, against the Dodgers. He has a 7.46 ERA in his previous eight starts, which included a stint on the DL with left-foot plantar fasciitis. He posted a 2.02 ERA in his first 11 starts. Rubby De La Rosa (9-5, 4.56 ERA) starts for Arizona. After throwing eight scoreless innings against the Brewers on July 25, De La Rosa has allowed six runs in 11 innings in his last two starts. It is the first time he has faced the Phillies since 2011, when he allowed one run in five innings.


Utley Gets Big Hit – The typically stoic Chase Utley broke character and showed a bit of emotion following a pinch-hit double in the eighth inning of Sunday's Padres-Phillies game, which scored two runs. As Utley reached second base, he saw teammates in the dugout motion for him to show the bull horns - raising his fingers up to his helmet to mimic the look of a bull -- something players like Odubel Herrera (nicknamed "El Torito") and Freddy Galvis have done this season after a big hit. Utley got about halfway to his helmet before thinking better of it. 

Searching For Consistency – Finally. One of the reasons the Phillies signed Jerome Williams to a one-year, $2.5 million contract in October is because they expected occasional starts like the one he pitched Sunday afternoon in a 5-3 victory over the Padres at Petco Park. He allowed five hits, one run and struck out three in a season-high seven innings, improving to 4-8 with a 5.73 ERA. Williams went 4-2 with a 2.83 ERA in nine starts last season with the Phillies. They did not expect identical numbers in 2015, but they expected more consistency. "I'm just sticking to the plan," Williams said. "Mac [pitching coach Bob McClure] and I were talking about it when I came off the DL [on July 24]. Keeping the ball down. If I consciously keep the ball down I get my ground balls. And then, sometimes, maybe if I do throw one up in the zone, I have been so conscious of being down, they miss the pitch." McClure actually hung twine across the plate in Spring Training to make pitchers more aware of how to pitch down in the strike zone. He unexpectedly broke out the twine for Williams' bullpen session Friday. "Right when I got on the mound I saw the string," said Williams, who has allowed two runs in 12 innings in his last two starts. "I said, 'OK, that's my key now.' It's helping. I'm having success with it. Hopefully I can keep on going."

Sharing Time – Phillies interim manager Pete Mackanin has spoken to Cesar Hernandez about his short-term future. Short term: He is going to share second base with Chase Utley. Long term: The future is promising. Hernandez went 2-for-4 with one RBI and one run scored in Sunday's 5-3 victory over the Padres at Petco Park, which completed the series sweep. The Phillies are 16-5 since the All-Star break, and Hernandez's impressive play is a big reason. Hernandez is hitting .329 (57-for-173) with nine doubles, three triples, 17 RBIs and a .799 OPS in 43 games since June 17. "If you play every day that's what happens," Hernandez said. "You feel more comfortable at the plate." But now that Utley is healthy, he is going to play fairly regularly for the foreseeable future. First, the organization feels the greatest second baseman in franchise history has earned the right to play, despite his first-half struggles. Second, the Phillies could trade Utley before the Aug. 31 waiver Trade Deadline, so they need to play him to get teams interested in him. The Angels and Cubs expressed interest in Utley before he returned from the disabled list Friday. Utley had a pinch-hit double to score two runs in the eighth. He went 4-for-10 with three doubles, two RBIs and two runs scored this weekend. He told on Saturday night he is open to listening to the Phillies should they come to him with a trade proposal. So does he expect to be here Sept. 1? "I think that's a little too far to look ahead," Utley said. "Our goal here is to get ready for Arizona." Does he expect to finish the season with the Phillies? "Who knows?" Utley said. Mackanin said Utley will start Monday's series opener in Arizona, either at second base or first base. If he starts at second base, Hernandez could start at third base. That is the way it will go the rest of the season, or until Utley is traded. If he is traded. "It's a problem but it's a great problem to have," Mackanin said. "I have to figure out who to play and who not to play. I want to play everybody. "I told [Hernandez] he's the second baseman right now and we're going to get Utley where we can. And [Saturday] he looked like an All-Star shortstop. That's nice to see that he hasn't lost anything at the plate."

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 45-67. 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 43-61-0 on this day.

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