Sunday, September 20, 2015

Close Game Gives Phillies False Hope

GAME RECAP: Braves Top Phillies 2-1

All game, it seemed like the Braves were one hit away. In the eighth inning, Freddie Freeman supplied that hit in Saturday night's 2-1 win over the Phillies at Turner Field. In the first seven innings, Atlanta stranded six runners and had a seventh thrown out at the plate. But in the eighth inning with two men on and no one out, Freeman drove a Jerome Williams pitch toward the left-field fence. Phillies left fielder Darnell Sweeney gave maximum effort, but he was unable to come through with the catch. Two runs scored, breaking the Braves into the run column for the first time all game. The win was just the Braves' eighth since Aug. 14, but it was the team's fourth against the Phillies over the same span. Edwin Jackson, who came in in relief of starting pitcher Ryan Weber, earned the win by throwing a perfect eighth inning, bridging the gap between Weber and closer Arodys Vizcaino, who earned the save.

  • For the second straight night, the Phillies wasted a good outing from their starter. Friday night, it was Adam Morgan (just two runs allowed in six innings). On Saturday, Jerad Eickhoff went seven strong innings, didn't allow a run, scattered five hits, struck out five and got the no-decision.
  • The Phillies carried a 1-0 lead into the eighth thanks in part to a head's up play by the Phillies' first baseman. With runners on first and third with one out in the bottom of the second, Atlanta's Michael Bourn hit a hard grounder to Ruf -- subbing for the injured Ryan Howard -- near the bag. Ruf initially bobbled the ball, but had the wherewithal to fire the ball home, where Ruiz put the tag on a sliding Simmons. Eickhoff would then strikeout Weber to end the inning.
  • The rookie Nola, from Baton Rouge, La., is unbeaten in two starts (2-0, 1.50) against the Braves with 11 hits and 10 strikeouts in 12 innings. He's walked only one. In his last outing against Atlanta, on Sept. 8 in Philadelphia, he went seven innings and didn't give up a run in a 5-0 Philly win.
  • Phillies shortstop Freddy Galvis has had the most success against Teheran in his career amongst all of his teammates. He is 5-for-10 (.500) with a pair of walks and an OPS of 1.083 vs. the righty.
  • The workhorse Teheran, who has made at least 30 starts and thrown at least 180 1/3 innings in each of the past three years, will be making his 31st start of the season for Atlanta. In 11 career games against Philly (10 starts), he is 6-3 with a 2.43 ERA. This year, he's 3-0 with a 1.29 ERA in three starts against the Phillies.

The Phillies and Braves meet for the 19th and final time in the 2015 season on Sunday with an afternoon game at Turner Field. Right-hander Aaron Nola (6-2, 4.11 ERA) of the Phillies will go against righty Julio Teheran (10-7, 4.34) for the Braves. The Braves head off for their final road trip of the season after the game, a six-game, seven-day jaunt to face the Mets and Marlins. The Phillies, in the midst of their last road trip of the season, still have to travel to Miami and Washington before ending their season with a six-game homestand.


Eickhoff Playing For Rotation Role – In the end, after another tough loss for the Phillies, Jerad Eickhoff can take some solace -- small as it might be -- in the fact that he did all that he could do Saturday night against the Braves. That may not be enough for Eickhoff, the Phillies' 25-year-old rookie right-hander. It certainly wasn't enough for the Phillies, who lost to Atlanta, 2-1, for the second straight night, Philadelphia's fifth straight loss. At this point, though, it's all that either Eickhoff or his team has. "Guys pat me on the back and tell me good job, but we didn't win the game," Eickhoff said after throwing seven shutout innings. "For me, we're trying to win. Everyone in this locker room is trying to win. That's the key point." The wins, of course, have been hard to come by. But with performances like Eickhoff's on Saturday -- and Adam Morgan's Friday -- there seems to be, for those who look hard enough, some hope out there. Interim manager Pete Mackanin looks at Eickhoff -- who has gone seven innings in his past two starts and three of his last four (without a win) -- and sees a bright future. "He gets after it. That's what we're looking for," Mackanin said. "He did a great job. He probably could have gone back out. But here's a young guy that hasn't pitched this late in a season, and I didn't want him to [give up] a walk and a bloop, and it ruins a good performance. Get him out on a positive note." Eickhoff (1-3, 3.16 ERA in six starts) was more than good enough to win Saturday's game. He gave up a leadoff single to Nick Markakis on the first pitch of his night, but breezed through the first inning otherwise unscathed, throwing just 11 pitches -- 10 strikes. He gave up a couple singles in the second, but escaped any trouble there thanks to a solid throw from backup first baseman Darin Ruf, who cut down Atlanta shortstop Andrelton Simmons at the plate. The one jam he found himself was in the third, when he gave up a one-out triple to Atlanta's Hector Olivera and had runners at first and third with just one out. Eickhoff enticed A.J. Pierzynski to line out softly to second base, then coaxed Cameron Maybin to foul out to right field to end the inning. In all, Eickhoff went the seven strong, allowed just five hits (and only the one extra-base knock), struck out five and walked two. He had everything working. The fastball, the slider, the changeup and his curveball. His curve, which he's been working on between starts, has been especially impressive lately. "I was throwing all four pitches for strikes. I think that's huge," he said. "Keep those hitters guessing, [so] they didn't know what I was throwing. I was fortunate to have it tonight."

The Phillies have returned to their lackluster ways and regained their grip on last place in the NL East with a record of 56-93. 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 54-54-0 on this day.

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